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Our View: Washington needs more ‘Washingtons’

Published: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

George Washington, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” was born on Feb. 22, 1732 – 281 years and a few days ago.

For much of this nation’s history, Washington’s life was put forth as a positive example for his fellow Americans to follow. That emphasis, sadly, seems to have faded in the 21st century.

In the U.S. capital city that bears Washington’s name, politicians can’t seem to agree on how to solve the nation’s vexing problems – debt, deficits, taxation, sequestration, guns, immigration and so on.

Their inability to compromise is a poor tribute to the “Father of our Country,” who endured many difficulties to help win freedom for the 13 colonies, establish the republic, and set lasting examples of how the government ought to operate.

Many of those problems required compromise, and entailed difficulties that today’s leaders can barely imagine.

Washington’s principal claims to fame:

• He commanded the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) that won independence for the 13 colonies.

• He presided over the 1787 convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution, which we still use today.

• He was elected the first president of the United States; his leadership from 1789 to 1797 turned a government on paper into an actual working government.

Along the way, he lost military battles but won enough victories that the fledgling United States prevailed over mighty Great Britain.

He suffered hardships with his soldiers and risked his life and fortune. He endured betrayal by Benedict Arnold and the death of his stepson during the Revolutionary War. Through it all, he persevered. He set the nation on the right path. We are in his debt.

Washington used smarts, diplomacy, perseverance and leadership to deal with the immense problems he encountered.

Today’s problems are difficult, to be sure, but not any more insurmountable than those Washington faced. Today’s leaders would do well to continue learning from his example.

Let there be more Washington-hearted men and women in Washington.

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