Abraham Lincoln’s Mandate For Freedom Ignored at Democracy’s Peril

By Donald A. Collins | 6 November 2022
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Our republic as many have noted stands at its most vulnerable to destruction since the Civil War in the 1860’s. The union of states was riven over slavery and the bloodiest war in our history was still in progress in 1863 when in another small Pennsylvania town Abraham Lincoln gave the most important speech in history by an American President.

In just 271 words Lincoln summed up the heart of why our democracy is so critical to keep safe from people like Trump and his ilk.

Read these words again here slowly and the majesty and impact which was not felt by his audience that day, but forever by us since. How relevant those words are today, just ahead of November 8th:

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

—Abraham Lincoln

I grew up in Greensburg, the county seat of Westmoreland County about 10 miles from Latrobe where former President Trump gave one of his final pre-midterm election speeches.

No one has to wonder what Presbyterian minister Reverend Fred McFeeley Rogers, a Latrobe native, the beloved Mr. Rogers of children’s tv fame would have felt about the trail of hate and dissolution Trump is inflicting on everybody of all political parties and religious beliefs.

Read here as Wikipedia tells us about Rogers.

Trump’s talk in Latrobe was in his usual destructive negative mode, calling out the worst in us, not like the best as Rogers did.

In an AP story, Trump said: “If you want to stop the destruction of our country and save the American dream, then on Tuesday you must vote Republican in a giant red wave,” Trump told thousands of cheering supporters as he campaigned Saturday in western Pennsylvania, describing the United States as “a country in decline.”

On the same day former President Obama and President Biden were also in Pennsylvania, a battleground state in determining control of the US Senate and likely how the votes get counted in the 2024 election.

This same AP story notes of trouble for the democrats: “Democrats are deeply concerned about their narrow majorities in the House and Senate as voters sour on Biden’s leadership amid surging inflation, crime concerns and widespread pessimism about the direction of the country. History suggests that Democrats, as the party in power, will suffer significant losses in the midterms”.

What Biden has said about the key issue of keeping democracy as it is now in this election is not at the level of Lincoln’s eloquence, but in terms of its importance in our history assuming our democracy survives it will rank with Lincoln’s in its effect.

We must hope for our democracy’s future as we know Trump will announce his 2024 candidacy shortly.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?” and “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”.

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