Kern: District of Corruption no longer deserves Washington’s name
WASHINGTON, October 27, 2014 — Calling the nation’s capital city using only its initials, D.C., instead of it full name, Washington, District of Columbia is standard for writers and commentators. A few people have asked why, and that’s a fair question that has an explanation beyond brevity – at least for this writer.
Washington, District of Columbia was founded, designed, and built to celebrate the new nation and its top statesman, best general, first president, and role model.
George Washington was one of those people who actually lived up to his billing. Brilliant and principled, he was driven by what he believed was right, and he did everything possible to further those beliefs.
“He owned slaves,” modern detractors say.
True, but so did anyone in the upper classes of colonial America or Europe. It was legal, and it was the convention. It was looked on very much as today’s society looks on keeping animals – maltreatment is not tolerated, though it does exist. Modern ranchers, as 18th-Century slaveholders, understand that their animals are valuable, and humane stewardship of animals is understood and tolerated by most.
Humans are not animals, and societies have finally evolved to the point where the equality of mankind is not modified by skin color. But at the time, that is not how people thought, and no one has ever claimed that Washington’s slaves were in any way mistreated.
Let’s get past that and into the character of the man. From the probably-mythical story of the cherry tree and young George’s fabled “I cannot tell a lie” confession to his many instances of leading from the front on the battlefield (in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution), Washington’s stalwart character shows through, weighing exigencies and principles, motivations and other circumstances in sensitive wisdom-requiring decisions about, say, what to do with deserters from the Continental Army.
He quelled rebellion within the ranks, and after the War, he calmed, through his presence and the reverence of his men alone, fomenting rebellion over deferred pay and benefits. He sought counsel of other brilliant men to set precedents that his presidency in a brand-new nation required. He made tough decisions, based on what was best for the country’s long run, regardless the political consequences.
For that matter, Washington faced no serious challenges to his political decisions. Americans adored him, and would have crowned him king if he had so wished. He not only didn’t wish – he rebuked the suggestion with threats of charging the suggestor, should he not drop the cause, for treason.
He left office after two terms, setting a precedent that was honored until FDR’s ego and partisan politics decided Washington’s example was no longer relevant. America again rebelled, and forbade endless presidencies in the 22nd Amendment, passed by Congress just two years after the death of Roosevelt, during what would have been his fourth term.
Washington set the stage for America’s policy for decades, a policy that saw a growth of prosperity and upward mobility unprecedented in the history of the world, which was abandoned piecemeal during the Civil War, and wholeheartedly in 1913, when this country’s divergence from the Constitution, free markets, and sound money began, with the inevitable decline that we see all around us.
There are very few people who live up to their public images. George Washington stands alone at the top of that category, not just because he stuck to his principles, but because his principles were so high, and so beneficial to this nation.
Contrast George Washington with the city that today bears his name. In the District of Columbia live and operate some of the world’s worst people: spies, terrorists, insurgents, traitors. Alongside them, inside and out of public office, are thieves, blackmailers, extortionists, and liars and deceivers of all sorts.
Just outside our government are their enablers – lobbyists who would sell out industries, communities, regions, and the nation for a favor, politicians who will say anything, do anything, and hurt anyone to enhance their careers, and career criminals who make their livings doing the bidding of power-seekers who couldn’t care less about who gets hurt, what jobs are lost, or what sacred, hard-won freedoms we will lose, forever.
Today D.C. stands for a District of Corruption, crime and intrigue, populated at its top tier by the worst of the people this country can produce or tolerate. There is a disgrace in using George Washington’s name in connection with this image. I refuse to use the term, “Washington, D.C.” out of an understanding and respect for the man who stood against so much that this city has come to represent.
“D.C.” will have to suffice; you know what I mean.