Opinion | Lincoln’s political party is recklessly testing his wisdom

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In his famous 1858 “Divided House” speech on slavery and the fractured nation, Abraham Lincoln borrowed a biblical passage from the Gospel of Matthew: “And Jesus knew his thoughts, and he said unto them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”

On the fourth of July — the closest thing our political organization has to a great holy day — I reflected on those words. And I was worried about how Lincoln’s political party is recklessly testing his wisdom.

It is comforting to believe that there are still more things that unite us as Americans than divide us. I can afford to expect it to be true. But it is difficult even for me, an optimist by nature, to deny that the trend line is going in the wrong direction, towards a more acute division and a greater conflict.

And I find it impossible to pretend that this conflict is not asymmetric. The Republican Party is trying to make a revengeful vision of America a reality in which much of the progress toward a more just and equitable society that we have seen over the last half century is reduced. The Democratic Party is largely trying — and failing, thanks to a GOP-packed Supreme Court — to cling to the gains of an increasingly diverse nation that has won hard.

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Recent court rulings on abortion, guns and the environment are all challenging public opinion, according to polls. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Likes to quote another Lincoln quote: “With public sentiment, nothing can go wrong; without him nothing can succeed. Consequently, those who model public sentiment go deeper than those who enact statutes or make decisions. It makes the statutes and decisions possible or impossible to execute ”.

Herein lies the problem. The decision of the invalidation court Roe against Wade it allows state legislatures to enact statutes prohibiting abortion and making the procedure a crime. But how do you imagine these states enforcing these laws?

One of the milestones of the downward spiral toward the Civil War was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required African Americans who managed to escape to the free states to be returned to servitude. It’s shocking, and depressing, that Republicans are even thinking about asking a similar question today: What about women who reside in a state where abortion is banned and who cross state borders to terminate a pregnancy safely? and legal?

Can they be banned from traveling? Processed on your return? And what about doctors who perform abortions? A doctor from one of Minnesota’s abortion clinics, which is expecting an out-of-state influx of patients, may be arrested when he crosses the border into South Dakota, where ambitious GOP Gov. Kristi L. Noem has Doubts about banning abortion exception even for a 10-year-old rape victim?

I am not predicting a second civil war, and I must believe that we will find some way to go. But the troubling resemblance between now and the 1850s is that the oppressive and retrograde policies enacted in some states have an impact on all states. On a day when we celebrate the fact of being a nation, red, white and blue, the division between red states and blue states increasingly seems a deep and irregular abyss.

Many conservatives who are against abortion and in favor of guns, I realize, see what the Supreme Court and Republican-led state legislatures are doing as a necessary correction for the direction the country has gone. But there is an asymmetry. The history of the United States has been a long and hard struggle to make the moving words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution apply to all of us: blacks, women, the LGBTQ community, Latinos, and others who have marginalized state. Freedoms that originally only applied to white men who owned properties have become universal, at least in theory. Laws and sentences trying to reclaim some of these freedoms are ahistorical attempts to deactivate a bell that still resonates.

Americans who want to live in a nation where women have autonomy over their own bodies, where appalling levels of armed violence are not considered the price of freedom, where science is valued above superstition, and where faith is a matter of personal rather than public belief. imposition are no less passionate in our view than those who disagree. And we have the numbers and the history by our side. A minority that wants to bring the nation back cannot, in the end, impose itself. But the coming months and years of struggle for the soul of this nation will be arduous and distressing. One thing Lincoln never said was that the American experiment would be easy.

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