Important Presidential Farewell Addresses Warned Against the Very Troubles We Face

It's remarkable. There is a fundamental shift in America. There's a great article today in National Review about how we should have heeded the words Ronald Reagan delivered in his farewell speech. Throughout history, presidents have used their farewell addresses to warn future presidents and generations about threats they see to, among other things, the American way. There are three farewell addresses that I personally believe could have helped us avoid the trouble we're in now. I was so happy to see the National Review choose the same three.

George Washington

The first came from George Washington. In Washington's Farewell Address, he warned about political parties and having loyalty to them above country. He said that would kill us in the end, as well as foreign entanglements.

George Washington wrote his remarks, but he never actually delivered them personally. Instead, he sent his Farewell Address to the newspapers for publication.

Once upon a time, Americans had to study his Farewell Address, memorize it. There were three documents that students had to study --- the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's Farewell Address. Up until about 1920, his Farewell Address was studied by every generation. You couldn't pass the eighth grade unless you knew it.

Nowadays, most people have never even read Washington's Farewell Address, let alone heard of it. It's one of the best documents in American history, and it shows where we've gone wrong.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

The second was Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People. Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. He warned that if we don't watch what's happening with the Pentagon and the military, they would get us involved in everything and spend us into oblivion, causing all kinds of foreign entanglements. I think this was the most risky, yet totally honest warning any president has ever given us.

Eisenhower was the winning general of World War II, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. He grew up in the military, was a fan of the military, and he saw a change in the 1950s because of the Cold War. He realized we weren't going to descale or de-escalate.

Up until World War II and then Korea in the 1950s, we would call an army together to go fight. Our army before World War II was literally training with broomsticks. We didn't even have enough guns. People would bring their own guns from home to train. We had a civilian army. That's the way we always were: Hey, there's a war coming. Let's all get together and train.

In the 1950s, the world changed because of nuclear war. Everyone realized we could all be dead in 12 minutes. With nuclear weapons at the ready, we had to have to have a standing army. We had to have a military-industrial complex that was building and researching the latest technology for war.

In his Farewell Address, Eisenhower warned America we would no longer be sending these people home to the private sector. They were now permanent, professional fixtures within the military. And as with everything, unless they were monitored, they would grow in power and lead us around on a leash.

Here was a general saying beware the military-industrial complex, beware the collusion between the military and the capitalist companies that are going to get rich off of those military sales. That was extraordinarily brave.

And what happened? Mostly kooks listened to it. The vast military-industrial complex became a joke, a conspiracy theory. I don't think that was by happenstance. I think it was people in the military-industrial complex turning it into a joke. "Oh, I know you got to be careful of the black helicopters." Well, yeah, you kind of do. It could get out of control, as George Washington said.

Only those with a healthy respect for fire and what it is and what it does and how out of control it could be should be tending the fire. That's all that Eisenhower was saying. If you don't have a healthy respect for what capitalism and the military can do, you shouldn't be tending to it.

Ronald Reagan

And then there was the third one, from Ronald Reagan, one that I think was misunderstood. We were so fat and sassy at the time, that I don't think anybody really listened to it. I want to share about five paragraphs of the Reagan's Farewell Address to the Nation:

Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I've got one that's been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I'm proudest of in the past 8 years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.

Did you hear that? National pride is good, but it doesn't count for anything unless it is grounded in kindness and knowledge.

I contend we have neither of those right now, on any side, that our national dialogue is not grounded in knowledge, certainly not kindness. Who are you hearing talk about real issues, the ones that face you, and real solutions? Who are you hearing talk about real solutions with kindness and with knowledge? How many of us are responding back with knowledge or kindness? Ronald Reagan said it won't account for much, unless it's coupled with those two things.

An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?

That's a question. That's a question, and you can answer that question now. You couldn't answer it then. Are we doing a good enough job of teaching our children the history of America? I believe my parents probably said yes. And if I were a parent back then, I'd say yes. If I were a parent in 2000, I'd say, well, kind of, pretty much. If I were a parent in 2008, I would say, well, it's kind of bad. If I'm a parent in 2017? Look at the failure. We didn't even see how rotted this system has become. You can get your doctorate in history at maybe 90 percent of colleges nationwide and not be required to take any American history. How can you have your degree in world history without taking any American history? That doesn't make sense. That's like saying your an expert in world history, but you didn't study England or Rome. How is that possible? If that's the case then you're not a world historian. You might be a historian on Asia and the Middle East, but that's only part of the world.

Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.

He's getting ready to leave office in 1989, saying we used to have this in popular culture. Go back in popular culture in 1989, and it's practically Uncle Sam pants compared to now. Think about what culture is like now. Remember, entertainment creates culture, but culture creates values. Our culture back then was creating values that were good, kind, gentle, strong, American. Our entertainment is none of those things now. What are the values being mined and minted right now in our culture? They are not what we grew up with, and he was my president when I was a teenager.

But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom-freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.

So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important-why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant.

You know, 4 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who'd fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, "we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did." Well, let's help her keep her word.

It's an amazing call to arms and one that needs to be heard again and answered again.

I want to bring you along for a ride that we're going to take because we are going to answer that call --- in a different way.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Editor’s Note: The following is based on an excerpt from The Glenn Beck Program on June 21, 2017.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.