A Funny Thing Happened On My Way Through The Pledge

WorldUpsideDownby Rosalys6/17/16
This past Monday, I attended a cook out with my husband. This annual event heralds in the summer hiatus of monthly meetings of one of the historic militia groups that he belongs to. As usual, they had a short meeting; and as usual, the meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic…” 

And this is where it got weird, for I found myself saying, not, “…and to the republic for which it stands…” but, “…and to the republic which no longer exists!”

“A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”   

Have we kept our republic? Or have we quietly frittered it away, keeping only the outward trappings that allow us to be fooled into living the lie, that we still live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave?”

No one heard my aberration. I then stopped and listened to what the rest were reciting.

“…one nation…”

Are we really any longer, one nation? Or have we become a balkanized mess of competing values or lack there of?

“…under God…”

Under gods is more like it! Each with a little idol of his/her/its own making, and in his/her/its own image. To quote Ben again…

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” 

Are we any longer a virtuous people? I suppose a case could be made that we are still a religious people, but religious can mean as many things as there are religions. Being religious doesn’t make you virtuous.

“…indivisible…”

This one is tough. I suppose once we were not indivisible, as we consisted of the several states, and the several states had rights (which were abrogated by the 17th amendment.) But of course, we do have now the 17th amendment; and there are very few, if any rights left to the several states; and those which remain are being gobbled up by the over arching preeminence of the Federal Government. On the other hand, I refer you back to my comment on “one nation.”

“…with liberty and justice for all.”

The World Turned Upside Down was a tune played at Conrnwallis’ surrender at Yorktown – the meaning and significance, at the time, of which should be obvious. But we could very well play this tune, with meaning again, in our own day, for we have become Bizarro Land, and once again the world has been turned upside down – but this time, not for the better. Liberty has been greatly curtailed through political correctness, campus speech codes, and harassment by the thought police. Our Constitutionally recognized right to protect ourselves has been damaged through way too many “common sense” (and unlawful) gun laws. Justice has been replaced by “social justice,” which really isn’t justice in any way, shape, or form. There are too many “modern” rights (actually privileges, granted to distinct and perverse groups and individuals) which somehow trump the traditional and Constitutionally recognized ones. Sometimes it seems that true justice happens by accident rather than design.

So, I repeat my question. Have we kept our republic?

*For TWTUD begin listening at 1:44. However Yankee Doodle and White Cockade are both great tunes, especially as played by fife and drum!


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44 Responses to A Funny Thing Happened On My Way Through The Pledge

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    When we visited Gettysburg in 2001, we came across some pronouncement by FDR about national unity — in essence, e pluribus unum, though I don’t recall the exact quote. Elizabeth noted that today the Democrats seek the opposite. (A decade earlier, the Goracle had mistranslated the motto as “Out of one, many.” I don’t think it was truly an accident.)

    And while we’re at, hands up everyone who thinks liberals really believe in “liberty and justice for all”. . . . Funny, I don’t see any hands. Especially not mine.

  2. Steve Lancaster says:

    The republic of the founders died on the 3/4 July 1863 at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. It is not that the CSA could not ever win the war after that but that an ever expansive federal state would not be stopped no matter which side won. Lincoln was expanding the federal bureaucracy and Davis was doing the same, on a smaller scale but the results would have been the same.

    The pace accelerated after the war and into the 20th century with the 16th and 17th amendments. The 16th created the funding for the federal state and the 17th removed the ability of the states to exercise power in the government.

    We now live in a federal tyranny of ever intrusive government that considers individual freedom irrelevant. You, the ordinary citizen, are just a revenue stream for the political elite.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I would put it slightly earlier. The Southern secession made that result inevitable — ironic, since it was a revolt against the embryonic “big government”.

    • GHG says:

      Yes, Lincoln’s actions are tough to justify. While abolishing slavery was morally the correct thing to do, it was a classic case of ends justifying means and resulted in the erosion of the founding principles of our nation. But it goes back even before the civil war, it goes back to the compromise reached to count slave citizens as less than free citizens in congressional representation (i.e finding a work around rather than resolving the fundamental difference between the two groups regarding the inalienable rights of all men – not just free men). That was the seed of our destruction for it made inevitable that there would need to be a conflict resolution between those who thought truly all men are created equal and those who thought a racial caste system was normal.

      Again, it’s a tough one to come to grips with because without that compromise the constitution may not have been ratified by one set of states or the other and history may have been drastically different. But, it was again ends justify the means and eventually the piper demands payment for a compromised agreement.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        It was Northern states that did not want to count slaves at all. The South wanted full recognition of slaves as part of the demographic. The 3/5 compromise was justified by both sides to keep the other involved in the Constitution.

        BTW it was Yankee merchants in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia that made fortunes with the triangle trade.

        On the slavery issue no ones hands are clean.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          To be precise, the slave states wanted slaves not counted at all for direct taxes, but counted fully for congressional apportionment. The non-slave states wanted the reverse. Without some such compromise (and allowing the slave trade until 1808), the Constitution would never have gotten through the convention, much less been ratified.

          The #1 reason I have the soundtrack to 1776 is the song “Molasses to Rum to Slaves”, in which Edward Rutledge neatly skewers New England hypocrisy on the subject.

        • GHG says:

          It was Northern states that did not want to count slaves at all. The South wanted full recognition of slaves as part of the demographic. The 3/5 compromise was justified by both sides to keep the other involved in the Constitution.

          Correct and the point was that there existed a fundamental difference in the definition of all men, as in all men are created equal, and because of that fundamental difference there would inevitably be a conflict of one form or another. They reached a compromise which was essentially putting the issue aside for the sake of forming a new perfect union.

          The fundamental choice they faced back then is the same we face today – do you stand on principle and lose or compromise principle and win? They were probably honorable men who thought it more important to establish a government for all the colonies than to stand their ground on slavery and end up fracturing the fledgling country. They probably thought slavery could be dealt with at a later date, and they were right in that regard. What they probably didn’t foresee was the repercussions that transpired and are continuing to transpire.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        But it goes back even before the civil war, it goes back to the compromise reached to count slave citizens as less than free citizens in congressional representation (i.e finding a work around rather than resolving the fundamental difference between the two groups regarding the inalienable rights of all men – not just free men). That was the seed of our destruction for it made inevitable that there would need to be a conflict resolution between those who thought truly all men are created equal and those who thought a racial caste system was normal.

        It goes back to the forced importation of black slave labor into North America. It is impossible to have a true republic were a large percentage of the population is enslaved with the sanction of the government.

        I do not think there is any doubt that the greatest problems the nation has faced, over its almost 250 years existence, are rooted in the practice of slavery.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Of course, this would indicate why the Athenian and Roman republics both devolved into imperial forms.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Trump is the bomb at the end of Dr. Strangelove. We are Slim Pickens riding the bomb to the ground, waving our hats, and yelling “Yahoo!”

          It’s possible a realignment of the parties could come from this. But it’s much more likely that Trump is doing an enormous service to the Establishment Republicans who will (as they have now) simply compete with the Democrats to be “the party in power.”

          Trump will delegitimize the very idea of a popular insurrection against their betters. We will become, to a large extent have become, Europe where the parties may change power but government grows bigger and the unelected bureaucracy has much of the power and does not change according to election cycles.

          I hear conservatives bash the Tea Party. But it remains the only organized force outside of the two-party system with any teeth. Conservatism has been shown to be either corrupt, a mere identity, or not very thoughtful with the elevation of Trump (over Cruz, I might add…it’s not as if we didn’t have an outstanding candidate).

          It’s not easy to tie a pretty ribbon on this pile of dog shit.

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            And that dog has been shitting since the 1890s

          • Rosalys says:

            “Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

            Ha! Ha!

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Yes, Lincoln’s actions are tough to justify. While abolishing slavery was morally the correct thing to do, it was a classic case of ends justifying means and resulted in the erosion of the founding principles of our nation.

        Lincoln fired on Fort Sumter? That’s news to me.

        This clinging to Lincoln as the start of Big Government is wrong-headed. There’s a reason you can say “while morally correct” about Lincoln. It’s because there was a side that was decisively morally wrong: The South. To put the structure of corruption (sometimes euphemized as “state’s rights”) above this moral truth is to elevate a mere organizational structure over men. Another way of saying that is that in an Orwellian state, men are mere chattel to The Organization of the State which is sacrosanct. Luckily Lincoln was not a useful idiot for this libertarian heresy.

        All that the South had to do was get rid of the practice of slavery. They brought the war upon themselves and actively pushed for it. And you’ll find very few blacks, then or now, who aren’t glad that “Big Government” (also called “the very purpose of our republic, to protect individual liberty”) came to the rescue.

        I’m still amazed at how many conservatives have swallowed down libertarian gunk (particularly blaming Lincoln for what is, in fact, the work of modern Progressives). Some of that gunk is the bastardization of the word, “liberty.” Big Government Lincoln famously said, and these words should be attached with a magnet to every conservative’s refrigerator:

        “We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name – liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – liberty and tyranny.”

        You can read speech after speech wherein candidate (for the presidency) Lincoln said he had no plans to mess with the South in terms of “that peculiar institution.” Unlike modern Republicans, instituting Big Government was the last thing on his mind. But the South did not wish to stay within its bounds. It was working to actively spread slavery to the entire Union. That was their goal. That was their answer to the growing abolition movement.

        If one wishes to reach back to the Civil War for the beginning of big government (which is wrong anyway…it was incrementing its way there as soon as the first Congress was sworn in), then honesty demands we put the blame where it belongs: on the slave-holding South who started the war.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Lincoln was a Henry Clay Whig, and thus an advocate of his American System, which was what passed as Big Government a sesquicentury ago. He also started a draft (though only after the Confederates did so) and an income tax, and had a poor record on civil liberties. Most of this returned to normal after the war, but the precedents were laid for the Populists and Progressives a few decades later. But they took it a lot further than Lincoln ever would have considered.

          But, as I said earlier and you said here, much of this was inevitable once the South seceded. That mean civil war, and that inevitably led to empowering the nascent behemoth.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            and had a poor record on civil liberties

            I think this is another libertarian myth. Lincoln was facing down a rebellion. And he gave very clear reasons for why he was doing what he was doing. Can you imagine Trump doing that with the same clarity, logic, and eloquence? Lincoln was not a hip-shooter and the Constitution, as they say, is not a suicide pact.

            And I certainly wouldn’t make the argument that Lincoln was the first coming of Calvin Coolidge. But he is blamed for “Big Government” like a butterfly beating its wings in Japan is blamed for the hurricane that eventually hits Florida.

            Lincoln actually did save the Union. And libertarians and others can decide whether this is a good thing or not. And Utopianists can wonder why we didn’t solve the slavery question at the get-go. But we have the history that we have. And I think we’re better off for Lincoln having saved the Union and getting rid of slavery.

            And I think any honest appraisal of Big Government will note that it is always the tendency of government to grow. And, in America’s case, that growth was put on steroids in the Progressive era starting around the 1890’s or so when the “social gospel” kicked in (first cousin to “social justice”), and The Experts of Government were anointed, and it was then deemed a HORRIBLE thing to just leave people alone to live their own lives when government could, of course, solve all their problems.

            Does that describe Lincoln? Is anyone actually serious that he was a “Progressive,” that he was of the kind, and in the direct chain of, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Obama, LBJ, and even Nixon?

            We are lost as a nation if we cannot embrace our pearls, let alone understand them.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Anti-war Democrats had definite problems with Union officials shutting down newspapers and arresting dissenting orators. It wasn’t as bad as Woodrow Wilson during the Great War (if only because it wasn’t as total), but the fact remains there was no legal basis for exiling Clement Vallandigham in early 1863. Much of this was the action of subordinates whom Lincoln chose to support, though not always (e.g., forcing Grant to rescind his order removing Jews from his area of authority).

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          All that the South had to do was get rid of the practice of slavery. They brought the war upon themselves and actively pushed for it.

          I am not even sure the South would have had to get rid of slavery. Lincoln was willing to live with the “Peculiar Institution”, and probably even the expansion of it as had been envisioned in the Missouri Compromise. He knew that, long term, the institution could not survive given the direction of the country. The slaveholders in the South also knew this and that is why they seceded.

          Even then, Lincoln was very circumspect in his handling of the South. He refused to fire the first shot. One suspects he knew he could count on some firebrand in the South to accommodate him on this point. He could honestly say he was forced into war.

          In his handling of Fort Sumter, one sees the lawyer in Lincoln’s mind at work. He did not invade the South. He did not claim States’ land. What he did was claim that all military installations which had belonged to the Federal Government before secession, still belonged to the U.S. Federal Government after the secession. He even gave the governor of South Carolina official notice that he was sending supplies to the Fort.

          Sadly, the Confederates could not stand the game of chicken which Lincoln was playing. One wonders what would have happened had the fools at Charleston had not given Lincoln his excuse.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Actually, Lincoln wasn’t even forcing the South to accept Northern control of all federal facilities in the South. By April, there were only 4 remaining — Fort Sumter, Fort Pickens in Pensacola, and the forts at Key West and Dry Tortugas. (The last 3 never fell to the Confederates.)

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Even then, Lincoln was very circumspect in his handling of the South. He refused to fire the first shot. One suspects he knew he could count on some firebrand in the South to accommodate him on this point. He could honestly say he was forced into war.

            If someone has inside information that Lincoln was itching for a war, please present it. I’m not aware of it.

            And Lincoln wasn’t playing chicken so much as asserting the proper authority of the Federal government. He could have gone all wobbly and not supplied the forts and treated them already as de facto hostages of the South. But to give in to threats of violence from the South was to basically accept the dissolution of the Union. I think you need to give Lincoln more credit than to just say he was baiting the South. He was conducting matters in about the only way a man could…if he believed that preserving the Union was his first priority as president.

            As we know, in the long-term, the North was not innocent in terms of slavery. They had it for a time and did profit from it even when it was outlawed. But only a libertarian or a kook could look at the situation and see the greater good as remaining static and forever in “that peculiar institution.” Times were changing. It was (rightly) seen by more and more people that slavery was an evil.

            Had the South simply dealt forthrightly with this fact — as they had somewhat when they agreed to phase out the importation of slaves when the Constitution was framed — there would have been no Civil War. It is almost completely on them. It is 100% guaranteed that Lincoln would not have gone to war on The South. He didn’t campaign on it. In fact, he campaigned on the exact opposite. He didn’t want trouble.

            And The South, through terrible compromises, was again and again given at least a chance to cool down and deal with this issue. But their response to the growing abolitionist sentiment was to actively try to spread slavery, and not just to the West. Their goals was to legalize it everywhere.

            So I think those who think Lincoln is at fault and precipitated the war are complete fools. Lincoln just happened to me the man in office (and, as it turned out, the right and possibly only man for the job) when circumstances finally played out and this conflict between free and slave came to a head. This isn’t Lincoln’s doing. It is the fault of The South. They need to own it. And confusing this point with talk of the supposed origin of Big Government is dishonest, at best.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, Buchanan probably wouldn’t have done anything even if he hadn’t been about to leave. I doubt Lincoln wanted a civil war, but I suspect he realized that holding onto Forts Sumter and Pickens was likely to lead to war anyway. And as a clever politician (though not a very successful one before the war, due to the fact that Illinois was a reliably Democratic state) he knew that it was best to get the South to shoot first, thereby better unifying the North.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I think you need to give Lincoln more credit than to just say he was baiting the South.

              I don’t think Lincoln was baiting the South. I suspect he truly did not want to be the first to fire a shot, for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is he wanted to find a way to avoid the conflict, if at all possible.

              He tried to carry out his presidential responsibilities in a legal way, but had to know he was dealing with a bunch of firebrands who cared little for legalisms. Therefore, he had to be prepared for the likelihood that the re-provisioning of Ft. Sumter was a dangerous move which could start a war. He would have been a dangerous simpleton had he not considered this and Lincoln was no simpleton.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              Brad,
              I think you are looking at the forest and not seeing the trees. Slavery is a moral and legal issue and the South participation is well documented as is the participation of the North profiting from the trade.

              We could argue this issue all day but the historical fact is that Lincoln, either by intent or accident, expanded the size and scope of the federal government well beyond the size and scope intended by the founders and outlined in the Constitution and it continued to expand when the war was over.

              That the federal government continued to expand to it current tyrannical size would be no surprise to Adams, both of them, or Jefferson.
              Remember it was Franklin who famously said, “a republic if you can keep it”. As in Rome the republic has become an urban myth.

              Both governments, North and South, were dealing with the realities of total war, without an option. My point is that regardless of who won the war the direction of government in North America was going to be larger, more intrusive, and in the end tyrannical. I don’t have to like it and I don’t but it is the reality we live with.

              There are issues that each of us will fight over. The slavery issue, complex as it is, still rises debate between well meaning men and women nationwide.

              There is one other issue that on a moral and legal basis separates and in terms of depravity exceeds slavery and that is abortion on demand.

              The Spartans, and other Greeks, practiced a form of infanticide that cast the poorly formed or disfigured infants to death. They would be horrified to view the Holocaust of Western culture with at least 100 million slaughtered in the womb. Compared to that slavery in the US is a side issue of little import.

              You are Christian and anti-abortion, I am non-Christian and anti-abortion; yet between us is a great divide. Where will you stand when family size is regulated, as in China, and abortion of excess is mandatory?

              This is the great moral issue of the 20th/21st century. Much greater than the slavery issue of the 19th century and in the end will bring violence to bring resolution if possible.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Steve, I think Lincoln should be judged for the time and the situation he was in. He had nothing to do with abortion, Social Security, the various forms of welfare, attacks on the Second Amendment, and the growth of the vast, tentacle-like unelected bureaucracies such as the EPA, OSHA, etc. If anyone is to be blamed for the original growth of Big Government it is George Washington who all but created this republic and set it on its course.

                My point is that regardless of who won the war the direction of government in North America was going to be larger, more intrusive, and in the end tyrannical.

                That’s simply not true. You, and other libertarian-minded people, want to heap all of today’s ills on Lincoln. Well, name 10 specific things that you would eradicate and then see if Lincoln had a blessed thing to do with any of them other than sort of a libertarian mystical “original sin” element that works as an ever-hanging cloud of guilt that Lincoln must bear…while, mind you, very little word space is given to Teddy Roosevelt, LBJ, FDR, Wilson, and the various truly blame-worthy architects of Big Government.

                What Lincoln is the author of is Big Union, as in saving it which then, out of obvious circumstances, required the eradication of slavery. Where we go from here, today, is up to us. Stop blaming Lincoln…and I don’t know about your own case, but people need to stop voting for fascist-like flakes such as Donald Trump. One of the greatest leaders in our nation’s history is Abraham Lincoln. But the forces of libertarianism (and others) have now all but nominated one of the most unfit men for high office. And yet people go on and on about the supposed seeds of Big Government sown by Lincoln. Jesus H. Christ. This is truly bizarre.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I believe that in pointing out that the Federal Government inevitably became larger and more intrusive because of the War of the Rebellion, Steve was not blaming Lincoln per se. Jefferson Davis presided over his own mini-behemoth in the South. In fact, it seems to me that you both largely agree on the subject, as do I.

        • GHG says:

          Lincoln fired on Fort Sumter?

          Of course not. But the attack on Fort Sumter wasn’t the first move in the contest, only the first military action. It was preceded by a stalemate over the issue of slavery which the South sought to resolve with secession. Lincoln wouldn’t allow the splitting of the union.

          The issue of slavery was not resolved for the expediency of ratifying the constitution and forming the country. Then, the morally correct side wanted the slave owning side to change their way of life and the slave owning side said you have no constitutional authority to tell us to stop owning slaves and thus the die was cast. Military action was inevitable.

          I believe it was the morally right thing to do the abolish slavery, but I also believe the the federal government was not within their constitutional right to usurp the rights of those states that did not want to abolish slavery. It was a catch-22 that was always going to come to a head. Either slavery would continue or states rights would continue to erode. I think the greater of the two evils was correctly dealt with, but now we suffer the consequences of Big Government with little chance of ever recapturing the fundamental federal structure.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            This is why a civil war was probably inevitable over the issue. Sooner or later either slavery would collapse (and there’s no telling how long that would take, even if it ever would on its own) or the government would have to get rid of it, which required a constitutional amendment — and that probably required a bunch of slave states not being included due to rebellion.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            but I also believe the the federal government was not within their constitutional right to usurp the rights of those states that did not want to abolish slavery.

            I think we should remember a little of the situation building up to the war. The slavery advocates wanted slavery legal in all states. The run-away-slave act was part of the push for this. They wanted to be able to take their slaves into any state and still own them. They could not get everything they wanted but they did win sometimes.

            The federal government was not pushing to abolish slavery. No doubt there were many in government who wished to end it and the abolitionists made a lot of noise. There had been compromises on the question of slavery, but the problem was that the South saw the that slavery could not last in a U.S.A. It would eventually peter out. When Lincoln said the nations must be “all one thing or another”, they finally decided the time had come to depart.

            With time, they knew that an amendment to the constitution to end slavery would be forthcoming. The tide of history was against slavery and I am convinced many knew this to be the case.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              The South probably wasn’t concerned about an anti-slavery amendment, given that 3/4 of the states would have to approve it, and that would never happen unless some of the slave states went free on their own and they were unable to expand.

              But the North already dominated the House, and would increasingly dominate the Senate as more (free) states were added, and that meant a loss of political power. I think that was their concern.

              For that matter, they thought most of the free-soilers were just trying to weaken the South (as Raphael Semmes told some British officers early in the war).

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I think your assessment is spot-on, Mr. Kung.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Along with the many complaints which some make against Lincoln, is the claim that he was a dictator.

                In truth, the USA was very fortunate in having Lincoln at the helm during this period.

                If one studies history, one will see that the typical leader which arises during civil war and rebellion is not a democrat. (George Washington is the great exception to this)

                During the last days of the Roman republic people like Sulla and Caesar arose. During the English Civil War a Cromwell arose. During the French Revolution you had the Directorate, Jacobins and finally Napoleon. During the Russian Revolution Lenin, Trotsky and finally Stalin sprouted forth.

                Where most civil wars spawn violent crazed monsters whose appetites cannot be sated, we got a pussy cat in Lincoln who was, metaphorically speaking, happy with a dish of milk.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Ditto again, Mr. Kung.

              • Rosalys says:

                To Brad and Mr. Kung, thank you both for doing a fine job defending Lincoln. He was not the Bad Guy. And his assassination at the end of the war was tragic for the nation.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Either slavery would continue or states rights would continue to erode.

            How bizarre to speak of “state’s rights.” States don’t have rights, they have powers. People have rights. And the rights of people were usurped by those kindly little Southern states that you and other libertarian-minded people gush over.

            Instead of fixing their problem they didn’t “secede”. They rebelled. They attacked. They tried to undermine the Union. They were an insurrection.

            And we don’t “now suffer the consequences of big government” because of it. That’s just libertarian lunacy. What about a word for those who suffered the consequences of what we could call “Big State Governments”? Not a word. You can hear crickets chirping. Somehow all the wrongs of the states are forgiven for that magical word, “state’s rights.”

            And regarding the Federal structure being recaptured, it should be noted that the states have rushed headlong into concentrating Federal power there, and this had nothing to do with Lincoln or the Civil War. States love the idea of getting Federal grants. Yes, this is all snake oil since this amounts to sending a dollar to Washington and maybe getting back fifty cents.

            States need to now, and they needed to back then, assert their authority in legal and moral ways. The sad fact is that it wasn’t Lincoln who facilitated Big Federal Government. It was the Southern states who have likely forever deligitimized the assertion of legal state powers by trying to illegally and immorally undermine the Constitution. There are all kinds of things states could do today that are perfectly within the Constitution but they do not do so. The cloud of the Southern mutiny, not Lincoln, hangs over us to this day.

            Had Southern leaders realized that their rebellion would do irreparable damage to the legitimate powers of individual states, I don’t think it would have mattered to them. Let’s remember that these same “state’s rights” Southern rebellious states did not allow any of their own states to differ on the issue of slavery.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              One of the problems with the “blame Lincoln for big government” meme is that it is so deterministic.

              Let’s suppose for one moment that Lincoln was guilty of everything the anti-Lincoln crowd accuse him of. The man was out of the picture as of April 1865. He no longer held the levers of power.

              What happened after his assassination was in the hands of others. And as is the case throughout history, “others” have options as to choices they make.

              Want to blame Lincoln for Reconstruction because the bum had the temerity to let himself get assassinated? Even Reconstruction lasted less than ten years. After that time, political power in the South rested with Southerners, just as political power in the North rested with Northerners.

              The fact is that history is a constant parade in which people have to make choices. Deciding to not get involved is also a choice. Even if Lincoln put into place the framework for an ever expanding federal government, the People had, at every stage of our history, the opportunity to undermine this framework and return to the sacred days of yore. But the people didn’t do so because, as is the case throughout history, a large percentage of humanity are disinterested, lazy, corrupt, greedy or downright stupid. In the end, the expansion of our federal government rests on the shoulders of the People.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                One of the problems with the “blame Lincoln for big government” meme is that it is so deterministic.

                Absolutely correct and well-said, Mr. Kung. There was a reason Reagan’s famous speech was titled “A Time for Choosing.” I do agree there is a deterministic, even fatalistic, streak that runs through this kind of “Blame Lincoln for the pile of dog crap I found on my front lawn this morning.”

                He saved the union from mutineers, from a foul ideology reminiscent of the worst aspects of Nazi Germany. And his thanks for this? He’s blamed, in essence, for the Department of Education, our trillions in entitlement debt, and all the other ills of the modern Progressive/Big Government era.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Unfortunately I don’t recall the details, but I read an alternate history story in which Lee is the Confederacy’s ambassador to Britain after winning the War of the Rebellion, and not being treated all that well there. The climax comes when the South decides to place slavery above states’ rights, and the British confront Lee with this reality.

              Incidentally, Gideon Welles argued against the Fugitive Slave Act (part of the bundle of bills making up the Compromise of 1850) on states’ rights’ grounds.

  3. Anniel says:

    Rosie, Thank you, thank you. Keep it coming. Annie

  4. GHG says:

    I hope I didn’t come across as blaming Lincoln because I believe he was in the most unenviable position and led the country the best and most honest way he could. But he was presented with a win AND lose situation – whichever way he went something would be won and something would be lost. In my opinion he made the right choice in holding the union together even though the result was to weaken the autonomy of the states which inevitably furthered the erosion of states rights.

    I don’t think Lincoln’s objective was “Big Government”, but the resultant federal usurpation of states rights paved the way for more and more federal takeover.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Big Government as we see it was alien to the entire country until around a century ago. Even the early Progressives (such as Teddy Roosevelt) didn’t go that far, though the Socialists and at least some Populists did. Lincoln created some precedents that they found helpful, but he never intended it to go so far. He was a Henry Clay Whig with a strong free-soil bent, but was ultimately a pragmatist, not an ideologue.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I believe that in pointing out that the Federal Government inevitably became larger and more intrusive because of the War of the Rebellion, Steve was not blaming Lincoln per se.

    Timothy, to say that the government became larger under any particular president — and then basically blaming them for the state we find ourselves in today — is purely magical thinking. Perhaps the government shrank only under two presidents: Jefferson and Coolidge (although our territory, thankfully, did enlarge somewhat under Jefferson).

    When people keep coming back to Lincoln as the supposed cause of Big Government, it shows they haven’t the slightest clue as to what is going on today. By all means, blame FDR. Blame Wilson (and his intellectually rotten cohorts). Blame LBJ. Blame Bush. Blame Obama. Blame the income tax amendment. But Lincoln had absolutely nothing to do with any of these.

    After Lincoln our republic was freer. States continued to come into the Union. Yes, that’s right. Dozens of states voluntarily joined the Union (of course, most were already legal territories). They adopted state constitutions similar to the other states (and in accordance with the Constitution which requires a republican form of government).

    We prospered as a Union. We forget that. Perhaps people out there are unhappy in their own lives. Well, let me say this again, that is not Abraham Lincoln’s fault. Hell, it’s not Obama’s fault either. Even taking into account all the baloney that these Marxist and fascist queer-loving fanatics have foisted upon us, we still live in one of the freest and most prosperous nations the world has ever seen.

    Are there things we need to fight against? Oh, you betcha. But Abraham Lincoln isn’t one of them. In fact, he is a model for how to conduct oneself under extraordinary circumstances. And with the states and the Federal government regularly ignoring the Constitution, we too live in extraordinary times. And if libertarians could put down their dope for five seconds, they would realize that it is likely that only a Lincoln-type of man, of extraordinary wisdom and character, would have any chance of getting us out of the quandary we are in now. No amount of dumb-shits such as Donald Trump will ever do so.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      When people keep coming back to Lincoln as the supposed cause of Big Government, it shows they haven’t the slightest clue as to what is going on today.

      Not only today. Have we become so dull that we forget that the desire to expand governmental power is part of the human condition. Make no mistake, the founders were aware of and feared this impulse. Franklin was clear when he told the woman, “a republic, if you can keep it.”

      The founders tried to create a document which could undermine and control the impulse to power, yet they also knew that the Constitution and our form of government would only work with a moral people.

      There is no doubt that we are no longer a moral people. But a bigger question is “were we ever a moral people, or can any people be a moral people over an extended length of time?” I have my doubts.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        “were we ever a moral people, or can any people be a moral people over an extended length of time?”

        The Constitution is incompatible with a materialist/naturalist outlook on life. Eat, drink, and accumulate entitlements, for tomorrow we will die. Period. It’s also incompatible with a Nazi-Like or Communist-like totalitarian ideology. It’s incompatible with those who pine for Utopia. It’s incompatible with those who view the state as an extension of Jesus (aka “social justice”). It’s incompatible with nihilistic, 100% free-market libertarianesque materialism. It’s incompatible with Bubba sitting in front of the TV drinking his beer and leaving the governance of society to someone else.

        When you run what the Constitution is explicitly not compatible with, you’re left with only one compatible thing: The authentic, wise, adult Christian outlook steeped in the reality of man’s nature and yet balanced with an optimism of self-betterment — we are capable of doing better and even of governing ourselves. And it’s aligned with the thinking that people have unalienable rights that predate the state and that one of the main purposes of any government is to protect those rights.

        All of those “moral people” nostrums from the Founding Fathers almost always meant “morally Christian.” And we have to understand this in terms of what we expect the state to do and what we expect ourselves to do. It’s very easy for a “moral” Christian to assert that it is the state’s job to alleviate poverty for, after all, poverty is a harsh condition.

        But a wise Christian understands there is no end game with that outlook. Soon the state will become a Big Brother behemoth whose growth and power will always be justified by “helping” this or that person…and that is exactly what we have today where it is considered an outrage if the state doesn’t act to alleviate this or that harm — even while they often make things worse and ring up debt that is potentially catastrophic.

        But a wise Christian understands that 99.5% percent of that harm comes from bad values and behaviors. And a wise Christian is aware of that foul and dishonest human nature is very congenial with the idea that something is not one’s own fault and one’s condition ought to be therefore solved by the state. Blame-shifting is essentially the official product of Big Government. And people love the idea that they can do whatever they want, and if there is a bump in the road it is the state’s responsibility, not their own.

        Maybe God is a God of collective morality, but I wouldn’t bet on it. And given the horrendous results that always flow when personal responsibility and personal character development are seen as irrelevant, it’s a good bet that man’s destiny is not to be dissolved in the collective grubby mob of mass tastes and desires.

        Additional.

        And note my careful choice of words: “The Constitution is incompatible with a materialist/naturalist outlook on life.” That doesn’t mean you couldn’t write a constitution that supported the theory of “social justice” or that was flat-out written to facilitate socialism (although actually having words on paper with clear meaning works against those whose plans typically change from year to year) or was just completely atheistic.

        This is why, for now, the Constitution must be re-interpreted. It’s the easiest path for liberals. It’s inherently dishonest but if people are asleep at the wheel, who’s to notice?

        And one could certainly add virtually to the Constitution as FDR did with his “Economic Bill of Rights.” And in a materially flourishing industrial country, a case could be made to extend the idea of rights from the merely so-called “negative” (which basically is about what government can’t do to you) to “positive” (what government will provide for you). You can write these virtual laws so they take hold in the culture (and, more importantly, in the judiciary which can then cement them via various phony decisions) or write a new Constitution from scratch. Or simply re-interpret the existing one into oblivion.

        But the law of human nature will not change. If you ruin the incentives that led to the material prosperity in the first place you’ll not have the prosperity to distribute. The best you can do, as we are doing now, is distribute the prosperity of future generations via debt. Note: The so-called “Greatest Generation” is pretty much sitting back and doing nothing while this happens.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      Brad, you have bought in to the Lincoln as deity syndrome; not unlike Augustus a statue to be worshiped with feet of clay. In either case the republic died.

      I personally admire Lincoln as a practical politician and support the concept of personal freedom, and responsibility.

      My point, again, is that it was during his administration that government in the US changed; if you consider this change positive or not is your business.

      Like it or not it was during the Lincoln administration that federal expansion reached a tipping point. Johnson, Grant the whole group of white guys from Ohio over the next 40 years expanded, participated, profited economically and politically in that growth in government, both national and states. Don’t forget that the greatest land give away, and subsequent corruption began after secession and during the war, with the federal funding of the transcontinental railroad. The Lincoln administration pushed for this as soon as the Southern lawmakers were gone.

      Trump or Hills of course its not much of a choice; stay home and watch another four years of Obama push this country into another civil war or take a chance that Trump can bring at least a slow down the death spiral. Our children and grandchildren are more likely to see actual civil war between west and east against the middle and south with Hillary.

      I choose to take a chance on Trump. You can stay home or vote for Hillary. You might actually have an opportunity to vote again, but if you want to see a 30s style dictator its name is Hillary.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Lincoln was truly an extraordinary man. But not a demigod. It’s possible to acknowledge that some people are a cut above (such as Washington or Reagan) without deifying them.

        And it is not deifying them to defend them against libertarian rubbish about how Lincoln is supposedly responsible for the abuses of modern Big Government socialism/Progressivism.

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