The Republican Party was founded by anti-slavery activists in 1854 and famously led by Abraham Lincoln, who served as President from 1861 to 1865. At that time the United States was at a breaking point between a Democratic Party that was fond of the status quo and a Republican Party that wanted America to stand up for human rights.
Abraham Lincoln found himself at the head of a government that was divided amongst itself on how to proceed, given that the southern half of the country was teetering on the edge of secession. Fearing war and in-fighting between countrymen, Lincoln was forced to act first as a strong diplomat and subsequently as a strong military leader. His actions not only changed the course of history for Africans and all future Americans, but for the Republican Party as well.
During the leadership of the Great Emancipator, Republicans were considered the liberals of their time. After all, it was they who demanded modernization in terms of labor, land ownership and the rights of human beings. Essentially, the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln promoted the individual freedoms of all men as well as the rights for all to receive a public education. Democrats, at the time, spoke of social progression, but did not act on it.
150 years later, so much has changed. Perhaps due to their satisfaction of having been the catalyst to the American Reconstruction following the Civil War, Republicans have given up the liberal ideals of their founding members to embrace staunch conservatism. The ideals of Mitt Romney or George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan certainly bear no resemblance to the powerful liberal ideals of Abraham Lincoln. While still waving the so-called “freedom” banner, Republican Party leaders of the 20th and 21st centuries have misconstrued the meaning of the word itself, using it as an excuse to keep out foreign immigrants and imprison people who have not been proven guilty of a crime.
What would Abraham Lincoln say if he knew that Republicans continually vote for upper-class tax cuts and private health care provision? Would he see these as traditionally Republican ideals, or would he see no evidence of the Party he helped to build so long ago?
The great man once said, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.“
George W. Bush said, “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
The latter words do not sound like those of a man of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln.
Written by: Mandy Gardner