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Why we’re failing our first president

George Washington set some great precedents during his time as our nation’s first president, but it took only a few years for his successors to let him down.

In his farewell address, Washington warned the country about the dangers of political factions and foreign involvement. In his final State of the Union, he proposed the ideas of a national university and a military academy.

It took our war-hungry country only six years to establish the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In over 210 years, his other wishes have yet to come true.

In fact, we went so far against his wishes that Washington was probably rolling over in his grave within a year of his death.

In the election of 1796, Federalist John Adams defeated Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson 71 to 68 electoral votes, respectively.

Four years later, Jefferson beat Adams 73 to 65.

The back-and-forth battle between rival political parties hasn’t stopped since.

Washington spoke of such an occurrence in his farewell address: “The alternate domination of one faction over another … is itself a frightful despotism.”

Since 1853, Republicans and Democrats have gone back and forth, holding the office for a few terms before the other party takes control.

Another section of the address that has been abandoned by politicians is when Washington advises against forming permanent alliances with foreign countries.

“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” Washington said.

He claimed that temporary alliances might be necessary in extraordinary emergencies, but that it would be unnecessary and unwise to remain involved in foreign affairs.

While it took a while longer for the country to turn its back on this policy, the USA has since sought alliances with anyone who will take up the offer.

Between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization consisting of 28 countries, the Organization of American States having 35 member countries and individual countries, the U.S. has alliance treaties with 69 countries.

These countries make up over two billion people, more than a quarter of the world’s population.

Both major treaties have been in effect since the end of World War II. With no likelihood of ending anytime soon, it seems we’ve formed some pretty permanent alliances.

Perhaps the coolest concept that Washington dreamed up was the idea of a national university.

Located in Washington D.C., the University of The United States of America, with a soaring bald eagle as a mascot, would be the educational capital of the world.

While the concept is idealistic, it’s interesting to think about what the possibility would look like.

A public university designed for only the top minds in the world could bring about some of the top innovations in modern history.

Instead of seeing Washington’s dream for education through, our country spends billions of dollars on divisive political parties and trillions on wars it can’t afford.

Washington was our first, and perhaps greatest, president. The man who played a crucial role in the foundation of this country must know a little bit about how it should be run. Shouldn’t we listen?

About The Author

Sam Palmisano

Sam Palmisano is a freshman dual-majoring in economics and marketing. Sam loves kayaking and ping pong. Outside of Eagle News, Sam is a member of the Honors program and Student Conduct Committee, and serves as President of the Palmetto Hall Area Council. His goals are to be a political economist and to one day run for Congress. You can find Sam getting into arguments on social media or playing frisbee on the library lawn.

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