“There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true – but Jefferson, come on, you don’t have to be such an asshole about it.”
– George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796

It’s become a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people cite George Washington’s warning against political parties in his 1796 Farewell Address as some sort of prescient knowledge about modern political turmoil. Within the context of the time, Washington was speaking directly to his contemporaries, especially Thomas Jefferson and his Anti-Federalists (who would go on to become the Democratic-Republicans), who had been at each others’ throats for quite some time now. Yes, ostensibly Washington himself was not of a specific political party, but he was pretty heavily leaning towards the Federalist side of things. I just find it tiring when people treat the Founding Fathers as all-knowing prophets whose words are infallible when they themselves were constantly shitting on each other’s viewpoints any chance they got.

And even if Washington’s letter wasn’t about contemporary issues and he actually was “predicting the future” – like, he was there when a government was set up that makes political parties all but inevitable. To me, that seems less like wisdom and more like, “Hey guys, I know there’s this huge glitch in the foundation of our government, but can you try not exploiting it please? Kthxbye!”

– James