The party of Lincoln?, by Dr. E. Faye Williams
1/26/2023, 6 p.m.
There are many memories of my first years in school which remain etched in my mind. I remember learning the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem.
Since I have always liked history, there are numerous persons and events that are in my memory cells. Like most students of that period, the first two presidents I learned about were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — the first and the 16th presidents, respectively.
George Washington “chopped down a cherry tree,” led the Continental Army against the British, and became the new nation’s first, but the reluctant president.
For me, President Lincoln was a little more interesting. He was a country kid, born into what can only be called poverty, reportedly was a hard worker, held a variety of — both laborious and sedentary — jobs, became a country lawyer, honed his debating skills, became the first candidate elected to be president as a Republican, “freed the slaves,” and was shot dead at Ford’s Theater.
Chief among his accomplishments is that he remains known as “Honest Abe” and his legacy is circumscribed by his veracity in addition to having his name ascribed to the Republican Party as its founder. Among African-Americans, his party, the party of the Great Emancipator, was the only political party worthy of their votes (those who could vote).
Although there are fewer African-Americans who retain this loyalty, many still vote without question for The Party of Lincoln. Unfortunately, if he were alive today, I am sure that he would attempt to reform them or completely disavow the deviants and devilments of “his” party.
The biography and résumé of George Santos, the newly elected Republican congressman from New York, belies the ethic of truthfulness. He is the antithesis of Honest Abe! Rep. Santos has admitted to embellishing his biography with stories that are more akin to myths and fables than simple embellishments. His lies wind through a trail of life events that serve to endear him with the voters but have no remote connection to his personal experiences. He has fabricated so much of his résumé that there is some speculation that his real name may not really be George Santos. He has used at least one other name.
What is worse, he poses a threat to the good order of the House of Representatives and, through exposure to classified materials, our national security. In their attempt to retain power and maintain their slim margin of control, Speaker McCarthy and his conference have chosen to overlook this potential threat. What is more, they have chosen to overlook the standards of integrity presumed for all House members.
As an entity, Republican members have shown total disregard for the expectation of honorable service among their ranks.
However one wishes to analyze him, overwhelming evidence confirms that the preservation of the Union, and its traditions and democratic principles were primary concerns of Lincoln. Fueled by a malignant fear of “Replacement,” President Lincoln’s modern counterparts have shown themselves willing to accept any equally malignant distortion of government that allows them to subvert the will of the majority and impose their will upon the same. Gerrymandering and voter suppression, including draconian laws, which frighten and discourage lawful voters from exercising their rights have become the tools of choice for the “new” Republicans.
Like the petulant kid who owns the football, these “new” Republicans are threatening to blow up our national and international economies if the game is not played by their rules. Their enmity against all except the wealthy and well-connected illuminates their goal of institutionalizing their permanent power and creating a permanent underclass that they can manipulate and control.
Whatever faults President Lincoln may have had, this is not the party of Lincoln. We will treat them with logic and measured reason at our future peril!
The writer is president of The Dick Gregory Society and president emerita of the National Congress of Black Women.