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Lincoln

October 11, 2016

While I was making coffee I remembered Hillary’s mention of Lincoln. She was very much on point.

If he had not been assassinated, maybe The Great Emancipator would also be remembered as The Great Reconciler. That’s what he wanted to be. Well, dream on.

We remember that Lincoln was an influential historical figure in Barack Obama’s early concept of his presidency, when he still thought that he could bring together Democrats and Republicans for the good of the nation.

We’re still living in the Post-Civil War Period of our history. After WW II a Southern (border state) Democrat, Harry “Give ‘em Hell” Truman, integrated the army. But his party was the party of overt racism, and its Southern wing split off. After the Kennedy assassination, a Southern Democrat, Lyndon Johnson, signed major civil rights and voting rights legislation, and the Southern wing split off.

A California Republican, Dick Nixon, then betrayed his party, the party of Lincoln, and re-institutionalized the racist split in the nation, with his Southern Strategy. Another California Republican, Ronald Reagan, made racism an electoral element in the foundation of the Republican Party, equal with its philosophical conservatism, by going to Philadelphia, Mississippi, for his first campaign speech, focused on “states’ rights,” the sublimating battle cry of the Confederates.

In 1992, the Reaganite Republican victory—its “silent majority” touted as a vocal “permanent majority”—was interrupted by a Southern Democratic governor (with an Eastern wife), Bill Clinton, with an electoral strategy that would, in theory, bring together moderates of both parties. His electoral coalition included black voters who had been brought out of the Republican party into the Democratic party by LBJ, Nixon, and Reagan. Indeed, he recognized the humanity of the descendents of slaves sufficiently to be called America’s “first black president.”

And then, after politically strategic sexual chastisement of Bill, and the stealing of an election by the Southern patrician wing of the Republicans, resulting in disaster compounded by catastrophe (as hillary called it), America elected its first black president.

And now look.

The Eastern wife of that treasonous plebeian Southern Arkansas governor is campaigning to become America’s first woman president (and for many this is stupefying: which is the most unthinkable, a black president or a woman president—and yet for some, it is possible to think Michelle). And she is winning because of black voters. Indeed, she speaks of bringing America together, as if we are all equally Americans, even including would-be Americans.

Where will it end?

Like Lincoln, as Hillary described him, when faced with legislating in a divided nation, especially to achieve a constitutional amendment like the 13th that would significantly change the allocation and balance of power (for instance by declaring that money is not “speech” and corporations are not “people,”) a president must be compassionate and savvy. She must be both strategic and tactical. The film, “Lincoln,” that she had watched, dramatized that point brilliantly.

But Trump is the most overtly violent and divisive presidential candidate of my lifetime, even fantasizing assassination, and the Republican party is his “Great Enabler.” I just hope that this “civil” strife can be contained within his party.

And let’s hope that Hillary is given large enough majorities in the popular vote and in Congress that she does not have to try to appease the racist and sexist politicians of the extreme right.

[Preceding page of this episode.]

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