The American government should emphasize the interests of its own people. Not to the exclusion of other peoples—the national government should operate within a moral framework, its actions constrained by the requirements of justice and prudence. But the Founders created the government to protect and advance the interests of the American people first and foremost. A policy that does not do so is unsustainable and ultimately dangerous.
The Founders were not demigods. But they did exhibit unusual wisdom—as did George Washington, who demonstrated unique character in stepping away from power, and whose farewell address offers lessons that our leaders today would do well to follow.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire. This first appeared last year.