We visited our son, his French wife and our grandson in Fredericksburg, Virginia last weekend. As Providence would have it, Mount Vernon was celebrating the 288th birthday of George Washington on the “real” President’s Day, Feb. 22.
Since we can see Washington’s childhood home right outside of the window of my son’s home across the Rappahannock River, we decided to pay a visit to “President Washington” up the road.
We met “President Washington” and took the obligatory photo. We could imagine what had to be going on inside of his head as he watched the news and followed current events on social media.
“What the heck is going on here in the United States of America today? I hear there is a socialist who is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president to be one of my successors. What does this word ‘socialist’ mean as a political party anyway?”
“Socialism wasn’t even invented until half a century after you passed away, Mr. President. Some guy named Karl Marx said things were so miserable in the industrial age in England that one day the workers of the world would unite and overthrow all of the bourgeoisie and take over control of the government and economy.”
“Miserable? Most people I see here today at Mount Vernon appear to be well-fed and prosperous. What would the workers do if they ran a global business? Would they have the experience and talent to do so?”
“Do you mean to tell me that we fought a bloody war against the capricious, oppressive and unfair leadership of King George III to win freedom from monarchical rule only to have a guy running for president in 2020 who wants to take over complete control of our economy and personal freedoms and make American citizens do what he wants them to do, not allow them to make their own decisions and keep their own money?”
“That is pretty much it, Gen’l. Bernie Sanders and his followers want to take away money from successful people and give it to lower-income folks. Socialists want everyone, including rich people, to have free health care coverage; free college educations and a guaranteed minimum wage.”
“What is a ‘minimum wage’?”
“Forget about it, Mr. President.”
“What about free will? What about freedom of choice? Is there still the fundamental freedom to worship as you see fit, speak out loud in public as you choose, print what you want in a newspaper, or assemble with whoever you so well please?”
“Well, Mr. President, not really. There is this thing in America today called ‘political correctness’ where a certain group of political elites have censored speakers who say or do something in the political arena with which they disagree. Many college campuses have canceled speeches by conservative speakers simply because many of the students and almost all of the faculty disagree with them.”
“(I)f Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter… reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.” 1
“Well-said, Mr. President. A lot of people feel the same way today. Do you have any other advice for us here in the 21st century?”
“In politics as in philosophy, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests be more peaceful, abundant, and happy.” 2
“Our son almost named our grandson Rochambeau, Mr. President.”
“I wish it had been Lafayette.”
- Address to the Officers of the Army | March 15, 1783
- Letter to James Anderson December 24, 1795