Last week a reporter asked Mr. McCarthy if the president was a racist, following his derogatory comments about four Democratic congresswomen. Mr. McCarthy not only vehemently denied the charge, he also insisted that the furor over the president’s remarks was not a problem for Republicans, because it was the “Party of Lincoln.”
Really? In this national struggle over the nature of racism in high places, to which “Party of Lincoln” might the Republican leader be referring?
Is it the party that in the 1850s forged a potent coalition of diverse political interests, linking radical abolitionists, nativists and moderate former Whigs and Democrats into a party devoted to cordoning off slavery, stopping the expansion of the peculiar institution and demanding an American future for “free labor, free soil, free men”?
Is it the party that denounced the Dred Scott decision as immoral and destructive of the future of the Union?
Is it the party that won the Civil War by an unprecedented exercise of centralized federal power, passed the Homestead Act, created our system of land-grant colleges, and evolved into the political force that not only crushed the white supremacist insurgency known as the Confederate States of America, but also freed four million African-Americans from centuries of bondage?
Or, might it be the party of John Bingham, Lyman Trumbull, Thaddeus Stevens and many others who devised the “Second American Constitution” and Republic in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments? That party gave us birthright citizenship, equality before the law and a much expanded right to vote.