Party of Lincoln?
By Patrick F. Cannon
Although I grew up in a Democratic family – my father even held office under that party’s banner – I now think of myself as an Independent Conservative.
I have voted for candidates from both parties. Living as I do in the Chicago area, opportunities to vote for Republicans are limited; indeed, they often don’t bother to even slate a candidate for some offices. If they do, I usually will vote for them, if only as a protest to the financial shambles the Democrats have created in Illinois.
I voted for both Bushes, and for Ronald Reagan. I wouldn’t vote for Nixon, nor Trump. I was too young to vote for Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Dwight Eisenhower, but I would have! But I also voted for John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Barack Obama. Bill Clinton’s charm didn’t fool me. I very reluctantly voted for Hillary Clinton, and now wish I had passed on voting for either candidate in 2016.
The Republican Party of Ike, Reagan and the Bushes generally stood for strong alliances with allies around the world, and for fiscal restraint. They weren’t always successful – George W. Bush’s failure in Iraq is a notable example – but one basically knew were they stood. If they were criticized, it was generally for being the party of the country club set and the East Coast elite.
Now, largely because of Trump, they seem to have become the party of the uneducated and disaffected. Look at the electoral map. They’re strong in the South, and in what I would describe as the “wish it was still wild” West, where the Federal government is widely hated and right wing militias are particularly strong. They also seem to appeal to successful Hispanics, particularly Cubans and others who resent the influx of the poor from Mexico and Central America.
Pandering to the worse instincts of these groups is bad enough, but supporting their looney spiritual leader, Donald Trump, makes it even worse. At the risk of repeating myself, Trump is a thoroughly bad man, and demonstrably deranged. Yet, with few exceptions, Republicans in both the Federal and state legislatures not only continue to support him, but swear his lies are true.
The recent election has shown how shameless Republicans have become. Despite Joe Biden clearly winning it, they pander to the Ogre by declining to admit the obvious. Trump is clearly afraid of what’s going to happen to him when he leaves office, so is desperately trying anything to prevent the inevitable. He will go eventually, and so will the Republican Party as a force for probity and conservative values.
Most Americans are either center right or center left in their basic beliefs. Both the Democrats and Republicans are in danger of being hijacked by the fringes. Perhaps it’s time for moderates in both to come together as Lincoln and his associates did in 1860, and form a new party, which might be called the Pragmatists. In the meantime, maybe “Sleepy Joe” would be just the ticket. We could all use a little rest.
Oh, and finally, Happy Thanksgiving!
Copyright 2020, Patrick F. Cannon