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What Would Nellis Say?

What Would Lincoln Think? - June 2023

What Would Lincoln Think?

 

In June, 1854, founder and editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley wrote: "We should not care much whether those thus united (against slavery) were designated 'Whig,' 'Free Democrat' or something else; though we think some simple name like 'Republican' would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery."

 

In an effort to build a railway from the Mississippi River to the Pacific, Stephen Douglas led the effort in Congress to pass The Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise, a law that allowed for the possibility of the rebirth of slavery in the North and created two new territories through local elections.

In 1855, proslavery mobs stormed into Lawrence, Kansas, sacked the town and arrested the leaders of the free state, claiming “settler sovereignty” in an effort to sway the vote. The violence between pro and anti-slavery groups in Kansas was so intense and bloody that the territory earned the nickname “Bleeding Kansas” leading to the destruction of the old Whig coalition and the birth of the anti-slavery Republican Party.

Horace Greeley was quick to decry the anarchy and insurrection as spawned by Southerners defending their right to buy, sell, and own human beings. "Failing to silence the North by threats…the South now resorts to actual violence." The first rumblings preceding the Civil War had begun. 

 

The newly formed Republican Party and their candidate, frontiersman and explorer John Fremont, campaigned on the promise to end “Slave Power” and to repeal the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Democrat James Buchanan, who campaigned on the promise to maintain slavery in the South and freedom in the North, won the 1856 election.

Four years later, the Republicans nominated a young former Congressman and gifted orator, Abraham Lincoln as their candidate and won the 1860 elections, which set the stage for the Southern States seceding, claiming “States' Rights,” and the onset of war.

One-hundred and sixty years later, the bigotry and cruelty against women, minorities, and non-Christians being promoted by the leaders of the current Republican Party would find the former president ashamed and appalled.

The contemporary radical right has commandeered the remnants of his Republican Party to support rescinding women’s rights to their own bodily autonomy and threatening felony murder convictions for doctors, who provide medical care, and mothers who have abortions. While outlawing established treatment for desperate women who have endured rape, incest, or medical complications, the party is also dedicated to eradicating any support for those babies once they escape the womb.

 

Recently passed House legislation would eliminate SNAP benefits that provide approximately six dollars a day to purchase groceries for each impoverished child, reduce or eliminate Medicaid benefits for those children and the vast majority of seniors confined to nursing homes, and shrink or rescind veterans’ benefits. Texas legislators are proposing laws to force students to be indoctrinated with “Christian” beliefs in public schools by posting the ten commandments in every classroom, including Bible study during the school day, and authorizing “chaplains” for every school.

Many red states have demanded that the word “slavery”, references to the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, the Civil Rights movement, or any reference that might make a “white” child feel embarrassed by the sins of their ancestors be eliminated from textbooks. In support of rewriting history, radicalized parents are terrorizing librarians, demanding the banning of any books that include real Black History, tell the stories of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, explain the LGBQT community, or question current denigration of minorities, immigrants, or people who do not subscribe to extreme evangelical “Christianity”. (There is nothing “Christian” about the hate or bigotry that is the very core of this belief system.)

Lacking any legitimate platform, leaders of the party would have us believe that the most threatening people in our midst are transgender kids, members of the LGBTQ community, or drag show queens. The radical minority demonizes and denigrates the most vulnerable in our society, painting them as subhuman “others” who should be banished for menacing the dominance of privileged white society while ignoring the compassionate teachings of their Bible. 

In an effort to prove his submission to Marjorie Taylor-Green, Matt Gaetz, and the radical-twenty representatives who actually control the House of Representatives, as well as terrifying our elderly population, Kevin McCarty has just announced the formation of a commission ‘tasked with looking at cuts to Social Security and Medicare, saying, “I’m going to make some people very uncomfortable”.’

Rather than providing any plans or solutions for rampant crime or the mass murders of children and innocent civilians that are reaching record levels in red states, Republican state legislators have passed hundreds of bills granting unfettered access to openly carry weapons of war without licensing, training, or background checks in conjunction with “stand your ground” laws that have resulted in the deaths of countless citizens because the murderers felt “threatened” by a child chasing a ball onto their property or a black person pulling into the wrong driveway or made the “aggressive” mistake of knocking on the door at a wrong address.

While mass murder is rare in every other industrialized country in the world, America is enduring more than one mass slaughter per day and a vast majority of those are carried out by white men who have been radicalized by media networks dedicated to hypocrisy, lies, bigotry, and hate fronted by “hosts” who rally their audiences to fear and loath anyone who isn’t an ignorant white fake-Christian gun-toting male. The right to possess assault weapons and support gun manufacturing profits is far more important to Republicans than protecting children from being gunned down in their classrooms. "More guns" means more death.

Conscientious journalism has been challenged by corporate policies elevating profits over truth, hate and fear over empathy and inclusion, and legitimizing “white victimization” to justify nationalism over democracy. More than a million pages of Fox internal memos and emails, released before the Dominion lawsuit was resolved at a cost of $787 million, left no doubt that the Murdocks, company executives, and on-air “personalities” made a strategic decision to broadcast a continuous stream of lies supporting Trump’s election-fraud claims twenty-four hours of every day for more than two years.

In spite of indisputable evidence of elevating their corporate balance sheet at the expense of the basic tenets of journalism and the very foundations of our democracy, their audience of ignorant bigots has grown and sponsors, who fled as programming became more extreme, have rallied to support the network’s ongoing campaign fanning the flames of hate and violence.

There is nothing about the current Republican Party that is derived from the anti-slavery, pro-democracy platform of Lincoln’s party in 1860. The extremism and politics of division that defines the radical minority that controls the party would infuriate our most revered president, who led the nation through a civil war to eradicate the excuses for secession and gave his life in defense of freedom for all our citizens. 

The demise of our democracy is at hand and we will repeat that tragedy unless today’s moderate Republicans find the courage to stand up to repudiate the renegades, who have no memory or allegiance to “its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery.”

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