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As Long as We Remember...

March 2, 2005

The Party of Lincoln

Chris Charuhas

One hundred forty-five years ago, on February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech at New York's Cooper Union. In this famous speech, he addressed the Southerners attacking his Republican Party. Would Lincoln still be a Republican today?

Judging by what Lincoln said that day, the answer is no. He began his speech by saying: "If they would listen – as I suppose they will not – I would address a few words to the Southern people."

The Southern people whom Lincoln addressed now comprise the base of the Republican Party. Many still don't listen.

Mr. Lincoln continued: "When you speak of (us), you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws."

Today’s GOP propagandists denounce non-Republicans as "reptiles" and "outlaws" only when they're feeling nice. Their standard rhetoric is much harsher than that.

Mr. Lincoln: "You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to (us)."

To many Republicans, gays are morally equivalent to pirates and murderers. Yet the White House granted Press Room access to a “male escort.” Liberal reporters are refused admittance.

Mr. Lincoln: "You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it; and what is your proof?"

GOP-linked pundits charge that liberal-minded people stir up trouble because they hate America. We deny it, and what is your proof?

Mr. Lincoln: "You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander."

Yes, Republicans, you need to be told: the Swift Boat charges against Senator Kerry weren't true, and you knew it. It was simply malicious slander.

Mr. Lincoln: "You will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us."

Republicans threaten to destroy the Senate's Constitutional power of judicial consent, unless every one of the president's judicial appointees is confirmed. Only one out of 10 are in dispute.

Mr. Lincoln: "You will rule or ruin in all events."

GOP leaders ruin the country in order to rule it. They poison our Democracy by fostering fear and hate of other Americans to win votes. They cripple our economy by borrowing billions to pay off their wealthy supporters.

Mr. Lincoln: "Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong."

President Bush's new pre-emptive war policy must be enacted and enforced. Those who declare that it's wrong are suppressed, labeled un-American, unpatriotic, and traitors.

Mr. Lincoln: "The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us."

GOP leaders "disinfect the atmosphere" by attacking all who oppose their policies. They tell voters that all their troubles proceed not from these policies, but from "liberals."

If President Lincoln were alive today, would he be a Republican? No. The words he spoke 145 years ago show that he fiercely opposed the things that now comprise "business as usual" for the Republican Party. Mr. Lincoln would be a Democrat today.

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