There’s a bit of a lull in the debating and politicizing right now as Romney wraps up the GOP nomination. Without those debates we’re missing out on a lot of specifically vague economic and foreign policy questions, but we’re also missing some of the more personal questions that often get ridiculed by political commentators and candidate Newt Gingrich. Sometimes deservedly so, like when John King pitched a “this or that” game to the candidates, like asking if they prefer coke or pepsi. But personal questions can often be more revealing than the overly-rehearsed policy questions. One question in particular needs to be asked of all candidates, “Who is your favorite founding father?”
The question demands knowledge of American history, political theory, and a justification of a candidate’s own values. It lets voters know which figure they relate to and what their own idols look like. It also forces GOP candidates to acknowledge that there were other presidents besides Reagan. This question has actually been asked quite often and I would vote for any candidate that gives the right answer (and there is only one right answer), but so far none have.
Perhaps the most famous answer came from pseudo-candidate Sarah Palin, who, when asked by Glenn Beck, gave a response eerily similar to the more infamous newspaper question.
Palin has, for all intents and purposes, endorsed Newt Ginrgrich, so it might come as no surprise then that Gingrich also chose Washington as his favorite, albeit with a bit more confidence and a bit less ability to pronounce “Washington.”
Next on the list, we have Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, both calling James Madison their favorite. Rick Perry even took the time to show off his knowledge of history by linking Madison to the Federalist Papers even in his state of glazed opiation.
Ron Paul also surprised some people when he said John Adams was his favorite, with most expecting him to say Jefferson. It makes more sense when you see this picture tho.
It makes sense why, as presidential candidates, they would all choose former presidents, but unfortunately they are all wrong. Not to disparage the other founding fathers, they all had fairly interesting lives and careers, putting forth great ideas and achieving great things. But I’m sorry, nobody can compare to Benjamin Franklin.
While most of the well-known founding fathers were polymaths, Franklin out polymathed them all, a renowned statesman, scientist, philosopher, entrepreneur, and socialite. His work on electricity made him perhaps the first modern celebrity and put him at the forefront of the Enlightenment. He did not make his name as a founding father, yet helped establish the United States in the values of the Enlightenment. While George Washington and James Madison’s signatures are not on the Declaration of Independence, guess whose is? In every area except warfare and being president, he destroys every other founder. Unfortunately this may also be why no candidate will ever say Franklin is their favorite, but if anybody does, they have my vote.