By Norman Zanetti
A treasure trove of exemplary governance is found in President George Washington’s farewell address to Americans. In his letter to the American people in The American Daily Advertiser in 1796, he wrote that he hoped citizens would support a strong federal government, though Americans at the time were local in their thinking and allegiances.
He cautioned that extreme partisanship among political parties would be “divisive and disruptive”, urging voters casting future ballots to do so for candidates favoring the common good instead of supporting strict party affiliation.
Washington forewarned extreme partisanship would result in “a spirit of revenge” to maintain one’s grip on power. His greatest concern, and rightly so, was intervention of external invasion, advocating a policy favoring neutrality and friendly commerce with other nations.
For years, this farewell address was read in congress on July 4th. For some reason the practice ended years ago. I recently recommended to our U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8) that he champion a revival of this tradition in the House of Representatives, especially as newly elected representatives begin their tenure. We need a groundswell of bipartisan cooperation to assuage the polarization that has afflicted both chambers and hindered addressing our country’s vital needs.
Washington’s words, a foundry for exemplary governing, should be on the minds of all of those who represent us, as well as among media members who cover them. His message should resonate when legislation is proposed and voted on.