(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The Senate returned from the Presidents Day recess by reprising one of the chamber’s greatest — and perhaps most ironic — traditions.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, was recognized for the annual reading of George Washington’s Farewell address. In the lengthy speech, the nation’s first president warned “against the baneful effects of the spirit of party.”
As to be expected, King was repeating Washington’s words to a largely empty chamber on a Monday afternoon before many of his colleagues had returned to the Capitol.
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism,” Washington said. “The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”