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    Over 1500 post club nikolai_42's Avatar
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    George Washington and the Rule of Law

    The woes being endured by the Republic can largely be attributed to one thing - a disregard for authority and the rule of law. When the foundation laid by the Founding Fathers is exchanged for rights that were never expressed or legitimately enumerated from the Constitution - "rights" such as abortion, license, self-defining gender etc..., it can be said that liberty has given way to tyranny. The tyranny of self. That is not liberty. Liberty requires constant sacrifice - both personal and corporate. And when the end of existence (politically or religiously) is "me", then sacrifice is anathema and rules are means only to serve personal agendas. That has been the creeping tyranny that has invaded government on both sides of the aisle. This modern phenomenon of hyper-individualism has not suddenly appeared only in the last 10 or 15 years but has been slowly encroaching on the liberty that has been paid for at great national and personal expense. But then maybe that is the trend of all civilizations who eventually come to the conclusion that they have only themselves to live for. So it is that I see the disrespect of the rule of law that prevails today as a byproduct of that self-seeking. And this is not a Republican argument. The Republicans that have played the political game to enrich themselves and maintain power are no different from any of the Democrats who want to usher in a socialist infrastructure. And those that do are the ones calling for incivility and chaos until they get what they want.

    But when people are promised free cell phones and government handouts - when the government will give you all you need and all you want - then why not just do what you're told so that you can have food on your table and some freedom to do what the government allows you to do? A generation that doesn't know history, doesn't realize that the tyranny that comes from Monarchy was what the early Americans were fleeing. And in setting up a Constitutional Republic, the Founders did all they could to prevent that from being a reality here. Even then, they realized that it was selfish ambition of man that would undermine liberty. No rule of law is worth anything if it isn't adhered to.

    So, in this age when we have few (if any) men in positions of authority who engender that spirit, I offer this lesson that I found online. What surprises me (only a little) is that it originally appeared on the PBS website. It was removed - possibly because it would clash too much with the current revolutionary rantings of a few prominent politicos, I don't know - but it was copied and kept available by the Pennsylvania Bar Association here :

    https://www.pabar.org/public/educati...ington-ROL.PDF

    I have saved a copy of it because it doesn't appear to be available anywhere else - and it shows the importance of upholding the rule of law - rather than undermining authority. Not the authority that one man may vest in himself, but authority that was established at the country's founding. That is the bulwark of liberty - not any corruption thereof.

    The document starts the core of the teaching this way :

    George Washington and the Rule of Law

    George Washington and the other Founders believed that all human beings possess natural rights. They believed the legitimate purpose of government is to protect the rights of individuals. The challenge of human government is that the government must be able to control the governed, but at the same time it must be obliged to control itself. In order to ensure that government protects, but does not threaten, individual rights, government must be limited by a constitution, or written law. Respect for the rule of law by both the government and the citizens is necessary to maintain the delicate balance between the government’s power and the people’s liberty. As private citizen, Commander in Chief, and President of the United States, Washington repeatedly demonstrated his respect for the principle of the rule of
    law.

    George Washington’s commitment to the rule of law can be seen in several ways :

    1. Washington as Commander in Chief
    2. Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion
    3. Washington relinquishes power
    I point out that I don't necessarily agree with the use of the word "control" in that opening, but the idea is there. It goes on to provide rather illustrative (and inspiring) examples of Wasthington's devotion to the rule of law over and against personal ambition in the common man all the way up to the Commander in Chief. Only because it is so long do I use spoiler restraints. It is well worth the read.

    Washington as Commander in Chief - heeding the rule of law in the face of lawlessness and at personal cost.

    Spoiler

    1. Washington as Commander in Chief

    Throughout the American Revolutionary War, Washington’s army faced severe supply shortages. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress had no power to tax and instead had to rely on support from the thirteen states. As a result, there was seldom enough money to meet the needs of the army. For example, Washington and his men suffered terribly during the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. They lacked adequate food, clothing, and shelter. Many men deserted the army, and over 2500 died from cold, hunger, and disease – more than had been killed in all the fighting to that point. The Congress had denied Washington’s request for the money required to supply the army at Valley Forge. Instead, they instructed Washington to do what armies typically did in the past: take what was needed from the people in the countryside. This in fact is what the British were already doing. Members of Congress
    became angry when Washington refused to follow their instructions. Not only did Washington refuse to supply the army through force, he told his men that they would be punished if they were caught stealing food or other supplies. Washington knew for practical reasons that he could not afford to lose public support by stealing from the people. He also believed that if the new nation were to be based upon justice and the rule of the law, he and his army must set the example for others to follow.

    After the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781, Washington’s commitment to the rule of law would face a major test. With the end of the war near, the thirteen states became less willing to provide the Congress with money for the army and other national needs. As a result, years of unpaid salaries to Washington’s men were still not paid. On May 22, 1782, one of Washington’s officers, Colonel Lewis Nicola wrote to him that the ineffectiveness of the Congress during the war had demonstrated the inadequacy of republican government. Nicola proposed that Washington become King of the United States.

    George Washington replied to Nicola the same day, stating that he had read Nicola’s letter “with a mixture of great surprise and astonishment.” Washington continued: “no occurrence in the course of the War, has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the Army as you have expressed, and I must view with abhorrence, and reprehend with severity.” Washington wrote that he could not think of anything in his own conduct that would suggest that he would consider being king. “You could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable.”

    Washington wrote that he would work to see the army receive justice but only through lawful, constitutional means: “No Man possesses a more sincere wish to see ample justice done to the Army than I do, and as far as my powers and influence, in a constitutional way extend, they shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to effect it, should there be any occasion.” Washington concluded by asking Nicola never again to consider the idea of monarchy: “If you have any regard for your Country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your Mind, and never communicate, as from yourself, or any one else, a sentiment of the like Nature.”

    It was not unusual that Nicola would prefer a king to self-government, especially considering the ineffectiveness of the Continental Congress during the war. Furthermore, throughout history, monarchies were much more common and successful than self-governing republics. What was unusual was Washington’s response. Not only did he refuse to be king, but he rebuked Nicola for even suggesting the idea. Washington’s harsh words resulted in three apologies by Nicola over the next three days.

    Later that year, there was an unsuccessful attempt to amend the Articles of Confederation in order to allow Congress to levy its own taxes rather than having to ask the states for money. As a result, the Congress was still unable to pay its debts including the money owed to the army. Talk began in Washington’s army of leaving the country to defend itself or of taking up arms against the civil authorities. In March 1783, Washington learned from his headquarters in Newburgh, New York that his officers had planned a meeting to discuss their grievances against the Congress. Washington condemned and canceled the meeting, then scheduled his own meeting for Saturday, March 15.

    Washington’s speech to his officers at Newburgh would be one of the most important events in American history. He began by attributing the discontent “more to feelings and passions than to reason and judgment.” He expressed his own concern for the army and promised to work with the Congress to see justice done. He urged his officers “not to take any measures, which viewed in the calm light of reason, will lessen the dignity, and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained.” He told them to reject anyone who sought “ to overturn the liberties of our Country, and who wickedly attempts to open the flood Gates of Civil discord, and deluge our rising Empire in Blood.” In his dramatic speech, Washington defended the principle of the rule of law, and prevented the army from either abandoning or tyrannizing the nation.


    Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion - facing insurrection head on for the good of the Republic (rule of law)

    Spoiler

    2. Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion

    George Washington faced a serious challenge to the rule of law during his first term as president. The new Constitution had replaced the Articles of Confederation. To avoid the financial problems experienced under the Articles, the Constitution allowed the federal
    government to collect certain kinds of taxes. In 1790, an excise tax on whiskey and some other items was passed to raise money to meet the financial obligations of the government. Farmers west of the Appalachian Mountains bitterly opposed the whiskey tax. These farmers were unable to move their grain to far away markets and still make a profit, so instead they distilled their grain into whiskey. Jugs of whiskey could be traded for supplies locally, and more easily exported over the mountains to profitable markets in the east. Certain Pennsylvania farmers decided not to pay the whiskey tax. By 1794, violent opposition erupted in four western counties of Pennsylvania.

    Washington was always aware that as the first president he was establishing precedents, or examples. He knew that he could not allow such a blatant disregard for the rule of law. He believed that if any group was permitted to disobey the law, “there is an end put at one stroke to republican government, and nothing but anarchy and confusion is to be expected thereafter.” Washington sent word to the rebels to disperse and go home. He also ordered nearly 13,000 state militiamen to prepare to march if his orders were not followed. Facing such an overwhelming show of force, the farmers laid down their weapons and agreed to pay the tax. The Whiskey Rebellion
    had ended and the rule of law was secure. Later that year, Washington commented on the rebellion in his Sixth State of the Union Address:

    It has demonstrated that our prosperity rests on solid foundations; by furnishing an additional proof that my fellow-citizens understand the true principles of government and liberty; that they feel their inseparable union; that, notwithstanding all the devices, which have been used to sway them from their interest and duty, they are now as ready to maintain the authority of the laws against licentious invasions, as they were to defend their rights against usurpation. It has been a spectacle, displaying to the highest advantage the value of republican government….


    Washington Relinquishes Power - how long before something we take for granted is no longer true?

    Spoiler

    3. Washington Relinquishes Power

    As Commander in Chief during the Revolutionary War and then as the first president, Washington held the most powerful positions in the new nation. In May 1775, at the Second Continental Congress, John Adams lobbied for Washington’s selection as Commander in Chief. But Adams knew that throughout history strong political men usually grasped for power when given the opportunity. He commented that Washington would be remarkable if he did not use his command of the army to seize power for himself. George Washington, however, never used his command for his own advantage. He even rebuked his men when they suggested that he become king or that the army assert its control over the civilian authorities. As Commander in Chief, Washington demonstrated his respect for the rule of law by his consistent deference to the elected Continental Congress. When he ended his service at the end of the war, he resigned his commission in 1783 and retired to Mount Vernon.

    After presiding at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Washington was elected the first president. He was elected unanimously by the Electoral College, something that has never been repeated in American history. After two terms Washington thought it was important that he step aside. He believed that a peaceful transition of power to a newly elected president was necessary before his death. He feared that if he died in office and the vice-president ascended to the presidency, it would appear too much like an heir ascending to the throne after the death of a king. When Washington stepped aside at the end of his second term, George III said that Washington’s retirement from the presidency along with his earlier resignation of Commander in Chief, “placed him in a light the most distinguished of any man living,” and that his relinquishing power made him “the greatest character of the age.”

    Throughout world history, the transfer of political power has been marked by struggle, deception, and bloodshed. George Washington’s commitment to the rule of law, however, often at the expense of his own personal power and advantage, set the example by which political rule in America would be decided by ballets, not bullets. In his first inaugural address in 1981, Ronald Reagan commented on this remarkable fact:

    My fellow citizens: To a few of us today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in the history of our Nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

    This statement of President Reagan nicely summarizes the importance of the rule of law, and helps us understand why the American experiment in self- government is such a unique thing in human history.


    How long before what we so recently as (at least) Ronald Reagan took for granted is gone?
    Last edited by nikolai_42; November 9th, 2018 at 09:41 AM. Reason: Added some bolding of headings
    If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
    Jeremiah 17:9

    Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.
    Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.

    Isaiah 50:10-11

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    TOL Subscriber George Affleck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nikolai_42 View Post
    The woes being endured by the Republic can largely be attributed to one thing - a disregard for authority and the rule of law. When the foundation laid by the Founding Fathers is exchanged for rights that were never expressed or legitimately enumerated from the Constitution - "rights" such as abortion, license, self-defining gender etc..., it can be said that liberty has given way to tyranny. The tyranny of self. That is not liberty. Liberty requires constant sacrifice - both personal and corporate. And when the end of existence (politically or religiously) is "me", then sacrifice is anathema and rules are means only to serve personal agendas. That has been the creeping tyranny that has invaded government on both sides of the aisle. This modern phenomenon of hyper-individualism has not suddenly appeared only in the last 10 or 15 years but has been slowly encroaching on the liberty that has been paid for at great national and personal expense. But then maybe that is the trend of all civilizations who eventually come to the conclusion that they have only themselves to live for. So it is that I see the disrespect of the rule of law that prevails today as a byproduct of that self-seeking. And this is not a Republican argument. The Republicans that have played the political game to enrich themselves...

    (deleted only for brevity)


    ...How long before what we so recently as (at least) Ronald Reagan took for granted is gone?
    Some really great observations here Nik.

    I find, though, that there is a part of all of this that is not generally understood - the part you have touched on regarding hyper-individualism.

    Freedom, specifically that of the individual, is the most fundamental pillar of western civilization and why people fleeing world-wide tyranny want to be a part of it. As you point out, tyranny manifested itself as monarchistic repression for those who founded America. But, historically, repression has always been the final outcome of socialism, communism and totalitarianism (another version of monarchism) because they have, as their goal, conformity of thought and action. A civilized democracy is just a group of people sitting on the fence; waiting to ultimately descend into one of the above categories depending on how long it takes to adequately suppress individual freedoms to the point where they will vote to have them taken away.

    A republic is the only political system which guarantees the rules of governance will not change. And yet, even with that, extreme vigilance is required. I don't agree that liberty requires constant sacrifice; just diligence. But we are not doing that are we? Sacrifice becomes necessary only when liberty is attacked and the fault then accrues to the attacker.

    In a democracy, if enough people can be convinced to be stupid, stupidity gets written into law. This is why the attack from leftists comes through colleges/universities, the new/press, and the entertainment industry. It's bang for the buck. It's also why these vehicles much prefer to call the U.S. a democracy than a republic. And why capitalism, the most efficient economic hallmark of a republic, is constantly portrayed as unfair.

    The interesting thing is that the vehicles societies have historically had for freedom of speech and thought are the very things that are always used to try to convince the populace that individualistic freedom is the enemy and universal conformity is the answer. The problem with this is that conformity is always...always, always, always...according to one dictate or another and ends in repression and tyranny of one kind or another. It's like - When will we ever get the message?

    Although he was not specifically addressing this issue, I find one of Jordan Petersen's comments very interesting as it relates to our present society. He said; "There is intense pleasure in momentary domination." Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, texting, even things as benign as product reviews, drive-thru restaurants, and - dare I say - online religious forums, invite this generation to opine without any real, serious involvement. To get a feeling, however misguided, of dominating an opponent. The mentality often becomes; "Boy, I really set that person straight with my 25 words of wisdom". Freedom is becoming confined to the least significant things of life. As long as we are allowed to tweet, opine, like, text and order a cappuccino, we will sit idly by while government passes laws about what we cannot say, which is bad enough, but also, just recently, telling us what we must say. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...=.0077568f02bc

    Hyper-individualism (the Me generation) is a smoke screen for conformity playing off the good will of those who want to do the right thing but haven't thought very deeply about it. And many have fallen for it; especially those who learn nothing from history. Those with varied personal agendas find common ground in leftist ideology simply because they decide to challenge freedom in order to erode it. It is the attempted tear down of the rule of law in exchange for justified conformity to anarchy. It is creating a devil's playground ripe for picking on the order of pre-war Germany. An attack from within is no less dangerous, and perhaps more insidious, than one from without.
    Religion is man's attempt to make himself acceptable to God. Christianity is God making man acceptable to Himself.

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    Over 1500 post club nikolai_42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Affleck View Post
    Some really great observations here Nik.

    I find, though, that there is a part of all of this that is not generally understood - the part you have touched on regarding hyper-individualism.

    Freedom, specifically that of the individual, is the most fundamental pillar of western civilization and why people fleeing world-wide tyranny want to be a part of it. As you point out, tyranny manifested itself as monarchistic repression for those who founded America. But, historically, repression has always been the final outcome of socialism, communism and totalitarianism (another version of monarchism) because they have, as their goal, conformity of thought and action. A civilized democracy is just a group of people sitting on the fence; waiting to ultimately descend into one of the above categories depending on how long it takes to adequately suppress individual freedoms to the point where they will vote to have them taken away.
    I hope I'm not misunderstood to be saying (by you or anyone else) that simple conformity to what the higher ups tell you to do is conformity to the rule of law. Washington did what was often unpopular with both the government and with the "man on the street". His ethic was internal and he didn't rely on government to tell him what was right and wrong - but part of that ethic was upholding the basic laws that kept order in civil society. So it was that on the one hand he would tell his soldiers not to steal when everyone else was doing it and "government" (the Brits) almost expected it. Rule of law there was to do what was neither expedient nor popular - but morally and ethically right to ensure respect for good government (and to some extent, that government which governs least does govern best). And then when the law that assessed a legitimate tax was being flouted, Washington enforced observance of that tax. Not on the principle that more taxation is good, but in advancement of the ends of the Republic over and above those of the Monarchy. A monarchy would raise taxes on a whim. The republican government Washington stood for was designed to limit such abuses. So to allow that principle to be thwarted at such an early stage would undermine respect for the rule of law that (as you point out) is the defining principle of a republic.

    There can be a fine line between the rugged individualism of the American ideal and the anarchy found in the book of Judges where everyone did what was right in his own eyes. The difference is where the moral compass is grounded - "me" or God. Today, it's "me" and a government ruled by such people (serving only "me") wants to make that bunch of individuals into slaves of the state. We need another GW today.

    And this is the same Washington that fought against the British - so he was not against standing up for a cause in defiance of the ruling party. But it was moral principle that guided him (and he cited the Bible as a critical part of that principle).

    Quote Originally Posted by George Affleck View Post
    A republic is the only political system which guarantees the rules of governance will not change. And yet, even with that, extreme vigilance is required. I don't agree that liberty requires constant sacrifice; just diligence. But we are not doing that are we? Sacrifice becomes necessary only when liberty is attacked and the fault then accrues to the attacker.
    I think we agree here. When I used the term "sacrifice", I simply meant self-sacrifice. Otherwise, the focus becomes all about "me" and "my" rights and "my" freedom.

    We have a nation that tolerates a Freedom from Religion Foundation under the guise of constitutional obligation! When in reality, the desire is to have no god but self. Self-sacrifice flies in the face of that idea. That's really what I was thinking of when I made that statement. Sometimes, indeed, the ultimate sacrifice is required - and those who are of a self-sacrificing mindset are also the ones who will gladly die for their country - but by no means do I believe it is constant. I think the concept of eternal vigilance aligns well with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by George Affleck View Post
    In a democracy, if enough people can be convinced to be stupid, stupidity gets written into law. This is why the attack from leftists comes through colleges/universities, the new/press, and the entertainment industry. It's bang for the buck. It's also why these vehicles much prefer to call the U.S. a democracy than a republic. And why capitalism, the most efficient economic hallmark of a republic, is constantly portrayed as unfair.
    The nature of authority is an interesting study - and one which anarchists and revolutionaries (like Saul Alinsky etc...) like to manipulate for their own ends. That's the sort of person that has gotten influence in the halls of learning and government, and we are reaping the whirlwind.

    Quote Originally Posted by George Affleck View Post
    The interesting thing is that the vehicles societies have historically had for freedom of speech and thought are the very things that are always used to try to convince the populace that individualistic freedom is the enemy and universal conformity is the answer. The problem with this is that conformity is always...always, always, always...according to one dictate or another and ends in repression and tyranny of one kind or another. It's like - When will we ever get the message?

    Although he was not specifically addressing this issue, I find one of Jordan Petersen's comments very interesting as it relates to our present society. He said; "There is intense pleasure in momentary domination." Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, texting, even things as benign as product reviews, drive-thru restaurants, and - dare I say - online religious forums, invite this generation to opine without any real, serious involvement. To get a feeling, however misguided, of dominating an opponent. The mentality often becomes; "Boy, I really set that person straight with my 25 words of wisdom". Freedom is becoming confined to the least significant things of life. As long as we are allowed to tweet, opine, like, text and order a cappuccino, we will sit idly by while government passes laws about what we cannot say, which is bad enough, but also, just recently, telling us what we must say. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...=.0077568f02bc
    I think this touches on your point, but it seems to me that the drive towards socialism in this country has been characterized (at least in the 80's and 90's when I was growing up and aware of such things) by a cleaving of public and private life. One could make the statement that while one believed in something privately, they wouldn't bring it to bear upon government in public life (abortion, school prayer etc...). What resulted was a vacuum that inevitably had to be filled by something. Something had to rule where God was being evacuated. And God's place in public life was eradicated on the pretext and carrying away of a phrase used in a letter of Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists! The irony is thick! Something has to rule. It's either God, government or me. There is no neutrality on moral matters.

    Quote Originally Posted by George Affleck View Post
    Hyper-individualism (the Me generation) is a smoke screen for conformity playing off the good will of those who want to do the right thing but haven't thought very deeply about it. And many have fallen for it; especially those who learn nothing from history. Those with varied personal agendas find common ground in leftist ideology simply because they decide to challenge freedom in order to erode it. It is the attempted tear down of the rule of law in exchange for justified conformity to anarchy. It is creating a devil's playground ripe for picking on the order of pre-war Germany. An attack from within is no less dangerous, and perhaps more insidious, than one from without.
    I think there is something sinister - by definition - on the left that wants to simply challenge authority no matter who is in power (unless it's them). That's not a feature of the right wing. The right challenges principles, yes, but generally doesn't agitate against authority as a basic principle. That's only leftism (as far as I know) and it tears down only so it can get its own way. Then when it gets into power, it casts aside all pretense of fighting oppression and oppresses the masses itself. That's what inevitably happen wherever leftism is tried.
    If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
    Jeremiah 17:9

    Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.
    Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.

    Isaiah 50:10-11

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