To the editor:
Ever wonder how the political party of Lincoln became the political party of Trump?
First arising out of the side of the Whig Party that had “a conscience” because of events in Bloody Kansas, the Republican Party originally felt Congress’ responsibility was to keep a check on the president, who at the time was Andrew Jackson, the first president to change the president’s veto power from one that opposed unconstitutional bills to a power that a president could use for any reason, including personal reasons.
Ironically, then, the original Republican Party opposed self-centered presidents who acted any way they wanted.
The original Republican Party also supported federal funding of the nation’s infrastructure in order to modernize transportation systems. They envisioned such funding as cooperation between the banking industry, manufacturers and transportation moguls. They encouraged the building of national parks because the construction of roads and railroads led to auto manufacturers building more cars and trucks to transport Americans to see the parks.
These early Republicans were seen as mostly northern industrialists, meaning they had to rely on paid labor to make anything. One thing they feared was that the southern Democrats would gain power in Congress if they were allowed to create more slave states as additional states entered the union. For some early Republicans, supporting the anti-slavery movement was seen as saving the jobs of poor white laborers.
In effect, the Republican Party has long supported white supremacy – either advocating for wealthy industrialists or working to end racial slavery in order to ensure that white laborers did not lose their jobs. It is important to note that Abraham Lincoln, while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, did not oppose slavery as it existed at that time, but followed the new moderate party line that no new slave states should be created.
Nonetheless, historians note the increased number of racist cartoons that peppered the papers during the presidential campaign depicting Lincoln as a lover of blacks and warning that within “ten years or less our children will be the slaves of Negroes.” Threats of southern states seceding from the union haunted Stephen Douglas, the most promising Democratic candidate, as he campaigned in the south. Even in that election, it was the electoral college that handed Lincoln his win, despite losing the popular vote.
While the Republican Party did spend a decade passing legislation to protect black men, including the right to vote regardless of race, they focused longer on building personal wealth by passing laws that benefited financiers and industrialists. Enter the era of tycoons and monopolies, something Trump wants to repeat.
Fast forward to 1976 when Gerald Ford tried to get elected president. He drafted a plank stating that individual states should decide whether or not abortion should be legal in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Bob Dole had won his own re-election campaign by swinging completely anti-abortion, which appealed to Ronald Reagan’s supporters as well as to Catholics and social conservatives, so he encouraged harsher language. A group of female Republican delegates campaigned to leave abortion off of the Republican platform, but others apparently convinced them to trade the abortion issue for the Equal Rights Amendment despite the contraventions of the two issues (women would not be treated as equal without the right to medical abortions). Many historians agree that Phyllis Schlafly, the original anti-woman woman, machinated the submarining of both issues, firmly launching the Republican Party as the anti-woman political party.
Trump’s Republicans now support the radical presidential power the original party opposed (and Trump loves Jackson), but, if we add together the largely pro-wealthy stand, the pro-white point of view and the adoption of anti-women laws from various moments of the party’s history, we get the Republican Party of Trump.
The party ironically tries to claim they are still the party of Lincoln, attempting to equate saving fetuses as the same thing as saving blacks from slavery, but any objective observer knows that they are using a red herring to distract us from the real issues.
They want power not to have their businesses restricted by regulations, power over the lives of average Americans and power to keep white men, like Steve Bannon, in power.
In short, they want to limit our rights so they can run amuck with us powerless to stop them. If you voted for Trump hoping he would keep his word and clean out the political swamp, you should realize by now that he’s betrayed you.