There is a story told at Mt. Vernon about George Washington’s famous boat ride on the Potomac River. With him in the boat were two sworn enemies, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson’s vision of America was of an “Agrarian Democracy.” Hamilton’s vision emphasized “Entrepreneurial Capitalism.”
While Washington did not have the depth of knowledge of either, his vision was of “Inclusive Relating.” And so it was that when the trio embarked upon their journey into the future of America, Washington insisted upon “Mutual Thinking for Mutual Purposes” and so generated the first definition of “Interdependency.” He threatened not to return his processing partners to land until they had merged their thoughts in one vision of America.
They did merge and America did emerge. Thank God!
The merged vision was encapsulated in the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and King George’s “History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of our absolute Tyranny over these States.”
In the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the “Rights and Responsibilities of Leadership,” were firmly established:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
In the preamble to the United States Constitution of 1787, our “Founding Fathers” began by defining its citizens as policy-makers:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
For the first time in the history of humankind, the citizens were empowered by constitutionally-mandated powers to direct the governance of the United States.
Accordingly, all governing powers were invested in a representative form of democracy with an all-important “Balance of Powers:”
- All legislative powers were vested in a Congress, consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives (Article I).
- All executive powers were vested in a President (Article II).
- All judicial powers were vested in one Supreme Court with inferior courts in support (Article III).
With articles calculated to define States Rights (Article IV), Amending Processes (Article V), and Pre-existing Conditions (Article VI), the Constitution was adopted and ratified.
While the focus of the U.S. Constitution was upon governance, related dimensions were soon to emerge as pre-potent conditions of a free and evolving citizenry. Some were in apparent conflict.
In the interest of the 2008 election, we are going to present you with the following scales for awarding “Freedom Scores” to the candidates.
This brief and cryptic history reveals that George Washington became the model for the presidency of these United States long before his election. In other words, the presidency was defined in terms of his own executive characteristics:
- Inclusive in relating;
- Participation in governance;
- Entrepreneurial in enterprise.
These dimensions defined the enduring character of the presidency and its candidates.