Trump should follow Washington’s example
To the editor:
Our times are different, of course. But it is striking that we Americans revere the first president of the United States for his willingness to give up power. Now our most recent president is doing the exact opposite, and apparently has millions of Americans supporting him.
George Washington, the legendary Father of Our Country, walked away from power not once, but two or three times. After the Revolutionary War, he gave up his general’s uniform, and went home. At the time, many people believe, he could have converted his military success into a kind of kingship, if he wanted. That’s what Julius Caesar and Napoleon did; not Washington.
Then, 14 years later, following two terms as president, Washington walked away again. He could have held onto power; there were no term limits. He had won his first two terms with unanimous votes in the Electoral College.
Instead, he went home, trusting the voters to select someone else to carry the nation forward. Washington’s farewell address is one of the most honored documents in American history, famous for its declaration of service, and its fervent appeal that Americans strive to avoid political and regional divisiveness. Every year on Washington’s birthday, U.S. senators take turns reading the Address in the Senate Chamber, alternating between Republicans and Democrats.
The Father of our Country was a man with a healthy ego and self-regard. He did not doubt his own importance.
That helps explain why we honor his decisions to step aside. They came from a position of strength.
Today, our most recent president is scrambling to try to stay in power. He has many supporters, who apparently no longer hold Washington’s example in such high regard. These include more than 100 elected members of Congress who called upon the Supreme Court to overturn election results in key states without any evidence of wrongdoing.
Will Trump become the new model for behavior in high office, or will Americans return to the example set by the founding Father of Our Country?