Letter – Washington’s  warnings

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

George Washington was an American founding father. He led the Continental Army during the American Revolution, then served as the president of the convention that drafted the Constitution of the United States. 

Washington was twice unanimously elected president by the Electoral College, serving from 1789 to 1797. At the close of his administration, he set two enduring precedents: the two-term tradition (formalized in the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment) and the peaceful transition of power.

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We must also remember his Farewell Address of 1796 in which Washington outlined future dangers to America. He said we must protect the Constitution, preserving the checks and balances that were so carefully created. Washington went on to caution us about “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” who would try “to … usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” Washington also warned us of “ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens” who might support foreign nations and “betray or sacrifice the interests” of our own.

Similarly, we must remember that during a recent interview with FOX’s Sean Hannity, Donald Trump refused to rule out abusing power if he returns to the White House. Trump, who has long admired the unlimited powers exercised by autocratic leaders, is vowing vengeance and retribution if reelected. A second Trump administration would bring an unprecedented expansion of executive power, and unparalleled interference in the justice system. 

Even a single day as dictator (“day one,” per the Hannity interview) would enable Trump to exercise absolute authority while enjoying complete immunity for his actions. That “day one” dictatorship would empower Trump to tear down the checks and balances established by our founding fathers, fundamentally subverting the Constitution and “destroying afterwards the very engines which lifted …(Trump) …to unjust dominion.”

It’s high time we take Washington’s warnings to heart.


Steve Anderson