WHAT DOES PRESIDENTS’ DAY MEAN?
Posted by Tim Bryce on February 15, 2016
BRYCE ON POLITICS
– and how would our former presidents do today?
It’s Presidents’ Day again, a day when the schools and banks are closed, the local, state and federal bureaucracies leave us alone, and everyone else is busy working to pay for it all. The holiday goes back as far as 1879 and was originally intended to honor our first president, George Washington. This was later amended to include Abraham Lincoln, widely considered the savior of the Union. Interestingly, it is celebrated on the third Monday of February, which doesn’t coincide with either president’s birthday. Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky. In other words, the third Monday was selected as a compromise between the two birthdays. Because of the selection of the third Monday of February, the day never lands on either president’s exact birthday.
Although it was originally designed to honor Washington, then Lincoln, it was later intended to honor all presidents, yet most people think of it as it pertains to just our first and sixteenth presidents.
A few years ago, historians were asked if either Washington or Lincoln could win a presidential election today, as well as some of our other famous presidents. It was agreed the only president who might possibly have a chance was Washington due to his sheer character. I’m not sure character alone would cut it anymore. You must remember, Washington was a credible plantation owner, capable military figure, and even a distiller of whiskey, but he was not an educated man, one of the few founding fathers without a college education. He also owned slaves and had it not been for the money Martha brought with her from a previous marriage, Washington would have likely gone bankrupt. All of this would have been fodder for the sensational press of today.
Although historians like to rave about Lincoln’s wit and oratory skills, and perhaps the only president capable of keeping the nation together during our horrific Civil War, his lanky looks, mussed clothes, and his western voice would have been used by comedians to impersonate and lampoon him. Saturday Night Live alone would eat him for lunch.
Teddy Roosevelt would be ridiculed for his squeaky voice. Thomas Jefferson, would not be remembered as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, or for sanctioning the Lewis & Clark expedition. Instead, he would have been exposed for his sexual infidelity with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. James Madison would not be remembered as the “Father of the Constitution” or the champion of the Bill of Rights, but for allowing the White House and Congress to be burned by the British. Even FDR, Ronald Reagan, JFK, Ike, and many others would be subjects for character assassination.
It’s not that these presidents have changed, as much as our morality and judgement has changed, as has the power of the media. True, none of these presidents were perfect, but they somehow managed to accomplish a lot. Regardless, more than anything else they would be attacked for their character as opposed to their accomplishments.
We should remember this as we go about the process of selecting a new president.
So, what does Presidents’ Day mean to me? It’s a reminder we should elect people based on our own perceptions of their capabilities, and not rely on what the media tells us.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
For Tim’s columns, see: timbryce.com
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Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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