Thursday, February 12, 2015

Abe and George

Abraham Lincoln's Birthday is still on my calendar for today but it has had less meaning for decades, since Congress passed the Monday Holidays Act and we rolled it into the birthday celebrating the Father of Our Country, George Washington (normally 22 February).

That George spent more than half of his farewell address warning his countrymen about the dangers of political partisanship, I find, in light of where we are today, astounding. That Honest Abe used his Second Inaugural Address to offer "(w)ith malice toward none, with charity for all..." at a moment in our history where we most fervently hated one another (with a ferocity that would cost him his very life a little more than thirteen months later) causes me to wonder why we, you and me and all the lunatic loudmouths and bombastic blowhards on either side of the political fence, can't pipe down long enough to work together to get this cart we're all in out of the ditch we've maneuvered it into. 

To put it into perspective when Washington and Lincoln were president, people disagreed to the point they fired weapons at one another--and you've seen 'em, it took work to shoot at somebody. None of this cap bustin' stuff-serious mayhem was on the agenda. All this pouting and posturing we are up to on Sunday morning talk shows, and in the Halls of Congress makes my brain hurt and when we get all through sorting out who's to blame for all the wrongs and shortcomings, real and/or imagined, maybe we can devote a scintilla of that energy to fixing things. We certainly have a target-rich environment to choose from, don't we? 

With DNA testing the way it's working out, don't you suppose the day will come when we could, theoretically, work up political profiles of those enshrined in the Tomb of the Unknowns. And don't think somebody will try to make political hay out of it, because you'll be sadly disappointed. It would make as much sense as turning cap and trade into a litmus test or reinventing accessible, affordable health care as a variant of the Great Loyalty Oath, but no matter. It's a fine line between pathetic and petard. Try drawing it for a while and then get real. 

Washington, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Stephen Douglas, Lincoln and hundreds and thousands of others were so busy building this nation and defending it from attacks from within and without they didn't have the luxury of ideology. This isn't an opportunity or excuse to shop, advertising to the contrary-it's a moment to look at the lives of every one of the people who have been President of the United States and whose efforts and sacrifices we'll honor this Monday.

And even though we don't get a day on the calendar for ourselves, this is when we use their day as a fulcrum to move each of us, and all of us, closer together in order to form a more perfect union. And to stop being so cranky with one another while we're doing it
-bill kenny

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