Republicans: From The Party Of Lincoln; To The Party Of Putin, Trump, And David Duke

a a a a a a a a a a a lincoln

Republicans like to refer to themselves as, “The Party of Lincoln.” This typically comes in response to questions about racism in an attempt to deflect any charges of discrimination today by referring to their long-ago stance. When the Republican Party formed, their first platform resisted the expansion of slavery into new states and territories. The Party’s initial founders were abolitionists, an anti-slavery faction of the Whig Party, and the Free-Soil wing of the Democrat Party. Say what you will about Republicans now, they once stood for something positive, not so much today.

Lincoln himself gets all the credit for ending slavery but given his way, he’d have allowed slavery to continue where it already existed. At his first Inauguration Address, he said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” He also supported the return of slaves to Africa. The Emancipation Proclamation was less about granting freedom to the slaves than it was about hurting the South’s economy and keeping France and Britain from siding with the South whom economically they were inclined to.

Despite Lincoln’s personal ambivalence, the Republican Party was a major factor in the ending of slavery and the environment that led to Reconstruction. Unfortunately, they gave away their claim of moral superiority when in the Compromise of 1877, in trade for winning a disputed Presidential election. They agreed to remove Federal troops from the South which directly let to the end of Reconstruction and the imposition of Jim Crow. The Republican Party’s last claim to be the Party of Lincoln died in 1877.

Fast-forward to the present. The most recent Republican platform includes language changing the previous Republican position favorably to Russia. There has never been a satisfactory explanation as to who, how, and why. The Republicans who controlled oversight in Congress in the House and the Senate have looked away. Their response to a President and Administration who has had multiple secret meetings with Russians and Russian intelligence has been either muted, standing by watching, or a full-throated defense. The more information that becomes public about Trump and associates ties to Russia and private communications, the more the Party that tied itself to national security, at best looks the other way.

Republican legislators have foresworn any priorities other than getting re-elected. This means looking away as he separates children from families, shuts down the government, and destroys the economy with his trade wars and dramatic increase of the national debt. They perhaps console themselves with the tax cuts which benefit them personally and court appointments which protect the class they are part of.

Republicans rage at being portrayed as racist. They don’t mind their Party being racist in their policies but find being called racist offensive. I’m not saying all or even most Republicans are racist. I’m saying they have created an environment where racists are welcome and in fact, pander to them to ensure their continued support at the polls. To avoid the appearance of promoting racism, the Republican House leadership just stripped Rep. Steve King (IA) from his committee assignments after wondering how white nationalism and white supremacy got a bad name? They were shocked, shocked, to find out King harbored racist sentiments, though he’d been expressing them openly for decades. The President makes racist statements all the time, where is the outrage?

Whatever you think of the Republican Party, they have long ceased to be the Party of Lincoln. Depending on the need they now are meeting the needs of Vladimir Putin, Donald J Trump, and David Duke. Parties can and do change. A look at the past of the Democrat Party shows a history of racism, more violent than Republicans have engaged in. When Republicans allowed Jim Crow in 1877, Democrats instituted it. The Democrats changed dramatically in the 1960s when dissatisfaction with the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act caused many (Dixiecrats) to flee to the Republican Party. The “Southern Strategy,” ensured they remained Republicans.

I’d like to believe Republicans can do better. I’m less sure they will. Mitch McConnel is racing to fill the Federal Courts with young, conservative Judges. He and other Republicans hope that they will exert control of the Judiciary for generations, long after demographics have lessened their power to legislate. Outside the Courts, Republicans are using Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression to impose the will of a minority on the rest of us. They have gotten a partisan Supreme Court to support unlimited, undisclosed financial contributions, courtesy of Citizens United. They just experienced historic losses of House seats in the 2018 elections and are facing tough sledding in the Senate in 2020 based on who is up for reelection. When they lose, it will be because they sacrificed the principals they once held as a Party. Telling us, “collusion is not a crime,” is not the cry of an ethical Party. Putin, Trump, and Duke couldn’t be more thrilled.

The Walking Dead: AKA The Republican Party

There are ways the Republican Party refers to itself and ways they are often thought of. None are true any longer. They are the Walking Dead, Zombies, unaware they are dead, protesting their demise. These are the things they used to be:

 

  1. The Party of Lincoln: This they have not been for a very long time. One could argue they gave up that title; not in the 1970’s when they adopted the Southern Strategy. Not in the 1960’s when they were the soft landing place for the Dixiecrats rebelling against Civil Right and Voter Rights Acts. They stopped being the Party of Lincoln when in the Compromise of 1877; they withdrew Federal troops from the South which marked the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow.

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Photo: twitter.com

 

  1. The Party of Ideas: More of a popular marketing strategy than a reality. Republicans began casting themselves as the Party of Ideas in the 1980’s and never stopped without regard to the reality. They keep referencing “Returning to the Party of Ideas” without ever acknowledging that they ever stopped being so. Whatever you thought about their beliefs. There was a time the Party had some; the latest version based around the Paul Ryan budget of 2012 which basically advocated for modern, accountable and responsive institutions and limited government. That wasn’t what that budget did but it was what they claimed.

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Photo: scoopnest.com

 

  1. The Party of No: Once Barack Obama became President. The official objective of the Party became to deny him everything he wanted to accomplish. They opposed even their own proposals lest President Obama be given credit. The House passed bills to repeal Obamacare over 50 times. The Senate obstructed and filibustered grinding every normal process to a halt. They shut down the Government.

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Photo: Newsbusters.org

 

  1. The Party of Trump: While one could make the case that Trump’s values don’t represent those of the entire Party. It’s hard because close to 90% of the Party have coalesced behind him while holding their noses. Trump certainly doesn’t advocate small government. He doesn’t respect the Constitution, not knowing or caring how many Articles it has. The remaining “leaders” of the Party have pinned their hopes on being able to shape policy because they’re certain Trump will have no interest. Their appeal has become limited to White Males without College Degrees. Their base is the Alt-Right and those living in fear of the black, brown, yellow and red man attaining equality which of necessity lessens them.

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Photo: politicalhype.com

 

There is a scene in from the 1976 movie, “The Shootist” where John Wayne says, “I have a cancer.” The wording  always struck me when he said he had “a” cancer. The Republican Party has multiple cancers. Single party interests who have enough of a hold on the Party to be able to hold it hostage. The Party can no longer agree on what it wants, only what it’s opposed to. Their current legislative power is based on gerrymandering. Their only hope base on voter suppression,

The Republican Party is dead. Their hopes for leadership were dashed as they watched them, every one, capitulate to Trump and prove they stand for nothing. Because they stood for nothing and never stood up to the Tea Party or the Evangelists or the Trump faction. The Party is now ungovernable. Paul Ryan, a former Vice-Presidential nominee is greeted by chants of “Paul Ryan Sucks.” Mitch McConnell is literally in hiding, refusing to speak any longer on Trump. Politicians are trying to distance themselves from or embrace their nominee based not on convictions but political expediency. Even Ted Cruz, seemed to have forgotten Trump accused his father of being involved in the JFK Assassination and implied his wife was ugly! None have the moral authority to lead. It’s been Party before Country but even more important than that… re-election.

The Republican Party is dead. All that remains is to decide is whether they go the way of the Whig Party and disappear. Or rises like the Phoenix from the ashes to become relevant again. Even gerrymandering will not save them for long as a new census in 2020 will set off a new round of redistricting which hopefully the Democrats will be prepared for this time. Until then they are the Walking Dead. Oblivious to their demise and lost in remembrance of the life it once knew.

 

Featured Image: Salon.com

The Party of Lincoln

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.

 

The Party of Lincoln

 

I often hear Republican’s these days calling themselves “The Party of Lincoln.” It is a defense I think, against charges that their party is racist. Despite the number of policies they promote that are racist in effect without regard to intent. The claim while historically correct is quite misleading in that a total upheaval in the party has made it far less the Party of Lincoln than it is the Party of Trump or even David Duke.

One thing I’d like to get straight is that even Lincoln was ambivalent about slavery. I don’t doubt his claim that he was personally opposed to it but he had no intention of ending it. Even saying specifically in his 1861 Inauguration Speech that he didn’t intend to interfere with slavery, thought he had no right to do so nor the inclination. The Party of Lincoln.

A second thing is that the Emancipation Proclamation itself was less about freeing slaves than it was about weakening the Southern economy which with slavery had some inherent advantages and to keep Britain and France from siding with the Confederacy. It only freed slaves in the states in conflict with the Union and left slavery intact in several states including Kentucky and Missouri.

At war’s end, the Republicans did lead the South into the Reconstruction Era which led to many Black elected officials. Reconstruction was highly dependent on the Federal troops still located throughout the South that kept the peace. This lasted until 1877 where Republicans agreed to withdraw the troops to resolve a dispute over the 1876 Presidential election. In other words, Republicans sold out the former slaves for political expediency. This opened the door to the era of Jim Crow. The Party of Lincoln.

In 1920 a Republican-controlled Senate refused to pass an anti-lynching bill that had already passed the House. Midwestern and Western Republican Senators joined with Southern Democrats to kill the bill. In the 1960’s. Democrats passed Civil Rights and Voting Right’sbillswhich sent the most racist Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) scurrying to the Republican Party. The Party began to look then as it does today. The Party ofLincoln.

We got from Republicans after that the “Southern Strategy” courtesy of Lee Atwater. All you need to know is “Willie Horton” to understand what that strategy was/is.We next got the “Tea Party” and now we have Trump. The Party of Lincoln.

Even with Lincoln, the Republican Party was no panacea for Black people. Since Lincoln, the Party has gotten progressively worse and they would rather suppress your vote than earn it. Last week Trump began his alleged appeal to African-American voters by speaking to 95% White audiences and refraining from his comments of the week before calling for “more police”in the inner-cities.

So when Republicans call themselves “The Party of Lincoln.” It was never that great an honor to begin with. It serves only as a response to those who point out their racist behavior, while they steadfastly engage in it.