On CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, host Bob Schieffer asked guest John McCain about the fact so few African-Americans were in attendance during the Republican National Convention last week (video: comment at 15:00):
Schieffer: I want to ask you about the “composition” on the Convention. There were 36 African-American delegates out of 2,300+ delegates there. How can you survive as a Party if you become just “the Party of White People”?
McCain: We can’t. We can’t. I saw a bit of information the other day that by… I forgot [sic]… don’t hold me to it… by 2042 or something like that, “white” Americans will be in the minority of the population of the country. We can’t. We’ve got to reach out. We’ve got to do a better job. […] We need to prove to Americans that this is the Party of Abraham Lincoln… [emphasis McCain’s], Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. We’re the Party of Abraham Lincoln!
Okay, forget for a moment the ridiculous inclusion of “Teddy Roosevelt” and (especially) Ronald Reagan with regards to Civil Rights and Minority issues, it’s time to put this asinine “Party of Lincoln” nonsense to bed once and for all. Today’s republican party has less in common with Lincoln than Sarah Palin has in common with Hillary Clinton.
True enough, Senator Abraham Lincoln was an Abolitionist… someone that fought against the institution of slavery. No arguing that. Prior to his election in 1860, the Southern States… which depended FAR more upon slave labor because agriculture made up the vast majority of its economy… were already rumbling about how the Industrialized North just didn’t seem to understand the needs of the Agricultural South. And while the election of the abolitionist Lincoln
wasn’t was the proverbial “straw that broke the camels back”, it was darned close (UPDATE: After much review, an argument is to be made that the election of Lincoln WAS in fact “the straw that broke the camels back” and pushed pro-slavery members of Congress to walk out. – Mugsy). Only months before at the Democratic National Convention, Congressmen of the Southern States staged the famed 1860 walkout, concluding the Democratic Convention without a nominee. With the election of Lincoln in November of 1860, Southern Democrats started meeting to discuss the possibility of succession, finally doing so in December (four months before Lincoln was sworn in in April of 1861) and thus, the Civil War began.
In his second year as President, and well into the Civil War, Lincoln asked what was left of Congress to pass his Emancipation Proclamation (photo of document here if you wish to verify), stating that on September 22, 1862, President Lincoln had declared the emancipation of (a very select group of) slaves to officially be recognized on January 1, 1863. Read this key passage from that Proclamation carefully:
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free;
That’s a LOT of exceptions. Lincoln basically only freed the slaves in Confederate States (excluding Union-sympathizing counties within those states) as a means of disrupting the Confederacy to help win the war. Most Northern states had already abolished slavery on their own, but Lincoln’s exclusion of them would have allowed them to repeal this law if they felt it necessary. Why not just say “the entire country”? Note that he exempted “West Virgina“, a Union “Plantation” state that also depended heavily upon slave labor.
Now, no one is saying Lincoln personally didn’t wish to abolish slavery as a whole, or approved of it “morally” in any way (though he obviously recognized an “economic” necessity when exempting WV), but he didn’t abolish slavery solely as a moral imperative. It was a MILITARY STRATEGY designed to throw the South into Chaos to help win the war.
Think in today’s context what Emancipation meant. Can you imagine a LESS pro-business, socially Liberal law being handed down by the Federal Government? If the United States government tried to abolish slavery today, can you imagine the screams of fury by Big Business? Consider Republican outrage today regarding the subject of extending “workers rights” to illegal immigrant farm workers? (If you try to claim “that’s an issue of giving rights to non-Americans”, well, “slaves” had no rights as Americans either). The loss of all that free labor would cost them billions! And dare I call it “activist” legislation, extending unprecedented rights to a minority class? (can you say “gay marriage”?) Today’s “Party of Lincoln” would throw a fit!
No, I’m sorry, but it’s time to put this “The Republican Party is the Party of Lincoln” nonsense to bed once and for all. Today’s GOP would of gone into open rebellion and tried to succeed from the Union if the President tried to pull something like that today.
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”
– Abraham Lincoln
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