For this assignment, you will analyze the major points of George Washington’s “Farewell Address” and write a 3-page analysis, considering contemporary government and including differing points of view.
George Washington’s “Farewell Address”
George Washington’s “Farewell Address” contains a number of messages directed to the citizens and the political leadership concerning various political issues such as governance, political parties, foreign relations, and among other issues. The speech is one of the most important historical recordings in the United States. This paper will evaluate the major elements of the speech and in consideration to the contemporary government.
The first key issue highlighted in the speech concerns the issue of political parties. George Washington discouraged the formation of political parties in future, arguing that in purely elective governments, formation of political parties is of no value. He argues that although political parties are important in checking the ruling regime and exalting the spirit of liberty, their formation would bring out inherent dangers. Geographical discrimination is the building block of most political parties. As such, there is an inherent danger whereby one faction would be domineered by another, either politically or economically. This can fuel animosity among different factions based on party politics. Washington observed that most wars were the result of differences in opinions between parties. Formation of parties would weaken the ruling administration and instill jealousies among individuals from different factions.
The contemporary political atmosphere comprise of political parties and independent candidates. Currently, there are two major political parties in the U.S.: the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party. Most of George Washington’s sentiments concerning the formation of parties are evident from the two parties (Krugman, 2016). Both parties have significant differences in opinion regarding public administration. It is impossible to deduce whether the members of each party work for their self-interest or for the good of all citizens. Differences in opinions between the parties lead to delayed decision-making and more divisions of citizens among party lines. Much politicking between the parties weakens public administration (Krugman, 2016). It also develops feelings of animosity between the rival factions, which may be a risk factor for civil war.
Another major point in George Washington’s “Farewell Address” involves foreign policy. George Washington argued that the United States should not develop permanent alliances with other countries whatsoever. His argument was that the U.S. should remain neutral in its relation with foreign countries. He particularly warned against the United States getting involved in the political affairs of Europe. He noted that Europe had become entangled in various controversies which the U.S. had no relation or interest in, and thus the need to avoid such controversies. Nonetheless, he maintained that the U.S. should still extend its commercial relations with foreign nations in order to improve trade. In developing commercial relations with other states, George Washington maintained that the U.S. should practice impartiality and trade in good faith.
The contemporary government does not maintain neutrality in its relation with other foreign countries. Over the last decade, the United States has engaged in political controversies in foreign nations. Over the years, the U.S. has received criticism over its foreign policy, which touches on the need to create a democratic world for the American people and in addition to the international community (Cox & Stokes, 2012). Over the last decade, the U.S. has been involved in major controversies in various countries. Notable among these are the U.S, invasion of Iraq in 2003, the NATO-led bombing of Libya, and its current involvement in the war in Syria. The U.S. is mainly involved in displacing totalitarian regimes and those involved in acts of genocide against their own citizens. This is contrary to George Washington’s position on the need to maintain neutrality with other foreign nations.
George Washington also warned on the challenges that could emerge from the U.S. accumulating debt. He argued that the U.S. should use public debt as “sparingly as possible”. He noted that war could bring heavy toll on the United States due to the expenses involved. Accordingly, the United States should try as much as possible to avoid situations of war, since this could lead to high public debt. George Washington also cautioned against untimely disbursement of public funds especially during periods of danger. This was because untimely disbursement of funds could lead to heavier losses when danger occurs. He also advocated for exertion when peace prevails as a way of recovering from the heavy expenditures that are common with unavoidable wars. George Washington urged the U.S. to always embrace peace, as this was the best alternative.
The U.S. debt policy remains aligned with George Washington’s views on public debt. According to Alexander (2013), Tea Party Republicans are particularly mindful about the issue of public debt. Over the past few years, the Tea Party Republicans have helped highlight the issue of public debt to the public eye. George Washington observed that debt repayment led to higher demand for public revenues, which in turn called for higher taxation rates among citizens. In his view, taxes should not have a huge impact on the citizens. The current government tries to minimize the impact of taxes by keeping minimum the amount of taxes that individuals pay.
Alexander, R. (2013, Oct. 6). Wahsington (George) got it right. CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/16/opinion/alexander-washington-george/
Cox, M., & Stokes, D. (2012). US foreign policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Krugman, P. (2016, June 20). A tale of two parties. The New York Times.