Monday, February 13, 2017

1757 Party Like it's 1854

President Lincoln’s 208th birthday. Guy never looked a day over 56. In 1854, he burned his membership card in the Whig Party and joined the fledgling Republicans.  He would not recognize his party today.

But that’ OK.  His party doesn’t recognize him either, except when it feels necessary to remind us of its past or hide its present.

The one trait he shared with today’s iteration? Small government.  But there was no way to visualize it any other way when Abe was elected president in 1860. It was small by definition.

Before Abe, Mary and the kids moved into the White House -- just before -- the Confederate States seceded.  So from Day One, he had a constitutional crisis on his hands, but not one of a president’s own making as we have today.

Lincoln compromised, unheard of among today’s Republicans.  But there was one thing about which he refused:  The United States was one country, not two.

Biographer Carl Sandburg once said the Civil War was fought over one word: “is.”  Previously, he said, you said “the United States are…” something. Today, you say “the United States is.

The Republicans of the 1850s are what we would today call “progressive.”  Black people were people not partial people, not property. A pretty radical idea. And Lincoln had to give a little before he got the mechanism to emancipate.

A Republican who compromised?  Yeah.  Believe it or not.  A Republican who was ambivalent about Christianity and attended church the way you attend weddings -- reluctantly if at all.

Lincoln lived five days into the newly re-united nation. In the years before, he brought new regulation to the finance industry.  And to the railroads. No, he wasn’t perfect. But…

What would Lincoln think about Trump? Or McConnell or Ryan.  What would he think of “Citizens United” or photo ID at the voting booth?  We have no way of knowing.

But we have a pretty good idea.

So Party like it was 1854 when being a Republican meant something decent.

--New York’s Paper of Record is crowdfunding among its digital subscribers to bring “a new generation of readers” -- school kids -- into the fold, keeping circulation figures up as the older generation degenerates. Shockingly, it did that in the 1940s by selling discount subscriptions at PS150 and other schools.  Most of us took the Trib instead because it had more pictures, a comics page and a weekly current events quiz.

--Protecting our shores from terrorist octogenarians, the safety folks at Myrtle Beach, SC stopped a woman trying to board a flight with her wooden walking cane.  Seems there was a sword hidden in the thing.  Woman says she had no idea the sword was in there.  

-Last night’s Grammy presentation had to be the most screwed up awards show in history with problems for Adele, Metallica and others and a show open about mistakes… how apropos.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2017

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