Thursday, May 17, 2012
The First Past Presidents Forum on American Politics
I summon them! I summon them! I summon them!
Let it be the quick or the dead.
So long as they are American Presidents, born and bred.
I summon them! I summon them!
You are called to the first ever Past Presidents Forum on the State of American Politics and the Upcoming Presidential elections.
George Washington: The first President of the United States of America. You turned down the chance to become president for life or a monarch of the newly emerging federation of colonies. You abhorred party politics and saw politics as an evil to be avoided. You freed your slaves when you died and made no money from your role of president of the USA. Many consider you as the greatest of American Presidents for your leadership, courage and compassion. Your position on government can be characterized by the following quotes:
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is a force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”
John Adams: The second President of the United States of America. You were highly educated and you represented enlightenment values promoting freedom and democracy. You advocated for a strong centralized government that would help to create uniform trade and culture between the 13 colonies. Your position became known as Federalism. You were a strong advocate for eliminating slavery in the new Republic. Despite your many contributions to the new government of the United States you were defeated by your major adversary and also best friend Thomas Jefferson. Your position on Government was summarized very succinctly in your book: Thoughts on Government:
“There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the British constitution is so; because the very definition of a republic is an empire of laws, and not of men.”
Thomas Jefferson: The third President of the United States of America. You are famous for being the principle author of the Declaration in Independence. You served two terms as president after defeating your best friend John Adams for the presidency. You organized the Democratic-Republican Party to help get you elected. You tended towards states’ rights and were afraid of the Federalists since they advocated a strong centralized government which would take supremacy over the individual colonies. You were a strong advocate for freeing all the slaves but you nevertheless neglected to do so in your own estate. It was also claimed that you fathered several children with one of your own slaves named Sally Hemings. You were considered one of the leading and most influential intellectuals (along with John Adams) of your times. You have made the following statements which somewhat reflect your thoughts on government:
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
“The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.”
“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”
Abraham Lincoln: The sixteenth President of the United States of America. You have been named (along with George Washington) as one of the two greatest Presidents in American history. You ran for the presidency as a Republican. You were elected during one of the most turbulent times in American history as the conflict over slavery and states’ rights reached a boiling point. Your election led to a Civil War between the states over these issues. Your strong leadership and bold actions led to a reunion of the country and the abolishment of slavery as a legal institution. Many of your critics say you cared more about keeping the country together than you did freeing the slaves. Your presidency was characterized by many actions that gave the Federal government considerable power over the states and military. Some who say you as a new Caesar assassinated you on April 15, 1865 as you began your second term in office. You have held the following beliefs about the role of government during your life:
"It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service."
“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities.”
John Persico: Moderator for this discussion. Blogger, writer, teacher and consultant. It is my privilege to host today’s panel discussion on the following topic and issue:
What do you think of the state of American Government today and what do you think of the state of the upcoming election between Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama?
Before we begin, you might be wondering what this blog has to do with time. How does it relate to my espoused goal and purpose for this blog? My answer it that I have repeatedly cited the famous quote by Santayana that “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” What better way to discuss current events than by calling upon these esteemed and worthy (Dare I Say) experts from the past. What better way to review the State of American Politics than through the eyes of our past presidents and leaders. Would there be any who would say that Adams or Jefferson despite their somewhat oppositional viewpoints would not be able to sit down together to discuss politics and perhaps I think even reach a compromise? Note the comments of Jefferson in a letter to a friend and then ask yourself whether this seems to be characteristic of today’s politicians”
"Differing on a particular question from those whom I knew to be of the same political principles with myself, and with whom I generally thought and acted, a consciousness of the fallibility of the human mind and of my own in particular, with a respect for the accumulated judgment of my friends, has induced me to suspect erroneous impressions in myself, to suppose my own opinion wrong, and to act with them on theirs. The want of this spirit of compromise, or of self-distrust, proudly but falsely called independence, is what gives [some opponents] victories which they could never obtain if these brethren could learn to respect the opinions of their friends more than of their enemies, and prevents many able and honest men from doing all the good they otherwise might do. These considerations... have often quieted my own conscience in voting and acting on the judgment of others against my own... All honest and prudent men [should] sacrifice a little of self-confidence, and... go with their friends, although they may sometimes think they are going wrong." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1811. ME 13:50
Due to the lengthy nature of this blog, I will continue it tomorrow as the panelists (fresh from trips of over 200 years for some) retire to their abodes for rest and sustenance. We will begin the Forum and Panel discussion tomorrow after breakfast. In keeping with our modern technology, I would invite any of you who have questions for the panelists to either put them in the comments section today, send them to me by email or text message me at 612-310-3803. Tom and John were particularly curious about our new technology and would love to see it in action.