Thursday, November 04, 2010

When the Party of Lincoln started stinkin'

One has to take history according to Gore Vidal, marvelous storyteller that he is, with enough salt to store it for the winter. Add a double dose for his jaded fictional narrators.  But this, from Vidal's 1876 diarist Charles Schuyler, a bastard son of Aaron Burr who's pinned his fortunes all but entirely selfish hope on the Democrats, does capture the by-now-all-but-eternal GOP:

...the noble new party that freed the slaves and preserved the Union is the very same party that is now in cahoots with the crooked railroad tycoons and with the Wall Street cornerers of this-and-that, thus making it hard for a noble creature like Bigelow -- like Stedman? -- to confess to the bankruptcy of what only ten years ago was the last or latest, best or better, hope or dream of an honourable system of government (p. 64, Vintage ed).

Of course, the Republican party was formed primarily from the rump of the collapsed Whig party, which also primarily represented moneyed interests. Lincoln himself made much of his money representing railroads. To be sympathetic to the producers of jobs and wealth has not always  meant being totally beholden to them. But it sure does mean that for the Republican party of Gingrich, DeLay, Ney, Cheney, Bush Jr., Rove, McConnell and Boehner.


  1. Case in point: the downfall of cap and trade. Who hasn't kicked that meme in the past few months? Its not just energy guru Sarah Palin sneering 'cap and tax'; there's no shortage of thoughtful commenters repeating the reasons cap and trade, even in the abstract, sucks.

    A well-designed cap and trade system results in a hit to the profit centers of MNC senior managers, who then do what they've done since time immemorial, innovate to make themselves whole, which ends up providing the rest of us the benefit of less pollution.

    The first page in the Gospel of Right Wing Ideology emphasizes that you can't trust government; only the competition of the marketplace can solve our ills. Nowhere is this Truth more obvious than comparing the possibility of well-designed cap and trade with Smokey the Government Bear kindly asking us to Give A Hoot, Don't Pollute.

    Unfortunately, the second page of that Gospel says that, while we should look for the hidden agenda in every government communication, the vast collective PR operation of MNCs is to be trusted implicitly, since, company=good and government=bad.

  2. also complicit in the allegiance swap was rutherford hayes who promised an end to reconstruction for the southern vote.