George Conway’s Lincoln Project is well-named. What better times than these to invoke the name of Abraham Lincoln, and what better modern use for that name than to enlist it in the fight against racist tyranny? More than that, Lincoln’s was a useful name to employ because he was, like Mr. Conway, a Republican, and it’s instructive for us to recall that there really was at one time not just good Republicans, but great ones.
I’ve been fascinated with Abraham Lincoln since I was ten years old, coming to my fascination by way of my interest in the American Civil War. Donald Trump to the contrary, I even knew that Lincoln was a Republican, though I had a child’s naive understanding of what that meant. (Asking my mother to explain the difference between Republicans and Democrats was my first encounter with the cliche “apples and oranges.” It was then, perhaps, close to the truth. It most certainly isn’t now.)
Abraham Lincoln was a complicated man of unfathomable depth, a man of genius whose greatest genius was his understanding of what it meant to be human. I couldn’t possibly do him justice here. But the best attempt I’ve ever witnessed to put flesh on the bones and blood in the veins of the man was Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln,” a positive masterpiece of the genre of historical fiction. Beyond that there are many good biographies.
Donald Trump’s attempts to compare himself with Lincoln, as he actually did last month and has done on other occasions over the years, is like enlisting the help of the Gran Telescopio Canarias to hunt for your misplaced car keys. For Trump to compare himself favorably with Lincoln has no precedent in the annals of delusion. It’s an insult to absurdity and ought to sound alarm bells in the depths of the Republican Party. That it has not ought to tell you just how far gone they are as well.
All of which is to say, it’s time for the Republican Party to go. It had a great beginning in Lincoln, and a few memorable moments along the way. But the corruption that began with Nixon and became scabrous with religious hypocrisy under Reagan is today, under Trump, inimical to the survival of our great republic. It is no longer a party of people but a cesspool of hate and greed. It is what hate and greed look like incarnate and dressed up in expensive suits.
The dismantling of the Republican Party is what the Biden administration needs to work toward if America is to survive. Republicanism has become today an apparatus for the installing in government the most corrupt of rapacious shills doing the bidding of their egregiously venal corporate masters. Lazy, stupid, full of hatred and inept, this new species of men and women is a governmental infestation of the very worst kind, of entrenched religious zealotry and endemic bigotry. It is no longer sustainable.
In the Federalist Papers, John Jay, James Madison and, above all, Alexander Hamilton, understood that political parties were antagonistic to a functioning government and could even prove deadly. There is no Constitutional need for a two party system, let alone any Constitutional provision for one. But more than that, there is a desperate and immediate need to be rid of a party that works against the fundamentals of democracy, that tries to subvert elections and invites foreign aid, that works against the best interest of the common people and exclusively for the wealthiest one percent. The Republican Party is a clear and present danger.
Abraham Lincoln put it this way, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.” Lincoln’s final irony may be that his very own party has become the very author and finisher he so gravely warned us against, a party that he himself wouldn’t merely fail to recognize but would actively repudiate. It’s a party too far gone to fix and the Republican Party must go. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.