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Just over 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln warned us that "a house divided against itself cannot stand". While the image of national disunion, prophetic as it was, was what captured the national imagination, his actual message was not that the house would fall, not that the Union would crumble, but that

It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it... or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States...

His speech was a call to action, a warning that the Union was on a path that would lead to that which the North felt was inconceivable, the full legalization of slavery. It was a warning of the course the Republic was on, unless direct and strong action was taken to avert it. Sadly his speech was not strong enough to rally him the support needed to attain the Senate, let alone achieve his goal. Rather, it wasn't until the house actually began to fall, that states seceded, that a war was fought, that he achieved his goal and then paid its price.

I can easily imagine the horror he felt...

I can easily imagine the horror he felt as his nation trod relentlessly towards slavery or disunion. I can imagine it because our house, our houses today are divided. The nation is divided, the Republican and Democratic parties are each divided, the proponents of civil liberties are divided. Polarization is rampant, and it endangers what we cherish.

A bit over 250 years ago Franklin wrote the following

As to the other two acts. The Massachusetts must suffer all the hazards and mischiefs of war, rather than admit the alteration of their charters and laws by parliament. "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety".

The last quote, which he published in slightly altered form a few years later, is reminiscent of his maxim of 270 years ago to "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

All of this is advice that is extremely timely. All of it came to mind as I read Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann, two staunch and outspoken defenders of our civil liberties and tradition of the rule of law not men, bickering with each other, sparked by Senator Obama's abandonment of his pledge to fight against retroactive immunity and the expansion of presidential power, presumably to increase his chances of being elected. All this while we as a nation take step after inexorable step away from habeas corpus, away from posse comitatus, away from the separation of powers, away from the rule of law towards the rule of men, the ever strengthening unenumerated inherent power of the man who is the decider in unitary executive.

The time has come to put aside the bickering between Obama Democrats and PUMA "Clintonians" and put a stop to the Republican advancement of the authoritarian destruction of our civil liberties. The time has come for civil libertarians such as Greenwald and Olbermann to put aside the bickering between them. The time has come for Obama to refuse to sell liberty to purchase power. The time has come for virtue over greed. The time has come to realize that it is not immigrants, legal or illegal who are stealing our jobs, but corporations and wealthy CEOs that are shipping those jobs overseas. The time has come to realize that Islamic radicals cannot steal our freedom, only we can sell it out of fear and greed.

The time has come for Republicans to stop sacrificing every conservative principle, every liberty in the name of party loyalty. Authoritarian rule by a unified executive that can at a whim nationalize the National Guard, and employ the Armed Forces in the US in "other circumstances", augmenting that with mercenaries who operate outside both American law and that of the nation they are "helping", and law breaking public carriers immunized at the word of the unified executive--these are not conservative values. Crippling national debt is not fiscal conservatism whether it is brought on by a spendthrift congress or a Commander in Chief who refuses to budget or collect taxes for America's longest war.

The Supreme Court recently reaffirmed that the Constitution valued habeas corpus even before it affirmed the Bill of Rights. And out of party loyalty, and fear of stateless terrorists, Republicans and Conservatives pilloried them for it. What conservative principle is served by fear mongering, of surrendering our most fundamental rights? None! The only reason that Liberals and Conservatives are fighting over this issue is because of what side the other is on.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. PUMA, Greenwald, Olbermann, Get A Grip! Sell not Liberty to purchase power. Obama, stand firm! Do not capitulate on principles for fear of being soft on terrorism. It is not "Strong on Terrorism" to give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety! It certainly isn't soft on terrorism to hold law breakers accountable--even if they were asked to break the law by the president.

We have allowed polarization to divide our country and our parties. We have allowed fear to cause us to sell out our principles and our liberties. Great Republics do not fall to small bands of fanatics. They fall when fear and divisiveness cause the people to surrender their rights and freedoms to the Leader, the Dictator, the Emperor. They fall when they allow their armies, their mercenaries, their spies, their police to be turned on them. They fall when they allow the government to keep a "little list" of people who cannot move freely, when they allow free speech to be confined to zones, when the leader's agents are immune from the law. They fall when the wealthy can buy the law.

Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Lincoln, Eisenhower all have warned us repeatedly against fear, greed, manipulation, the combination of money and military power. People! Stop! Think! Stop hating the enemy. Stop fearing the bogeyman. Dear me. Obama and Clinton differ in the details. Greenwald and Olbermann are on the same side of all the issues. They're calling each other names over who should be blamed for what. It doesn't matter who is blamed! What matters is what we do! Anthony Kennedy is a Conservative for great Ghu's sake.

When did it become a great Conservative value to fear monger!? Scalia says that Americans will die if we follow habeas corpus? The McCain campaign thinks it would be good for Republican political aspirations if after 8 years of the Republican Bush administration a terrorist attack was successful!? Republicans are rooting for Al Qaeda? Huh? The failure of the Republicans to keep us safe means we need more years of them? What?

Stop! Take a breath. Let's take a quick survey: Small government, low taxes, balanced budgets, states rights, free market economics, original intent, strict constructionism. Aren't those conservative values? Where did they go? The Republicans are so afraid of dissent among the ranks that they are willing to sell conservative principles for party unity and loyalty and follow a Republican president wherever he will lead.

The Democrats have so sanctified and so demonized their own leaders that they are willing to follow the Republicans into the same unprincipled "rule by men, not laws" future. The Dems, and the advocates of civil liberties are so focused on casting blame that they will attack their own allies.

Fear and division.

A House divided against itself cannot stand.
Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.
We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Please, get a grip.

Thank you. I'll be quiet now. We return you to the civil war, already in progress.

Originally posted to Vox Libertas on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 04:29 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good to see someone Quoting Jesus. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Or the not very civil war. (0+ / 0-)

    We return you to the civil war, already in progress.

    The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think. Gregory Bateson

    by Amber6541 on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 04:52:35 PM PDT

  •  Old Ben Franklin pretty much (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vox humana

    predicted it:

    In these sentiments, sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults -- if they are such -- because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.
    -- Ben Franklin, 1787

  •  i liked this dairy better (0+ / 0-)
    when I thought it was netural

    Shame on you for appealing to unity and then pushing your views on otehrs

    Shame on you for hiding the true intentions in pretty words

    Shame on you for doing what you did.

    •  Hmmm... Well... (0+ / 0-)

      Guess you can't please all the people all of the time.

      I thought I telegraphed myself pretty clearly. I quoted one of Lincoln's most famous speeches, one that was a strong call to action, and a warning against what he saw as a terrible wrong.

      I then called folks to action. Seemed sorta natural.

      Which views should I be ashamed of "pushing on others"? Just curious.


      •  let's start with Lincoln (0+ / 0-)

        you correctly added the context but then try to use it to support your stance. Which is just wrong.

        And which views? That FISA is wrong at the very least. I am not sure how pure you want to take that but that much is sure.

        •  I'll happily start with Lincoln (0+ / 0-)

          His speech was pure call to action. He was calling for unity, yes, unity among his partisans, among northern anti-slavery folk because he saw three futures: collapse of the Union, the whole of the nation going slave, or the whole going free, and his side, the anti-slave side was losing. He was warning them that the other two options were intolerable. He did so by quoting the most universally respected authority... the Bible. He did this as someone who was never a member of a church, and who may even have been a skeptic.

          His opponent in the debate was arguably the most powerful man in the senate, and the recent course of legislation, judicial precednt and backroom politics were against him. He was, in short a rabble rousing firebrand country lawyer who fought passionately for the cause he believed in, liberty and the Republic.

          While he did, in fact, make expedient decisions in the prosecution of the War he helped bring about and never wanted, I have no trouble believing that he would be opposed to the extreme expansion of executive power of the last few years, or of retroactive immunity.

          Nor do I have a hard time believing that as someone who spoke truth to power, and lost the election at hand because of it, but went on to win in the end, he would support my exhorting the misfit black lawyer from Illinois to stand up to power, take the extreme, but principled stand and oppose immunity, despite the political danger.

          So, yes. I'll start with Lincoln. He would, like me, quote authority in defense of principles and liberty, and take the fight to the powerful rather than give in.

          The men I quote are all extremists, by the way. Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln, Roosevelt and the like. It's why I admire them.

          Please note that Lincoln twisted the quote first. He wasn't warning against disunity. He was warning against the wrong unity. He was warning against inaction allowing the other side to win.

  •  what do you want, Carmella Lewis? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I called it this based on today's NYT. Again MSM finds another Hillary booster who says, emphatically, that she can never vote Obama, Hillary was mistreated, etc. and is supporting Mc Cain.  As a NYC (and hence a two time voter for HRC), feminist, liberal:  I just don't get it.  There is little difference on policy between Obama and Clinton.  Me?  I have always been for Obama because I saw more of the future in him, not the past. My hubby, ironically, was for Hillary. He's come around.

    There is nothing but daylight between the policies of Clinton and Mc Cain.  So, unless the Ms. Lewis' of the world think Clinton is anti choice, anti living wage, anti unversal health care and pro war, it cannot be policy that drives her vote.

    Being sensitive to it, I never heard a sexist comment from Obama the entire campaign.  He just happened to win.  That's what he is supposed to do. But, to go to Mc Cain?  How do these Carmella Lewis(es) forget his "joke" about Chelsea, Hillary and Janet Reno?  Or his documented calling his own wife a "C..."?  Or laughing when a questioner at a town hall asked "How do we stop the b....?"  Or the joke yesterday about "stop beating your wife"?

    We Dems better come together because too much is at stake.

    So, the Ms. Lewis(es) out there? Is it sour grapes?  I give you till November to grieve as I might in your shoes. But then please walk to the polls and vote Dem.  But I fear it is not: because I don't believe the Ms. Lewis(es) of the world are real, or real HRC people.  They cannot be.

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