On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln spoke for two minutes at a Pennsylvania cemetery of a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Last night, a would-be president, after losing a primary in Lincoln’s state by a “crushing” margin, came there to ramble on cable news with his divisive message of pitting “work clothes” Americans against the rest.
As long as he maintains a tenuous hold in the battle for the nomination, Rick Santorum will be stoking resentments for votes from descendants of “men and women who worked and scraped and clawed so their children could have a better quality of life” against their presumed enemies in big cities and offices.
He was rallying a crowd in the state of Pennsylvania where he was turned out of office six years ago by the largest margin (59-41 percent) ever for a sitting Senator in that state.
Santorum’s civil war, which may well end there next month, has been made possible by attrition in TV debates of more obvious incompetents and misfits such as Cain, Perry and Bachmann, but none of them had a more insidious message than that of a zealot promoting class warfare with a theocratic twist.
He is the 21st century antithesis of Lincoln, who ended his first Inaugural Address with this impassioned plea:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
As distressed as they may be over what they perceive as the failings of an Obama Administration, GOP voters are showing that nonetheless they are not ready to see “government of the people, by the people, for the people” perish from the earth.