Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Let Us Listen to the Father of Our Country

Fellow Western New Yorker Bill Kauffman argues that "no single act would have a more profound and far-reaching effect than reorienting U.S. foreign policy along the lines of the advice given in George Washington’s Farewell Address" — Bringing It All Back Home.

Doing so would call on us "to reject 'foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues' (goodbye, NATO); to avoid 'excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another' (goodbye, Middle East); and to beware 'those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty' (goodbye, military-industrial complex)."

Meditate upon the "secular sutra" in its entirety — George Washington's Farewell Address.

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Indeed, a Federalist foreign policy, guided by the wisdom of Washington, Hamilton and Adams, would do enormous good for our country. To avoid the foreign entanglements of Jefferson with his worship of the French Revolution, to avoid the aggressive warfare of Madison with his mad confrontation with the British in 1812 -- all are things devoutly to be wished. And to follow the sage advice of Abraham Lincoln, who in 1845 counseled the country to avoid wars of expansion is also a grand idea. To return to the wisdom of the great conservatives of our nation's early history -- the Federalists and the Whigs -- and to avoid the utopian aggression of Jeffersonian practice -- in that path lies peace and security and prosperity.

11:43 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

We agree in the final thrust, although we may disagree about Hamilton and Adams and especially Lincoln, as president at least. His opposition to the Mexican War was right on.

About the Federalists, as Mr. Kauffman notes parenthetically:

"Allow me to raise, and then drop, a possible problem with these 'constitutionalists' that is far more fundamental, even intractable, than my somewhat hackneyed charge of hypocrisy. That is, what if the Anti-Federalists, those often prescient opponents of the new Constitution in 1787–88, were correct in asserting that the Constitution would lead, inexorably, to a centralized national government that would levy extortionate taxes, wage shameful wars, and usurp the powers of state and local governments? Was disregarding George Mason, Patrick Henry, and Luther Martin, and scrapping the Articles of Confederation, a fatal mistake?"

12:27 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

First, Patrick Henry, after the ratification of the Constitution, became a Federalist and an ardent critic of Madison and Jefferson. His opposition to the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions was so great that he actually ran for the Virginia legislature virtually on his death-bed, running as a Federalist in support of Adams.

Second, it wasn't the Federalists but the Jeffersonians who radically increased the powers of the general government. It was Jefferson who first initiated undeclared war, it was Jefferson who exceeded the scope of executive authority via the LA purchase, it was Jefferson who attempted to subvert an independent judiciary, it was Jefferson who sought to destroy political pluralism via the destruction of the Federalist Party, it was Jefferson who pursued an aggressive policy toward the British. The list goes on and on. The Federalists believed in limited, constitutional government constrained by the express limitations of the Constitution. It was the Jeffersonians who brought about the expansion of the central government's power.

Third, the anti-federalists overlooked one of the critical questions in any federal republic: who protects citizens from an abuse state or local government. The anti-federalist vision provided no protection for citizens from the predatory action of their state governments. There was to be no federal protection of the rights of citizens against state abuse in the anti-federalist vision. The Federalists, wise men they, understood that for liberty to thrive, citizens had to be protected against the excesses of government at all levels, state and federal. That is the wisdom of Washington, Adams, and Hamilton.

12:56 PM  

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