Now in the presidential election year 2020, the United States finds itself facing one of the most important crossroads probably since it chose to prosecute the Civil War against renegade pro-slavery states who sought to secede from the Union.
It was not a foregone conclusion that President Lincoln would take up arms against the states that defected from the Union to defend of their practice of slavery. In fact, many of the defectors thought that wouldn’t happen.
Lincoln earns my vote as the greatest president in the history of the U.S., if not the greatest person, because he acted in a manner not defined by a perceived economic or other expedient self-interest. He acted solely on behalf of the historic role that the United States was playing in the world, as the first Constitutional democracy since Ancient Greece that stood a chance of surviving in a world otherwise full of corruption, deceit and tyranny. He stood for the promise of a bright future not only for Americans but humanity as a whole.
The Civil War was excruciatingly painful, tragic and ugly. But it had to be fought for the preservation of the democratic Union, and Lincoln did not waver in his relentless pursuit of the kind of military leadership he needed to succeed, which he finally found in Grant and Sherman.
There was no “moral equivalency” then between the North and the South, between the Union and the slave-holding defectors, just as there is none today between those who are holding out for the rule of law and the sociopathic criminal in the White House. Then, as now, the battle is veritably cosmic, veritably between good and evil.
The United States has never had a situation like today, with a man in the White House who is such a gross liar, abuser of basic Constitutional principles and agent of a hostile foreign power. There have been bad presidents, but none like the current one who’s dismantling long-fought-for global security alliances, domestic economic policies and any sense of the nation as a beacon of hope to the downtrodden among its own citizens, its neighbors, and allies around the world.
Trump is an evil, angry, crazed and tortured soul completely lacking in empathy and who acts solely on behalf of egregious, lawless self-interest.
Yet today, he calls the core of his electoral support the so-called evangelical movement of allegedly-moral Christians, and it is based on the stunning hypocrisy of some of its high-profile leaders. As a sop to this movement, which Trump completely disrespects in his heartless heart, he’s appointed officials, enacted policies and taken actions against immigrant justice, abortion, women’s rights and LGBTQ equality. He’s done these horrid things solely so these hypocrites will remain loyal no matter how corrupt he otherwise is.
Having been impeached in the House, Trump and some equally corrupt fellow Republicans are now poised to rip up the Constitution to achieve their evil ends.
But who will stand against this, for the preservation of the Union, in 2020? How about the millions of Americans all across the U.S., led by women, who took to the streets to protest him on the day after his inauguration in January 2017?
How about those who flipped the more than 40 House seats from Republican to Democratic in the midterm elections of 2018? Don’t forget that it was this result, driven by voters at the polls all across the U.S., that provided the conditions for the deserved impeachment of the president in 2019.
Now, as some cracks in the evangelical and Republican senate leaderships begin to appear, there is no evidence, whatsoever, that the swelling momentum since 2017 against Trump is abating or reversing in the general electorate.
On the contrary, as Trump’s base shrinks further, it becomes clearer that it is based on little more than rage, threats and bullying, on one side, and hypocrisy and groundless fears on the other. Such factors over time do not gain strength in the face of a determined resistance, they lose it.
Those who predict Trump is gaining strength and win again are liars, fools or both. The resistance shall press on, the nation shall yet survive.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]