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The American System: The Economic Genius of Abraham Lincoln
I went to see the film Lincoln at a small theater in a rural area of Missouri.  At several points there was loud applause as the film's recalcitrant Democrats were browbeaten, bribed and shamed into supporting an end to slavery. No moment got more chuckles and cheers than when one of the Republican senators bemoaned the necessity of lowering himself to the point of actually speaking to a Democrat.

Clearly, the Republicans in the audience were excited to see their party so elevated in the film. Amused to see Democrats so clearly in the wrong. Proud to see their team taking tough positions in a noble cause.

As well they should be. President Lincoln's political maneuvering to pass the thirteenth amendment was praiseworthy. Is praiseworthy. Even if the Republican Party later abandoned minority voters in a moment of chilly realpolitik, the party's efforts and the president's sagacity still shine brightly 150 years later.

So brightly, in fact, that it's often difficult to see other aspects of the administration that had a tremendous impact on the United States: like an economic system that would define the nation and set the pace for the world over the next 100 years.

The party name on the ballot might have changed, but economically Lincoln defined himself as a "Henry Clay Whig," putting himself squarely on a line that extended back to his fellow Kentuckian, and from Clay back to Alexander Hamilton and the nation's founders.

From the beginning it was clear that the government would need to be "hands-on" when it came to the economy. Under the Articles of Confederation, economic policy had been mostly left to the states, and the result had been lax regulation that trended toward the British System—what we today would call simply "free trade." Rather than fostering growth, the result had been a disaster, an utter chaos of uncontrolled speculation. As the nation crafted a new constitution, the federal government's ability to intervene in trade wasn't just a minor matter of economic policy, it was regarded as central to the nation's defense. Hamilton was not alone in worrying that the freedom won on the battlefield could be just as quickly lost through economic dependence on foreign powers.

It wasn't that the founders wanted a statist economy in which the government was the owner and the driver of most industry. What they wanted was more of a referee. A powerful referee. They wanted—needed—a government empowered to shape economic policy in a variety of ways. So that's what they made. The Commerce Clause may often be applied to other areas (notably in support of civil rights) but its primary reason for existence is just what the name implies, to allow the federal government broad control over the way the nation does business.

Hamilton's position—the position that developed and grew during George Washington's administration—was that the government should be at the center of three main areas of the economy.

First, the government should protect and support domestic industry. This included the use of both tariffs and subsidies to boost sales of US goods over imports. These tariffs were put in place, not in ignorance of the tenets of free trade, but in direct opposition to that idea. Hamilton and the other founders were well aware of the work of Adam Smith, and of the strength of the "British System" of free trade mercantilism. However, the pre-revolutionary period, along with the messy time spent under the Articles of Confederation, had given them a good sense of what it was like to be the raw material supplier to an industrial power. If America was going to develop its own centers of industry and compete on the world stage, it would need to grow a broad manufacturing base and a strong middle class. It would do that under the umbrella of protectionism.

Second, the government should define the structure and nature of the nation's fiscal infrastructure, not as a means to foster speculation, but as a way of providing stability and investment. In the first half century of the nation, this meant twice chartering a national bank that was privately-owned but acted to support government policy. That bank would also help to set the value of a single, national currency, consolidate the debts of the individual states, and provide a means for the government to secure loans and issue bonds. Anyone who thinks that the recent bank bailouts represent an unprecedented involvement of the US government in finance needs to take a long look at the deal that Washington and Hamilton engineered. They not only created a bank, but used that bank to provide a loan which the government used to fund both itself and the bank. They also insisted on the ability of the government to set taxes and fees, both to raise funds and steer economic development. Under this theory, the nation also created a patent office, port authorities, and other federal agencies charged with regulating business.

Third, the government should support the development of physical infrastructure. This included projects such as the first "interstate highway," the Cumberland Road, and additional public / private partnerships that built out the nation's network of roads, canals, ports, and eventually parks and railways. The purpose of these investments wasn't just to lay miles of road and provide employment, but to bind the nation together and make it easier for the agriculture products of the "West" (today's Midwest) to reach growing industrial areas in the East.

By 1818, Congressman (and also once-and-future Senator) Henry Clay had given this set of philosophies a name. He called it "the American System."

Despite the name, this system didn't have a monopoly on US policy through the first American century. Both the tariffs and the regulation of the fiscal environment were opposed by those who recognized (rightly) that these tools tended to prevent the concentration of wealth. The development of interstate infrastructure was opposed by presidents ranging from Jefferson (who, despite signing the bill to create the National Road, worried that this activity might be both unconstitutional and at odds with his vision for the nation) to Jackson (who really, really, did not like Henry Clay, for one really, really, good reason). The result was that over the course of the years between Washington and Lincoln, support for the American System rose and fell.  

Lincoln came in at a time when that system was at a low ebb. The two previous presidents, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, were both Democrats, and both opponents of the American System. The nation Lincoln inherited was deeply in debt, with outdated infrastructure and a wobbly economy. That was all about to change.  

Though he’s rightly remembered for the work he did in elevating a bloody, ugly war into a debate over the meaning of freedom and equality, Lincoln’s idea of equality went far beyond a person’s standing in the courts. Lincoln believed in equality of economic opportunity. At the same time as he was dealing with the war and the issue of slavery, Lincoln’s administration roared into office with the strongest support to date of Clay’s American System. The Lincoln Revolution was meant to return the government to the position that Lincoln and his advisors saw as the original intent of the constitution–by deeply involving the government in growing, supporting, and regulating the nation’s economy.

Lincoln swept in new protective tariffs to shelter American industry and contracted with American manufacturers both for the execution of the war and for massive internal improvements, including the transcontinental railroad. Land grant colleges? Lincoln. The Homestead Act? Lincoln. The set-aside of public lands that would eventually become Yosemite National Park? Lincoln. He created the Department of Agriculture to support farmers, and the National Academy of Sciences to foster intellectual growth. He promoted free public education. Pressured by a combination of banking interests and foreign powers that threatened to cripple the nation’s ability to fund Lincoln’s policies and fight the war, Lincoln took an action that was seen as every bit as radical as his push to end slavery. He broke the nation away from the gold standard, issuing “greenback” currency supported only by the faith and credit of the United States.

At the heart of Lincoln’s policies was a man named Henry Carey. Carey, a free-trader turned American System believer after seeing the damage caused by insider deals and monopoly powers, came up with a new idea of protectionism. He viewed the government as the coordinating power, the only power that could intervene successfully against corporations and the wealthy to protect public interest. His idea of protectionism was not just using tariffs to grow domestic industry, but using government power to protect workers and the middle class. Carey was a champion of public education, seeing that a well-educated public was needed to ensure the kind of industrial and scientific advances the nation required. In his book, The Harmony of Interests, Carey made a fresh case for the American System, in which he went beyond theory and looked in detail at the economic cycles since the founding of the nation. While Carey agreed with free trade in theory, and applauded its application in trading between states, his data indicated that tariffs and subsidies, far from crippling the economy, had been highest at the times when the economy was growing most rapidly. No only that, exports had grown more quickly during periods when imports were restricted. He argued it was hard to find free trade's theoretical benefits in the real world.

Carey made a stark comparison between the results of the American System and free trade.

Two systems are before the world;... One looks to increasing the necessity of commerce; the other to increasing the power to maintain it. One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level. One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world.
There’s a reason that goes beyond the prejudices of the day in why Carey points up the “Hindoo” as his example of an undesirable state. At the time his book was written in 1851, much of India was controlled by agents of the East India Company. The people there had been crushed by the direct actions of an international megacorporation with an imposed government and private army. To Carey, this represented the ultimate peril of unchecked free trade.

With Lincoln’s death, it was Carey who fought–with varying success– to extend his economic policies through the next two administrations.  Ultimately, many of the policies of the Lincoln Revolution were rolled back. The country was forced back onto the gold standard, and an austerity plan to pay off the nation’s debt as soon as possible further squeezed the economy. The result was an abrupt and sharp downturn. In 1873, the failure of brokerage house Jay Cooke and Company signaled the start of a massive collapse of the financial sector that would not be matched until the Great Depression.

Just as it had in the period leading up to Lincoln, the implementation of the American System over the century that followed would vary widely, before being pushed aside in favor of unfettered free trade and a much more limited role for the government. No administration would again embrace the American System so fully as that of Lincoln. There were no more "Henry Clay Whigs" to be found.

Republicans should be proud of the role Lincoln played in holding the nation together and in promoting human equality. They should also be proud of the role he played in advancing the nation’s economy and promoting a broad, educated middle class. For Lincoln, freedom wasn't a matter of being able to make as much money as possible. For Lincoln, freedom and equality meant seeing that people were lifted away from ignorance and poverty, and he believed that the government played the central role in seeing that this took place.

They should be proud of the American System, and of a history in which the Republican Party fought to use government as an instrument to steer the economy away from the accumulation of wealth by a few, and build a broad, educated, empowered middle class.

In this time when the Republican Party is searching for a new identity, they might want to think of reviving one that was made for them. It’s called the American System.

These works are available on-line (and yes, for free). They served as the principle sources for this essay.

Report on Manufactures by Alexander Hamilton
Henry Clay and the American System by Maurice G. Baxter
The Harmony of Interests by Henry Carey

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  •  Apologies for the brevity... (146+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Says Who, Van Buren, irate, WineRev, US Blues, Tommy Aces, Desert Scientist, spooks51, Rick B, katiec, dopper0189, blue jersey mom, TomP, sparkysgal, Bryce in Seattle, Chi, OjaiValleyCali, blue armadillo, Lawrence, Ian Reifowitz, paul2port, RadGal70, politik, Dartagnan, musicsleuth, keeplaughing, 84thProblem, billlaurelMD, Gooserock, Mark Noel, Shockwave, Habitat Vic, v2aggie2, MBNYC, techno, CTLiberal, zestyann, here4tehbeer, xaxnar, mightymouse, Dave in Northridge, rudewarrior, NoMoreLies, bontemps2012, ItsSimpleSimon, david78209, limpidglass, A Citizen, ybruti, Debby, progresso, Amber6541, historys mysteries, Raggedy Ann, gloriana, alisonk, Tom Seaview, maryabein, peregrine kate, stormicats, NNadir, bfbenn, jts327, Happy Days, nominalize, marykk, jeanette0605, maizenblue, Misterpuff, vcmvo2, Glinda, Bluehawk, itzadryheat, Krum, semiot, asym, Jim R, DBunn, mooshter, Egalitare, enhydra lutris, a2nite, Tommymac, bdop4, winsock, Jakkalbessie, GrumpyOldGeek, Late Spring, Sunspots, Heart n Mind, tofumagoo, markdd, poe, nailbender, Thutmose V, manyamile, alrdouglas, stevenwag, GeorgeXVIII, Tuba Les, ER Doc, Justin93, RebeccaG, Pescadero Bill, ModerateJosh, gizmo59, K S LaVida, weneedahero, Chris Jay, Liberal Protestant, TheDuckManCometh, dsb, BachFan, Pilgrim X, LOrion, wonmug, radarlady, La Gitane, Liberal Thinking, Ignacio Magaloni, RandomNonviolence, Pluto, Tom Stokland, uciguy30, Bule Betawi, psnyder, Ralphdog, chuck utzman, paytheline, Madrig, Wee Mama, IreGyre, bunsk, YucatanMan, renzo capetti, mkor7, rbird, Odysseus, left turn, offgrid, CherryTheTart, Mrs M, Bill Roberts, Jyrki, NBBooks, ARGeezer

    No, it's not all that brief for a post, but yeah, it's way too brief for everything I tried to cram in. You'll have to forgive me for ignoring everything from Henry Clay's role as "the great compromiser"  and John C. Calhoun's contributions to defining the American System to German economist Friedrich List's integration of Hamilton's ideas in his "National Plan." Likewise, I've given short shirt to opposing views and the complexity of trade issues in the 19th century. Mostly, for an article that started out to be about Lincoln, I've come to the end with very little of the rail-splitter to show for it. Figuring out what can fit in these essays is often the toughest part, and I hope I've dropped in enough bits to paint some picture of the difference between the current widespread acceptance of "free trade" and Lincoln's beliefs while not running on so long as to cause you to stop reading.

    To all intents, the American system was put to rest after the Tokyo round of GATT talks erased most significant US tariffs in 1973. Any ghost that lingered was exorcised in 1986 with the creation of the World Trade Organization and acceptance of free-trade-or-else.

    Could the American System be revived? Not without difficulty.

    Would it work? Heck, did it ever really work? Well, there's no getting away from this–the United States grew from a dot on the balance sheet to the largest economy in the world under the American System. Since the American System was retired, the US economy has been flat, at best, and the middle class has suffered. Meanwhile, other nations that put more of Lincoln's plans into practice (large investment in infrastructure, emphasis on free public education, government investment in young industries) have grown their middle class and their economies.

    And now I really am going to shut up. Otherwise, I'll end up babbling about Smoot-Hawley.

    •  Interesting reference to growing from a (30+ / 0-)

      colony plundered for its resources.

      We seem to have returned to that status.
      Manufacturing is now done places like China, Singapore, etc.
      More and more "knowledge work" is done in India.

      And what are we pushing hard to do?
      Blow up mountains so we can extract coal to sell to China.
      Frack the ever-loving crap out of our countryside so that we can sell oil and gas to China (and India as their demand grows).

      Free trade is a great thing among more or less equals.
      It is also a great thing for the top dog when  dealing with those who cannot assert market power.

      For everybody else -- bleah.
      And we now fit among everybody else.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:13:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We Chose to Liberate Ownership From the Nation (30+ / 0-)

        so our nation like every other becomes a colony of theirs. This isn't rocket science, it's arithmetic.

        It's why for 35 years conservative governance has lacked a relationship to interests of the nation. They're not just bad for us, they're unrelated to us.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:38:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Laissez faire" =synonym= Large-scale theft (7+ / 0-)

          Unregulated capitalism always moves in the direction of putting it's resources to the organizations that can generate the highest returns on investment.

          The criminal organizations -- Goldman, Sachses and the Countrywides of the unregulated Free Market -- do indeed generate the highest ROI numbers.

          They lie, They cheat. They steal. They make their numbers.They beat out the honest firms. The phenomenon parallels Gresham's Law from economics: "Bad money drives out good."

          Gresham's initial point, made back in the 16th Century, was that if gold coins could be adulterated with base metal and allowed to circulate, then gradually the whole stock of gold coins in circulation would be converted to the counterfeits.

          The American System prevents that from happening. That's why we got RICO, originally. That was the aim: to end Mob takeovers of legitimate businesses, converting them to "bad businesses."

          Occupy Wall Street: "We oppose corporate corruption," September 2011. One of the three prime tenets at the beginning in Zuccotti Park.

          Bad companies drive out good.

          And Giuliani's great achievement before going into politics was driving the Mob out of businesses such as garbage collection. Seizing the SOB's assets was the one and only way to stop them.

          Tommy Gresham's principal has been applied across finance, politics, meme-pandering, and used car sales. It seems to have been identified by Aristophanes, and applied first by ibn Taymiyyah  and later Nicole Oresme for analyzing money exchanges.

          •  Giggling Republicans watching Lincoln (22+ / 0-)

            Living in an area heavily infested by Neoconservative Republicans, I also heard a lot of loud laughing and clapping during that part of  Lincoln in which the abolitionist Republicans were brow-beating the pro-slavery Democrats.  After the movie, I walked up to this group of giggling neocons and very firmly and loudly stated that those 19th century Democrats they were laughing and sniggering about are now firmly in control of their 21st century Republican Party.  They didn't that was so funny.

            •  good on you! I hope you didn't wind up (3+ / 0-)

              in a fight.

              "Mitt Romney has more positions than the Kama Sutra." -- me "Social justice is love, made public." -- Cornel West

              by billlaurelMD on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:19:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Ummm....That's OK. Democrats like to forget (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bontemps2012, radarlady

              their rather nasty civil rights history and the fact that Republicans were the drivers of most civil rights reforms.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:59:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

                •  Segregationist Dems are now Republicans (11+ / 0-)

                  Republicans supported civil rights reforms through the mid-1960s, but liberal Democrats drove those reforms from the 1930s onward, and it was Texas Democrat Lyndon Johnson who as Senate Majority Leader drove passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 and as President drove passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (after which LBJ predicted the Democrats would lose the South for a generation). Southern reaction against those bills drove the segregationist presidential campaign of George Wallace in 1968 and caused Richard Nixon to realize that Republicans could break the Democratic lock on the South by appealing to those white supremacist southerners, which they did. Since the early 1970s, Republicans have practically repudiated their historic role in advancing civil rights.

                  •  you have to keep things simple (8+ / 0-)

                    when talking to Republicans----I just tell them that if their party ever again ran a liberal like Lincoln for president, I'd GLADLY vote for him/her.  It never fails to short-circuit their synapses!

                    •  If you think Lincoln was a liberal, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      wait'll you discover Eisenhower.


                      Did you know that Lincoln considered blacks to be inferior to whites? He considered them to be human, and thus entitled to human justice and compassion, but some lower form of human.

                      That was a very common belief among abolitionists, and one reason why Frederick Douglass was such an important figure.  For many of those who met him or heard him speak, he was the first black man to shake their belief that blacks were some lower form of humanity.

                      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                      by dinotrac on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 03:54:28 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Segregationist Dems are now dead. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    radarlady, bontemps2012

                    Unless somebody's resurrected Maddox and Wallace, Gore (the daddy, not the sone), et al.

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:33:33 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And their descendants are now Republicans. n/t (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      YucatanMan, bontemps2012
                      •  Al Gore is the only descendant with whom I am (0+ / 0-)

                        familiar.  I believe that he is a Democrat.

                        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                        by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:26:59 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  no one said segregationist *politicians* (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          Even though you'd like it to sound that way in order to make an inane anti-point.

                          There were millions of segregationists who always voted against the party of Lincoln for Democrats. Their spawn are now among the millions who always vote against the party of Obama for Republicans.

                          Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. -- K.Marx A.Lincoln

                          by N in Seattle on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:23:57 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Your address betrays your supposed point. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            All the way up there in Seattle it's easy to make cartoon generalizations of people you know nothing about.

                            Shouldn't you be focusing on racists in Idaho?
                            That would seem much closer to home.

                            I will kindly let you pretend that Seattle is all sweetness and light.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:43:37 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  My understanding is that Gore Sr. (0+ / 0-)

                      was a close ally of Roosevelt's who felt that racism was tool used to keep the South poor, and hoped that government programs like the TVA woul employ black and white, and elevate both.

              •  Republicans ignore how they betrayed their history (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Chris Jay, IreGyre, YucatanMan, LihTox

                The Southern Strategy and the subsequent poisoning of the GOP by racism ended the Party of Lincoln. They are now the party of Jefferson Davis (and are still run by the monied interests as characterized by Blair in the movie).

                The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

                by freelunch on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:21:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Bullshit. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                IreGyre, YucatanMan

                It was Lincoln who said that calling a dog's tail a leg doesn't mean that dogs have five legs. The racist Dixiecrats all became Republicans; today's Democrats have no relationship to them. Hell, even in the 60s it was the Democrats who were progressive on civil rights ... unless you think that JFK and LBJ were Republicans.

                •  Yes he did. (0+ / 0-)

                  Which racist Dixiecrats became Republicans?

                  I can think of Strom Thurmond.

                  On the other hand, Robert Byrd, who was actually a Ku Klux Klan leader and used the phrase "white nigger" in 21st century interviews, remained a Democrat until the day he died.

                  LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                  by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:04:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Byrd was a KKK member for local reasons (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    YucatanMan, bontemps2012

                    when they dominated some areas so thoroughly the best way to get ahead politically was to join regardless of how racist or indifferent to race you might have been personally... his racist tinged past was something he later regretted and moved away from. He ended his career a very different Democrat from the type of Democrat he started as.

                    And beyond Strom... read up on the Dixiecrats... they bolted the party en masse in 1948 and the remaining conservadems in the South who lingered on as Dems in name only pretty much completed the break in 1980 voting for Reagan and migrating to being Republicans.

                    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

                    by IreGyre on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:32:12 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yeah. The locals were racists, and he was a (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:


                      And yes, he does appear to have changed his tune -- as did, by the way, a number of those Dixiecrats to whom you refer.

                      BTW -- how do you feel about Democratic racists in the north?
                      Ever been to Southie?

                      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                      by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:41:20 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  So because you can only think of one there was (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    only one? You're both a very dishonest person and an idiot.

                    used the phrase "white nigger" in 21st century interviews
                    Here's the interview, jackass ... watch the whole thing:


                    remained a Democrat until the day he died
                    Yes, because he wasn't a racist, you dishonest sack of shit.
                  •  Jesse Helms, Jerry Falwell, Ronald St. Reagan... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    for starters.

                    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

                    by bartcopfan on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:03:02 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  I'm a big believer in laissez-faire capitalism, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bontemps2012, radarlady, FG

            but with boundaries.

            Governments tend to screw up royally when they run economies (Hello, Trabant!).

            At the same time, free markets tend to screw themselves up as the biggest players try to sabotage the market (Hello, Apple!).

            And, of course, there is the problem of big players influencing the government to exercise its power on their behalf to  shackle the market (Hello, entertainment industries!)

            An approach that draws lines and leaves the government out of the picture between the lines is a decent compromise against those competing forces.  Antitrust law more or less works that way, to the extent that it works.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:12:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Laissez faire capitalism also produces monoplies. (4+ / 0-)

              Look at the prices for glasses, particularly sunglasses.

              The whole of that brand-driven market is owned by one Swiss company.

              You'd think brand-name glasses were diamonds.

              •  Luxottica is Italian (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Chris Jay, bontemps2012

                They are certainly greedy and out of control.

                The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

                by freelunch on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:23:40 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  It does, and it produces (most of the time) the (0+ / 0-)

                answer to monopolies.

                At present, however, the biggest and most nefarious contributor to monopolies is government action in the form of patents that should not be granted but are.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:40:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Corporations have rigged patents law on purpose (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  so is that Government's fault?... inherent in the nature of Government or is it inherent in what allowing some people to rewrite the rules in order to become more rich and powerful? A failure of Government is not the Government's fault... it is our fault in part for ignoring that Rich and powerful people were stealing control of OUR self government. And the real fault lies with the crooks who do the rigging and stealing.

                  Patents were meant to protect the little guy, inventor, tinkerer, idea person, business start up but they have become a tool for large corporations to monopolize things far beyond the good it does everyone collectively... and instead hugely benefits a small class of super rich investors.

                  Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

                  by IreGyre on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:38:15 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yes they have, and, in a way, it is the (0+ / 0-)

                    government's fault.

                    Legislators write the patent laws, and government bureaucrats  write the regulations and grant the patents. Government courts enforce the laws that legislators write.

                    That powerful interests are able to corrupt the process only serves to illustrate why the government should not be in the middle of the economy. It is powerful and it is corruptable.

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:46:35 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  This is a bad way of viewing the problem. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      When one says it is "Government's Fault" they are not speaking in terms of the specific failures of a specific electorate to protect their rights through legitimate channels.

                      They are speaking in abstract to the idea that all government always fails all of the time at doing these things and that therefore all government should just "Go away" and we'd be done with these problems.

                      Regardless of whether or not that was your intent, when spoken in that way the words you use elicit such a general meaning. It does us no good at getting to the bottom of the problem.

                      Now that we've gotten that over with there's the real question of whether or not it is a direct fault of all governments in abstract  that they can and have in varying degrees succumbed to corruption. I would say no, because it reflects the general state of humanity. Government can never be entirely immune to corruption so long as human beings are not immune to it.

                      However such corruption is not the exclusive purview of government. Tyrants have and still do exist in private industry and have murdered countless millions (especially workers wishing to unionize) over the course of history in the name of securing their profits.

                      The idea that if we have no government their is liberty is fallacious because government in the form of a nation state is simply one form of organized power that a person may found themselves compelled to live under.

                      The idea that Tyranny would not exist without a nation state is quite silly, and even if we did not have a patent or copyright system you'd quite possibly even have a bigger problem than we do today. Because barring government stepping in to fix that problem directly then all that money that went in to say, retroactively extending copyrights could've instead been directed towards purchasing other laws.

                      For example, banning public access to any and all video/audio recording devices. We might not even have a computer or even consumer electronics industry like we did today if we did not have our current patent/copyright system. In fact we could possibly have something much worse but that's the type of massive change which is hard for even the best of us to truly predict the effects of.

                      TL:DR; If the Government doesn't get involved then private money and corruption can work their magic just as well as if it does. To say this is the fault of all governments in abstract is to say that you believe humans are fundamentally unfit to govern themselves..but then WHO does?

                      •  Blaming "government" as an abstraction (0+ / 0-)

                        is parallel to the illogic of blaming an abstract "God" for creating an imperfect universe.

                        Easier to see the logical flaw when it's "God" as the Prime Mover.

                      •  Fine, but running away from the tremendous (0+ / 0-)

                        power of government to make things worse serves no good purpose, either.

                        As individuals, we try to work our way around a world in which tremendously powerful interests impact our lives.  The most powerful of those interests -- and the one with the most potential for evil -- is the government.

                        It is governments that go to war and governments that throw people in jail, governments that exercise eminent domain, and governments that reach into our pockets to take money without our permission.

                        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                        by dinotrac on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 01:22:18 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  No running here, just correctly naming the Problem (0+ / 0-)

                          The words one uses to frame their ideas inherently color their approach towards solving it. I am not running away from the issue but rather attempting to seriously address it with specifics and in a way that enables us to actually figure out a corrective course of action.

                          The problem is unaccountable power, plain and simple. Whether it exists in the form of a nation state run by dictatorial fiat or whether it is a large multinational run by a single micro-managing CEO.

                          When human beings are allowed to make decisions which affect large groups of people with whom they have no reason to care for or consider in any matter then things get wonky.

                          The government is not a single monolithic interest group and representing it as such is incredibly misleading. A specific administration may have an agenda, and political parties may have their own agendas, but government on a whole does not. It represents the sum total of our nation's varying interest groups jockying for power over what bills get written, how, etc.

                          Governments are the only ones who may declare war, but they certainly aren't the only ones who GO TO war. Blackwater/Xe/Academi go to war as mercenaries, and they certainly aren't the only stakeholders who have a vested interest in going to war either.

                          Defense contractors and the support network that enables our military all make a lot of cash if we go to war. To say it is "The Government" that exclusively goes to war is to obscure the politicking that brought us each war and worse yet it therefore obscures our ability to prevent future such wars.

                          Similarly while it is the government that has authority to arrest. Police are often moonlighting in-uniform for the big banks and after Apple's prototype issues it's arguable a company big enough can use patent/copyright claims to suborn some of that authority on an as-needed basis for emergencies.

                          Similarly they are not the only stakeholders who have vested interests in ensuring our jails become filled. Corrections Corporation of America has a vested interest in seeing lots of people jailed. DuPont, Marlboro, Budweiser all profit from our Drug Laws. Police Unions also have a very strong vested interest in draconian laws as well because we currently manage our police stations like a business and use arrest quotas (it's illegal but they still do it, they just hide/obfuscate the specifics so it barely passes the smell test).

                          So to say the problem is simply "Government" and one can only solve it by "Removing all governing authority" is rather silly. We can fix the jailing issue by banning private prisons, putting the police under watch of an independent community review board (with the power to dismiss officers under review by majority vote after hearing the facts at hand in a case) and attempt to change drug laws via the ballot box for now.

                          Fixing the warmongering problem is sadly harder because of the sacred cow status of the military within our society but it would certainly be doable by the right administration.

                          The point is, in all of these cases by stopping at the surface you do yourself a great disservice at attempting to actually solve the problems being discussed.

                          Just my two cents. :)

                          •  Lots of words, straw men, little light. (0+ / 0-)

                            Nowhere have I suggested that:

                            1. We should remove government
                            2. That government is monolithic
                            Given that the US government is comprised of at least three levels: Federal, State, and local,  I would be a poor student indeed were I to suggest such a thing.

                            But government does possess unique powers and no other term encapsulates that fact as well as "government".   The federal government, as the largest, most powerful, and yet least accessible level of US government is uniquely capable of great and terrible things.

                            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                            by dinotrac on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:41:30 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Straw Man? Where's the real one then? (0+ / 0-)

                            1: Then you should not use the language which implies exactly that. It's not particularly fair but it's still how it comes across.

                            When you refer to "Government" as I had described above it illicit exactly such a meaning.

                            2: You do not need to SAY it, it is reflected in your language. When you only refer to Government in abstract via the word government you are implying a Monolithic entity with a singular purpose or agenda.

                            3: Simply qualifying the word Government with the noun Federal does not change any of the above.

                            Now above all if I am so Mistaken, then WHAT is it that you are saying? You start your post by saying you are not implying government is a singular monolithic entity and you do not want to remove it...yet your second paragraph simply says: "The Federal Government is the largest, most powerful, and least accessible form of government. No other term encapsulates this better than Government."

                            Which to paraphrase says to me: "No, I didn't just say that the Government is some single monolithic evil entity which must be cast into a firey pit! I said the FEDERAL Government is the single monolithic evil entity!"

                            If you'd like to call me mistaken your response needs to do more than say you disagree with my characterization of your words you need to offer a correction and point to how what you said was substantively different than what I thought you meant and you NEED to tell me what you did mean in a way that highlights this.

                            To do otherwise invites criticisms of disingenuity.

                •  Patents have nothing to do with this. (0+ / 0-)

                  0% contribution.

      •  NAFTA (7+ / 0-)

        NAFTA was a mistake -- one I originally supported.  How's it working out--Mexico is getting destroyed by drug lords and American weapons.  We've lost our industrial base.  Nothing in life should be free and unregulated by countervailing forces--be that ethics, government, or unions.

        Apres Bush, le deluge.

        by melvynny on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:54:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  NAFTA could have been different (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pescadero Bill, Chris Jay

          I also originally supported it, but when the so-called "side agreements" - specifically those pertaining to labor and the environment - were effectively eliminated, all that was left was essentially an income stream doled out among the Financial Elites.

          When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

          by Egalitare on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:49:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And everybody laughed at Ross Perot when he (5+ / 0-)

          he describe the "giant sucking sound" of jobs leaving the country.

          What he understood and what Al Gore publicly derided, was that, in a world where capital can flow freely, it will seek out the cheapest labor and exploit any imbalance it can find.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:01:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  NAFTA was wrongheaded the way it was implemented (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          as are all "free trade" agreements.  A lot could have been done to improve it.


          Mexico is getting destroyed by drug lords and American weapons.
          That has nothing to do with NAFTA and everything to do with
           1)  Americans' insatiable demands for drugs of all kinds;
           2)  Calderon and Bush militarizing the problem;
           3)  America supplying the money, weapons and ammunition for more death, i.e., see #1.

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:27:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  what (0+ / 0-)

            What NAFTA did was what it didn't do--it didn't prevent Mexico's social decline.

            Apres Bush, le deluge.

            by melvynny on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:20:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What social decline are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

              Please enlighten me.

              "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

              by YucatanMan on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:26:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  drug war (0+ / 0-)

                The drug war can easily be tied into NAFTA--it was understood that Mexico would institute a war on drugs--it did--and things got worse.

                Apres Bush, le deluge.

                by melvynny on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 06:39:50 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Drug War in Mexico was specifically initiated (0+ / 0-)

                  by Calderon within days of him taking the presidency in hotly contested election results with hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets.

                  Calderon was elected using people sent from Bush's election team and there were widespread vote count discrepancies, like occurred in Florida and Ohio for Bush.

                  To take the constant 24x7 focus off of the stolen election, Calderon appeared in a military jacket -- a huge no-no in Mexico, as a civilian leader -- and announced his war on cartels by sending thousands of federal police and military into hotbeds of drug activity.

                  Calderon -- years after NAFTA -- started the drug war violence.  NAFTA was not passed and signed by Clinton with a provision for drug war.

                  It was Calderon -- and Bush egging him on at the Merida Summit with promises of generous funding for military equipment, weapons and ammunition -- who started the violence.  

                  And notably, very few serious efforts have been made against one cartel in particular, while others were pursued relentlessly.

                  "Social decline?"   The Mexican people did not decide to slide into discord.  The violence of the drug war was initiated to cover for a stolen election and fed with US money and weapons from the beginning.

                  "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                  by YucatanMan on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 10:17:13 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent diary! (29+ / 0-)

      I used to be a Republican, until Richard Nixon totally ruined the party and disgraced himself in the Watergate affair.  I became an Independent, only to become a Democrat when Ronald Reagan was nominated.  In the meantime the Republicans had undergone a radical transformation from the party of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower to embrace the racist Dixiecrats. I had always know that the Republicans had a tendency to favor wealthy people, but they also had a liberal streak - they were the "Progressive" politicians in New Mexico during the 1890s, as exemplified by Albert Jennings Fountain and his associates. Albert Fall, Fountain's arch-enemy, was the head of the Democratic Party in the area, but turned Republican to be in the Harding administration - resulting in the Teapot Dome scandal. Fall is reported to have said that he would deal with the Devil himself if it would get him political power.

      Now I would be grossly ashamed to be a Republican.  I wish it were not so, but than it is what happens when an entire party does itself "make a deal with the Devil."  Lincoln must be spinning in his grave!  Lincoln was so much the better politician, administrator and human being than any of the current line up of Republican politicians are, or ever will be.  His economic policies, as well as such far-sighted policies as creating the National Academy of Sciences and the Land Grant system in the midst of Civil War are amazing.  Certainly he was our greatest president, human imperfections and all, because he grew in the office of the president and was motivated by the greater good instead of personal glory.  Will we ever see his like again?

    •  no need fear that I'd stop reading (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      La Gitane, YucatanMan

      this essay due to length----MARVELLOUSLY informative; thanks--I'm sure I'll be ruminating on it all week. BTW I too saw LINCOLN last night; I too heard the giggles at mention of partisan disharmony but since I live in Portland, I doubt that the gigglers were Republicans--most of those lines of dialog were just plain funny!

  •  I'm curious: What action of the early national (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    US Blues, Chi

    banks compares to the TARP bailouts?
    Or to the General Motors purchase/bailout?

    Hamilton was indeed the anti-Jefferson, and not a great believer in democracy, but I don't recall actions comparable to those.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:08:20 AM PST

    •  the very existence of the banks & assumption (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      limpidglass, happymisanthropy

      of the national debt in return for moving the capital to VA.  This was a tremendous buy-out, which the southerners considered a benefit to the northern, more mercantile interests, thus the basis for the deal.

      The very existence of the national bank was also considered by Jefferson and the Democrats as profoundly unconstitutional, and a support of business over agriculture by the federal government.  It was a significant factor in Jefferson's resignation as VP.

      •  A little better explanation is required. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pescadero Bill, Dburn, Odysseus

        We've had national banks, and we still have the Federal Reserve system.

        That fundamentally different from TARP, which required an act of Congress and allocation of funds for direct transfer to private companies for the purpose of rewarding their misdeeds -- oops -- make that, NO! Let's call a spade a spade.  TARP was a big payback to the people who've financed our politicians at the expense of millions of Americans who have had to carry the weight of that bailout on our backs.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:05:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Henry Clay/ Jackson link (6+ / 0-)

    not working properly. Unless Jackson hated Clay over a glitch in DK.

    I STILL want to see Mitt's taxes.

    by Van Buren on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:08:32 AM PST

  •  The American System (20+ / 0-)

    Was and is still a brilliant label for progressive economic policies, claiming the patriotic high-ground of "restoring the American System."

    Thank you Mark for broadening my understanding of Lincoln's Presidency.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:15:00 AM PST

  •  Only one problem. (18+ / 0-)
    In this time when the Republican Party is searching for a new identity, they might want to think of reviving one that was made for them. It’s called the American System.
    If they did that, they would be Democrats.

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:15:12 AM PST

  •  Well done. Thanks. A good read. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm glad Barack Obama is our President.

    by TomP on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:18:03 AM PST

  •  I live in Clay NY (9+ / 0-)

    And I'm willing to bet that not 1 in 100 people here know it was named for Henry Clay.

    In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    by boriscleto on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:18:56 AM PST

  •  so funny (10+ / 0-)

    I saw it in MA.
    not much clapping, but the movie had everyone's rapped attention.
    IT was clear to all watchers that the postion of those REpublicans, and the politics, are like the Democrats today. They are the ultimate RINO's...Lincoln's REpublican party is not recognizably the party the are today. They only share a name.

    MA voters I talked to quickly understood that today all those Republcans would be Democrats. SO funny the MO voters go by the name alone, not the views or positions. The more liberal party then was the Republicans. Clearly they are switched.

    It's hard to give the REpublican party today any credit (as you seem to). Wierd for them to be proud of it...those people wouldn't last a minute in their party today. Lincoln's Republicans are not Republicans as we know the word.

    •  If I were alive in an earlier era (5+ / 0-)

      I would probably be a Federalist, then a Whig, then a Republican, until roughly the 1890-1910's, when each party began to assume the form they have today in terms of ideology and policies. I'm guessing I wouldn't be the only one.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:37:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Republican party has been taken over by (12+ / 0-)

      the punitives. I don't know if they learned from punitive religionists or what, but they have cottoned to the idea that influence can be wielded so as to generate support by threatening destruction in the here and now, not just in the after life. It's a grifter's nirvana. All that's required is to scare people enough and they'll send money, which is, of course, much more nourishing than prayers.

      I suppose I am a really slow learner.  But, it took me a long time to realize that priests, unlike nuns and brothers, who sustain themselves by teaching or gardening or even brewing liquor, are in it for the money -- that what they collect after preaching goes into their pockets and the diocese. Perhaps I didn't fully realize it until Baptist congregations, where the ministers are hired and fired and some aggrandizement of the congregation's assets is expected, made it more obvious--especially since the "leaders" of competing churches were being judged on their financial acumen. Establishments of religion are not necessarily ellemosynary enterprises. "Laboring for the Lord" actually gives them a level of autonomy that other corporate CEOs likely envy. Nor should it come as a surprise that commercial properties are being resurrected as churches and sprouting like mushrooms after a rain. Being untaxed seems to be independently attractive, irrespective of the pittance involved. I suspect the attractive element is power, the ability to take or exact services without giving anything back.
      And that's the shtick long practiced by the churches and now adopted by people who want to govern without doing any work.

      The Republican party has become the refuge of scoundrels. Did they learn from religion that it is possible to garner support not just without giving anything in return, but by threatening and then withholding harm? 'Cause that's what Republicans with all their talk of depriving people of health care and education and meaningful employment are up to. They're really nought but the school yard bully grown into an organization, or the hellfire preacher calling down more mundane threats.

      I keep wavering between whether the fear-mongers are genuinely afraid themselves or merely relying on fear to extort material support. At the moment, I'm inclined to the latter. And I'm encouraged by the fact that the fear-mongering Willard was shown the door. It was interesting that he started out referring to his business experience and his predilection for firing people and apparently eschewed any connection to religion. Perhaps the Mormon Church does not deal in fear. But, spreading fear was surely Willard's intent in calling attention to his business strategy. That only 47% were slated to feel his wrath was perhaps a mistake because the number was too large. Perhaps that got translated into "if he's going after almost half, I may be in for it, as well."

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:06:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can Lincoln posthumously switch parties? (7+ / 0-)

      The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

      by A Citizen on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:23:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Terrific essay, Mark. (15+ / 0-)

    As a historian, I'm thrilled to see more history on this site -- which does a very good job actually of presenting history and its relationship to the present. My one comment is on the present day Republicans, and the idea that they cheer Lincoln and other liberals against the conservatives of their day.

    •  Yeah, really makes one's head spin (5+ / 0-)

      at the irony, obviously completely over their uncritical and unaware heads. Am I now supposed to cheer for Jeff Davis and Bobby Lee?

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:34:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course! (9+ / 0-)

        I love when they go off on Southern Dixiecrats. My response is: I'm a liberal, liberals have always been on the right side, and it's too bad Republicans aren't liberals anymore.

        •  Not many northern Dixiecrats, of course :-) (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ian Reifowitz, Justin93, freelunch

          Nor many southern ones, for that matter, since they're all Repubs now.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:13:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Once you take away the party labels... (7+ / 0-)

          ... things get much simpler. Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party stand for what they used to. People make a mistake in looking back 150 years and trying to understand the participants through the filters of what the parties are currently.

          But if you remove the party labels, and just look at liberal vs. conservative, it ceases to be a confusing mess.

          The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

          by A Citizen on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:55:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The one consistency, the only one (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Is that the Republicans, and the forebears the Whigs and Federalists, all promoted commercial/industrial interests more wholeheartedly than did Democrats -- who were on the side of agriculture--which of course included slaveowners -- and the emerging (white) wage-working population. The early Federalists and Whigs were right -- as the post makes clear -- that the American System would help grow the economy of course. Much more could be said, but football starts soon!

            •  Up until the Civil War and big industrialization (0+ / 0-)

              took hold, which led to factories that led to mass immigration to have laborers to work in them, there was no major income inequality and poverty in the US. It existed, of course, and obviously slavery was the big exception, but we didn't see the sort of mass inequality and poverty that led to the populist, progressive and labor union eras until after the Civil War. Until then, I think that the Federalists and later Whigs were simply promoting prosperity, not inequality.

              It was only after Reconstruction, when the Radical Republicans were pushed out of the GOP leadership, that we began to see these things, and pushing prosperity alone was no longer sufficient, because the issues of poverty and inequality and the need for regulation and a social safety net to deal with them emerged. This is when the GOP lost its moral credibility, never to truly recover it except perhaps in the Eisenhower-Reagan era, and Democrats slowly began to take on the role of the more moral party of the people.

              I am oversimplifying, of course. But I think that there's a clear division between the ante-bellum and post-Reconstruction eras, that forever changed the roles played by each party, and the nature of the US economy and the role that government played in it. The inheritors of the political ideology of Hamilton, Clay and Lincoln went the way of big business and the rich, and the inheritors of the political ideology of Jefferson, Madison and Jackson went the way of the working and middle classes, farmers and labor (and, ultimately, blacks too).

              I think that today's GOP combines the worst of the Democratic party until the Civil Rights era, and the post-Reconstrution GOP, and today's Democratic party is trying to combine the best of the Federalists and Whigs and pre-Reconstruction GOP, and post-Reconstruction progressive and populist movements. I think it's an error to label the GOP as pro-business and Dems as pro-people. I think that the GOP is pro-amoral business and Dems are pro-moral business and people. They're both "pro-business", but only one is for the sustainable and decent kind.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:57:15 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  I'd vote for Lincoln. (15+ / 0-)

        I'm reading Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past. The premise is flawed, that the 19th century Democratic Party was racist isn't buried or hidden. I've never met a Democrat who had a good word to say about Steven Douglas, Jefferson Davis or Andrew Johnson. If someone today has a Confederate flag sticker on their car, the chances that person is a Democrat are very slim.

        If I lived back in 1860, I would have voted for Lincoln. The Republican Party of the 19th century was the liberal - actually, radical - party. The Democrats of the time were the conservatives. Here's a quote from Lincoln: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." No conservative could have made that statement.

        Democrats of today aren't very interested in Democrats of the 19th century. Likewise, Republicans of today aren't interested in liberals like Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Listening to today's Republicans, you would think that Teddy Roosevelt and Ike never existed.

        Today's Republican Party pays lip service to Lincoln while standing against what he stood for.

        The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

        by A Citizen on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:22:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd go even further (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Citizen, Ian Reifowitz

          and argue that in many ways the Federalists were the liberal progressives and the Jeffersonians were the conservative reactionaries. Most Federalists were anti-slavery economic and fiscal progressives who wanted government to invest in the country's economy, while most Jeffersonians were states rights absolutists who either owned slaves and effectively if not openly believed in slavery, or didn't have a big problem with it, and wanted the government out of the economy. Of course the roles were reversed on other issues like civil liberties and militarism, but on the whole I think this holds true, and has every since, with the only big change being that the parties have taken over each others' historical roles and views, effectively being little more than a name change.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:38:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think people are overly harsh on Douglas. (5+ / 0-)

          His overriding concern was trying to keep the two sides from coming to blows, and he had a far better sense than most Northerners that the South wasn't just blustering with its talk of secession.  Even Doris Kearns Goodwin, in the midst of what often verges on a hagiographic treatment of Lincoln, admits that neith he nor Seward thought that the South would actually secede, but Douglas did.  When it became apparent that the South wasn't bluffing, they both balked (Seward, especially), but Lincoln decided things were too far along now to pull back.

          Douglas will never be remembered as a principled opponent of slavery, to be sure, but given that the Civil War killed 600,000 people, one can hardly view his desire to prevent it as wholly ignoble.

      •  Traitors who needed to be hanged (0+ / 0-)

        I know that Lincoln didn't want to punish a lot of people, but Davis and Lee were the very public faces of treason. They deserved death.

        The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

        by freelunch on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:29:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I wouldn't have known whether to laugh or cry (12+ / 0-)

    at those morons in the audience with you not realizing that the Democratic party of 1865 is basically today's GOP, having taking over its nativist, racist, small government, imperialist (yeah I have a hard time reconciling these last two too), yahoo platform over the past 150 years, and the Democratic party of today is in many ways the GOP of 1865, believing in investing in national infrastructure, fair taxation, protecting US industries, sane fiscal and monetary policies, and justice and equality along racial and class lines. I have absolutely no hesitation is saying that were Lincoln and Davis alive today, their parties would be reversed.

    Count me in as among those who are "trying to achieve Jeffersonian values and goals through Hamiltonian means".

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:27:00 AM PST

  • about the New Deal? (3+ / 0-)

    how does that compare to the the American System?

    No administration would again embrace the American System so fully as that of Lincoln.
    thanks for a really interesting read. I want to read up on this a lot more now.

    also I thought I'd read articles here and there in the past that Hamilton was the bad guy and pro-corporate, pro-elite control of the economy, i.e. anti-populist, or maybe I misread them.

    no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

    by srfRantz on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:27:15 AM PST

    •  Hamilton certainly had his failings (13+ / 0-)

      But he's generally gotten a really bad and undeserved rap from much of the left over the years, having been, in practical terms, far more progressive IMO than the vastly overrated Jefferson. Not only was he one of the earliest statesmen to recognize the need for a large government presence in the economy and financial system, but he was one of the earliest abolitionists.

      Of course, he did argue for a US monarch, supported the Alien and Sedition Acts, and was a bit of a militarist imperialist. But none of the founders was innocent of similarly anti-liberal failings, as we well know.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:32:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  People like to quote Jefferson like they like to (5+ / 0-)

        quote the bible, selectively and out of context.  

        •  All (white) men are created equal... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          As for black men:

          The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. Whether the black of the negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarf-skin, or in the scarf-skin itself; whether it proceeds from the colour of the blood, the colour of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races?

          Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of colour in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immoveable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man?

          Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold, than the whites.

          Perhaps too a difference of structure in the pulmonary apparatus, which a late ingenious 30 experimentalist has discovered to be the principal regulator of animal heat, may have disabled them from extricating, in the act of inspiration, so much of that fluid from the outer air, or obliged them in expiration, to part with more of it. They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning.

          They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation.

          Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course.

          Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

          Selecting quoting can work both ways, of course.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:20:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            YucatanMan, kovie

            Among our Founders, Thomas Paine is probably the only one who would have been comfortable with the idea of a black POTUS.

            It's been a hundred years, isn't it time we stopped blaming Captain Smith for sinking the Titanic?

            by happymisanthropy on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:30:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Paine was hardly a founder (0+ / 0-)

              He and the other radicals were never included in the founding.

              He forced the founders into the revolution and they forced him out.

              •  He was a provisional founder (0+ / 0-)

                Clearly playing a crucial role in the founding through his pamphleteering, but never having real political power like most of the other founders.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:31:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Well, Hamilton was a big supporter (0+ / 0-)

              of Toussainte Louverture, who of course became rule of Haiti, so the idea of a black leader of a free country wasn't exactly unthinkable for him. Then again Haiti had a black majority, wasn't Hamilton's country, and it served as a useful foil against France, which Hamilton despised. But the idea of a black US president back then was likely beyond unthinkable, probably even for Paine.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:35:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I'd agree but for one thing... (9+ / 0-)

      FDR certainly asserted the government's role in helping the economy, and is the best comparison to Lincoln. In fact, a lot of things about Lincoln and FDR's administration make them seem near twins.

      Only FDR came into office on a promise to reduce tariffs, so I felt a bit disingenuous in putting him forward as a supporter of the American System.

      Oh, and Hamilton and Jefferson both thought the other guy was the pro-wealth elitist because they both had their own ideas if what America should be. In the end, the nation does best when it steals a little from both.

      •  thanks, I'd had a hunch that was it (0+ / 0-)

        knew squat re. FDRs positions on tariffs. actually that's a big hole in my education/knowledge overall. foreign trade policies.

        and I think Daily Kos is at its best when we all contribute to fill in the gaps in each other's education.

        no man is completely worthless, he can always be used as a bad example.

        by srfRantz on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:40:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I used to hate Hamilton's guts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mrs M

      Lately though, I've considerably warmed to him. It is probably true that he gave a number of sweetheart deals to business and financial interests, but at the same time he had a purpose when he did it that went beyond self-interest. I read somewhere (perhaps on here) that Hamilton's mindset was that people are going to be greedy bastards anyway, and so the best thing to do is to engineer and channel that greed so that it serves the public interest. He didn't care if someone became fantastically wealthy, so long as the overall result was good.

      Hamilton also had the advantage of understanding the long game. Strangely enough, he started out as almost a Tory, highly sympathetic to the idea of remaining a part of the British Empire. Somewhere along the way, though, he seems to have decided that the United States was better off going its own way and cutting its ties with Britain. Contrast this with Jefferson. For all his beautiful words, as the owner of a plantation that grew cash crops (tobacco), Jefferson would have naturally been in favor of free trade and continuing ties with Britain, the better to sell his cash crop to them.

      Jefferson can also be contrasted with Washington, who seems to have really believed in American independence, both political and economic. Of course, before the Revolution, Washington's plantation had also relied on cash crops, like practically every Southern plantation. After the Revolution, however, Washington realized that that would have to change. He saw that he couldn't continue to rely on selling a cash crop to England. So what did he do? He stopped relying on tobacco and had most of Mt. Vernon's planted fields with wheat. After all, everybody needs wheat to make flour, and consequently to make bread. The profit margins weren't as big, but the demand was much more steady, and the product could also be sold on the domestic as well as foreign market.

      Washington also began several side projects, including starting his own mill, a distillery (he became a major producer of rye whiskey), and a smithy. This diversification increased Mt. Vernon's profits. Contrast this with Jefferson's experience of continuing to rely on tobacco; he was at the mercy of the foreign tobacco market. If there was great demand, he had a hefty profit, but if demand was low, or if the English simply refused to buy his product, he suffered. It went on like this for several decades, years of feast and famine. It didn't help that Jefferson seemed incapable of sound financial planning; by the time of his death, he was nearly bankrupt.

      Getting back to Hamilton, Hamilton understood that for America to thrive, it needed to develop industry. Otherwise, it would forever stand in the shadow of the British Empire. A little known fact is that, for all that Hamilton was famous for his admiration of the British way of doing things, it was Jefferson who was prepared to come back under the British thumb. During the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson informed his negotiators that if they couldn't get France to sell any of it, then they should go to the British government and see about making a deal, which was much more than even Hamilton would have contemplated doing. Fortunately, Napoleon only saw his American holdings as an unnecessary burden, and was perfectly happy to unload them for pennies per acre.

      Don't get me wrong, Hamilton had plenty of flaws. But he was a far better man than many people thought him, both at the time and since then. If anything, his biggest problem was a natural arrogance, born in part of being so damn smart and having risen from almost nothing.

  •  You've left me wanting more, which is exactly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, Debby

    what a post like this should do.  I think it's perfect.  

    Off to the cyber-library.  Thanks.  

  •  Lincoln doing surprisingly well at the box office (15+ / 0-)
    An interesting thing happened at the box office this Thanksgiving. The top two spots were taken, predictably enough, by the new Bond movie, Skyfall, and the final part of the Twilight saga, Breaking Dawn Part 2. But right behind Bond and Bella at number 3 was Abe Lincoln, as given flesh by Daniel Day-Lewis in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. To date it has taken $62m, almost its entire production budget, in just two weeks.

    It may be the year's most unlikely blockbuster. Of the three passes Spielberg has made at the subject of slavery – The Color Purple in 1982 and Amistad in 1997 – Lincoln is by far the least Spielbergian. There is no action to speak of, only the skimpiest of battles scenes, little grand oratory, a bare minimum of John Williams music and no glimpse of the assassination. The film instead gives its audience 149 minutes of dense political maneuvering in dark smoke-filled rooms, as Lincoln hunts down the votes necessary to pass the 13th amendment. It's a film about process, a political procedural. What's particularly impressive is that Lincoln is playing as well in red states as well as blue, as if buoyed by the small swell of bipartisanship in Washington in the wake of Obama's re-election.
  •  Lincoln International Trailer (7+ / 0-)

    Somewhat better than the domestic version which focuses more on Daniel Day Lewis.

    •  Thaddeus Stevens (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      freelunch, chuck utzman, left turn

      As good as Daniel Day Lewis was in this film -- and he was splendid, as always -- it was Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens who carried the movie.

      Watching the trailers, before I saw the movie last weekend, I kept thinking that seeing Tommy Lee Jones was jarring, because he's so distinctive in his own persona that when he comes on screen you see Tommy Lee Jones, not the character he's playing.

      However, in the theater, Tommy Lee Jones disappears completely and all you see is the character. And the character is what elevates this movie from a pedantic historical exercise to gripping entertainment.

      I hope that Daniel Day Lewis gets an Oscar nomination for his Lincoln portrayal, but more than that, I want to see Tommy Lee Jones win for Supporting Actor. He gave the best performance of his career.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:57:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Shameful southern strategy (7+ / 0-)

    What a shame that republicans decided that the way forward was to exploit racism in the south.  If both parties were strongly behind ending racism many of the problems we have today would not exist.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:38:20 AM PST

    •  The Republican Elite was not racist. (5+ / 0-)

      They cared not a rats ass about weather their economic victims were black or white, and had as little distaste for poorer whites as blacks. They were ALL about strategy to assure unfettered power for the already privileged, and set one race against the other using divide and conquer tactics only as a means to secure that power.  
      The main thing they do not like is anyone who is not either richer than they, or is not under their command.

      To Goldman Sachs in according to their desires, From us in accordance with the IRS.

      by Bluehawk on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:08:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, I have a good use for this diary. nt (0+ / 0-)

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:40:45 AM PST

  •  "I am the President of the United States...clothed (10+ / 0-) immense power!"

    The current occupant of the office seems to be just realizing this fact.

    •  This aired during the first presidential debate (4+ / 0-)
      The irony of the new Lincoln trailer that ran after last night's presidential debate: neither man debating has a claim to Lincoln's legacy. Mitt Romney, a truly faceless grey man, stood on the podium and lied and lied and lied, dissembling without a second thought and changing his positions almost on the fly. Barack Obama, who can be so electrifying when he wants to be, was wooden and dull and refused to stand up for his beliefs or against Romney's lies, letting the challenger steamroll him in a way that Lincoln wouldn't have permitted.

      The new Lincoln spot showcases a president who refused to be a doormat and who refused to compromise his principles.
      •  Like Lincoln never stumbled.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stormicats, Justin93

        Lincoln is probably my favorite president but I hate the hero-making that we as humans seem to thrive on. To compare a storied creation of a president to Obama's one bad debate is just ridiculous. Presidents, and others we see as heroes, are people and they are flawed.

        (I do love the focus of that trailer though. Great way to tie it into a bigger ongoing story.)

        Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

        by Debby on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:22:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The point of the film wasn't lazy hero worship (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Debby, left turn

          In fact, more the opposite. That Lincoln could achieve all that he did in that environment, despite all the obstacles, was the entire point.

          •  well.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            To compare any presidents (outside of perhaps FDR) to Lincoln is a bit unfair. And for all that Lincoln had to go through he was never viewed as some foreign-born "other" who was both of a different race and religion than the majority of the country. He never countered nearly as much obstruction within Congress. Never faced such a well-financed industry machine (right-wing media) that worked 24/7 spreading the gospel about how evil he was and how he wanted to destroy America. Never had to worry about focusing so much of his attention on foreign problems when he already had enough domestic headaches to worry about. And never inherited a country that was in such a dire economic situation.

            Of course his having to deal with that little thing known as the "Civil War" meant he still probably faced the biggest single challenge that any American president has ever had to stare down. And he came through. But he had his own problems and plenty of setbacks that almost cost him as well and fortunately for him we don't have these stored away on film stock for record. We don't know if he ever came across as looking weak in a speech or in any debate for that very same reason. Plus the distance of time helps his overall standing in the public's eyes (hell, even some Southerners acknowledge him as a great leader) as it does with most of the elite presidents of our far past. Most importantly let's not forget that the Lincoln moment we are discussing is a from a scene in a movie; a movie that can take liberties in how things played out and how an individual presented himself.

            •  Lincoln faced far sterner opposition (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...than the present president. Let's not kid ourselves here.

            •  Actually, we do know. He lost the debates (3+ / 0-)

              with Douglas, at least in the sense that Douglas got the Illinois Senate seat they were contesting. The reaction to the Gettysburg Address was initially total disdain. Political orators were expected to go on for at least an hour each, and the audience felt cheated.

              On the other side, few speeches in any country in any era aroused as much enthusiasm as Lincoln's Cooper Union address on Congress's power to limit slavery in the territories. The heart of the debate was Sen. Douglas's States Rights/Constitutional Originalism argument, which Lincoln took as his text, in the sense of a preacher preparing a sermon, and not just a lawyer with his brief.

              "Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now."

              I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse…

              What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood "just as well, and even better than we do now?"

              It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal Territories?

              He shredded Douglas's claims as if presenting a brief to the Supreme Court. He then went on to explore the pretended issues between the slave states and the Republicans, ending with a masterly summation.
              Holding, as they do, that slavery is morally right, and socially elevating, they cannot cease to demand a full national recognition of it, as a legal right, and a social blessing.

              Nor can we justifiably withhold this, on any ground save our conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationality—its universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension—its enlargement. All they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought slavery right; all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole controversy. Thinking it right, as they do, they are not to blame for desiring its full recognition, as being right; but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Can we cast our votes with their view, and against our own? In view of our moral, social, and political responsibilities, can we do this?

              It remains the same question to this day, whether with the Redeemer Democrats after the Civil War who built Jim Crow; the Dixiecrats in the Civil Rights era; or the Southern Strategy Republicans since then.

              If racism, intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, and kleptocracy were right, we could not justly object to their extension—their enlargement. All that they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought these things right; all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought them wrong. And so forth.

              Nothing has changed, except that it is now the Republicans who have gone over to the Dark Side. But they can no longer cloud our minds in sufficient numbers to win national elections without cheating, and soon we will have the opportunity to undo their gerrymanders, as we have largely undone their voter suppression tactics.

              America—We built that!

              by Mokurai on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:22:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  The point of the film wasn't, (0+ / 0-)

            but the point of that review seems to be. I loved the film, but it is a story told from a 150 year perspective. Using it to diss the current president is dumb.

            Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

            by Debby on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:04:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  So Lincoln is the hook (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for a diary taking the protectionist side of free trade v. protectionism? the protectionist model you bring up lives today IMHO in the export oriented model followed by the Asian ex-tigers and is not a strong argument for protectionism.  Was going to bring up Smoot-Hawley but I see you are unpersuaded by it.

    Lincoln did define the strong Federal government and create the federal government as we know it today.  the GOP today tends to forget this.  Prosecuting war to preserve the union, instituting (an illegal) income tax to fund it, seizing control of a state (Indiana) and running it from the White House, creating the Secret Service  (to protect the integrity of all those greenbacks) -the creation of a strong central government is one of the legacies of Lincoln.

    "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. Keep the faith.

    by Tonga 23 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:51:21 AM PST

    •  Illegal income tax? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonga 23

      How so?

      14th Amendment is illegal?

      To Goldman Sachs in according to their desires, From us in accordance with the IRS.

      by Bluehawk on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:12:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lincoln's income tax came earlier (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonga 23, wsexson

        The Court found it unconstitutional after the war.

        The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

        by freelunch on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:42:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Income Tax was made constitutional in 1913 (0+ / 0-)

        My comment has nothing to do with the 14th amendment.
        The Supreme Court struck down the income tax in 1895 in Pollock v. Farmer's Loan and Trust Co.  Direct taxation of income was made constitutional on February 3, 1913 upon the ratification of the Sixteenth amendment.

        Lincoln's income tax laws were repealed during the Grant administration in 1872

        "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. Keep the faith.

        by Tonga 23 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:03:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fascinating read. Ended with Smoot-Hawley? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We now live in a world that takes it on faith that the Smoot-Hawley tariffs turned the fiscal losses of the Crash of '29 into a crushing world-wide economic depression.

    It's interesting to read a counter-factual argument on a protectionist policy.

    I don't know where the truth lies, but this is a start in my education.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:52:01 AM PST

    •  my take is this: protectionism was good (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheDuckManCometh, bluemeanies

      as long as we needed to develop our industries without importing things from Europe.

      The increased cost of locally made goods was worth the eventual benefits of developing our own domestic industries, which then became engines of economic growth. Since we had natural resources in abundance, we could develop our own industries without having to import raw materials from abroad.

      Then when our industries became so large that they produced more goods than we could consume domestically, we became free-traders and insisted that other countries open their markets to us so that we could sell our goods at a profit. And our economy came to depend on this.

      Smoot-Hawley caused other countries to shut their markets to us. Since our economy had come to depend on exports, this exacerbated the economic crisis.

      The domestic market couldn't absorb the surplus production that was no longer being sold abroad. And this affected industry, which in turn affected everyone else.

      Protectionism both helped build the American economy (during the 19th century), and destroy it (in the case of Smoot-Hawley).

      As with many things in life, it's all in the timing.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:08:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fantastic post and a note from Texas (8+ / 0-)

    Sadly, it also shows my own ignorance of history. I'm a history buff, but more of the WW2 and post WW2 variety, so this was very enlightening. One thing that is very encouraging is the box office results. The theater I went to, in Texas, by golly, was full. All to watch what was essentially a two and a half hour play in a cinema. And a tome on the end of slavery, no less. In Texas. Did I mention that it was in Texas?

  •  Great diary, Mark (7+ / 0-)

    To emphasize a point.  We had no national currency before Lincoln. Banks issued money and the only questions about that were how far from the bank could you be and have the bank's money accepted?

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:57:59 AM PST

  •  Thom Hartmann's "Rebooting the American Dream" (8+ / 0-)

    Published in 2010, it has a fair amount on Hamilton, and  trade issues. He gives credit to the policies that allowed a nascent America to develop its own industrial base thanks to the protection of trade barriers.

    The worship in some circles of the "free market" and "the invisible hand" has blinded too many to the inherent limitations of those ideas. The idea that individuals freely exchanging money, services and goods will somehow automatically arrive at an optimum result for all involved ignores some real world complications.

    Not everyone is equal in the market - concentration of wealth distorts the playing field. Not everyone is blessed with perfect information - making the optimum choice in a given situation is an ideal, not a given. And while individual actions may make sense (and not always even then), the cumulative effect may be a disaster - as in the tragedy of the commons.

    The American System at its best is the difference between maximizing winnings for the few at the expense of the many, versus maximizing the numbers of those who end up net winners.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:10:26 AM PST

  •  Interesting diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, Debby, mightymouse

    There is so much depth and breadth to history that we never hear about.

    In 1862, the theft of money, food, and land from the Sioux in Minnesota led to an explosion of violence.  Lincoln had a role in this.

    After the US soldiers captured many of the warriors they were put through a phony trial.  The outcome was for 303 of them to be hung.  Lincoln didn't think that would be good PR so he had the number reduced.  The result was that he ordered the largest mass execution in US history with 38 Sioux hung in Mankato MN on Dec 27, 1862.

    Lincoln was a great man, warts and all.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:21:44 AM PST

  •  Perhaps someone should remind them... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... that President Lincoln had kicked the butts of their ancestors just a few years earlier! :-)

    (-7.75,-5.64) Headline: "Man who told half the nation to go screw themselves somehow loses a national election".

    by Whirlaway on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:22:46 AM PST

  •  The Greatest President (7+ / 0-)

    I have long held Lincoln to be one of the 4 or 5 greatest presidents this country has had -- and quite possibly the greatest.  He was so far beyond George Washington that there is no comparison in my opinion.  His name can properly be said in the same breath as that of Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, and Bill Clinton.

    What I find so ironic is how totally the Republicans ignore -- and possibly revile -- their first president, at the same time that they elevate one grossly inferior president -- Ronald Reagan -- to sainthood.  But then Lincoln's ideas and philosophy are so out-of-step with today's GOP that it isn't funny.  He would have no chance to be nominated for president in today's GOP.  And that's sad -- to say nothing of a travesty.

    •  They never talk about Eisenhower either. (6+ / 0-)

      Damn him and his interstate highway system!

    •  Bill Clinton .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jake formerly of the LP

      was the first President I ever got to vote for and I'm proud of that. Despite his flaws he was indeed a very good president, an even better politician and arguably one of the all-time-great communicators.

      But top five of all-tiime USA Presidents? Please explain that. His greatest accomplishment was inheriting an economy that was about to go on a surge in large parts to the coming of the dot-com market and leaving the country with a surplus. That is nothing to sneeze at of course however his list of accomplishments over a course of 8 years is relatively small. And he capitualted to conservatives much more than some liberals ever realized or remembered. I don't hold all that agains him. A lot of that was simply good politics. But imo he doesn't deserve any more mention in the top five than Reagan does (and as much as I hate to admit I could make the greater argument for Reagan).

    •  Not Theodore Roosevelt (0+ / 0-)

      Read "The Imperial Cruise".  Not such a great president.

  •  Free Labor.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluehawk, alrdouglas, left turn

    To Lincoln included the end of slavery, but was not the entirety or even the majority of the concept. Slavery was the most egregious example of the oppression of labor, but by no means the most important in Lincoln's mind, as he fought to make sure the White Working Class in north AND south could compete with their labor without threat of having to compete for labor which was stolen, at little cost to the owners.

    The idea that labor was free to move, retrain, associate and bargain, and was the Originator and Precedent of Capital was central to Lincoln's idea of Free Labor. The idea that the Republic is founded on the freedom of labor to individually AND collectively exercise its democratic rights was at the heart of the policy to save the Union. The Union. Union. Unions. Steinbeck understood this in The Grapes of Wrath, deriving its title as it does from the Union war anthem, The Battle Hymn of the Republic... "He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored...His truth is marching on."

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:38:23 AM PST

  •  thanks for this piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We have more in our past than Franklin & Teddy to refer to regarding the positive role of government in the economy for the benefit of regular people. I was not so aware of the role of their predecessors.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:45:06 AM PST

  •  A very informative and fun read. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for taking the time to give us all a valuable history lesson.

    "Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." - David Frum

    by Glinda on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:45:47 AM PST

  •  Federalist policies were reincarnated in Canada (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBoon, alrdouglas

    The "American System", which had died with the ascent of Jackson, returned when Canada was being built.

    First, at the time of Confederation in 1867, the constitution enshrined federal control over banking and trade. Later, during the  election of 1878, John A. Macdonald repackaged the American System as the "National Policy"--high tariffs, high immigration to the West, and a railroad to provide the necessary economic infrastructure.

    It was a response as well the high US tariff barriers in the early 1870's, which had helped plunge North American into a severe recession.

    In the financial crisis of 2008, Canadian banks benefited from our early adoption of Federalist banking principles. Subject to tight regulations that are updated every 5 years, Canada's banks never lost money at any point during the crisis.

    Lower returns, lower risks.  The Canadian Way.

  •  I'm assuming that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloraLine, latts, TheDuckManCometh

    The Republicans cheering in the theater are too stubborn or stupid to realize that they are the remnants of the Democrats they're were so happy to see belittled in the film.

    It can't be that they don't know, I has to be denial. They love to throw that in our faces when they're called out on their racist behavior. Yes, Southern Democrats used to be racist, they now go by a different name...Republicans.

    How fucking hard is that to understand?

    I don't know if I could deal with sitting in a theater full of Republicans oblivious to the irony of their applause. I'd either be laughing my ass off or annoyed as they sat there with that self righteous, smug look on their faces completely unaware that they're essentially saying..."Yeah, those people identical to us in ideology, but with a different political label are horrible people". The fuck?

  •  Modern Republicans are more like copperheads... (9+ / 0-)

    They even insulted Lincoln like they do Obama.  Listen to what their presidential nominee (and former commander of the Union forces) said about Lincoln:

    McClellan further damaged his reputation by his insulting insubordination to his commander-in-chief. He privately referred to Lincoln, whom he had known before the war as a lawyer for the Illinois Central, as "nothing more than a well-meaning baboon", a "gorilla", and "ever unworthy of ... his high position."[38] On November 13, he snubbed the president, visiting at McClellan's house, by making him wait for 30 minutes, only to be told that the general had gone to bed and could not see him.[39]
    Sound familiar?  How about this?

    No wonder Obama so identifies with Lincoln.


    by LordMike on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:56:07 AM PST

  •  Great diary and very important. For so long (3+ / 0-)

    conservatives have been able to successfully claim themselves as the banner carriers of what is traditionally American.

    It appears more and more that the reason is only that so much of the history of the progressive tradition in America has been forgotten.

  •  Did the Republicans in your theatre at least (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have the decency to boo when Rep. Stevens was laying out his plan for mass confiscations of Southern plantation property and military government of the Southern states?

    On a sidenote, I was very amused by what had to have been a deliberate joke on Spielberg's part in making Preston Blair look like a dead ringer for Teddy Kennedy (particularly since the actual Blair was bald).

  •  One of the strangest things about Republicans (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, limpidglass, Justin93, Mokurai

    As with Lincoln, the party of big business in America, whatever its name, has traditionally also been the party of an economically activist government -- "improvements" they used to call it. Government sponsored roads, bridges, canals, dams and all that.

    Now we have a big business party that seems to be against that kind of thing. I suppose it's  sign of the dominance of the financial industry, which depends less on government infrastructure spending, and a distaste for FDR style government activism that favors working and middle class Americans.

    Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

    by tcorse on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:10:18 AM PST

    •  For reasons that are unclear, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      rather than the old way of making money by doing hard work and building something useful, American business now seems to think the best way to make money is to profit off of what has already been built without investing in the future. In other words, modern businessmen increasingly seems uninterested in building anything anymore, and now think that they can make profits by selling off the things that their fathers and grandfathers built.

      They seem to believe that they will have made their fortunes by the time they run out of things to cannibalize. Some of them also seem to have a sense of the dreadful horror they will unleash when that dark day dawns; it is why they are so unrelenting in their harshness and in their support of the right wing of the Republican Party, it is why they live in gated communities and hire private security firms to protect them. They have willingly cast aside the social contract, and they know that they will not have anything to rely on once things come tumbling down. In truth, their lives are ruled by fear, and they are pitiful, for they know that no matter what their social position, no matter how much money they have, all men must die someday.

  •  Wingnut version: Lincoln as Marxist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Quote from review: "Was Abraham Lincoln influenced by communism when the Union condemned the rights of Southern states to express their independence? It’s shocking to think so. "

    I knew it was inevitable, so somehow it does not surprise me to see this.

    •  Marx did support emancipation and preserving (3+ / 0-)

      the Union, so yeah, that's enough to make Lincoln a Marxist.

      If you're an ignorant nutjob.

      "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here:

      by Kimball Cross on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:21:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  More than that, Marx wrote a public letter (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mark Sumner

        to Lincoln, and got an official reply.

        The International Workingmen's Association 1864

        Address of the International Working Men's Association to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America

        Presented to U.S. Ambassador Charles Francis Adams
        January 28, 1865

        Written: by Marx between November 22 & 29, 1864

        We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery.

        From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class. The contest for the territories which opened the dire epopee, was it not to decide whether the virgin soil of immense tracts should be wedded to the labor of the emigrant or prostituted by the tramp of the slave driver?

        Ambassador Adams replied:

        I am directed to inform you that the address of the Central Council of your Association, which was duly transmitted through this Legation to the President of the United [States], has been received by him.

        So far as the sentiments expressed by it are personal, they are accepted by him with a sincere and anxious desire that he may be able to prove himself not unworthy of the confidence which has been recently extended to him by his fellow citizens and by so many of the friends of humanity and progress throughout the world.

        The Government of the United States has a clear consciousness that its policy neither is nor could be reactionary, but at the same time it adheres to the course which it adopted at the beginning, of abstaining everywhere from propagandism and unlawful intervention. It strives to do equal and exact justice to all states and to all men and it relies upon the beneficial results of that effort for support at home and for respect and good will throughout the world.

        Nations do not exist for themselves alone, but to promote the welfare and happiness of mankind by benevolent intercourse and example. It is in this relation that the United States regard their cause in the present conflict with slavery, maintaining insurgence as the cause of human nature, and they derive new encouragements to persevere from the testimony of the workingmen of Europe that the national attitude is favored with their enlightened approval and earnest sympathies.

        I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

        Charles Francis Adams

        OMG, Adams is a Communist! (from the John Birch and Tea Party point of view) The US not reactionary?!? Noooooooh!

        Marx did a pretty good jobs on diagnosing the ills of Capitalism, but his prescriptions were at the level of quackery of the time, basically snake oil and bloodletting.

        America—We built that!

        by Mokurai on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:06:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  wonderful diary (0+ / 0-)

    It's long past time we instituted a national industrial policy.

    Now that cheap fossil fuel energy is no longer abundantly available, we should take this opportunity to assess our resources, what we have (land, nature, potential for renewable energy, technology, brainpower) and what we can do with it. And then, figure out how best to make use of those resources.

    The question of maintaining high employment is deeply bound up with this. Because you can't guarantee people jobs unless you know what jobs there are for people to work in.

    The increasing need for the government to take an active role in economic management to ensure full employment and social stability will eventually necessitate the development of a real industrial policy.

    As you know, Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, proposed what we today would call a national industrial policy (which you have linked to) but Washington never presented it to Congress.

    However, it's not enough to focus on the national level. The dirty little secret of international trade is this: all nations begin as protectionists in order to defend their nascent industries against foreign competition while they nurture those industries, then become free-traders once those industries are so large that they need to open up markets abroad to dump the excess production that can no longer be absorbed by the domestic market.

    The opening up of foreign markets is often violent, and has even led to actual warfare. For instance, the Opium Wars were fought so that the British could maintain access to the massive Chinese opium market. These days the preferred method is using institutions like the IMF to force open markets to international corporations, or dealing with pliable leaders to engage in free trade treaties that often favor multinational corporations at the expense of citizens.

    A nation-by-nation approach to international trade dooms us to a never-ending series of trade wars, as each nation will seek to protect its industries while forcing open markets abroad. These trade wars are by now becoming too costly and ruinous to sustain, and they're eating up a lot of resources that could be used for more constructive purposes.

    Therefore a really global and far-reaching trade agreement is needed, to prevent such things from happening.

    One of the few people who are talking about such ideas is, amusingly enough, a Brit, Gordon Brown, who proposed a "global growth pact" so that nations would meet to coordinate the balance of trade in such a way as to avoid trade wars and promote economic stability.

    This is clearly a huge challenge, but it appears to be increasingly necessary.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:56:01 AM PST

    •  No, actually a large part of the problem is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that we have too much cheap carbon fuel. Renewables are not yet cheaper across the board when externalities like Global Warming are left out of the equation, although they will be fairly soon. Removing carbon subsidies and adding some subsidies for renewables (in accordance with the old American System) would advance that date significantly.

      America—We built that!

      by Mokurai on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:10:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You had me for a minute. When you mentioned (0+ / 0-)

    Lincoln and "The American System" i thougt you were talking about the then revolutionary concept we know today as mass production (with interchangeable parts) that was key to winning the Civil War and turning the US into an industrial powerhouse.

    You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:03:32 AM PST

  •  Will the GOP advocate a tarriff for Japnese cars? (0+ / 0-)

    I doubt it!

    "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here:

    by Kimball Cross on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:20:36 AM PST

    •  The real American System today would ban (0+ / 0-)

      Right-To-Work laws and increase the minimum wage, among other things.

      If we were having a real debate, we could talk about the unions that the US imposed on Germany after WW II. None of these poky union elections that corporations can endlessly stall and obfuscate. None of the medieval, class-ridden craft unions. Mandatory unions across every industry.

      America—We built that!

      by Mokurai on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:13:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Note that China... (0+ / 0-)

      Has a tariff on the import of US automobiles that's around 22% — right in the range of tariffs imposed under Hamilton, Clay, and Lincoln.

  •  Very fine piece: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner, left turn

    That is a fine piece of writing and a refresher (in more ways than one).  I do think there is a gap in the fact that your subsequent comment makes no mention of the increases in government strengh and action, beginning with the Progressive Movment, reaching a height in the New Deal and conduct of WWII, and continuing through virtually all administrations until Reagan began reviving the popularity of laissez-faire economics, state rights, and shrunken government.

  •  I'm fascinated by this (0+ / 0-)

    Obviously the mercantilist system of Great Britain and Holland in the 17th and 18th Centuries did more to keep the global economic system in a state of perpetual slavery than even Jefferson and Jackson did in the Southern US.

    The problem with economics as seen by the democrats in 1800 was that wealth was measured by the number of slaves one owned which meant that the white yeoman farmers would be economically successful as their slave holdings increased.

    The republicans of today have thoroughly repudiated Lincoln and his accomplishments. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan if elected would have been ready to reinstitute the worst excesses of the mercantilist system and the obvious cognitive dissonance is their insistence that trickle down mercantilism is a succesful economic system. It is not.

    Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering.

    by harris stein on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:07:12 AM PST

  •  IMF/WTO/World Bank disallow American system (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner

    We should remember that any developing country which attempts to duplicate America's pathway to success will be fought by the IMF, World Bank, and free trade agreements. Loans, aid, and trade are granted on condition of adopting the failed policies of free trade, exploitation of domestic resources by foreign corporations, and no government intervention to grow the middle class. United States policy is actively preventing others from following in our footsteps.

  •  Dems & Reps have essentially reversed. Southerners (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    don't seem to understand this. Since when did Southerners start loving Lincoln and hating the Confederacy that he defeated? When did they start taking down their Confederate flags and admitting they lost the war? My dad graduated from Robert E. Lee High School. Another High School not far way was named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

    I can understand why Southerns are confused. Republicans used to be a Northern, urban, anti-slavery party. Now, they are predominantly a Southern, rural party that every so often has leaders who say "you know, slavery really wasn't that bad." But, once in a while, they have to pay homage to Lincoln as the founder of the Republican party. They must  have to conveniently forget that he opposed virtually everything they now stand for. Heck, some of these wingnuts have even recently called for secession. You're telling me they're the Pary of Lincoln? I tried to explain this to a Republican a little while ago and he said I was giving him "spin." Really? LOL. I just want to know when they're finally going to take the Confederate symbol off the flags of the last Southern states.

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:54:04 AM PST

    •  They just remember that Lincoln stood for (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tekno2600, Justin93

      big business, as a very successful railroad lawyer. Although I have seen quotes from the racist young Lincoln on the occasional t-shirt.

      I have been greatly heartened to see discussions about Lincoln, the Civil War, slavery, Jim Crow, and so on held in the South and broadcast on C-SPAN. We have come a long way from the time when Beauregard Beagle in Walt Kelly's Pogo accidentally discharged his shotgun at the mention of a US Grant.

      I meant one of money!

      A dog can't be too dag-blag careful.

      I predict, based on surveys of young people in the South, on demographics, and on other actual evidence, that we will be able to welcome the former Confederate states and the rest of the Bible/Book of Mormon Belt back into the Union in the next generation. Some sooner.

      For example, Nate Silver has a model that predicts even Mississippi and Alabama tipping on LGBT rights, specifically Gay Marriage, by 2024, more or less.

      America—We built that!

      by Mokurai on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:25:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. The South moves at glacial speed, but it does (0+ / 0-)

        move. It only took 100 years after the Civil War to get rid of segregation and a good 50-60 additional years before the they start catching up to the rest of the US in terms of a rapidly diversifying population with real political power.

        Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

        by tekno2600 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:59:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  so symptomatic of their superficial worldview (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that so many modern-day Republicans rush to embrace & own Lincoln despite the unescapable FACT that he was a radical liberal in so many ways

  •  Where I saw Lincoln, in Massachusetts, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we clapped for the same things because we know that the Dems. in the movie are today's GOP.

  •  Carey Was Correct (0+ / 0-)

    We have a choice: we can require other countries to come up to our standards or we can descend to third-world standards.

    Free trade doesn't work and workers in this country are making literally half what they would be without it. I don't think it's that difficult to get the American System back. The American people need to tell Congress to change trade policy.

    And then Congress needs to give the President two years to make it so.

    Specifically, we need an international minimum wage and uniform tariffs built into all our trade agreements. This isn't just good for our economy, it also tends to cut down on the movement of goods, which is an important factor in spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. A uniform tariff of around 10% for both the U.S. and our trading partners would encourage local production.

    Nothing should be sold in this country that isn't made to our workplace and environmental standards. That's how we make sure that we aren't headed into the third world.

    Thank you for bringing the subject to the front page, and for a clear article on the basic principles. This is something that is far more important than the deficit talks we keep hearing about. The deficit that matters is the trade deficit. Yet, you hardly hear it mentioned until now.

  •  Didn't... (0+ / 0-)

    ...Britain formally take over India because the East India Company couldn't actually hack it?

  •  Republicans of today can claim no credit ... (0+ / 0-)

    For the actions of Lincolns party. The Democrats of Lincolns day are the Republicans of today.

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke

    by rclendan on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:04:09 PM PST

    •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

      Democrats of today are not Lincoln's Republicans-

      We forget that Alexander Hamilton was also very much in favor of using this vast power of the federal govt to benefit those in power - and he really did not care about the common man.

      We forget that slavery was not only about a moral right/wrong, but about the idea that, without the economic advantage slavery gave the south, it would be swallowed by an industrialized north.

      Remove slavery from this, and this becomes about people resisting big business to maintain a way of life --

      wow - that second one is a lot more sympathetic to the Democrats of our day--

      Which is precisely why some were Democrats then - remember it was 40 years later (the distance between Jimmy Carter and today) that Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan who better articulated these positions.

      We also forget that a lot of northern Republicans feared an industrialized South more than they hated slavery.

      Lincoln's actions, and many of those in his party, were heroic.  And Dems were on the wrong side of this one - but please don't ignore that 40 years after Lincoln the Republicans nominated William McKinley, who proudly ushered the robber barons into power.

      The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

      by jgkojak on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:12:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this article (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psnyder, Mark Sumner, Mrs M

    I've been wanting to read more on the American System here for a long while now, and I think I'll have to pick up some books on the subject.

    I have long been in favor of a return to the American System. It is my firm opinion that we need an industrial policy in this country -- a policy that encourages and supports manufacturing. It's just common sense that you can't make money if you don't have something to sell, and how will you have something to sell if you don't produce something of value?

    Hamilton understood that. That's why he supported high tariffs. He knew that Americans would just keep on buying British manufactured goods if things had proceeded normally, and why not? The British goods were better made than anything that the Americans could hope to produce for themselves at the time, and American merchants had ties with British merchants going back to before the Revolution. It would have been an easy thing to fall into old habits and to renew old trade deals. On the other hand, America lacked the capacity to even compete with Britain in terms of industrial production, and in the few areas where we were even capable of building what the British could build, our products were inferior and cost more.

    That's why the tariffs were needed, to support the development of industry. Without giving domestic products an advantage, America would never have developed an industrial sector. If we hadn't listened to Hamilton back then, we'd be exactly what Canada is now -- a nominally independent country that is still primarily based on resource extraction. There is a lot to be admired about Canada, but that's basically what Canada is. The only reason it is as prosperous as it is, is its fantastic wealth of natural resources -- land, oil, timber, precious metals, and so on. But the Canadians don't actually do the hard work of tearing that stuff out of the ground themselves. They sell the rights to foreign companies while Canadians do the grunt work. If it wanted to, Canada could probably have an economy just as powerful as the United States if it capitalized on its resources and kept the management of those resources and the attending profits domestic, and worked on developing its industry more. Perhaps it could even eclipse us at this point. The point is that Canada is still stuck in a colonial mindset. It's still acting like it's a resource bin for the British Empire. America could have gone that way, but Hamilton firmly said "No." I don't know where his insights came from, or why he was so set against America remaining tied at the hip to Britain since he started out as a Tory, but whatever it was, I am thankful that he acted as he did.

    Getting back to the present, we need to return to the kind of policy that Hamilton and Clay and Lincoln and Carey pursued: one of encouraging trade by encouraging manufacturing. In other words, we need to have something worth selling if we want to sell anything at all. For all his friendly dealings with bankers, I am sure that if Hamilton could see the shenanigans that have been going on for the last thirty-odd years in the banking sector, his face would turn as red as his hair in fury. He would have looked at what we have become and said to us, "Why don't you go back to celebrating the Queen's Birthday while you're at it?"

    Thank you also for the list of books that informed this. I will have to read them.

  •  This brilliant diary is a keeper. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mrs M

    Dailykos is my continuing graduate school. It never lets me down. Thanks for this.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:06:21 PM PST

  •  The Fiscal Cliff (0+ / 0-)

    People have no clue what the future holds for the United States if the Fiscal Cliff DOES happen.

  •  I absolutely love this diary! (0+ / 0-)

    I have cringed every time I have had to use Bill Clinton as a positive example of economic policy.  It is only because of the Republican fascism-esque policies that Clinton's economic policies seem positive.

    I regretably voted for George Bush in 2000 because of Bill Clinton's economic policies (and the fact I didn't like Al Gore).

    I remember that it was Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, I remember that it was Clinton that agreed to the changes in the CPI that reduced the calculation for cost of Living increases for government workers, many labor contracts and social seurity beneficiaries.  I remember that it was Bill Clinton that agreed to allow Glass-Steagall to end which was the pre-cursor for the economic situation we find ourselves in now.  How was I to know that GWB would be so much worse.

    The American System is the way to move ourselves forward out of this mess and I can only hope that President Obama can embrace these policies and find a way to educate the American population so that they will demand it.  Hope...  he gave it to us in 2008 and he cannot have it back now... It belongs to those among us who believe that things really can change with the right leadership.  It's all we have left.  

    Thank you Mr. Sumner for a well written diary that shines a light down the path forward.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 01:48:49 PM PST

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