I have a deep admiration for Abraham Lincoln and the more I study his presidency, the deeper my respect. He was the first Republican president and so, we might think, the Republican Party must be building on the foundations Lincoln laid.
Not so. Today’s Republican party is strongly opposed to nearly everything Lincoln stood for. The author of the Emancipation Proclamation would be horrified, for example, that the Republicans are so popular with the blatant racists of the American South, where the news has not yet sunk in that they lost the Civil War.
Today’s Republican Party is short-sighted. Think, for example, of how many conservatives were shouting a few years ago, “Drill, baby, drill.” Well, we’ve greatly increased our production of oil and in doing so have dropped the price of oil – hooray! — and have drastically reduced the profitability of our oil companies. That leaves lots of stock holders just holding the bag. I’m okay with that but the Republicans seem a bit shocked, since they would never mean to hurt any big company.
Today’s Republican Party has given new life to the old Southern devotion to “States’ Rights.” Not recognizing how much evil has been done by states who would never have corrected their evil had not the federal government intervened, and not recognizing that in today’s world of high speed communication and transportation the distinctions between the states is greatly diminished, the Republicans want us to retreat back to the very pre-Civil War positions that failed us so badly even then.
And today’s Republican Party has been so captured by negativity that they cannot seem to remember how to stand for anything positive at all. They only know how to say no. Oddly, even when the President agrees with some idea they’ve put forward, they blast him for it. this is incredibly juvenile.
One of the most bizarre but common characteristics of today’s ultra-conservatives is their gullibility. They will uncritically accept anything which seems to support their prejudices. Remember when Fox News was loudly proclaiming that Obama’s trip to India was going to cost $200 million each day? The idea had no basis in fact and no credible source other than an anonymous writer in a small town newspaper in India. It only took a moment’s thought to realize it was an absurdity, yet Fox got lots of mileage out of it as proof of how bad Obama is. Or remember the death panels that Obamacare was going to establish. or the predicted certainty that no one would sign up for Obamacare? Or how about the idea that we can build a wall on our southern border, get Mexico to pay for it, and then be safe from illegal aliens? Or the idea that Trump is a unifier? Or a successful business man? Or that he does not condone violence? Or any of a thousand other patently ridiculous ideas that conservatives swallow without thinking?
One of the great inconsistencies among conservatives is that on one hand they proclaim that America is an exceptional nation, far above all others, while on the other hand telling us what a terrible mess we’re in, so much so that we need a tyrant to restore us and make America great again. If we’re so exceptional, why do we not rank near the top in health care? If we’re so great, how come we keep hearing we can’t afford to fix our roads or subsidize colleges and universities?
After becoming the majority in the Senate, Republican leaders boasted that now America will see how well the Republicans can run the government. Well, it turns out they have remained incapable of making any positive decisions and, even more shameful, they cannot even run the Republican party. How in the world could they manage a nation? Sadly, there is an answer to that question. When people get locked and entangled in chaos, as is the Republican Party today, they begin hoping for a tyrant to deliver them. That has happened repeatedly throughout history and is happening right before out eyes today, to the deep, deep shame of the Republican party.
Finally (at least for this particular list), I am frequently shocked to see the conservative inability to learn. It’s not just that ignorance is acceptable (that’s a serious enough problem) but that there is an active resistance to learning. For example, it has long been the case that the great majority of Americans are frustrated and angered by the Republican willingness to shut down the government out of petty concerns for getting their own way. Now, they are vowing to reject Obama’s nomination for the open position on the Supreme Court. It does not matter to them that we need a full court or that Obama has nominated a conservative justice. They can’t seem to learn how much they are hurting themselves when they so badly hurt America. Wilful ignorance cannot be excused under any circumstances.
This is Easter Sunday. Lest you think I am unaware of the importance of this day, let me put things in perspective. I believe the sovereignty of God is infinitely greater than any powers of human beings. The God who raised Jesus Christ from death to eternal life can do the same for me, for you, and for a whole people. That’s why, despite my irritation at the ungodly narcissism of today’s Republican Party, I have great hope for America. My hope is grounded on the love and grace of God, not on any human or national virtues.