George Washington was elected the first president of this new nation known as the United States of America in 1789. He had been hailed as the savior of this grand dream as the result of his leadership in soundly defeating the greatest military power in the world with a ragtag army, and his work to form a new government of and for the people. As a result, he was offered every honor a man could want. Absolute power was his for the taking, including regal power. Washington understood the danger of giving complete power to one man. His years commanding the Continental Army had taught him the wisdom of empowering his military subordinates, and while he ultimately reserved for himself all major decisions, his war counsels were freewheeling affairs in which all were encouraged to state their views, which he always considered.
“I did not defeat King George III to become King George I.”
It was Washington’s understanding of power that he agreed to serve as America’s first president. Washington had supported replacing the weak Articles of Confederation, which had governed the country since the war, with a strong national government.
Washington believed that only a central government with real powers, including a powerful chief executive, could counterbalance and unite the 13 fractious states, but he also knew that this new government made his countrymen uneasy. It was untested and had powers that acted independent of, and often competed with, their state and local governments. But Washington knew he was the only man they trusted to make this new thing work, so he very reluctantly agreed to be the first chief executive.
And why did they trust him? Because they knew he would wield power for the country’s good, not his own.
Contrast with Today? Can we say the same about our leaders today? Leadership is something that many aspire to, but few achieve in full measure. It has been defined as being a combination of charisma, integrity, determination, flexibility, resourcefulness, creativity, self-confidence, a sense of responsibility, the ability to communicate, and consistency. George Washington had all these qualities, and it is therefore somewhat ironic that although he was truly a great leader, he never aspired to be one.
Perhaps Washington’s greatest accomplishment, however, was his stepping down as president. He knew that this new nation could only continue and get stronger if it had a safe, stable, and secure transfer of power from one leader to the next.
But power tends to corruption over time, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When political leaders leave their office far wealthier than when they entered, there must be a question concerning corruption and public good. With this ability to significantly increase your wealth, what incentive is there to step down for the public good? This is why term limits constantly fail to be passed.
Politicians receive very comfortable salaries. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for instance, earned $223,500 a year, making her the third highest-paid elected official in the U.S. Yet, since 2004, her wealth has increased from $41 million to nearly $115 million, according to OpenSecrets, which began tracking lawmakers’ personal finances that year.
She’s not alone in her wealth. Personal financial disclosures reveal that more than half of Congress' members are millionaires, with a median net worth of just over $1 million. As is often the case, however, the top 10% of the lawmakers in terms of wealth are three times richer than the bottom 90%. Pelosi comes in as No. 6 on a list of the wealthiest members of the 116th Congress.
The Real Issue
At issue isn’t the fact that politicians are multimillionaires; rather, as noted on a recent Twitter thread by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, it’s how they made their millions…
“If you think it’s fine and normal that the Speaker of the House’s personal wealth tripled to $115 million ever since financial disclosures were required (2004), that’s fine, but the issue is how that money was made. It was from companies directly affected by her actions.”
The key part of this quote is “If you think it’s fine and normal.” Why do we continue to choose, as a people, and re-elect these individuals who we know have NO INTEREST in the public good and are only interested in increasing their own power and wealth? It is time for every American to begin asking questions about their elected leaders. By what method may they have increased their personal wealth while in office? Who is receiving help from their actions? Are they willing, like Washington, to give up everything for the sake of our Nation?
Recent Actions and Consequences
We are currently involved in a circumstance that is unprecedented and extremely disturbing. President Joe Biden is accused of bribery, influence peddling, corruption and lying to the American people. As a US Senator, he removed and kept top-secrete documents. As the sitting Vice-President he bragged, on-camera, about leveraging US dollars to get a prosecutor fired in Ukraine. He is currently under investigation by three Congressional committees and a Federal Prosecutor. Foreign money has been directly linked to him and several members of his family. There is significant evidence against the Biden family, including witness testimony, emails, text messages, flights, and bank records.
'Middle-class Joe' is now a millionaire. It is estimated that President Joe Biden has become rich by $2 million in just two years in the White House. The former Vice President took over the Oval Office in January 2021 with an estimated net worth of $8 million. However, now, he is worth $10 million.
Biden has served 44 years in the federal government - beginning his political career at age 30. He served as a six-term senator and then as former President Barack Obama's vice president. During his term with Obama, financial disclosures showed Biden was the 'least wealthy' member in the office. So, what inflated his net worth by a whopping $2 million in just two years? He cites real estate investments, book deals, and speaker fees, but is this all of it?
Subpoenaed bank records show the Biden family received at least 20 million in unexplained wires from foreign Nationals. The payments went to nine family members, including even two of Joe Biden’s grandchildren. However, this isn’t the whole story. Republicans predict the Bidens actually received in excess of $50 million. The TRUTH of these dealings will be played out in the coming months and years as the facts are presented.
The Grand Dream
The dream today is much different than the one Washington fought for and established through his TRUTH and honesty. Leaders like Washington served the people of this great nation and built a country based upon freedom and democracy. Have our values changed that much?
The three core values of America are freedom, equality, and justice. These values are derived from the founding principles of the country, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They reflect the ideals that Americans share and strive for, as well as the challenges and contradictions that they face.
There are those that believe that these values are no longer relative, that they must change to reflect the “realities of today.” They feel that they must reflect the diversity and complexity of the American society and culture, which is composed of many different groups and perspectives. Perhaps they are right. It is not always easy to achieve or maintain these values. They require compromise, sacrifice, and struggle, as well as constant vigilance and participation.
The world is based upon TRUTH and the pursuit of it. This is the basis of a newsletter I have been writing within LinkedIn called the TRUTH Digest, a continuing search for TRUTHS in the world today. An example of what I mean is if you were called to testify in court you will be asked to raise your right hand and “swear to tell the TRUTH, the whole TRUTH, and nothing but the TRUTH, so help you God!” You are to testify to who you saw, doing what and when. You will not be permitted to offer an opinion, say what you thought happened, or offer anything that you did not witness yourself.
I have written in previous articles about how people are trying to subvert the TRUTH and have you believed something else. Here is an illustration to consider. One bullet is loaded into the cylinder of a pistol and the cylinder is spun. There is a one-in-six chance that the bullet will fire. If someone would put the barrel of the gun to their head before pulling the trigger it would be considered “foolish behavior” and very risky. Each pull of the trigger changes the odds down to where, if it has not yet fired, the odds are one hundred percent that the gun will fire. Where does the TRUTH lie?
This is the dangerous game that we often play with the TRUTH. Any pull of the trigger might cause the gun to fire, but we risk listening to opinions, odds and reasoning that might have you believe otherwise. There are even some that might suggest that there is a chance that the gun may misfire even when you are at the sixth pull of the trigger.
So much of our world today promotes lies, false information, and outright deception that we are finding it hard to find the absolute TRUTH. Advertising, politics, popular culture, and even so-called scientific evidence frustrates us, presents un-real expectations, and bends reality. Do we continue to seek TRUTH, or do we accept what we are told to be the TRUTH?
It used to be somewhat easy to discern TRUTH but, as of late, it has become somewhat impossible.
Start with the media. When we had true journalists, they helped us to get to TRUTH by aggressively following and exposing it. This is not to say that we have always been able to trust the media or that they were able to discover everything that was happening in business and government, but it was certainly easier.
Our political process is not that much better. There was a time when we had open and honest debate and clear differences of opinion. Red was red and blue was blue, with few gray areas. We knew where candidates stood and could vote based upon their records and how well they meshed with our own beliefs. They were consistent in their beliefs and would not waver in the face of popular positions or more vocal individuals.
Society was also easier to figure out. Although not always fair, you knew where people stood and there were clear divisions. Majorities had control and minorities worked to get justice. We were not ruled by vocal minorities or influenced by the loudest voice.
Now it comes down to loyalty for a party that is no longer true to its founding virtues and is controlled by small groups or individuals who have money and power. It comes down to media influence and outright corruption. We the people no longer question what TRUTH is, we just go along with what we are told by our “so-called” leaders or are so passive and un-involved that we accept most of what we hear without reaction.
It reminds me of the old question of how do you cook a frog? If you put it in a pan of water, it will simply jump out. But if you slowly turn up the heat on the pan, it will become comfortable and stay where it is until cooked. The economy, our personal safety, immigration, gas prices, drugs, jobs, etc. have not apparently become bad enough that we are willing to make changes. They have, perhaps, not impacted us directly yet. Look around, people are still eating out, driving their cars, going back to in-person from their remote jobs, and accepting the immigrants as necessary to help fill jobs. We may know someone unemployed, or impacted by illegal drugs, found it costs more to fill our grocery cart, or traveled less this year, but things are just “not that bad” as we are constantly being told.
Who do we believe? Were the documents found in one person’s home worse than those found in four or five other locations of other people? Is it possible to substantially increase your net worth through years of government service and a couple book deals? Do you need to be qualified to serve on international boards of directors, or just have the right last name? There are so many questions that are not getting addressed as the statute of limitations run out and legal processes are blocked or circumvented all together.
What can we do?
There can be only ONE TRUTH and we must not TRUST ANYONE until everything is revealed to our total satisfaction. What can you and I do? Keep asking questions and demand answers. No longer just accept what we are told. Forget party lines and past loyalties as they run counter to our safety and the greatness of our country. Yes, mistakes have been made in the past and life has not always been fair for everyone. But we have made tremendous progress despite all our problems. And we can continue to make progress and reach new heights of greatness if we work together.