We listen to the talk, and the rhetoric coming out of the mouths of this year’s set of politicians. Here’s the truth, this election would not be recognizable to the founding fathers, and neither would this country.
I think back to recently, when I was working on a Congressional primary, and was listening to the Hamelton soundtrack at work, and one of my coworkers said something about not liking the soundtrack. When I asked why, it wasn’t because of the hip-hop beats, or making the obviously white characters different races, it was because the character of Alexander Hamelton wasn’t portrayed as self-sacrificing and altruistic. I haven’t seen Hamilton, hopefully, next year when the show comes to DC, but just by listening to the soundtrack the only two characters who come off as self-sacrificing and altruistic are George Washington and Eliza Hamilton.
History is written by the winners, and from the point of view of the winners. The first thing you learn if you study history in University is to dig deeper for primary sources because history books have a bias. We are taught that “bias” means lie or wrong. But truth be told a bias is normal. One cannot pretend they are objective all the time.
The founding fathers have been made out to be national heroes because The United States needed a national mythology. The US was made from Brittish colonies, and we couldn’t use Brittish myths of historical figures to teach our children why the US is so great. So George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and said he could never tell a lie.
But our founding fathers were also men, with great faults, that we weren’t told about in school. George Washington may have been impotent. John Adams was a jerk. Hamilton had an affair, that turned into the nation’s first sex scandal when he had to prove that he didn’t steal from the US Government.
Here’s what is different, though. These men, all different, all with faults, came together to build a nation. They worked, somewhat, together to make a nation built on ideals and values. Some which they all agreed on and some which they argued about.
Even in 1789, the Founding Fathers couldn’t all agree on what was best for the nation, but they worked together and came up with compromises. The men and women running for office today run on platforms of absolutism. Our media is as sensationalist as it was in the 1700s, people just knew how to keep their mouths shut better back then, and there were fewer news sources. Working together is seen as a failure in the eyes of the last few years in Congress, rather than a triumph of ideas working together.
This presidential race is about the two most self-centered people working to become the most powerful national figurehead in the country. I have not heard how either candidate will work with Congres to make laws and help the American people. It’s all about marketing, branding, and social media. Although there is only one candidate who I would fear nuking another country because they made him angry.
While the Founding Fathers may not have been perfect, or altruistic, they believed that they could make a country that was the best for everyone, and a framework for a government that could grow and change. I would love to see candidates that were looking out for the best interests of everyone.