Are today's Republicans 1860 Democrats reincarnated?

The latter, under the control of the 1860 Democratic Party, pushed through the House of Representatives a resolution stating:

“That all petitions, memorials and papers touching the abolition of slavery, or the buying and selling of slaves in any state, District or Territory of the United States be laid upon the table without being debated, printed, read or referred, and that no further action whatever shall be had thereon.”

That resolution, adopted by a vote of 122 to 74, stopped the government from taking action against the abomination of slavery.  Outright conflict soon followed. In today’s stalemate the Republicans hold a similar negative posture that fuels their angry attacks on our re-elected President.

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Today we have the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, and led by Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.  His recent refusal of Obama’s invitation to discuss the president’s proposals of corporate tax reform, creation of more jobs and spending for needed capital improvements shows the “either –or” mentality of the Republican leadership in much the same way that the 1860 Democrats acted against the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Boehner is not alone. He is strongly supported by the even more conservative Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who wants to cut the budget, decrease spending that fosters employment and eliminate programs that help the poor, all while happily assisting the wealthiest 1percent get even richer.

Moreover, Ryan’s recent budget concoction upset his friends in the Catholic Church, especially Sister Simone Campbell, who suggested he re-read the prophet Isaiah: “If you do away with the yoke of oppression…and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry…your light will rise in the darkness.”  But Ryan must not have thought Isaiah a good Republican as he continues to assail governmental assistance programs in the same way that the Southern Democrats acted prior to the terror of the Civil War.

As Americans, we are historically ashamed of the Dred Scott Decision of 1857, in which Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney, a Maryland Catholic, led the court to declare “that any restriction imposed by Congress …on the spread of slavery was unconstitutional.”  Lincoln and the Republican Party criticized the decision, and fought a war to right that wrong.

Yet today’s Republicans endorsed the Supreme Court’s recent decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, also a Catholic, to throw out Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. While the Voting Rights Act was an effort to protect the status of the poor and the uneducated, and to protect the rights of African Americans, the southern Republicans (read “ old time Democrats”) delighted in the negative decision.  But the Catholic weekly Commonweal called Robert’s opinion  “… a Magna Carter for voter suppression.” 

Is it possible to make sense of the Republican Party and its efforts to destroy the activity of a twice-elected Presidency? If they keep up this anti-government profile what more can we expect?  Today’s Republican Party is not the same as the one that elected Lincoln. Its current leaders engage in failed ideas like those championed by those union-destroying Democrats, before and during our bloody Civil War.

Clearly our current Republicans have a closer connection to the Democrats of the Civil War while today’s Democrats have much more in common with the Republicans of Lincoln’s time.

However, the Republicans now believe in a country ruled by the rich and the political extremists, and are against the values that once enlightened our vision of a government for all the people. Republicans seem to have taken their ideas from the Democrats of the 1860s, thus negating the values of their greatest leader….Abraham Lincoln.

Sommers, now retired, spent his career working for USAID overseas and in local government at home.