Pulitzer Prize winning Presidential historian Jon Meacham, author of THE SOUL OF AMERICA: The Battle for Our Better Angels cites Abraham Lincoln in the title of his book.
In a New York Times Article on May 21, 2018, Sean Wentz’s presents a precis of Meacham’s book:
“Appalled by the ascendancy of Donald J. Trump, and shaken by the deadly white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville in 2017, Meacham returns to other moments in our history when fear and division seemed rampant. He wants to remind us that the current political turmoil is not unprecedented, that as a nation we have survived times worse than this. And initially this sounds a little too reassuring. But Meacham quickly adds that America’s survival has never been automatic. Covering the century that stretched from the abolition of slavery to civil-rights victories of the mid-1960s, he explains how the nation required activist liberal presidents – above all Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson – to replace fear with hope and then to reverse injustice and expand equality. Our Better Angels, Meacham implies, resides in that part of the American soul that inspired the Square Deal, the New Deal and Great Society.”
Former Vice-President Joe Biden at a recent rally for Democratic state candidate repeated that theme when seriously warning that America was in a, “battle for its soul”. The present Republican Party has marginalized moderates and Representatives who originally denounced Trumpism have succumbed to it. The Republican party is no longer the “Party of Lincoln”.
Opposition to Twentieth Century progress caused a shift in political alignment which began in 1948 with the formation of a States’ Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrats), a third party determined to protect states’ rights and to legislate racial segregation. Though the party was short-lived, the ideology lived on. Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, flipped the Solid South to Republican.
The Republican Party remained under control of moderates, overcoming the extremism McCarthyism and Barry Goldwater until the Twenty-First century. In the first decade of the Twenty-First Century, an extreme segment of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, became most powerful. This is evident in Presidential Candidate John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin over Joseph Lieberman, a moderate Democrat, for Vice-President, to balance the ticket against Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
In 2008 the United States elected President Barack Obama and Democrats were in control of Congress. From the onset Obama’s legitimacy as a citizen and his religious affiliation were challenged by the hard right Tea Party, which had caucused separately since 2010. This extreme right element of the Republican Party have opposed and obstructed Obama’s progressive programs (The 2016 – 2017 Trump takeover of the Republican Party is in this previous article.)
As of January of 2018, Gallup Poll figures for party affiliation were:
Independents, the major segment of the electorate, can play an important role in the 2018 election and in all elections. Electoral reforms are needed but at present we have two parties representing We the People. Many people have become disenchanted with our electoral process but We the People must register and vote to protect the “checks and balances” of The Unites States Constitution.
Trump radicals have become experts at transference, the art of assigning personal attitudes to your opponent, labeling Progressives who are seeking positive change into their future as radicals. Independents, Moderate Republicans and Democrats must form a voting bloc to defeat Trumpism and move forward into the 21st Century.
In an era of partisanship, words spoken by Dwight D. Eisenhower should be considered.
“If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is a not political party, it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” March 6, 1956
OUR BETTER ANGELS
THE SOUL AMERICA