Would The Founding Fathers Approve of Today?
By: Isabella Gattuso
As the election looms closer, our country seems to be falling into chaos. Protests at least once a week, a rapidly declining economy, and a president who seems to be disregarding the current standards of office. In all honesty, I could continue with a We Didn’t Start the Fire-esque list of the curveballs the political sphere has thrown us in 2020.
At a time of such uncertainty, this makes now the perfect time to take a few steps back and question whether the 2020 political landscape is what the Founding Fathers imagined as they envisioned their new country.In order to examine this question, I’ll be rating different aspects of the Founding Fathers’ (F.F.) ideologies on a scale of 1-5 Washingtonians.
Freedom from Tyranny
As part of their independence from Britain, the nation’s founders created our first government with an intent to avoid ever having a tyrannical leader ever under the weaker Articles of Confederation. Of course, that changed with the establishment of a strong central government under the Constitution, but their initial arguments for a government free of tyranny still stand.
Trump is just short of a fascist. A Washington Post article found that Donald Trump had many of the qualities of an authoritarian leader, but American systems have prevented him from completely transforming into a real fascist. However, the F.F. would detest the idea of any semblance of a tyranny. 3/5 Washingtonians.
Much of the F.F’s quest for independence were rooted in the ideas of the Enlightenment Era that had occurred around the same time. These ideas continued to the drafting of the Constitution in Philadelphia, where Anti-Federalists would only agree on the ratification of the Constitution if the drafters would add the Bill of Rights, which would explicitly state the natural rights every American citizen was entitled to. Currently, the idea of natural rights come into play in almost every debate. Take mask wearing, for example: more often than not, the non-mask wearing person will cite life, liberty, and freedom to excuse their bare face. (But seriously, wear your masks.) 5/5 Washingtonians.
The Founding Fathers were generally Christian but drafted the Bill of Rights with the intent to separate the state and church and allow religious tolerance. Those ideas have stayed true for 200 years, with few exceptions. There is no state/federal religion, but Trump has progressively used the Christian faith to justify his policy decisions and discriminate against other religions. In one of his first acts, he banned travel from seven Islamic countries, quite literally called a Muslim ban. The next four years, he refused to acknowledge the Anti-Semitic or Anti-Islam comments from his own cabinets and has publicly expressed support for Neo-Nazi groups on Twitter.
More recently, he has tear-gassed protestors for a photoshoot with the Bible at a local church and has used Christianity to discriminate against those whose values go against the teachings of Christianity, despite the Bible’s overarching theme to “love thy neighbor”. 3/5 Washingtonians.
When the Founding Fathers began to serve as presidents, one thing they all had in common was their commitment to neutrality. In his farewell address, George Washington warned against a permanent friendship or hostility with a foreign country, because of the possible entanglements it could lead to. If the main goal of foreign affairs is to avoid entanglements with other countries, Trump has been making policy in accordance with his history textbook. Trump’s foreign affairs policy has been centered around American independence from other countries, although the benefits may be short term.
Donald Trump left the Paris Agreement, withdrew troops from the Middle East, and imposed heavy tariffs on China. While the benefits of these actions may not have been the best for modern America, the diplomatic means to achieve neutral foreign policy is a tee to the F.F’s vision. 5/5.
Partisanism is favoritism to one political party. This wasn’t an explicit asset of the American vision, but George Washington noticed the growing rifts between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans and warned against sectionalism and Partisanism in his farewell address. Now, it has become increasingly difficult to differentiate a party from a person. The word “Republican” has almost become a synonym with “Trump supporter.”
According to a Pew Research Study, Republicans are more likely to believe Covid is a hoax. The growing importance of loyalty to a certain political party has become so normalized, the New York Times created a poll on whether you could guess a voter’s political alignment by the way their fridge looked like. Partisanism contributes to rifts threatening the unity of the nation, but only has been exasperated by the upcoming election. 0/5 Washingtonians.
On a possible score of 25 Washingtonians, the current U.S. political climate scored 16 Washingtonians, or a solid 64%. While the Founding Fathers might have envisioned the United States a certain way, our nation has branched off into a completely different direction. Certainly, our country has grown into ways we could never possibly imagine.
The results of this exercise suggest that our Founding Fathers might have given our modern country a solid F, at least in accordance with the American grading system. This suggests there is room for improvement on our foundational values; like producing a society where a political party's thoughts are based on their member’s values, and not vice versa; or a tyrannical-less government. However, other scores suggest that our country has grown past their original founding frameworks. While neutrality may have been the best course for a fledgling nation, it might not be the best choice for a republic that needs to serve 300 million people from sea to shining sea.
Some of these results, like religion and tyranny are flexible. These results can all change with the electors you vote for. There is no sense in becoming disappointed at the state of the United States today if everyone hasn’t taken the time to give their input and vote. Looking back means nothing if we never use that knowledge to make a brighter future.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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