Friday, August 15, 2008

The Party of Lincoln

Once there was a time when there was a Republican Party that called itself "The Party of Lincoln." They sang the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at national conventions. Now, no more Lincoln.

Lincoln and his genius are the great enigma's of history. As Gary Wills as written, he literally redefined America at Gettysburg, re-establishing the egalitarian and populist ideals of the Declaration of Independence as the defining document of our the Republic. In one alternative history book, the Union loses Gettysburg, the South wins the war and Lincoln re-emerges as the founder of the American Socialist Party.

But even though he made his mark as a lawyer for the railroads, Lincoln was a populist. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates he argued for the rights of the individual over the rights of property. And, he advocated the right of people to revolt, if government ever trampled on their liberties.

Unlike Lincoln, Obama won his Senatorial campaign in Illinois. His is also a studied intelligence. He has been gifted with an education at the finest educational institutions in America, among the very best in the world. He was a fatherless child, Lincoln a motherless one who, according to legend, whittled the feet for his mother’s casket.

The contrast between McCain and Obama personally, could not be greater.

On can not presume to call Obama a new Lincoln, Roosevelt or Kennedy. But more than any Presidential candidate since Kennedy, he embodies the very best of what we have to offer ourselves, and the world.

He is a risk, a risk of enormous disappointment if he fails. But, he has the intellect and the savvy that could lead us out of our current multiple crises.

The issue in this campaign will be whether America has the courage to follow the candidate of the real “Party of Lincoln.”