President George Washington could almost be considered a prophet given the insight he demonstrates in his writings about the future of our country. Considered the founder of our country, and as our first constitutionally elected President, Washington was very concerned about future generations and the importance of adhering to the founding principles that guided the creation of the United States of America. He would be distressed to see the current condition of our constitutional republic.
Five Justices on the US Supreme Court breathe in the smoke emanating from the penumbras of the constitution to “discover” a new constitutional right to self-identity and personal autonomy under the 14th Amendment and effectively overrule numerous state constitutions and statutes that define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Oregon Christian business owners are fined $135,000.00 by the government for “discriminating” against gay patrons by refusing to participate in a gay wedding ceremony in violation of their religious conscience. The IRS delays and obstructs the filings of many conservative, religious and non-profit organizations’ requests for 501(c)(3) status. Public colleges and universities cave in to demands to deny the free speech rights of conservative students and speakers at their institutions. The federal government declines to enforce immigration laws that are in conflict with the current administration’s view of the issue. New banking regulations supposedly designed to catch drug dealers and criminals are used to destroy small businesses by confiscating the cash in their business accounts and refusing to return the funds even after it is proven no criminal activity occurred. Criminal forfeiture statutes are routinely used by law enforcement to confiscate the property of innocent people not involved in any criminal activity. Eminent domain laws are used to forcibly transfer the real property of one private owner to another private owner favored by the government. The US Attorney General admits her office is looking into whether “climate change deniers” can be prosecuted under federal racketeering statutes.
These are but a few of the examples of the break-down of good governance in our country. The distrust and divide between the average American and the government is growing at a fast pace. This helps explain the success of some current presidential candidates. But why are we surprised? George Washington clearly warned us in his Farewell Address what would happen if the twin pillars supporting good government were to ever be destroyed in America:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. … Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. … (R)eason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle (emphasis added).
Our government no longer supports religion and morality. When government justifies forcibly taking the home of a widow and giving it to a millionaire so he can build a casino, it loses the trust of the people. There is no longer any protection for property, reputation or life. Instead, Washington’s twin pillars are directly undermined, attacked and subverted. Washington’s advice has not just been forgotten; it is directly and actively repudiated by our government. Lest you think these were just the reminiscences of an old, outgoing politician, listen to President Washington in his First Inaugural Address:
(I)t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. … No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. … (S)ince we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people (emphasis added).
Washington’s sentiments and advice are ignored today. As a consequence, good government is being undermined and destroyed before our very eyes. Washington is clear that education is crucial to ensuring that the people continue to understand and exercise their constitutional rights. As he stated in his first State of the Union speech:
Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of publick happiness. … To the security of a free Constitution it contributes in various ways: By convincing those who are entrusted with the publick administration, that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people: And by teaching the people themselves to know, and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; … to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy, but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws. (emphasis added)
Washington’s timeless advice is just as appropriate today as when given over two hundred years ago. We, at Great Lakes Justice Center, are compelled to sound the alarm and call on our fellow citizens to educate themselves and return to the sure protection of Washington’s twin pillars of religion and morality. To fail to do so will ensure that the principles of good governance will no longer protect the American people
David A. Kallman, J.D.
Great Lakes Justice Center