Election Day is right around the corner here in the once-fruited plain. And, once again, the two allegedly “ideologically opposed” candidates are wailing about just how different they are from one another.
Mitt Romney, the supposed “conservative” standard bearer, is regaling the American public with pledges to “repeal and replace” the recently upheld Soviet-style monstrosity known as Obamacare, while neglecting to mention the fact that the healthcare reform plan model implemented in Massachusetts during his term as Governor served as the template for the national plan. And of course, right until Election Day, the usual bloviating conservative talking heads will be regaling us with the need to put a “principled conservative Republican” back in the Oval Office, a dashing character in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and, of course, the vaunted Abraham Lincoln. “If he were alive today,” they’ll moan and whine, “Lincoln would know just what to do!”
Certainly, dear readers, you are familiar with the cartoonish tales crafted around the humble country lawyer who was elected President to free the slaves and reunite our great Nation from sea to shining sea. But as the old saying goes, history is written by the victors. And, thus, under the Lincoln-coined meme “right makes might,” his crushing military victory is invoked as seemingly divine proof that the Civil War “once and for all” determined the supremacy of the Federal government. Before you fall prey to the temptation to pull the lever for “anybody but Barack Obama” (who, like his predecessor George W. Bush, quotes Lincoln to justify his every illegal act), let’s take a brief trip down memory lane and explore the Orwellian precedent set by Lincoln and his beloved GOP corporate cronies.
Claim No. 1: Lincoln believed in racial equality.
Sorry, folks, but this is pure wishful thinking, based upon total ignorance of both Lincoln’s actual words and actions throughout his political career. In countless speeches he spoke in favor of maintaining both slavery in the States where it existed and segregation in the so-called “free States.” In one of his exchanges with Stephen A. Douglass during the famed 1858 Illinois Senate race, Lincoln said the following:
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.
On the issue of slavery, he made his beliefs plain to see in his First Inaugural Address:
“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.” Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them.
Furthermore, as late as 1865, Lincoln was drafting plans to deport the newly freed slaves to Africa and Latin America. In essence, anyplace but the United States.
Claim No. 2: Lincoln was a champion of the Constitution.
While Lincoln did indeed say, “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution,” his actions speak louder than his flowery rhetoric. If he really did feel that way about the Constitution, he would not have unilaterally suspended the writ of habeas corpus (which under Article I falls under the enumerated powers of Congress), waged total war on the peacefully seceded Southern States without a Congressional Declaration of War (which ultimately led to more than 1 million casualties, including 50,000 Southern civilians), and used the military to shut down opposition newspapers and printing presses. A champion of Constitutional law would not have ordered the military to confiscate all privately owned firearms within the border States and illegally imprison more than 13,000 Northern anti-war protestors in military prisons (the forerunner to Japanese American internment, Guantanamo Bay and the recently authorized 2012 National Defense Authorization Act).
Claim No. 3: Lincoln was an advocate for peace.
Advocates for peace do not conscript hundreds of thousands of impoverished men into the Army while allowing wealthy and well-connected men to buy their way out. A man of peace would not send hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths while making every effort to insure that his son would remain safely in college. A man of peace would not have authorized homicidal maniacs like Gens. William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan to carry out the burning, shelling and looting of entire Southern cities. (Sherman would later use this style of warfare against the Plains Indians who were “disrupting” the progress of the government-subsidized transcontinental railroad.) Men of peace do not preside over the largest mass military execution in American history, as Lincoln did in 1862 when he ordered the hanging of 38 Sioux Indians. Men of peace would have not rejected peace offers by both Confederate emissaries and Emperor Napoleon III, who offered to arbitrate between the Confederacy and the United States.
Claim No. 4: Lincoln was a God-fearing man.
The Republicans shamelessly promote themselves as being “God’s Own Party” and endlessly point to Lincoln’s use of Scripture in his speeches as proof of this fact. Like most politicians, Lincoln knew full well that appealing to and manipulating the Bible would sway potential voters as it still does today. The reality is Lincoln rarely attended church as an adult and was never known to pray. His closest associates (including both of his White House secretaries and his longtime law partner) claimed that Lincoln was a pantheist at best, or an atheist or agnostic at worst. And even if the claims about Lincoln’s Christianity were true, he would have been an utter hypocrite, as he did not live by the example set by the Prince of Peace in the Gospels.
There you have it, friends. This election season, don’t be suckered in by the hucksters and Lincoln worshipers of the GOP. I myself would recommend abstaining from voting altogether; but if you feel compelled to do so, I recommend you write in Dr. Ron Paul (the foremost and only anti-Lincoln Republican). I also recommend that you read the following two books before heading to the ballot box in November: The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, whose writings I have cited in this article. Keep staying informed. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 9 on the Brushfires of Freedom blog.