published Monday, November 5th, 2012

Robin Smith: Another Nov. 6 election

By Robin Smith
  • photo
    Robin Smith, former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and congressional candidate.
    File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

It was November 6th — Election Day — and the country was a politically divided mess and facing a momentous presidential election.

Instead of recession, however, the primary issue on this Nov. 6 was secession. It was the election of 1860.

Two years earlier, Abraham Lincoln lost a U.S. Senate race against the Illinois Democratic incumbent, Stephen A. Douglas. That Senate campaign, highlighted by their now-famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, hoisted the dispute over the expansion of slavery onto the nation's center stage.

Douglas viewed the issue of slavery as one of economics, left for each state and territory to deliberate and legislate. In contrast, Lincoln viewed slavery as a moral wrong that no government should permit in light of its opposition to the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal."

The 1858 debates captivated audiences -- attendance of the Senate debates swelled to more than 15,000. The narrative contrasting the Democratic and Republican Party organizations was cast for an audience that far exceeded the boundaries of Illinois. Ultimately, the debates served as the foundation for the 1860 presidential election -- a rematch of Douglas and Lincoln.

History records the presidency of Abraham Lincoln as one marked with turmoil, war and division, but also of devotion to one nation, unity and the end of a blemish on America -- slavery.

Nov. 6, 2012, marks a similar pivotal election that reflects a nation divided: "The left and the right," "the makers and the takers," "the deficit hawks and the big government doves," on and on.

One hundred and fifty-two years later, the political discourse strays from the economy and focuses on Big Bird; eludes facts on the Benghazi terrorist attack while screeching about free birth control; argues for "new revenues" or taxes while cancerous government spending exceeds $1 trillion in debt annually.

Will America embrace a government-driven economy that does things that would be criminal if committed by an individual -- plunder the belongings of one to give them to another?

Will America cast ballots to acknowledge our nation's Declaration to be "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" or will voters demand to stay the course of a government whose policies award rights and attempt to establish a collective equality with no tolerance of excellence?

Will the election of 2012 see voters continue to seek personalities who poll as "likeable" at the cost of leadership proposing principled solutions?

In his famous "House Divided" speech, in which he noted the choice before the nation in the 19th century, Lincoln proclaimed: "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the states ..."

America will repeat this path to "become all one thing, or all the other." We will either have a government of a free people or a government providing free things to people.

Please vote this Nov. 6.

Robin Smith, a consultant at Rivers Edge Alliance, is a wife and mother living in Hixson. She served as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009.

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tipper said...

And of course the Republicans and their incredible facade to be all things to all people by embracing the tea party and conservative extremists had nothing to do with where this country's "mess" is now. They've been so cooperative the past four years in the House and Senate, and they are preparing to push this country over the "fiscal cliff" again on December 31st. Ms. Smith is just another obstacle and ideologue who will continue to preach obstructionism until our government and nation stalls completely. And to use Lincoln's history as some supporting point is ludicrous. In fact, Lincoln was one Republican who knew how important it was to get consensus among political adversaries by working together no matter how difficult it wss in the 1860s. That kind of crossing of aisles is nowhere to be found in today's Republican or Libertarian parties. Lincoln is the last person Republicans and conservatives should try to co-op.

November 5, 2012 at 10:53 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

Thanks for the laugh, Robin Smith. Comparing Lincoln to Romney - that's funny. I mean, REALLY funny. I know how Republicans like to call themselves the "party of Lincoln," but today's GOP, having been hihacked so shamelessly and completely by the Bible thumpers and teabaggers, is nothing like the Republican party of Lincoln's day. It's not even like the Republican party of Eisenhower's or Nixon's day!

I don't know of anyone so lacking in moral character as Rommey. He holds true to absolutely nothing except tax cuts for the rich. He has changed his mind on EVERY issue, saying only what he thinks will serve him best, depending on what group of people he is talking to at the moment. If he's elected, how do you even know which Romney will show up at the White House? Oh yeah...he's a Republican and that's enough, right? Romney...our modern day Lincoln. Again, thanks for the laugh.

November 5, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

As for your snide comment about Big Bird: I like the way you conservatives keep harping on that, as if Obama and the Dems are the ones making a big fuss over it. But if you will recall, it was the Mittster who brought it up in the first place. When discussing how he would go about reducing the deficit, one of the first things he mentioned was cutting funding for... NPR and Big Bird! Of all the waste that is so obvious and egregious, he mentions Big Bird before anything else - a drop in the bucket compared to all the other waste. If Obama and the Dems keep bringing it up it's only because Romney handed them a gift that keeps on giving, a constant reminder to everyone of how nonsensical his "plan" to balance the budget is.

And then there's the military budget and the deficit. I'm still waiting for somebody to show me the math there. Care to write an article on that and explain it because he's never really explained it himself? He plans to ADD a oool 2 trillion to our already bloated military budget and at the same time maintain the tax cuts for the wealthy, who are already paying practically the lowest tax rates ever, and that is somehow going to bring the deficit down?

But I forget, he made the comment that the "mood" in corporate America will change as soon as he's elected - jobs will magically appear, the deficit will come down, he will free the slaves, and unite the nation. Our hero and possible 45th president? - Willard Mitt Lincoln Romney.

November 5, 2012 at 2:16 p.m.
Leaf said...

You are one Republican who thinks the Civil War was about slavery. That's good. But you are trying to conflate slavery with raising the tax rate on the wealthy? That's a heck of a stretch, and a slap in the face to descendants of slaves.

November 5, 2012 at 4:08 p.m.
shen said...

Today's Republican Party resembles more Andrew Johnson, who took over Lincoln's presidency after Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson was a southern sympathizer who went about undoing everything President Lincoln had attempted to accomplish. Andrew Johnson's hero was President Andrew Jackson, a southern Democrat.

Finally, there were both northern and southern Democrats and Republicans. Their views on slavery and other issues often clashed. Every northern Republican or Democrat didn't rejected slavery, and every southern Democrat or Republican didn't embrace it.

November 5, 2012 at 5:46 p.m.

Robin Smith's editorial reminds me of how deceptive and duplicitous the pro-Slavery/Secession movement was...and still is. They presented their position as one of liberty and state's rights.

But ok, so you hate a house being divided...guess who's doing it? It's the person creating a false dichotomy between people, who is casting one side as takers, as's you.

And you're shamelessly using Lincoln's words to do it.

November 5, 2012 at 10:02 p.m.
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