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JARED WHITLEY: Would George Washington Be Able To Recognize America Today?

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Jared Whitley Contributor
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What’s so enduringly remarkable about George Washington — whose birthday we celebrate this Wednesday — is that the undisputed leader of the American Revolution decided to not be an undisputed leader.

After overthrowing British control, Washington handed the fledgling country over to Constitutional republicans rather than taking a crown for himself.

He overthrew one system and created a better one.

Alas this is a lesson that, almost 250 years later, many ungrateful beneficiaries of Washington’s leadership have not learned.

We live in a time of broad institutional decay, as confidence in American institutions have reached all-time lows: government, news media, organized religion, higher education and on and on.

The only traditional institution that had enjoyed broad, bipartisan support was the military, but woke ideology has ended that. And the imagery of our military surrendering to the Taliban isn’t exactly Washington crossing the Delaware.

Only one institution enjoys overwhelming support, the one we all use every waking minute of the day: the Internet. This new institution has exposed the shortcomings of every other one, plunging us into a new era of destabilization and reform. Some of this is good — like sending Hollywood icon (and lifelong Democrat) Harvey Weinstein to jail — but most of it is bad.

See a society needs institutions to function. The police absolutely shouldn’t take innocent lives, but the deluge of social media content undermining the police has resulted in thousands of otherwise avoidable murders. So-called progressives have trained a generation to tear the system down, with no plan for a better one.

Implementing solutions is difficult. Causing mayhem is easy.

Modern-day environmental activism is particularly guilty of this, where the goal is winning a cause de jour moment against a hated industry, ideally with lots of dopamine-triggering viral content.

Now, there was no social media when President Bill Clinton created a program to save the treasured spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest. That’s probably good for Clinton, because there’s no picture of him, some forest rangers, and a terrified owl prop to run with articles about all the owls this program has murdered.

Just last week, it was reported that the Biden administration’s cult-like belief that it needs to kill domestic oil and gas production will end up doing greater damage to the planet in the long run. For all the talk of needing to “moving past” fossil fuels, they will be a major part of human life for at least the lifespan of the majority of humans now alive.

If petroleum is not collected in the U.S., then it will be collected in countries without comparable safeguards — resulting in worse pollution, more oil spills, and so on.

Yes, enrivo-anarchists can “increase awareness” to green issues with high-profile displays like defacing paintings or chaining themselves to trees, but they don’t seem to have a plan for what comes next. The immediate result of Biden’s sabotaging American energy was handing Ukraine to Vladimir Putin, and all the Ukrainian flags on social media haven’t seemed to back him down.

Another bit of climate activism bound to fail is going on in the Finger Lakes area, and ironically threatens the waste-management system of the liberal bastion of New York City.

One small group, Seneca Lake Guardian, is doing some more performative environmentalism trying to shut down one of New York’s largest landfills. (The name Seneca comes from the Indian tribe that fought many years ago alongside a young George Washington.) Although the landfill absorbs much of the 14 million tons of garbage NYC produces every year, the Guardian group wants to shut it down.

In 2025, the landfill’s current permit will expire. Seneca Lake Guardian wants to prevent it from being renewed, and — as they’ve already destroyed Bitcoin mining and propane facilities in upstate New York — they might just succeed. The group wants to overthrow a system that keeps New York City from drowning in garbage, but have no plan for what to replace it with.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio had a — hold your laughter, please — “Zero Waste by 2030” initiative for the city. That made for a nice moment on social media in 2016, but since then the city’s trash haul has actually gone up.

Implementing solutions is difficult. But the institution of the Internet only cares about feeding itself with activist clickbait content.

And while Washington couldn’t have possibly foreseen the Internet, he did foresee his newly one democracy plunging into chaos when he wrote, “If the laws are to be so trampled upon with impunity, and a minority is to dictate to the majority, there is an end put at one stroke to republican government, and nothing but anarchy and confusion is to be expected thereafter.”

Happy birthday, General. Sorry about everything.

Jared Whitley is a longtime D.C. and Utah politico and award-winning political writer, having worked in the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Bush White House and the defense industry. He has an MBA from Hult International Business School in Dubai.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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