“It is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says ‘you toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”

– Abraham Lincoln ~ October 15, 1858

Whatever happened to the Party of Lincoln, the Grand Old Party, the glorious bulwark of the “better angels of our nature, dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”

It began to die in the spring of 1865:  when an unstable narcissist, actor, pumped up by his own ego and press, shot and killed Abraham Lincoln

Politicians, profiteers, and scam artists, wrapping themselves in the dead President’s mantle, continued to inflict wounds on his party for the next 99 years, with the Indian Wars, Jim Crow, the Great Depression, Joe McCarthy, and an ongoing willingness to exploit the many for the benefit of the few among the most shameful and damaging.

Barry Goldwater twisted the Jim Crow knife in 1964, declaring that the “conscience” of a true conservative demanded that “states rights” trump any federal action to prohibit race-based discrimination.

Nixon’s “southern strategy” continued the process, selling the soul of the Lincoln heritage for a mess of pottage, the votes of old-school Dixiecrats and George Wallace supporters, masquerading as both “moral” and a “majority.”

In the process Nixon and company not only added insult to impeachable injury, they seeded the ethical heart of Lincoln’s party with a virulent form of inoperable cancer, fatal to not only the spirit of Lincoln but to his Grand Old Party as well.

Helped by those who have openly nourished and benefitted from its growth, the tumor has not only metastasized but mutated.

Its DNA now includes not only strains of Sheridan, Wallace, McCarthy and Nixon, but newer strains of the short-sighted, malicious and mean-spirited raised to the level of caricature.

The GOP’s nomination of Donald Trump is thus not all that surprising.

From the perspective of those who loved and admired its first President, however, it is a tragedy,  the outward and visible sign of the GOP’s inner and spiritual fall from grace.

A century and a half after Lincoln’s murder, it would appear that another unstable narcissist entertainer, pumped up by his own ego and press, has rallied a company of self-serving politicians, cynical profiteers, cowards and scam artists to his side.

Together they have sold a bill of goods to some of the best of those with genuine grievances, and have set off with their followers for the moral equivalent of a second Ford’s Theater.

It must not happen again.

Only our votes stand in their way.