General, Politics

Betraying Lincoln and Roosevelt

My friends, in the interest of the working man himself, we need to set our faces like flint against mob violence just as against corporate greed

Theodore Roosevelt, The New Nationalism, August 31, 1910

The historic fissures in the Republican Party were laid bare this weekend after the resolution adopted by the Republican National Committee calling the January 6 insurrection “legitimate political discourse” and it’s rejection by former Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Minority leader McConnell. The resolution is a shameful betrayal of the party’s nationalist tradition dating back not only to Theodore Roosevelt. but also Abraham Lincoln.  As TR said so plainly, our loyalty as Americans is to the Constitution and the country, not to any one person and no grievance by any group justifies the use of violence in a democracy.   

As I’ve written before here and here, this division between the Trump’s populist right and the remaining wings of the Republican Party is part of a realignment in American politics that began in earnest with the 2016 election. Similar fissures exist in the Democratic Party between the Democratic socialists and the various wings of the party establishment, as shown in this recent poll. The frightening part of the current realignment process is that the two extremes embrace or tolerate violence to achieve their objectives and seem to be driving both parties at the local party level. Indeed, a recent poll showed a third of Americans believe violence to achieve political goals is acceptable.

It has been my experience that the internal party elite like the RNC are generally more extreme than their respective primary electorates.  Whether this is now true of the two major parties will be determined in the upcoming primary elections. Will Trump loyalists succeed in ousting Georgia Governor Brian Kemp? Will firebrands like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green survive their primaries? What happens to Michigan Congressmen Peter Meijer and Fred Upton, who voted for the impeachment resolution after the January attack?  And how successful will democratic socialist movements be in taking over local party organizations as happened in Nevada?  If the authoritarian extreme prevails in those contests, true American nationalists will have to conclude, as TR did in 1912, that the parties are now … “empty husks…incapable of approaching the great problems of today” and form a third party to pick up and carry the American nationalist banner.  

4 thoughts on “Betraying Lincoln and Roosevelt

  1. I cannot disagree more with a squishy, soft-headed sentiment such as “…..no grievance by any group justifies the use of violence in a democracy.”

    If that idea was true, Abraham Lincoln would be the proper object of derision and scorn for his invasion of the Southern States, instead of the American archangel that he morphed into according to civil war mythology.

    The United States was founded upon the natural impulse to resist tyranny; to rebel against illegitimate, oppressive authority. Persons who would uphold the cause of liberty would certainly understand that resistance to tyranny implies a willingness to resort to force of arms. Thomas Jefferson seems to endorse the desirability of an unruly, aggressive citizenry in a letter where he famously coined the term “tree of liberty”:

    “And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

    The events of January 6th did not constitute “insurrection”. It was a protest that became aggravated by the actions of provocateurs and abusive police.

    1. Deriding violence is not “squishy”, it’s called civilization. And Lincoln did not attack the South; they fire first at Fort Sumter.
      BLM movements were shadow by others that included looting, but they were not part of BLM nor countenanced by them. As Asimov noted, “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”, which is a fitting summary of January 6.

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