Will the Real George Washington Please Stand Up?

This article by Jerry Cates, first published on 12 February 2012, was last revised on 28 April 2014. © Govinthenews Vol. 3:2(1).

Gilbert Stuart's Reproduction of Lansdowne's 1796 portrait of George Washington

Gilbert Stuart’s Reproduction of Lansdowne’s 1796 portrait of George Washington

From my earliest childhood, I’ve wondered what it would be like to have a president, in the U.S. White House, of the likes of our very first president, George Washington. He was a reluctant head executive, who honestly didn’t want the job. Yet he stayed on, for two consecutive terms. During those two terms he served his nation as he had served as commander of American forces during the revolutionary war: as a servant of the people. Faithful. Ever mindful of the heavy responsibilities of his office. Eschewing any conflicts of interest that might influence him to behave in variance with the awesome, difficult, and complicated duties that office set upon his shoulders.

Over the intervening years, many contenders for his genuine replacement have surfaced. Some, in the early years of this nation’s history, came close. Most fell short. Practically all who have served as our president during my lifetime have been in that latter category, though most polls have placed one of them, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the list of top three presidents of all time, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

In 2012 we celebrate 223 years of existence as a democratic republic governed by an executive branch, led by a President, a legislative branch divided into a House of Representatives and Senate, and a judicial branch in the form of the Supreme Court. At age 69, I have been alive for 30% — nearly one-third — of this history. From the time of my birth until almost three, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, was my president.

I don’t remember much from those first three years, but later studies proved to me that he was nothing like George. Nor, to my mother’s shame (at the ripe old age of 92, she still thinks he ranks higher than George), is he in my list of the top three presidents of all time. But the FDR Administration took this nation in the opposite direction that Washington took it, by turning away from the U.S. Constitution, adopting a spirit of big government, and coloring our role in the world with imperialistic ambitions. Was that good or bad? Well, let’s see…

Ah, but we are getting off the track. The purpose of this article isn’t to analyze FDR and like-minded presidents, but to explore who, among those presently in the contest for the next president of the United States, is most like George Washington of old? Are any of them close? What would we expect to see in one of them that would suggest a likeness to our first president? Would we even be able to recognize the features that make them alike?

We’ll see. I promise it will be an interesting study.

Coming soon…

— Questions? Corrections? Comments? e-mail jerry.cates@govinthenews.info. You may also register, log in, and leave a detailed comment in the space provided below.

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