What’s the true meaning of Presidents’ Day?

15928527814_4a9e476e7b_zHappy Presidents’ Day.  What are we really celebrating today?

Originally, it was George Washington’s Birthday, honoring the Father of Our Country.  Then Abraham Lincoln, another great American, was thrown in.

Once the holiday was moved to Monday, to give federal workers a three-day weekend, Presidents’ Day became completely unmoored from the date of Washington’s birthday.  Now we use the day to celebrate ALL presidents.

We have had some good ones, but not that many.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, were from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, but they were both iconic presidents who had a big impact on American history.  Then there were notable chief executives–Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower–whose legacy is significant, though sometimes still controversial.  (As for Donald Trump, for all the furor of his first few weeks, his presidency is just getting started.)

But here is my question:  Why do we have a federal day-off holiday to honor the Executive Branch?  If we are going to do that, why don’t we have a holiday to honor the Legislative Branch?  And the Judicial Branch?  If the prospect of the latter two seems ridiculous, why isn’t it also ridiculous to have a Presidents’ Day?

I suppose it’s because that office is held by an identifiable individual, unlike our other branches of government.  Perhaps it has something to do with an atavistic reverence for Kings.  But I’m not sure this is healthy in a democratic republic.

But I suspect I’m missing something.  Can someone explain the true meaning of Presidents’ Day and why we need that to be a national holiday?

And yet, this is our national holiday, so let’s observe it in the best way possible.  What thoughts should it call to mind?  What should we be thankful for?  What should we do to keep the holiday?

UPDATE:  My suggestion after the jump.

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The new culture war

Jackson_inauguration_cropThe old culture war was about morality and was informed by religion.  The new culture war, signaled by the election of Donald Trump, is about nationalism vs. multiculturalism and “the people” vs. the elites.  Trump has little interest in the old culture wars, with the important exception of being pro-life.  But the new culture war is just as emotional, with pretty much the same people on either side.  So says Rich Lowry in a piece excerpted and linked after the jump.

So where does that leave Christians and others who are still concerned about morality and religion?

If those issues are taken off the table, Christians have other interests–jobs, security, liberty–that could align them with this alleged new culture war.  Many are members of what Lowry calls “Jacksonian America,” those ordinary citizens scorned by the elite as “vulgar masses,” like those championed by Andrew Jackson (and who trashed the White House when he invited them in).

Other Christians may be on the elite side, a faction often championed by traditional conservatives.  Just as populism used to be central to the ideology of the Democratic party.

If this analysis is correct, isn’t there going to be tension between a catholic religion like Christianity (“from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” [Rev. 7:9]) and nationalism?

[Read more…]

Who is funding the U.S. secessionist movements

9348031848_222ae13657_zCalifornia and Texas both have secessionist movements with the goal of breaking away from the United States and setting up independent nations.  California’s rebels would seem to be from the left.  The Texans would seem to be from the right.  But the unlikely breakaways of these formerly independent republics have a common funder:  RUSSIA.

The leader of “Calexit” and its organization Yes California even lives in Russia!

So says the article excerpted and linked after the break. [Read more…]

Trump vows trade deal with UK

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

In an interview with the London Times [subscription required], Donald Trump promised a quick trade deal with the UK, thus helping its Brexit transition.  (British prime minister Theresa May and other Brexit supporters were delighted at the news.)

He also gave other indications of what his new foreign policy would be like:  He said he supported NATO, though he considered it “obsolete,” saying only five NATO members are paying their dues.  He also said he might suspend sanctions against Russia in exchange for a nuclear arms cut.

The EU is alarmed because it had been planning to punish the UK economically for pulling out of the union.  Furthermore, if Trump is going to reward UK for breaking away from the European Union, will that encourage other member nations to do the same? Trump’s NATO talk also has Europe worried that they may have to go it alone militarily without the US.

If a free trade pact with the UK were to be extended to other countries that break away from the EU, that could create a new bloc of nations, dominated by the US.  Or maybe Trump’s deal could be extended to other English-speaking countries, such as Canada and Australia.  Throw in India, with its vast population and emerging wealth, as an alternative to China.

Whatever happens, Trump is going to remake American foreign policy, for better or worse (or some of both). [Read more…]

Empire of Desire

CiceroI have long said that we shouldn’t look for analogies between our cultural problems and the fall of the Roman empire.  We should look for parallels with the fall of the Roman Republic.  Carl Trueman says that while the position of Christianity is changing, secular society itself is changing too.  He sees the rise of what he calls an “empire of desire” (a concept also treated by R. R. Reno, whom he links to).  He calls for new Ciceroes who have the integrity, the wisdom, and the eloquence to defend our Republic and to resist the Imperial temptations.

I would just add that while the rise of globalism and American internationalism have the flavor of Empire, the resurgent nationalist movements (Trump, Brexit, the European nationalist parties) would seem to resist Empire.  Don’t they?  Or does the over all authority of “desire” undermine less centralized republics also? [Read more…]

Electoral College Day, then and now

640px-Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesThe Electoral College meets today, with the designated electors meeting in state capitols to cast their vote for president.  In most states, electors are required, by law or by oath, to vote according to the election results of their state.  Nevertheless, this year electors are receiving thousands of e-mails, letters, and phone calls, insisting on the autonomy of the electoral college and begging them not to put Trump in office.  Even Democratic electors are being pressured not to vote for Clinton but a more conventional Republican, in the hopes of attracting enough Republican electors to switch from Trump.

In the first presidential election, each state voted, either popularly or by state legislature, for upstanding citizens and trusted local leaders who gathered together to deliberate on who would make the best president.  They voted, and the winner would become president.  That first Electoral College chose, unanimously, George Washington.  There hasn’t been a better president since.

But soon political parties came into existence, nominating their candidates. The electors came to represent a particular party.  They began to all be selected by a popular vote.  And soon we had the system we do today.  (See this for the history of the Electoral College.)

Would you favor going back to the original Constitutional method of picking a president? [Read more…]