Lincoln knew

I wrote a little bit about this a month ago but things have become much more obvious. Just as Lincoln’s coming election clarified the machinations of  his opponents, so too today do we see similar machinations used by Obama’s opponents.

From Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech in 1860 [my emphasis]:

Your [his opponents] purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.


But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool*. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

Today, we now see the Republicans following the role of the highwayman, holding the debt ceiling hostage – with possible tremendous economic ramifications – in order to rule on all events. No compromise. Rule or ruin are the only two choices.

Destroying the Government is a useful goal to achieve their aims, which, as their leaders have stated, is simply to prevent a second Obama term. Ruin the Government in order to enhance their own political fortunes.

Just as the conservatives then had little room for compromise, so too do today’s. Many would seem to relish destroying the Government in much the same way their political antecedents tried.

But it is his own worrds to his own party that are most poignant and important.

Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.

Only a few substitutions of a couple of nouns makes this as relevant today as it was in 1860 – the discussion of conservative thought in his age by the soon to be leader of the revolutionaries. Perhpas some of the Democratic leaders today can hear those words.

* kinda neat that Lincoln said “That is cool.”