On Sunday morning, the above-the-fold headline in the Wisconsin State Journal, the paper of record for the State of Wisconsin, declared “Assembly members against secession”.
Let’s ignore for a moment how low the bar for political sanity has been set if the paper is reporting as NEWS(!) that the Republican caucus in the state assembly is not in favor of Wisconsin seceding from the Union.
Let’s also ignore the fact that not all of the Republicans in the state assembly signed the letter that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) sent to the delegates meeting this weekend at the Wisconsin State GOP Convention. Because it makes me cringe to think that my fellow Wisconsinites would elect state representatives who don’t even believe in the United States Constitution.
Instead, let’s look at Speaker Vos’ explanation for why the Republican Party should not be in favor of a platform that includes sedition:
“… Republicans are the party that ended slavery and [the] first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, thwarted the south’s attempt to secede.”
Sorry, modern Republican Party, you cannot call yourselves the Party of Lincoln. That party died in 1980 when the GOP convention nominated Ronald Reagan, a man who ran as the states rights candidate. The Ronald Reagan who spoke these words in Philadelphia Mississippi:
I believe in states’ rights and I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment.
He spoke specifically to those who left the Democratic Party after the Civil Rights Act was passed. These were people who Reagan called “Reagan Democrats”; quite a few of them had not finished fighting the Civil War and when they heard the dog whistle, they were ready to “convert”.
The Party of Reagan was born that day and it was built over the next 30+ years by tapping into the rich vein of racial animus and into the unresolved anger over a war lost a hundred years earlier. This fact was not missed by those who watched what later unfolded. William Raspberry writing in the Washington Post:
It was bitter symbolism for black Americans (though surely not just for black Americans). Countless observers have noted that Reagan took the Republican Party from virtual irrelevance to the ascendancy it now enjoys. The essence of that transformation, we shouldn’t forget, is the party’s successful wooing of the race-exploiting Southern Democrats formerly known as Dixiecrats. And Reagan’s Philadelphia appearance was an important bouquet in that courtship.
No, Republican Party, you are not the Party of Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln would renounce you, denounce your racist pandering, and reject your refusal to accept that we are a nation of laws.
This Abraham Lincoln.
See where it says “HE SAVED THE UNION”? That is actually a Big Huge Deal. The anger of the Dixiecrats at the Democratic Party for embracing the Civil Rights movement led to them hating Democrats more than they hated Lincoln.
Your party is the Party of Reagan. And your party did not end slavery … your party did not want to preserve the union … your party does not even believe in the Constitution of the United States.
Yes, later in the day the delegates at the Wisconsin GOP convention (after first removing the secession language while keeping the states rights portion to try to make it more palatable) voted down the platform amendment. But you are left with the thing created by Reagan and nurtured by the extremists you have embraced. Like this guy:
Don Hilbig, a delegate from Rock County, spoke in support of the measure. “There is no more burning question than our sovereign rights as a state,” he said. “Secession is a critical part of that.”
Try getting that off your shoe.