What would Founders Jefferson and Adams have to say about the United States of Trump?

By Ed Martin, The Leader Editor
What would Founders Jefferson and Adams have to say about the United States of Trump?

I met with a pair of old friends the other day to ask them their thoughts on the political climate in 2017, their opinions on President Donald Trump, and of course the state of the world. The two Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, come equipped with a unique perspective, considering they both served in the same office that Trump now sits, an institution they were instrumental in establishing.

We met at Starbucks on Monday. Jefferson, a frequent Starbucks visitor, ordered his usual, a cinnamon dolce latte, while Adams helped himself to an iced mango black tea. I ordered a tall coffee, leaving ample room for creamer.

Adams set his eyes on a blueberry scone but thought otherwise when Jefferson pointed out the number of calories it contained, disguising a contemptuous smile as he furtively studied Adams’ expanding waistline.

Jefferson “conveniently” forgot to bring his wallet – again – so I paid for his latte.

We found an empty table by the window facing the drive-thru and sat down. As he sipped his tea, Adams, fascinated by the automobiles that slowly lumbered by, commented on the various vehicles exiting the drive-thru.

“Is that what they call a Pinto,” queried Adams, pointing to a Camaro that passed by.

I spoiled his perception of the Pinto. “No, we haven’t made Pintos for a long time,” I said. “They sort of exploded when rear-ended.” I didn’t mention that I once owned a Pinto.

I opened the discussion by casually asking Adams what he thought of David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning book about him?

“I actually thought it was pretty good,” said the portly Adams as he deftly rearranged his powdered wig.  “Mr. McCullough’s book, I thought, was indeed an excellent read, and it certainly told well the story of my life, and I thought it reflected well the nature of those interesting times, when we created a country, unlike any before in the history of the world.”

Jefferson looked slightly annoyed. “I wish you wouldn’t do that,” he said. “When you mess with your wig, stuff comes out. I think something floated into my latte, and now I have to pick it out.”

What would Founders Jefferson and Adams have to say about the United States of Trump?

With that Adams again adjusted his wig, as Jefferson defiantly raised his eyebrows in response. “Hey Thom, what’s that wig hair doing in your latte?” He hesitated a moment then with a hearty laugh proclaimed: “The backstroke.”

Jefferson moaned. “See what I had to deal with,” he said. “I had to put up with his jokes in 1776 while writing the Declaration. I nearly went to the other side and became a Tory.”

I quickly changed the subject to the reason I asked them to meet. “As you know we just elected a new president, but he lost the popular vote by three million to Hillary Clinton. What are your thoughts?”

“Blame Hamilton,” said Jefferson quickly, “the man, not the musical.”

“That’s not fair,” retorted Adams. “We all thought a lot about creating a government that best represented all the people. You know, creating the United States was hard work, especially when you get a bunch of pompous patriots in the same room.”

“When I wrote the Declaration of Independence …” started Jefferson before Adams interjected.

“You wrote it? I seem to recall that you had a little help with that,” said Adams. “You seem to forget that both (Benjamin) Franklin and I were also in the room.”

Back to the Trump election. “It was Hamilton, writing his Federalist Papers, number 68 I think who favored the idea of the Electoral College,” said Jefferson, who said he mostly got along with the guy, except for those years when Washington and Adams were president. “I guess he thought that the people should obviously have a say in who their president should be, but he wanted a system that allowed people ‘possessing the information and capacities necessary’ to make a good judgement.”

In other words, Jefferson was saying that the popular vote counts, but you need people well versed in government, uncorrupted by outside influences, to make the final decision. Adams leveled his eyes at Jefferson, as if he were going to say something rude.

I interrupted the two Founding Fathers before they started another revolution in Starbucks. “Let me ask you a simple question. Did the Founding Fathers envision someone like Trump becoming president of the United States?”

They both looked at each other. “Well, the only thing I can say is that I fully expected that wearing wigs wouldn’t last, that it was just a fading fashion statement, but Trump seems to have brought it back,” said Adams.

“Unfortunately, that’s not a wig,” I countered. That’s his real hair.”

They both drew blank stares. “I think, after seeing that hair, I’d prefer a wig,” said Jefferson.

“Ok,” said a somber Adams. “Well, after hearing one of his speeches I’m truly surprised the nation’s level of education hasn’t improved by now. He reminds me of a barely literate seven-year-old child. I would have thought language and education would have advanced dramatically by now.”

“Well,” I sighed, “We have advanced. We put men on the moon and have phones now that talk to us, $5 cups of coffee, and Facebook, which gives us fake news. Unfortunately, our new president does in fact have the vocabulary of a barely literate infant.”

I asked another question, this time about what the two men thought about Trump’s immigration policy.

“They should have started with (Alexander) Hamilton,” said Adams, who had more than his share of angst with the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury. “You know, he was an immigrant.”

I was getting a vague feeling these two Founding Fathers were jealous of their fellow patriot.

Jefferson took up the cause. “Come on,” he said wearily, “they make a musical about the guy? If anybody deserves a musical based on his life, it’s me, and then maybe Washington. After all, I wrote the Declaration of Independence (again Adams rolls his eyes), bought a big hunk of the United States from Napoleon, explored the Louisiana Purchase. What more does a guy have to do to get his own musical?”

The country’s third president returned to the question. “We hoped this new country would be generous to immigrants, and from what I read in the history books, it has,” said Jefferson. You can probably find a bunch of quotes from me indicating my support for immigration.”

Adams purposely coughed. “Let’s face it, me thinks Americans over react much too often.”

Jefferson quipped: “You mean like when you signed the Alien and Sedition Act?”

Adams didn’t respond, instead he released a woeful sigh that caused other Starbucks’ patrons to glance at the two men in wigs.

He again glanced out the window. “Is that a Pinto?” he asked.

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