I come to praise Lincoln and bury his party

Opinion: Ken Trainor

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Now that many observers are predicting the demise of the sad, sterile remains of the Republican Party, I thought it might be a good time to revisit my prediction to that effect, which first ran on Feb. 11, 2009, the eve of Honest Abe's bicentennial. It has been lightly updated.

Tomorrow is the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Most Americans (including myself) agree he was our greatest president — except, it seems, for Republicans.

Which is really odd since Lincoln was the first Republican president, the one who put the party on the electoral map. I often hear Republicans express their undying affection for, and devotion to, Ronald Reagan, the man who set the course for the rocks this country is currently wrecked upon. But I rarely hear them praise Lincoln.

I began wondering if the current crop of Republicans even claims Lincoln anymore as their own. Meanwhile, our current chief executive, a Democrat ironically, has made no secret of his admiration for the 16th president. When was the last time you heard a Republican president refer to Lincoln as a role model?

It speaks volumes about the current state of the Republican Party — a party whose demise is hard-earned, long overdue and eagerly awaited by anyone who cares about the best interests of this country.

It is a party that needs to die — and be reborn. Someone should speak for true conservatives and represent the best impulses of traditionalism. The current Republican Party is not that party. It speaks for abuse of power, contempt for compromise and obstruction of any and all progress. The latter was clear in the way they behaved the past few weeks as they once again shut down the government like petulant children.

The current Republican Party clearly doesn't care about the welfare of the country they did so much to damage in the last three decades. When you put party before country, you need to be put out of your misery — and ours.

Which is a shame. The Republicans got off to such a promising start. Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt were two of our best presidents. TR, for instance, stood up to the greedy, irresponsible corporate CEOs of his day — not to mention doing more than anyone else to conserve (like a good conservative should) our precious natural resources through the National Park system.

Lincoln, too, believed in a balance between conservative and progressive approaches. He ended slavery, but that progressive act was entirely grounded in the Constitution and subsequent American history. His famous Cooper Union address in New York on Feb. 27, 1860, was a tour de force, showing off his nimble legal mind as he built an irrefutable case against slavery.

"I do not mean," Lincoln said that night, "to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so would be to discard all the lights of current experience — to reject all progress, all improvement. What I do say is that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand. …"

That's true conservatism. But that is not today's Republican Party.

Since TR, the Republicans have produced a nearly unbroken record of underachievement and even shame. The unholy trinity of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, landed us squarely in the Great Depression. In the 1950s, Republicans created (and enabled) McCarthyism, the worst stain on our national record (until the Bush Administration).

Richard Nixon perpetrated the Plumbers — dirty-tricksters who specialized in breaking and entering to gain political dirt on their opponents. The Watergate robbery, and the subsequent cover-up, resulted in Tricky Dick being thrown out of office, which he richly deserved.

Ronald Reagan turned Americans against government then unleashed the magic of the free market, which built an economic house of cards that somehow survived a full 30 years before crashing this past fall. He also aided and abetted Ollie North, William Casey and their "off-the-shelf" covert operations unit, accountable to no one, which led to the Iran-Contra scandal.

In the '90s, Newt Gringrich and his accomplices shut down the government — twice — then committed treason by impeaching a sitting president over a trivial dalliance with an intern. Partisanship at its meanest.

The Bush administration topped them all. Lying to justify a pre-emptive invasion. Torture. Illegal surveillance of Americans. Everyone is familiar with their long train of abuses.

And now the party is holding the government hostage because they can't stand the thought of most Americans having health insurance. That after voting to gut the food-stamp program. Nice work, guys (mostly white, mostly guys). Wonder what they think when they look in the mirror at night. Wonder if they think at all.

The current Republican Party lives by the motto: "Government doesn't work. Send me to Washington and I'll prove it."

Ask yourself this: Would Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt approve of the current Republican Party?

Real conservatives shouldn't either.Yes to growth

 

Contact:
Email: ktrainor@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

29 Comments - Add Your Comment

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joe from south oak park  

Posted: October 17th, 2013 12:22 PM

Did anyone really expect anything less of ole' Ken? At this point I'm not sure if he can find a difference between positive and negative attention in his race to remain relevant. But seriously, the same thing can be said of both parties and the eliminationist rhetoric going on for both sides of the isle needs to stop. In this age calling another party a terrorist or extortionist has a very specific meaning and it should not be applied to someone with whom you have a political disagreement.

rj  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 11:41 PM

continued - not much has changed as today's beast of government is fully entrenched. Long overdue is the investigation of the White House and their unAmerica Activities over these past five years.

rj  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 11:37 PM

Ken, 70yrs ago the US House of Rep. began investigations into the Communist infiltration into our society. This HUAC of the 40's & 50's was implemented by the Democrat controlled House. McCarthy was a senator on the Senate Intel Cmte probing the State Dept for suspected Com & was verified by docs released from Yeltsin's Soviet Union. He was forced by Congress to release those 59 names & forever vilified for doing so. The Hollywood blacklist wasn't produced by Congress but by Hollywood itself.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 9:25 PM

Best figures available: 4,487 dead, and 32,226 wounded. That is, wounded physically. PTSD casualties? Still counting. But at least we got the country responsible for the 911 attacks, huh?

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 8:46 PM

Just to be clear about the voting record, there was not an declaration of war presented to the Congress. In 2002, the Bush adminstration sought an authorization of force and received aye votes in the House from 216 republicans and 81 democrats. The nays were 6 by republicans and 126 by democrats. President Bush was granted authorization based on the notion that if would force Saddam Hussein to fully cooperate with UN weapons inspectors. I recall there was a concerted efforts by the adminstration to convince lawmakers and the American people that the threat was real and Hussein was building nuclear weapons to use in attack against the USA. National Security Advisor Condelessa Rice spoke of a potential mushroom cloud while admitting that Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 attacks. Regarding Bill Clinton, he did support the authorization but stated that weapons inspectors should be allowed to complete their job prior to any invasion by allied forces. I found his public position to be confusing but the ultimate decision was made by Bush and Cheney. We lost 4,500 soldiers and many more suffered serious injuries not to mention the thousands of civilians who died.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 8:16 PM

Any particular conservative you have mind?

ECW from Oak Park  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 6:27 PM

Bush lied about WMD's so that he could start a war....how many democrats in Congress voted in agreement with President Bush? Didn't President Clinton also state that he believed Iraq was a threat and had WMDs? Hasn't President Obama followed the same plan? Please have an open mind and have a conversation with a conservative once in a while, you might be surprised.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 2:10 PM

Ray, according to recent and reliable polling, a majority of Americans fault republican/tea party politicans for the government shutdown. Point your finger at Boehner and Cruz. If I mentioned that the GOP blocked a 1.9% increase in COLA benefits for disabled vets and surviving spouses and children would you admit that was a despicable act?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: October 11th, 2013 8:31 AM

@ Jim Coughlin - If I mentioned the use of military death payments that Obama / Hagel have used to inflict political shutdown pain on our nation, would you admit that that is a despicable act?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: October 10th, 2013 11:57 AM

@ OP Resident - thank you emily. Or am I showing my age?

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: October 10th, 2013 11:08 AM

Oh....never mind!

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: October 10th, 2013 10:55 AM

@OP Resident - please reread Dominic's post. I did and got a total different picture on the second go around. Dominick was giving a direct quote from Ken's screed - then agreeing or disproving that statement. His quoting the column was not his agreement but a reference to what distortion he was talking about. That is the way I see the reply.

OP Resident # 545 from Oak Park  

Posted: October 10th, 2013 9:10 AM

Dominick, you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. You've clearly spent lots of time trolling left wing websites (or MSNBC/NPR, etc) to spew your passionate, though woefully incorrect, defense of Ken. You may actually believe all your drivel as well. If so, there is no changing your obviously closed mind, so I won't try. I just hope you can find a more productive way to spend your time....maybe something that actually benefits mankind. PADS, Hephzibah, etc...I bid you peace.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: October 10th, 2013 8:47 AM

@ Dominick - Thank you for the point by point refutation of Ken's view of history and facts. The problem is that Ken is never troubled by the facts but rather his feelings trump all - always. Remember those of us who are conservative in our belief have been consistent in our beliefs and our opinions for years. Ken, on the other hand has moved so far left he can hardly see his starting point and is amazed at how far we are to his right. We surely must be crazy zealots. @DA thanks again for the effort!

Long Time Reader from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 7:54 PM

This is so hard to swallow as it is (always) so one sided. We get it, the GOP is bad, and the Democrats can do no wrong. Rinse, Repeat. It must get awfully boring at your dinner table.

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 7:25 PM

Nice work, guys (mostly white, mostly guys). Wonder what they think when they look in the mirror at night. Wonder if they think at all. Wow, an implication of racism. I'm only surprised in that it took that long, as it's been a boilerplate reply to any questioning of Obama, from his associates to his voting record? even so far as comparing a statement made on an earlier date to a later one? as far back as his 2008 candidacy. And the slap at intellectual capacity. How "professorial" and such "gravitas". In other words, great way to exude elitism, in classic (D) fashion. The current (R) Party lives by the motto: "Government doesn't work. Send me to Washington and I'll prove it." Seems like the (D)s are doing a fine job of that as well, although their real forte is making sure that one need not have to be elected to get paid for not working Would Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt approve of the current (R) Party? Real conservatives shouldn't either. Real conservatives don't approve, but for very different reasons than you suggest. There's the word "conservative" again, but in a completely incorrect useage.. In the words of The Princess Bride's Inigo Montoya "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means". Yes to growth. If growth - in both size and expenses - was enough to guarantee the success of the any particular government, then why are the Soviet Union and Italy both under different political systems then in 1960, or 1932, when the theory was first discussed in the pages of the Times of London? You cannot spend your way into prosperity. Keynes was wrong, Hayek ?" and before him Adam Smith ?" were right. Sadly, as long as those hosting the discussion dealing only in faith and belief, they will continue to turn a blind eye towards empirical science and the proof of history in favor of promoting their agenda at all costs, even when the price to be paid is the country we leave our children.

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 7:24 PM

The Bush administration topped them all. There's the bumper sticker moment. Lying to justify a pre-emptive invasion. If by "lying" you mean "presenting evidence that was believed at the time to be accurate by over a dozen nations" then I'll agree. The fact that Hussein (Saddam, not Barack) had a history of using chemical weapons against not only Iranians but his own population, he refused to allow inspections of his facilities and fell back on "I forgot" when asked where his stockpiles had gone to, all in direct violation of previous UN agreements? Oh wait, this is a (D) rant? emotions and sound bites, not facts. Sorry for the distraction. Torture. Illegal surveillance of Americans. Everyone is familiar with their long train of abuses. "Long trains of abuse" that the messiah of the (D)s has done exactly what to stop? And Gitmo remains open for business. And now the party is holding the government hostage because they can't stand the thought of most Americans having health insurance. The (R) led house has provided numerous bills, it's the (D)ic Senate and President that are "holding the government hostage". As for your claim, the New York Times reported that in 2011, before the AHCA was implemented, only 15.4% was truly without health insurance. Seems like 84.6% is well above the mathematical requirements for "a majority". That after voting to gut the food-stamp program. How dare we stop giving the money of taxpayers (since government actually produces no wealth in and by itself) to people who have not demonstrated a need, have won hundreds of thousands in the lottery or regularly use illegal drugs? Big meanies, the whole lot.

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 7:23 PM

He also aided and abetted Ollie North, William Casey and their "off-the-shelf" covert operations unit, accountable to no one, which led to the Iran-Contra scandal. Again you manipulate facts with your perception. Perhaps in your honor we can call the not-quite-truth "twistory"? But applying your flawed analogy, if the blame for Iran-Contra falls with Reagan, why is the suggestion of impropriety by Obama met with ridicule? Obama had an interest in Fast and Furious ?" the ATF operation that provided guns to Mexican drug cartels in an effort to spur more "gun control", but instead resulted in the death of hundreds, including two US Federal agents. He also had an interest in the response ?" or more correctly failure to respond ?" to the attack on our embassy in Benghazi Libya that resulted in the death of our Ambassador and three Americans who tried to defend him and the others, and was called a response to an online video instead of a terrorist attack, with the sole purpose to provide a positive image in the weeks before the election. In the '90s, Newt Gringrich and his accomplices shut down the government ?" twice ?" then committed treason by impeaching a sitting president over a trivial dalliance with an intern. More faithful quoting from the book of (D), no matter how inaccurate it was. You praise the impeachment of Nixon, yet call the impeachment proceedings ?" which followed the Constitution ?" "treason"? Although you may have blocked it from your memory, the proceedings weren't over a "trivial dalliance", it was over the crime of perjury. Of course, when many members of one's party routinely consider "by any means necessary" less of a historical slogan and more of an Operation Order I guess it's to be expected. Partisanship at its meanest. LOL. No, partisanship at its meanest was displayed much more adequately by those faithful (D)s marching in the streets, with effigies of Bush, and signs equating him to Hitler as

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 7:22 PM

Richard Nixon perpetrated the Plumbers ?" dirty-tricksters who specialized in breaking and entering to gain political dirt on their opponents. The Watergate robbery, and the subsequent cover-up, resulted in Tricky Dick being thrown out of office, which he richly deserved. More twisting of history? Nixon wasn't "thrown out of office", he resigned before his impeachment vote ever came to a vote before the full House or was ever considered by the Senate. And Watergate prosecutor James Neal believed Nixon hadn't known in advance of the break-in, and G. Gordon Liddy, the entire Watergate operation originated with White House Counsel John Dean, a fact corroborated through independent research. But please, preach the (D)? Ronald Reagan turned Americans against government then unleashed the magic of the free market, which built an economic house of cards that somehow survived a full 30 years before crashing this past fall. Reagan didn't "turn Americans against government", he simply stood up and <gasp> dared to suggest that more government was not the answer to anyone's problems, except of course the progressives who only see government as a good thing. More to blame was the "anti-redlining" agenda during the Clinton administration, assisted by faithful (D)s like Barney Frank, which not only built, but printed and stacked the cards on the table.

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 7:21 PM

The current (R) Party clearly doesn't care about the welfare of the country they did so much to damage in the last three decades. When you put party before country, you need to be put out of your misery ?" and ours. One could say very much the same for the current crop of (D)s, who, hiding behind "the children", "the poor" or any other special interest group they can shield themselves behind, have for years passed bills that condemn our children and grandchildren to indebtedness, create layer upon layer of government bureaucracy, and struggle to tip the balance between tax payers and those living off of them past the point of sustainability? TR, for instance, stood up to the greedy, irresponsible corporate CEOs of his day ?" TR is proof that being a progressive does not rely on the party label one wraps ones self in. His utilization of the force of government showed him to be as far from a conservative as you could get. not to mention doing more than anyone else to conserve (like a good conservative should) Conservative and conservation share components, but are separate terms. That's true conservatism. But that is not today's (R) Party. "True conservatism"? You are blending conservatism and progressivism to fit your point. But manipulation of the language is not a strange concept to the liberal (D)s of today. In the 1950s, (R)s created (and enabled) McCarthyism, the worst stain on our national record (until the Bush Administration). Concerning McCarthy, you continue the propaganda that he was completely incorrect. While he may have been an impolite alcoholic, the people called before his subcommittee were not the implicated innocents they were made out to be; most did in fact have confirmed ties to communist or socialist organizations, a fact that went unreported? just as the ties of many of the anti-war protesters of the IRQ and AFG eras were. But I appreciate the W dig. Still have "shrub" and "Bush lied, people died"

Dominick Ahrens  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 7:16 PM

Reagan, who set the course for the rocks this country is currently wrecked upon. The (D) Congress, racking up record levels of spending during the same time, goes unmentioned, as does the AHCA, which has done nothing to promote full time employment or investor optimism in the private sector. I rarely hear them praise Lincoln. Lincoln had his good points, he also had his bad, including his abandonment of the Constitution during the Civil War, most notably through suspending Habeus Corpus, establishing a national military draft & centralizing the government in Washington. Meanwhile, our current chief executive, a (D) ironically, has made no secret of his admiration for the 16th president. When was the last time you heard a (R) president refer to Lincoln as a role model? The more important question might be what similarity does Obama see in himself with Lincoln? perhaps the chance to reduce liberty & increase the size & influence of the Executive branch? It speaks volumes about the current state of the (R) Party ?" a party whose demise is hard-earned, long overdue & eagerly awaited by anyone who cares about the best interests of this country. Who better to speak about "best interests" from a position of absolute knowledge than a (D)? Color me shocked, Someone should speak for true conservatives & represent the best impulses of traditionalism. The current (R) Party is not that party. In this much at least we agree. ...abuse of power, contempt for compromise & obstruction of any & all progress...as they once again shut down the government like petulant children. So in what way is the (D)s refusing to consider the current proposal - funding everything in the current budget except AHCA, the "bill that had to be passed to find out what was in it" elevated to a sacred cause different from the petulant obstructionism you accuse the (R)s of? And what proposal, other than "NO" have the (D)s offered? <crickets>

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 4:23 PM

Jimma Carter,. wanting to appear as the average man carried his own suit case. Heard interviews w/Secret Service agents the suitcase was empty,possibly like his head. Clinton may or may not be a rapist as governor,,but he sure had little respect for women or his wife.Obama says we all must pay our fair share of taxes, then exempts fed elected officials and certain corporations from his program. They are all people with flaws trying to do a big job.Kens problem, he is small doing a small job.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 4:11 PM

So what did Ken not say about Democrat presidents. Well, Woddy Wilson, the first progressive president would not let African Americans work in the federal government.FDR vetoed a anti lynching law in 1945, letting thousands to be lynched. Did you know African Americans do not get polio. There is no photo showing FDR sharing a hot water pool with a black, in Warm Springs Ga, no less.JFK put off the racial equality issue until after his second term.Did LBJ lie about The Tonkin Gulf

Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 3:07 PM

Meant to say divisiveness is bad for the country, not decisiveness..

Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 1:24 PM

Let's be honest. If any OP newspaper columnist delivered such screed about the Democratic Party a lot of us liberals would be outraged and there would be no end to the comments. This decisiveness does not bode well for the country.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 12:46 PM

In your post you referred to "my party" which I may have wrongly thought to be the GOP. Not sure I actually missed your point but really just wondered if you had anything you might be willing to share facts that would detail what you see as "problems of competence, wisdom or honesty in our current adminstration". Sorry to have bothered you, Ray. I'll leave you to your thoughts.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 11:24 AM

Jim - you seem to miss my point - as usual! I was pointing out the one sided hypocrisy of this hit piece. I made no mention of any specific R or D issues, but, rather that there are problems with the Washington culture as a whole and that it was unfair of Ken to dedicate column inches to his opinion with no mention that thinking people might not agree.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 10:04 AM

Ray, you don't seem to dispute the historical facts that Ken offers but are angered he did not offer similiar examples regarding politicians affiliated with the democratic party. How about sharing what you know to be true about them?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: October 9th, 2013 8:57 AM

What a small minded, hateful, dishonest column, Ken. You have outdone yourself in your effort to prove to the world how myopic you are about the world. The management of the Wednesday Journal needs to remind you that attempting to eviscerate nearly half of Oak Park residents and an equal percentage of businesses ( Who are a source of paying revenue) is not good for circulation or the survival of your dying industry. When you honestly apply the same standards to your own party with the same venomous spite - then maybe you earn the right to comment on my party. So far you fail to find any problems of competence, wisdom or honesty in our current administration which classifies you with the low knowledge voters that you seem to hold in such high esteem. Sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes real tight and humming real loud will not resolve Washington's problems. The Republicans are making a transition. The Democrats have yet to even see the perilous path Obama has charted for them/ all of us. Nice work Ken! You have reinforced the opinion that the Wednesday Journal is a bastion of hate toward many of your customers, subscribers and advertisers.

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