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My turn: George Washington: Our country’s first ‘No Party Preference’ president

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From page A4 | December 11, 2013 | 8 Comments

I hear from a lot of people who believe the direction of today’s Federal and State policies is not what the founding fathers envisioned. None of us can know what any of those giants really had in mind for our young country, but their unwavering bipartisan efforts created the most powerful and thoughtful document in human history. That document, the Constitution of the United States, has guided our nation to unparalleled heights of respect that much of the world looks up to and tries to emulate.

Led by George Washington, 39 of the 55 members of the Continental Congress signed the Constitution. Only three refused to sign it and strongly opposed its adoption. Those who did not sign initially either posed no opposition or later supported its adoption. That is an acceptance rate of over 90 percent. Washington’s tremendous popularity and his ability to stay neutral on the most extreme issues of the day made it possible for our founding fathers to put aside their ideological differences for the well-being of their young nation. Imagine if we had that bipartisan cooperation in today’s U.S. Congress.

Our first president was not affiliated with any political party. In Washington’s farewell address he urged fellow countrymen not to accept such partisanship knowing it would not serve the nation’s greater good. As arguably our greatest president, Washington was also the first No Party Preference official.

During Washington’s presidency, political parties became a mainstay of America’s political landscape and even included some of his good friends. These parties soon became divisive, bitter and focused mainly on serving short-term purposes for candidates seeking elected office. Political party ideology in the past and to the present day serves only a part of the total population.

Governing a country or state should not be about promoting political ideology. To succeed it is imperative to reach agreement between opposing sides, and yes, compromise. Our elected representatives can learn a lot from our first president. As regular, garden variety Americans, we can also learn to appreciate Washington’s style of governing. He was not only our first and greatest political leader, George Washington was a true visionary.

Upon his death, Washington had ordered all 123 slaves he owned to be freed. He was the only founding father to do so. Later in life he had questioned the morality of slavery. This was over a half century before the Emancipation Proclamation. I wonder if President Washington, the visionary that he was, foresaw the abolishment of slavery.

Mark Belden ran as an independent for the District 5 Assembly seat acquired ultimately by Frank Bigelow.

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Discussion | 8 comments

  • cookie65December 11, 2013 - 6:52 am

    Try and imagine George Washington telling the American citizens "we have to pass the bill to find out what is in the bill." Both parties have adopted a definition of "public service" that the founders warned us about and designed a system to prevent. The founders envisioned a country based on the prosperity caused by individual liberty not the prosperity caused by a large and growing government dependency class.

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  • Dink LaneDecember 11, 2013 - 12:31 pm

    As opposed to Party-Whip Tom Delay's arm twisting for Medicare-Part-D....

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  • bgurrlFebruary 09, 2014 - 3:38 pm

    The problem is you have to have a learning system (notice I didn't use the word education) that encourages learning about our Government and how it works and doesn't work. What the citizens role is as well as officials. Most don't realize the limits of the president etc.

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  • R.j. CarterDecember 11, 2013 - 7:29 am

    Imagine how rough it was for Washington in 1789....No teleprompters, No helicopters to fly his family pets around, No rock-star studded parties, No golfing with celebrities, No lavish family vacations and No President before him to blame stuff on..Etc, etc ,etc....

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  • cookie65December 11, 2013 - 9:46 am

    George Washington wouldn't recognize what this country has become. http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2013/12/10/air-force-base-takes-down-nativity-scene-following-complaint/

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  • Dink LaneDecember 11, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    Great Opinion piece Mark..... Unfortunately, some of our readers cannot use the cognitive skills of 'analyzing' and 'synthesizing' the information with their 'prior' knowledge....

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  • Geri InamaDecember 11, 2013 - 2:18 pm

    Thank you for this information. I too do not subscribe to party platforms etc.

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  • Fran DuchampFebruary 09, 2014 - 4:29 pm

    "From his birth in 1732 to 1776, he was officially a British subject. From 1776 to 1783, he was a rebel and traitor to the British Crown. And from 1783, you could consider him a citizen of the United States. In his youth, he was a Major in the British Colonial Militia and Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, serving against the French and Indian allies." He was 44 when he became a rebel...somewhere along his life he realized something was not working...and thank goodness he did. "the United States Constitution has always been silent on the issue of political parties; at the time it was signed in 1787, there were no parties in the nation" (wiki) " the American invention of political parties in the 1790s"

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