Monday, February 21, 2011

A President's Day Question: Is the Republican Party Dumping Lincoln?

Critics of the New Republicans have become habituated to expressing shock and scorn at how the norms of the usurpers betray the principles of Abraham Lincoln, their supposed founder.

It's a worthwhile gimmick; of course there have always those--high density around the country club at Memphis--who can explain to you why the Great Emancipator was really the Great Criminal.  The point is that they've pretty much transplanted themselves from the old South Bourbonocracy to the New South Bourbonocracy of New Gingrich, Jim DeMint and whoever.  It's a tectonic shift: I can remember showing up as a carpetbagger in Louisville in 1960 to find (I was surprised) that blacks who voted (there were a few) almost inevitably cast their ballots for the GOP.  On further inquiry, I could see that they were perfectly rational.  Not only were they dancing with the fellahs that brung 'em, but they were recognizing that (then) new-age northern Republicans were genuinely a more creative, forward-looking--and, clearly, less racist--then their older, tireder Democratic competitors.

Boy, that was a long time ago, huh?  You've got to admire how, in the interim, the new, forward-looking elites of the once-new Republican interlopers have learned to make their peace with the old, backward-looking elites of the Confederacy.   And I'm beginning to wonder--is the whole Lincoln thingy a sign of the change?  As to their betrayal of their founding principles, could it be that the Republicans aren't even embarrassed any more?

I'm not sure, and I don't know how to do a definitive test, but I suppose one rule-of-thumb gauge would be the incidence of that great icon of Republican solidarity--the Lincoln Day dinner.  In my time, these dinners were part of the Republican glue (just as Jefferson-Jackson day dinners were for Democrats).  And guess what--apparently they are fading away.  Here's a brief Wiki summary, with a money quote from South Carolina Lindsey Graham: "We don’t do Lincoln Day Dinners in South Carolina. It’s nothing personal, but it takes a while to get over things."    I Google-searched "Lincoln Day dinner" within the past year and came up with 102,000 hits.  "Reagan Day Dinner" gets you 34,900.  "Lincoln Reagan dinner" gets you 12,600.  Now this:
Lincoln, rarely considered a capitalist icon,did more for strong and able ownership than any president in U.S. history, perhaps more than any leader in world history.  He sold millions of acre of land held by a neglectful government, transferring ownership into the hands of new owners who would make a garden in the wilderness.  He transferred ownership of millions of men from masters who abused their own property back to the men themselves, the best owners of all.
That's Andrew Redleaf in Panic (2110), one of the most sophisticated items I've read in years on the actual workings of a free market, and absolutely top-notch on the evils of crony capitalism. 

No comments: