sábado, 16 de enero de 2010

Lesson learned in rule of law: from Washington´s mouth to Uribe´s ears

Álvaro Uribe should stand aside and let would-be successors campaign to lead Colombia
- The Economist (December 30th, 2009)

Mr Uribe has indeed accomplished much. But for Colombia to progress it needs strong institutions rather than an eternal strongman.
- The Economist (December 30th, 2009)

Washington Relinquishes Power

"As Commander in Chief during the Revolutionary War and then as the first president, Washington held the most powerful positions in the new nation. In May 1775, at the Second Continental Congress, John Adams lobbied for Washington’s selection as Commander in Chief. But Adams knew that throughout history strong political men usually grasped for power when given the opportunity. He commented that Washington would be remarkable if he did not use his command of the army to seize power for himself. George Washington, however, never used his command for his own advantage. He even rebuked his men when they suggested that he become king or that the army assert its control over the civilian authorities. As Commander in Chief, Washington demonstrated his respect for the rule of law by his consistent deference to the elected Continental Congress. When he ended his service at the end of the war, he resigned his commission in 1783 and retired to Mount Vernon.

After presiding at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Washington was elected the first president. He was elected unanimously by the Electoral College, something that has never been repeated in American history. After two terms Washington thought it was important that he step aside. He believed that a peaceful transition of power to a newly elected president was necessary before his death. He feared that if he died in office and the vice-president ascended to the presidency, it would appear too much like an heir ascending to the throne after the death of a king. When Washington stepped aside at the end of his second term, George III said that Washington’s retirement from the presidency along with his earlier resignation of Commander in Chief, “placed him in a light the most distinguished of any man living,” and that his relinquishing power made him “the greatest character of the age.”

Throughout world history, the transfer of political power has been marked by struggle, deception, and bloodshed. George Washington’s commitment to the rule of law, however, often at the expense of his own personal power and advantage, set the example by which political rule in America would be decided by ballets, not bullets. In his first inaugural address in 1981, Ronald Reagan commented on this remarkable fact:

My fellow citizens: To a few of us today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in the history of our Nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.

This statement of President Reagan nicely summarizes the importance of the rule of law, and helps us understand why the American experiment in self- government is such a unique thing in human history."

Alejandro Beeche

1 comentario:

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