Could George Washington Get Elected Today?

WashingtonIn 1789, George Washington took office after a unanimous vote from 69 electors. Could a shy public speaker with limited political experience and and a less-than-perfect smile be elected in our age of television speeches, soundbites, and photo ops?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Susie Davies says

    My support of Charles was in response to his Feb. 21 posting at 1:17 pm, which focuses on George Washington. I was not referring to his earlier comments posted at 12:58 pm. I apologize for the confusion and any unintended offense.

  2. Emily says

    What floors me in all these comments is that the vast majority of people commenting here bring up things like height, appearance, financial backing, cultural clout, military service, image etc., but no one has made mention of GW’s being elected based on things like his beliefs about what government should be/how far should it extend, who controls the money of individuals/taxes, his beliefs on what people should/shouldn’t be responsible for in their own lives, etc.

    This reflect poorly on our nation that image is more important than a man’s (or woman’s) leadership of a nation as influenced by his (or her’s) philosophies of government.

  3. says

    GW has a lot of the characteristics of a modern day leader…Ambitious, successful, tall and strong and, of course, a successful war general which is and always will be a catapult to the top office. Too many people are getting caught up in the particular circumstances of the time that would not translate to the modern world. e.g. “He held slaves so he couldn’t get elected.” He obviously would not have slaves in today’s world, but it should be noted he was the only of the first 9 presidents to free all his slaves! That suggests a modern, forward thinking person that would flourish in today’s world. He would surely have better teeth today, better appearance, a different approach to party politics and foreign policy and most current matters. All in all, he has many of the timeless characteristics needed for a leader today as well. Of course he could be elected President!

      • Emily says

        Please read my statement to Charles above.

        You are entitled to your opinion, and I mean no incivility to you. I simply challenge you on the idea that we as a society do not necessarily hold anymore to the principle that our Founding Fathers held to enough to include it as very important: that life is inalienable right. Abortion is not in keeping with that idea. Because that was important enough to George Washington, I’m not sure modern day Americans would elect GW.

        How is that opinion so offensive and wrong to post? Please explain. I’d love to read your viewpoint. All you and Charles seem to be concerned with is that I have no right to express here. It is a provoking thought: would our Founding Fathers agree with abortion as it does not seem in keeping with the “inalienable right to life” idea they had? Would they be willing to forego this as important in a quest to be elected in this modern age?

        I regret you decided to piggy-pile on me with commenter Charles. I regret you may be a person of influence on any young person learning to think for himself or herself. I regret you do not believe in my right to free speech. Maybe you should too.

  4. says

    In reply to Emily on Feb 18 who chose to wretch forth her opinion about abortion more than answer the question of GW’s election chances today, you are the only one who does not have a reply button. Why? Perhaps it is because you have strayed from topic or maybe most of us “thinkers” also hold dear the right to religious freedom and the separation of church and state also championed by our founders? Women have the ability to make their own choice of life and religion without you forcing yours down our throat through the state. Thank goodness. Please restrict your fanatical beliefs to the appropriate forum.

    • Emily says

      I do not know why I do not have a reply button, but I am reading your comment. I mean that with all sincerity. Please know that I did not see some sort of button to include or not include that. I did check tick off “Notify me when new comments are posted”. It was not a way to troll or prevent anyone from responding with their own thoughts to mine.

    • Emily says

      I merely bring up an example of how differently we think today as a society as opposed to what our Founding Fathers thought or chose to draft as a principle of our nation.

      Your own intolerance of my owning any opinion differing from your’s is rather fanatical in its own right. But I will not ask that you discontinue expressing yourself as that is also a right I believe you have – to free speech. I also believe that owning the right to think for myself and express my own opinion/conviction is my freedom. I do not apologize if my freedom has created so much offense to you. I can’t believe you would allow it to steam you up so much that you would be so rude to me in a public forum.

      I also hold to the idea of separation of church and state, but what has that got to do with abortion and what our Founding Fathers thought? I do not believe I make any mention of any religious organization in the comment to which you refer. You are extrapolating from an imaginary point in your own mind that is irrelevant to what I wrote. Our Supreme Court gave women this choice, yes, but what I am saying is that our Founding Fathers believed that life is an inalienable right. . . you cannot take another life just because it’s inconvenient for you. And besides, an unborn life had no choice at all in the matter whether his mom (and dad) decided to procreate. Does that unborn life have an inalienable right to life, or is that unborn life in your mind not even a life? And where did you get your idea that a life is not a life until it is a life? What “scientific” evidence or convoluted linguistic history did you base that on? Is a human fetus a living organism or not? Does it have a choice? Does it have an inalienable right to life?

      I do not force my opinion down your throat, but I will gladly and respectfully debate or discuss you any day on the matter. I miss the days when Americans were allowed to discuss differences without being called “fanatical”, “intolerant” or politically incorrect. You are the rude and intolerant one considering your tone to me in your comments directed to me. Talk about incivility.

  5. Magnus says

    Oh god no. He’s born of the values of individual responsibility and personal freedom. Presidents nowdays are only elected based on what they can give away and how they can punish those who are successful (tax the rich).

    It’s sad that I doubt any of the founding fathers could be elected today because too many people are now dependent on government and have no idea what personal responsibility is all about.

  6. sean says

    No way… the principles that he stood for have all eroded from the very fabric of our country. Liberty is a generation away from extinction… We have systematically watched the American people lose their rights due to lack of knowledge.

    Washington didn’t have the fake appeal, and insincerity that is a requirement for current presidents. He was more worried about creating a true free society where each man could bet on himself rather than rely to create a society of entitlement.

    His ideals, principles would not win the popular vote of the “give me something – and let someone else pay for America” that we know today.

  7. Rhonda says

    Sadly, I would have to say No, George Washington wouldn’t be elected today….even though I wish he could. We have a pop culture in our country now. Many who vote
    aren’t paying attention to a broad base of issues, only what concerns them personally rather than what the country needs. They go more by a winsome personality and
    popularity. Even JFK would be considered a conservative today and his comment of “Ask not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country.”
    would not even be considered. We have gone backwards as a country-not forward……sad but absolutely true.

  8. Boomer says

    GW would have a very hard time getting elected. If you read his farewell address, literally EVERYTHING encompassed in it is anathema to how we act and govern today. A more realist, isolationist foreign policy, a lack of political parties, more union rather than disunion…?

    Washington was a President without party, interests, or personal ideology. His driving force was to do what was best of ALL of the country, not just those who would vote for him. Today his message would fall on deaf ears…

  9. Edward Elric says

    To tell you the truth George Washington did NOT want to be the president or general of the army. I mean Connor from assassins Creed 3 has a better of being president today because George Washington didn’t want to be in that position.

  10. says

    I’m studying colonial Williamsburg in class, but the character I am focusing on hates George Washington. I’m not sure, but I think he would be elected because even though he isn’t half-actor, he practically created this country. On the other hand, I’m sure at least a few of his opponents would play dirty and create a sound-bite or something, but the fact that he is the father of the country would probably overwhelm the sound-bite. I think George Washington would win the presidency.

  11. Emily says

    I think George Washington ,could be elected today , because of his leadership qualities and because of his wife Martha. Many people describe her as warm and friendly. She certainly was helpful to him during the Revolution.

  12. ronald l clark says

    Yes, since there are presently not many politicans that are as principled as Washington. I remember, in history or my lifetime, a few like Abraham Lincoln,Teddy Rossevelt,Sam Rayburn, Dwight Eisenhower, FDR, Harry Truman and or Everett Dirksen that put country above party or political perspective. Maybe things would be different now if there were those like Bro. Washington.

  13. Linda Hardy says

    Washington may have had some problems that would have made it harder to get elected today, but he had a presence that would have gotten him noticed. He had connections, he had stature, and he knew how to get his point across. After all, through sheer personality, he managed to hold together a rag-tag army during the war. He presided over a Constitutional Convention that managed to write a constitution that everybody finally agreed to ratify. He must have had some political ability.

  14. Susie Davies says

    If Washington decided to be president today, he could make it happen.
    1. He was ambitious and competitive, although in his time it was considered poor manners to appear so.
    2. Financial resources were available to him. He was a highly successful planter who was admired by other wealthy Americans. Campaign contributions would “pour in”.
    3. He knew how to sell himself. When the Continental Congress needed a commander-in-chief for its newly formed army, the delegates turned to Washington, who wore a military uniform to daily meetings. He looked the part and got the job.
    4. Washington cared about his public appearance. He would take advantage of today’s available cosmetic procedures (e.g. dental work).
    GW was intelligent enough and talented enough to be elected president of anything.

  15. geoffrey kovacik says

    Not only could Washington not be elected today with his dental problems, but neither could FDR with his polio or TR with his high pitched voice. Jefferson would have a hard time because of his speaking style and Madison because of his stature. Lincoln’s appearance would disqualify him as well.
    In short television would disenfranchise most of our great presidents and leave us with the midgets we are forced to choose from today.

  16. says

    George Washington could not be elected today. He was aloof from the general populance. In formal presidential receptions he stood on an elevated platform symbolizing his arrogance & would bow to those in attendance rather than shaking hands. He was aristocratic in his living and his character. He was the man for his times but not for today’s times.

    • Emily says

      I will venture to say there are many aloof, elitest out-of-touch elected politicians today. . . ahem, certain parts of the country, ahem, are notorious for being snobby and self-serving. These people too are “aristocratic” in their living.

  17. George Schumann says

    We are being naive to think that charisma and character get candidates elected. At least half the battle is getting funded. We should be asking: could/would Washington raise the Benjamins to campaign?

    • Philip Melanchthon says

      Washington had piles of ‘Benjamins’ of his own. HUGE real estate holdings, for example, that — if he owned them today — could bring in a lot of cash for the campaign.

      He was also extremely popular because of his war record and retirement at the end of the war. So I’d bet he could attract donors.

      Big drawback to getting elected today was one of the other sources of his wealth: the ‘human capital’ [i.e., slaves] that he owned. I think it would be hard for a slaveowner to be elected in today’s political climate.

      • Emily says

        I was told (at Williamsburg, no less) that many of our Founding Fathers were carriers of debt.

        It’s pretty amazing (rather miraculous) how Americans actually won the Revolution without so much material/financial resources in comparison to England’s own. We seem to forget how many lives were sacrificed by “outsiders” (what that guy from the USDA Diversity Training sessions called those who founded/established our country) so that we could all have liberty.

        Yes, today financial backing matters more. With the money, you can control Hollywood, media, news outlets, etc. Those are the things that shape the minds of a nation. While propaganda has long played a part in our political history, it’s particularly bad now when our own education system has been taken over as one way to usurp control over our minds and money. The battle for the mind is the greatest battle ever. I don’t think our Founding Fathers had as much control over certain areas of the population’s thinking as our growing larger government has today.

      • Emily says

        As for slave ownership, you are right. That wouldn’t fly today at all, and that’s a good thing for sure.

        I wonder, would George Washington have owned slaves at all if it was not a culturally-accepted institution at the time? From my understanding, slavery was something practiced universally (especially in the Orient and in the Middle East). Yet, we do not condemn other nations and cultures for their acceptance of slavery at anytime in their history as we do America. I’m not excusing America for this great tragedy in her past, but why do people today think “America is a bad, bad country and needs to be changed because her Founders were slave owners?”

  18. navy65 says

    The problem with politics today is too many voters fall for the charismatic speaker and not one that has values and substance. George Washington wasn’t considered a great speaker but he knew how to run the country for two terms. Wish he was back.

  19. Susie Davies says

    I believe George Washington could be elected president today. His quiet dignity, natural grace, magnetic charisma, leadership skills, and common sense are the timeless assets that appeal to modern voters. Washington successfully handled the enormous challenges of a rapidly changing America; he could certainly do the same thing today. He was a Rock Star!

  20. Robert Weekley says

    Sad to say I bet he could not get elected because nowadays you have to be part tv-star to run for president. You have to look good and sound good and be a real schmoozer. We value superficial qualities more now in the modern day and leaders like Washington would never have their chance.

      • Emily says

        Unfortunately, we do not seem to be very close to the Founding Fathers’ ideas and philosophies on some matters of great importance. For example, they believed in the inalienable right to life, and we have gone against our own laws in the practice of abortion. Ethically, we have strayed. And we are not the thinkers that our Founding Fathers were. We might spend more time in our schooling, publically and privately, but we are not thinkers. . . we are a citizenry needing visual props (think of our entertainment) and instant gratification in order to understand.

        George Washington couldn’t get elected by the same population who voted in the last election. We seem to think our way of thinking is “evolved”, but it’s only evolved if you consider emotion to be the main instigator of your rationale.

    • Oliver Friend says

      Actually, George spend most of life positioning and presenting himself to his best appearance – in dress, manners, he was an excellent dancer, perhaps the best horseman in Virginia (and that was saying a lot), and he was charming with the ladies, thoughtful, dignified leader of men. He essentially wrote the book on what the “office of the Presidency” required of an occupant. At the beginning of his political learning curve, he mastered the “necessity” to “entertain” prospective voters with good cheer (meaning “spirits”). And by today…well…it’s not bad to get your “brand” on the dollar bills!

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