Skip to comments.Why 2012 election looks a lot like 1860
Posted on 06/04/2011 12:34:35 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
As the season of presidential politics 2012 unfolds, Im struck by similarities between today and the tumultuous period in our history that led up to the election of Abraham Lincoln and then on to the Civil War.
So much so that Im finding it a little eerie that this year we are observing the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War.
No, I am certainly not predicting, God forbid, that todays divisions and tensions will lead to brother taking up arms against brother.
But profound differences divide us today, as was the case in the 1850′s.
The difference in presidential approval rates between Democrats and Republicans over the course of the Obama presidency and the last few years of the Bush presidency has been in the neighborhood of 70 points. This is the most polarized the nation has been in modern times.
This deep division is driven, as was the case in the 1850′s, by fundamental differences in world-view regarding what this country is about.
Then, of course, the question was can a country conceived in liberty, in Lincolns words, tolerate slavery.
Today the question is can a country conceived in liberty tolerate almost half its economy consumed by government, its citizens increasingly submitting to the dictates of bureaucrats, and wanton destruction of its unborn children.
We wrestle today, as they did then, with the basic question of what defines a free society.
Its common to hear that democracy is synonymous with freedom. We also commonly hear that questions regarding economic growth are separate and apart from issues tied to morality so called social issues.
But Stephen Douglas, who famously debated Abraham Lincoln in 1858, argued both these points. In championing the idea of popular sovereignty and the Kansas Nebraska Act, he argued that it made sense for new states to determine by popular vote whether they would permit slavery.
By so doing, argued Douglas, the question of slavery would submit to what he saw as the core American institution democracy and, by handling the issue in this fashion, slavery could be removed as an impediment to growth of the union.
Lincoln rejected submitting slavery to the vote, arguing that there are first and inviolable principles of right and wrong on which this nation stands and which cannot be separated from any issue, including considerations of growth and expansion.
The years of the 1850′s saw the demise of a major political party the Whigs and the birth of another the Republican Party. And the Democratic Party, in the election of 1860, splintered into two.
In a Gallup poll of several weeks ago, 52 percent said that neither political party adequately represents the American people and that we need a third party. Of the 52 percent, 68 percent were Independents, 52 percent Republicans, and 33 percent Democrats.
So its not surprising that the field of Republicans emerging as possible presidential candidates is wide, diverse, and unconventional.
But another lesson to be learned from 1860 is that conventional wisdom of establishment pundits is not necessarily reliable.
These pundits will explain why the more unconventional stated and potential candidates in the Republican field Cain, Palin, or Bachmann dont have a chance and why we should expect Romney, Pawlenty, or Huntsman.
But going into the Republican Convention in Chicago in 1860, the expected candidate to grab the nomination was former governor and Senator from New York, William H. Seward.
But emerging victorious on the third ballot at the convention was a gangly country lawyer, whose only previous experience in national office was one term in the US congress, to which he was elected fourteen years earlier.
A year or two earlier, no one, except Abraham Lincoln himself, would have expected that he would become president of the United States.
Remember, he was actually a Democrat, not a Republican! He and President Lincoln ran under the National Union banner in 1864, not the GOP.
[ Its common to hear that democracy is synonymous with freedom. ]
Democracy is synonymous with MOB RULE.. yes! by mobsters..
No democracy ever existed that was democratic..
Democracy is a lie.. No democracy was ever democratic..
Thats WHY?.... the U.S.. is a republic..
Tell it to the dolts that put Trump as VP to Palin/Bachmann/Cain et al.
Yes, democracies aren't democratic, they're evillllllll MOBSTERS!!! Either you're smoking some really good stuff or Mao Zedong has an account on FR and is going to start posting stuff about the glorious People's Republic and how the crazy Tiananmen Square protestors got what they deserved.
Democracy is indispensable to socialism. The goal of socialism is communism. -V.I. Lenin
The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism .-Karl Marx
It is fashionable today to play the sophisticate and cynically dismiss both political parties as not having a "dimes worth of difference between them." But this is a cheap and easy analysis which does not do justice to either party. It fails to indict the Democrats for the Socialists and race baiting demagogues that they are, and it fails to credit the Republicans for their efforts, however inept and halfhearted, to bring fiscal sanity to the Republic.
Whether there is a major rupture or distortion of American politics depends on several factors and we must watch and abide events.
My expectation is that Obama will demagogue both race and fiscal issues right into the election because he really has no other option at this point. The economy is in such a wretched state that he must somehow change the game or lose the election. It is a common understanding that presidents do not get reelected with unemployment numbers in excess of 7.2% and we have an official number now of 9.1% and a practical number in the neighborhood of 20% with no reasonable prospect of reducing unemployment significantly before the election.
Obama look at this and that the gasoline prices and realize that he must change the subject or lose the election.
He will look at the demographics and start with energizing his base. That means he will play the race card to obtain 95% of the 12% African-American vote. He will certainly continue to play the immigration/race card to attempt to get in excess of 70% of the 14% Hispanic vote. Recently, he has pandered to the gays with his rulings in the military and he will hope to garner 80 to 90% of the + - 3% gay vote. They will probably still receive better than 50% of the Jewish vote despite his the trail of America's generations long support of Israel. He will further pander to the women's vote and he will demagogue Social Security and health care to frighten the elderly.
In addition, Obama will have at his disposal $1 billion to spend on his campaign which he will have gotten by cronyism or extortion of American business and by cronyism with American unions. This money will be liberally applied to demagoging the election.
Obama knows his negatives are high and therefore he must bring the Republican candidate down to his level by slinging mud and he has the money with which to sling a lot of mud. So we are destined to have one of the dirtiest elections in history and it will be a scurrilous example of the lowest kind of demagoguery. If Obama can bring the Republican candidate down to his level so that the Republican suffers from like negatives, and Obama can energize his base through demagoguery, the Republic might be sentenced to a final catastrophic episode of Obamaism.
But this is not to say that this political landscape means that we are in a 1860s condition. If we are in such a condition that must be because we are on the verge of some cataclysmic event not because of a general disillusionment with our American political parties. It could be a black swan event which in turn precipitates a fiscal calamity. If that should occur and Obama is reelected I cannot see how America can survive as a land of liberty. Certainly it would not survive if the Republicans do not hold at least one house of Congress.
Since before the last election, I have said that Obama is a demagogue and a potential tyrant. Even if Obama himself cannot marshal the forces to turn America into Zimbabwe, we are facing a demographic tsunami which is likely to prove irresistible within a generation and with this wave of aliens, both legal and illegal, comes a voting bloc with no understanding, much less appreciation or regard for democracy and capitalism.
So I do agree that the stakes in this election are as great as they were in 1860. This is so either because we faced an economic catastrophe or by operation over time demographic slide to the left. So, if liberty and freedom of enterprise are to survive we must not only win this election but we must install a leader who can by force of his vision radically change the course of the country so that all the demographic factors which weigh so heavily day after day against the forces of good can simply be neutralized and, as it were, detoured away. This kind of leader is one who rises to meet the time and it is difficult to foretell where he might come from. We have seen it before in our history as, for example, in 1860. We have seen the country radically change course respecting communism and capitalism beginning in 1980 with Ronald Reagan. We have also seen it go the other way with Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
Somewhere among us there is the man for the time and we desperately need him to step forward. Is it Paul Ryan? Is it Gov. Perry? Could it be Sarah Palin?
Very Orwellian. If democracy was the road to communism then how come the FIRST thing the commies did when they SEIZED power was ABOLISH democratic elections? I remember watching some documentary about the lefties who went to fight in the spanish civil war and they were parroting the same B.S. ... they were going there to fight for “democracy” in Spain. Of course once communists get in power, they won’t be caught dead following the “will of the people”. Look at all the liberal activists in California who constantly have judges overturn direct popular votes of “the people” on traditional marriage and cuttings off benefits for illegals. It will be a cold day in hell before Obama decides to have a national referendum on Obamacare.
Palin made comments to Hannity on FoxNews about a 3rd party threat if the GOP don’t come around to Tea Party principles but instead continue to do things as usual.
Would that we had a Lincoln.
I've been trying to convince my fellow conservatives that they have been wasting their time in a fruitless quest for a new Ronald Reagan to emerge and lead our party and our nation. I insisted that we'd never see his like again because he was one of a kind. I was wrong! Wednesday night I watched the Republican National Convention on television and there, before my very eyes, I saw my Dad reborn; only this time he's a she. And what a she! This was Ronald Reagan at his best -- the same Ronald Reagan who made the address known now solely as "The Speech," which during the Goldwater campaign set the tone and the agenda for the rebirth of the traditional conservative movement that later sent him to the White House for eight years and revived the moribund GOP. Welcome back, Dad, even if you're wearing a dress and bearing children this time around.
~Michael Reagan, Chairman, Reagan Foundation, syndicated talk show host and son of President Ronald Reagan.
Speaking of a third party; check out this Post from last night. 192 Posted Comments so far.
A very good point not often made.
Star Parker isn't predicting it, and neither am I, not quite yet. I'd say there is just under a 50% chance that the voters of 2012 will elect a conservative (Palin, Cain, Bachmann, or DeMint come to mind). If we do, I expect to avoid a second Civil War. If Obama or Romney wins in 2012, that war may be inevitable. The forces of freedom will more likely than not win that war, but I hope and pray that we will get energized prior to the November 2012 election and obtain the same result without bloodshed.
What Good Can a Handgun Do Against An Army?
Nobody, well hardly anybody, at the time argued that a new (or old) state didn't have the right to decide whether to permit or prohibit slavery.
Douglass argued that voters in federal territories during the period prior to their becoming states should be allowed to decide whether to allow slavery. This repealed, in the northern territories, the Missouri Compromise that was over 40 years old at the time.
The discussion became moot when the Supremes in the Dred Scott decision determined that neither territorial voters nor the federal government had power to prevent slavery in any territory.
But new and old states still had absolute power over slavery within their boundaries. At least till the Supremes got around to deciding states could not outlaw it, which some contend Taney and others were conspiring to do.
“No, I am certainly not predicting, God forbid, that todays divisions and tensions will lead to brother taking up arms against brother.”
Nor am I. They are not my brothers.
“Would that we had a Lincoln.”
That would be the gangly, sociopathic lawyer from Illinois, who feels free to suspend the Constitution at will.
We have one.
A fatuous comparison.
I’m hoping it’s more like 1980 or 1984. The left needs to be slapped down and hard.
At least Star Parker could throw me a hat tip.
Like the Democrats of 1860, the GOP is two parties that cannot stand each other in one skin.
Again like 1860, the three-way race between radicals (Obama) and pro and anti slavery Republicans has so much potential for violence after it's over that there will inevitably be Bell-Everett "can't we all just get along" fourth party, with a goo-goo RINO at the top and some non-communist Democrat for VP.
You mean, someone willing to kill 600 000 Americans and destroy 1/3 of the country to impose his will?
Unfortunately, the one who comes closest to the part played by Abraham Lincoln in our looming tragedy is Obama himself.
Perhaps FReepers living in Europe don't see debt-based money used to fuel ever-more-powerful socialism as akin to negro slavery, but it is every bit as divisive and has every bit as much potential for violence. Obama, the socialist, sees clearly that the 50 states cannot exist much longer half-slave (NY,DC,NJ,IL,MA,CA,MD) and half-free.
To quote the Lincoln you long for, "In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half [socialist] and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other."
I do believe that Obama and the forces behind him are quite prepared to use force to re-unify the nation on the core issue of the right of the government at Washington to dictate what may be done with your property, up to and including confiscation by either regulation or fiat.
So in that sense, the looming crisis of an election that the people are not ready for (not ready to choose, I mean) IS quite similar to 1860.
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for supper.
Yours is a well thought out post and well worth the read.
I respectfully disagree with your point regarding the democrats and gop. The d’s have, as you indicate, become the party of race-baiters and socialists. The gop, however, has had almost as much of a hand in the fiscal destruction of the republic as their so-called opposition.
Let us not forget that the mother of all bailouts, TARP, was initiated not under the current maladministration but under that of President Bush. This was not just the camel’s nose but the whole camel in the tent.
To use a nineteenth century analogy, we’ve got the gop taking the role of the Whigs. But unlike the Whigs of the 19th century, the gop doesn’t have the decency to fade into obscurity and allow another more effective conservative political party to take it’s place.
“Would that we had a Lincoln.”
No way. Would that we had a Jefferson. Or a Churchill. Or a Reagan.
Personally, I think we do have a Reagan in development. But it’s a she.
The fundamental issue of our time, as of that time, is, "who owns your labor".
I contend that, if the GOP nominates Palin or Ryan (I don't know anything about Rick Perry), that the wing that can speak of "tax expenditures" without reaching for a rifle will not support that nominee.
People who believe, like Newt Gingrich, that ANY attempt to right the ship on the basis that the material fruits of your labor do NOT belong to you by right is "radical right-wing social engineering", people who believe, like Mitt Romney, that free economic activity involving discovery, extraction, and exploitation of natural resources affects the output of the sun, people who believe, like Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Karl Rove, and George Will, that cultural Marxism is ireversible - those people WILL NOT SUPPORT OUR CANDIDATE, even if we can get her (or him) nominated.
The GOP is fundamentally divided between those who believe that it is RIGHT to take your money to give to other people and those who believe it is WRONG. This is no longer a pragmatic disagreement about HOW MUCH of your money is is EFFICIENT to take, or about whether the race or gender of the looters affects the reasonableness of the confiscation.
Like the Democrats of 1860, the Republicans of 2012 will produce two candidates, because they cannot do otherwise.
Somewhere the right person exists and he or she had better step forward quickly or this battle will be lost.
Kind of lost me right there. I haven't seen Pawlenty or Huntsman even come close to Palin, or for that matter, Herman Cain, in any credible poll. Only in a RINO wet dream.
Andrew Johnson was a desperate political move when Lincoln actually thought he had a chance of losing the 1864 election. Hannibal Hamlin was the capable and competent selection of 1860. Hamlin actually was called to and served active duty in the Maine reserves while he was the sitting vice president.
I also believe that his postwar administration would have been far more benign and more constitutional than reconstruction proved to be. I do accept that his lifting of habeas corpus, his arresting newspaperman and Congressman was illegal. His wartime measures overall were in many respects unconstitutional. The Emancipation Proclamation was a taking of property without just compensation and therefore unconstitutional. But one would have to search deep in the cupboards of history to find a more justifiable (or perhaps better put, a less unjustifiable) illegal action by Commander-in-Chief than the freeing of slaves.
In sum, I think that Lincoln was drawn into the vortex just as everyone else was and his extra-constitutional measures, done more in desperation than in malice, can be pardoned if one accepts the primacy of maintaining the integrity of the Union. If not, then the opposite conclusion is virtually automatic. I agree with you entirely in denying any good motives to Barack Obama and I do join with you in your assessment that he would go to strong arm lengths to transform America according to his vision.
The cause of the war, and the cause of the division of the Democrats, and the cause of Lincoln's election, though, were all the same cause.
I do not thing the GOP can unify behind a single candidate because their division is over fundamentals.
This point can NEVER be made enough.
Too many people have no idea there is a difference and have been brain washed by public school indoctrination to falsely believe we are a Democracy.
Others have made this comparison before.
So long as we have a constitutionally defined representative system, I believe the government has a right to tax us. However the purposes to which that government puts those taxes is an entirely different issue and one which the Constitution as originally drawn intended to carefully restrict. Those restrictions in the course of history have been blown away.
Interestingly, this is the current shape of the argument before the various Courts of Appeals where the government is claiming that the mandate to buy insurance under Obama care is a tax and therefore constitutional.
I would join you in saying that it is illegitimate for the government, having taxed us, to redistribute our wealth as an end in itself. It is also probably illegitimate to tax us if the purpose is to redistribute wealth. But that has been done many times. For example, it was well known that the purpose of inheritance taxes was to destroy dynasties and even out the playing field rather than raise revenues. Moreover every exemption in the tax code is designed to subsidize behavior that the government regards to be desirable. As bad as is the taking our labor, this puts us in a Skinner box.
The problem with my approach is that I permit the camel's nose under the tent when I permit taxation and, as you point out, once the beast is in there it becomes an argument over how much or how efficient and that is an argument which conservatives ultimately are doomed to lose. Just a few articles ago there is a poll that says that 49% of Americans think it is appropriate for the government to redistribute wealth. This is a demographic battle that we are destined to lose and Obama knows it. The question is, can he shaped the world according to his liking while he has constitutional power?
Those would do quite well too. But IMO Lincoln, with what I think were good motives, did what he did to save the union and the nation and succeeded, unlike the present usurper. I am well aware of the contrarian opinions re Lincoln on FR and elsewhere. But he doesn't have the biggest and most impressive monument in Washington for nothing.
I don’t think killing 600,000 Americans were in Lincoln’s plan. Unfortunately it, and its attendant destruction, turned out to be the cost of preserving the union. I know we have a lot of confederates on FR but I grieve for both sides.
Right. The fact that we're butchering thousands of little babies every day in this country is far worse than the wicked, tyrannical practice of slavery.
Democracy is one man, one vote. The most votes wins and usually lords it over the losers, in other words, mob rule.
“But IMO Lincoln, with what I think were good motives, did what he did to save the union and the nation and succeeded, unlike the present usurper.”
And in the process killed a mere 600K plus Americans, laid waste to large parts of the south, and essentially gutted the notion of states having the right to self-governance.
“But he doesn’t have the biggest and most impressive monument in Washington for nothing.”
Dictators often have large monuments.
There are other figures in U.S. history far more admirable and unifying in their message. We’ve had one in my lifetime; Ronald Reagan. Let’s hope we get a second.
Please, stop what you are doing....NOW...and pick up a copy of Plato's “Republic”.
Better yet, visit youtube and search for ‘Commanding Heights’.
So do you agree with what John Wilkes Booth did?
“So do you agree with what John Wilkes Booth did?”
No. I don’t. I think things would have been much better if he had lived. If for no other reason than he would have had to have cleaned up his own mess. Andrew Johnson would have never been President.
And rather than endure this sort demigod mystique we’ve had to ever since as a result of his assassination, we would have a more objective writing of history.
I think most FReepers are well aware that I am no uncritical fan of George Bush. I posted lengthy and vituperative reply and even vanities complaining of his leadership and his spending. But I think the man is getting a bad rap on this thread on this issue.
Here are two posts, the first in which was published on September 30, 2008 in an attempt to balance ideology and practicality. To this day I do not know if the bailout done under Bush was well-founded or not. I suspect no one was published on this thread knows either.
The second post was published with the perspective of time.
I have not yet posted on the wisdom of the bail out because, frankly, I do not know what to say. I do not know what to say because of the things I do not know. First, I do not know if the bailout plan will work. Second, I do not know if the entire world system will crash without such a plan. Third, I do not know what the odds are of either a successful bailout or a world crash so I cannot weigh the severity of potential harm against the likelihood of the harm occurring.
I know what my ideology is, I am opposed to government meddling in the economy on the way up and on the way down either by picking winners or by rescuing losers. On the other hand, I recognize the extreme danger to the very survival of my ideology should the country descend into a depression. I am well read enough to know about the Great Depression and what it did to other democracies around the world and how close our own American democracy came to descending into communism. So, I do not know in which direction lurks a greater danger to the ideal of conservatism.
I do know that the Constitution as written prohibits virtually every facet of the proposed bailout plan. I know that no federal court that I can think of will conceivably declare any part of the plan to be repugnant to the constitution. Therefore, I know I cannot rely on the courts to protect the Constitution. However, I also know that the political will will triumph regardless of the Constitution and it is bootless to fall on one's ideological sword to no purpose.
I do not know what it is like to live through a depression although my father has described what it was like in the rural South when people literally had no money and had to contrive a barter economy. On the other hand, I do not know what it is like to live through a raging inflation such as was sustained here in Germany during the Weimar and even today in Zimbabwe. I do not know if doing nothing will generate a depression. I do not know if these bailouts will generate hyperinflation.
I do know that if abandoning my ideology long enough to countenance the bailout would save the country from a depression, I would do it in a heartbeat.
I am not sure that those people on these threads who on claim to know the answers to all these questions really know what they're talking about. I do not know if they are so sure about their facts only knew because they are so certain in their ideology. I do not know all if those people who are so certain in their bailout do so because otherwise their ox gets gored. So I do not know how to come down on one side or the other based on the motives of the partisans on either side of the bailout question. I simply do not know what their motives really are.
I do know that economics is called the dismal science and now I know why.
Given the state of my ignorance, I am going to embark on a new course, I am going to practice humility.
Here's the second post:
I have often put myself in Bush's moccasins when he is told by his Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve that if he does not act within hours the entire financial system of the Western world will crash, that nation will be devastated, millions will be thrown out of work, that the implications extend even to starvation and rioting in the streets.
If one acts precipitously one sets a bad precedent and wastes a couple of hundred billion dollars. On the other hand, if one fails to act when required, the consequences are horrible. You cannot investigate the situation and determine who is right in a few hours available, you can only look into the eyes of the man who implore you to act and hope what your read is more accurate than when you looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes.
Given that scenario, I think I would have made the same choice Bush made.
But it should be considered as a primary truth that the Republican party of the 1850s and particularly in 1860 was drastically manipulating the slavery issue beyond its limits, and amplifying its alleged threat to the morality of distant people, (but more truthfully their labor), so as to generate voter support of the Lincoln party. This was in direct opposition to Southern capitalism, and nothing more than propaganda politics to get the votes.
We have exactly the same construct today with Obama stoking the fires of class jealousy and guilt. As more and more media outlets repeat this propaganda, the masses become convinced.....mental manipulation by availability cascading.
We must be mindful that the threat is not racial or class warfare, but the Democrats use of these issues to overturn the liberties originally guaranteed by the Constitution.
If class warfare or the economy cannot get Obama reelected, then the liklihood of a "black swan" looms larger.
When you can't get elected on the issues, you create a "crisis" that needs you as the solution.
A repeat of 1860.
I agree. A “real” third party movement, however, will be one that either (1) displaces the GOP (takes over the party’s structure and remakes the party) or (2) replaces the GOP (forms a new party structurea).
Either way, a “third” party works in our system only once it has become popular and strong enough to become, essentially, one of the two MAJOR parties. The GOP, as we know it, either evolves into a true Tea Party or the GOP withers away as the Tea Party advances.
I’ve also been struck by the many similarities of this time in history to the 1860 election.
If Barack Obama is the solution to the problem it’s a pretty stupid problem.
Stupid problem or an electorate that does not know what it does not know??
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