Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Mar 16, 2006

I'm taking Lincoln with me

I didn't switch political parties after 35 years of being a Republican just because I think our Commander-and-Chief is the least competent president since Warren Harding or the most disastrous president since Andrew Johnson botched Reconstruction. No, I quit the party because the people who now control it still think George W. Bush is one of our best presidents ever.

After 35 years of attending Republican precinct caucuses I attended my first Democratic caucus last week. I felt a little like Alice disappearing through the Looking Glass. It was a different world on the other side. Oh, I still found myself casting lone votes but the subjects were so different.

As a Republican I had to cast lone votes against folks who, like South Dakota 's legislators, want to protect the ovums that rapists have fertilized while jailing abortion providers. As a Democrat I had to cast lone votes against folks who wanted to impeach George Bush, not because of his incompetence but because he'd committed high crimes and misdemeanors. (The Democrats still haven't learned that you can only commit those particular offenses by misusing tobacco products.)

I really like the folks at both caucuses. They are good people. They care. They are trying to make America a better place. It's just that mild mannered folks like me who think compromise is a virtue have shied away from political parties. That's not very surprising when our political parties treat compromise like a mutant life form that has escaped from a port-o-potty. As a result we middle-of-the-roaders have a limited selection of candidates to choose from. Voting for President is often like trying to decide whether to buy a lollipop that tastes like vinegar or baking soda.

I have a few friends who've suggested that there ought to be an Independent Party but there just isn't one. Too often independent parties rely on the charisma of a lone ranger and when the ranger takes his mask off the party fizzles. The Reform Party died after Ross Perot started railing against the black helicopters which he said had invaded his daughter's wedding. I saw the puffed up Jesse Ventura allow his Independence Party to become irrelevant. And who can forget the sight of Pat Buchanan feasting on the bones of Perot's party.

Like it or not America has two political parties. They are almost as permanent as Jupiter's Great Red Spot, a hurricane that has been blowing on the planet for the last six hundred years. Besides, the historian in me sees much to be admired in the Democratic Party.

Although Republicans have managed to turn the word "liberal," a word synonymous with Democrats, into a four-letter word it has an honorable history. Liberal is a kissing cousin to the words liberty, meaning freedom; liberality, meaning generosity; and libertarian, meaning a person determined to be free from government interference. Ironically that last word was once prized by Republicans too. It helps explain their love affair with the idea
of small government although the 9 trillion dollar debt that they've saddled our children with completely betrays that principle.

People driving past my home in East Duluth may have seen my snow sculpture of Honest Abe. I titled it: "Farewell to the GOP." I think Lincoln would have understood. When his beloved Whig Party withered away he too was a man without a party. His America was divided too; not by red and blue but by blue and gray. He also had his hands full dealing with extremists in both political parties.

When Lincoln ran for reelection he chose a Democrat to be his running mate to emphasize his determination to bind the nation together. He even dispensed with the label "Republican" and ran on the "Union" ticket.

Abe's example of being an unRepublican Republican has been imitated by other notable Republicans. Teddy Roosevelt bolted the party completely and became the Progressive Party's presidential candidate. Eisenhower was courted by both parties but after settling on the Republicans he drove them to distraction by setting a nonpartisan example.

In his Second Inaugural Address, shortly before his assassination, Lincoln said, "with malice toward none and charity for all. That's the kind of Democrat I intend to be - a Lincoln Democrat. I may have left the Republican Party but I'm taking Lincoln with me

See for yourself. Pay us a visit at my new blog: www.lincolndemocrat.com. You'll know you've found me when you see Abe.

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.lincolndemocrat.com