Okay, Republicans Were the Party of Lincoln, You Want to Make That Argument?

If I only had a million dollars for every time some GOP pundit or politician tried to deflect current conservative racist policy by invoking Lincoln and the Republicans of 1860, or the Democrats of the South of the first half of the 20th century “Robert Byrd was in the Klan!!!!”

Well okay, yes, you have a partial understanding of history that in no way excuses the current state of the GOP and “know nothing” conservatives who are anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-labor, etc. To paraphrase “Rebel Without a Cause”:

– What are you rebelling against?
– Whaddaya got?

But here’s the full picture of the political history of 1860-1865 that crushes their fictitious argument: yeah, the Republicans of the 1860s were the liberals pushing a revolutionary change in society and a massive increase of centralized federal power and the Democrats were the conservatives defending state’s rights and the status quo. How much of that do you agree with?

It was under Lincoln and his Republican party that the U.S. government became the largest employer in the country, asserted an active and robust centralized government over the states, created a permanent massive military, enacted the first income tax, a large national debt, spending on improvements, etc.

Republicans were recognized as representing economic privilege and political centralization (50% of that remains true).

It was the Democrats who were the party of state’s rights, limited government and what we now call “strict construction.” Indeed the Democratic party’s slogan at the time was “The Union as it is, the Constitution as it was.”

So do they really want to sign up for the agenda of Lincoln’s Republican party? I don’t think so.

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