Friday, July 19, 2013

Our Brilliant Founding Fathers

At my latest speaking engagement, I asked the audience if they felt that any of our current “leaders” were as brilliant as the Founding Fathers.  To my astonishment, someone stated that quite a few were great representatives of the People.  A handful of individuals deserve credit for their support of the Constitution but whether they match the brilliance of the fFounders is quite another matter altogether.

As a student of American history, I greatly admire the founding generation.  The men who established our Republic were extraordinary indeed.  For example, George Washington remains the one and only United States President elected unanimously by the People.  John Adams was elemental in uniting the colonies during the Revolutionary War.  Thomas Jefferson’s pen brought forth a new nation.  Benjamin Franklin’s diplomacy helped win much needed support in our battle for freedom.  Alexander Hamilton devised the system of market economy we still use today.  Patrick Henry continues to remind us to guard jealously our liberty.  James Madison principally fathered the Constitution.  George Mason ensured we had a Bill of Rights.  Of course, where would we be without Samuel Adams and the Tea Party?

All this is not to suggest that the Founding Fathers were demigods but to highlight their achievements.  Indeed, every one of the founders had trouble spots:  Washington and Adams were quite temperamental.  Franklin and Hamilton were the quintessential womanizers.  Jefferson and Madison were awkward in speech.  Henry and Sam Adams were overzealous.  Mason was suspicious of everything.  To say that these men were prefect would be a gross mistake.  Yet, the reason they deserve our admiration is that despite their flaws, they stuck together to fight in a common cause:  Independence.  Indeed, had they deviated from that path, history would be quite different today.

Therefore, when I look at the peddling politicians running amuck in Washington today, I find it incredibly difficult to call them brilliant.  Some of them are drunk with power and others are too afraid to confront them.  The few who are trying to rectify the problems in our country are often the ones ridiculed.  These individuals have my support and sympathy.  Yet, as exceptional as they are, perhaps even they would agree that none approach the unmistakable leadership exhibited by the founding generation.        

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