Saturday, January 23, 2021
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The Real Issue in the 2012 Elections

The Republicans have for four years been framing the upcoming elections of 2012 as a referendum on Obama, spiced and flavored by what they see as a poor economy, the failure of his stimulus efforts to revive it and to create jobs, the federal debt, and America's decline in the world in general. As usual, Republicans choose the theme of the election, and the Democrats play defense.  Even Organizing for America (OFA is Obama's grassroots organizing arm) says things like "The economy is recovering, just not as fast as we'd like," or "For the first time ever we have most Americans covered by health insurance, even if they have pre-existing conditions," or "We killed Osama bin Laden and are withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we will still have a military presence in the Middle East," and so on. None of these responses are igniting much enthusiasm, and it's hard for a Democrat to regard them as effective elevator speeches.

All of these themes, Republican and Democratic alike, are distractions from the one real issue in 2012, an issue so big that it can be regarded as an existential one for the America system of self-government. Voters will be making an (unfortunately) uninformed watershed decision that will determine what kind of country our descendants  will live in for years to come. No one is talking about it explicitly, because I suspect the political class does not dare to tell the voters, since doing so would require an intelligent debate and explanation.  The issue is unmentionable for the Republicans because they hope to slip one over on the people until they can present us with a fait accompli, the Democrats because they are afraid to take a stand which would offend their big corporate donors, and also perhaps because, at a national level, they are in cahoots with the Republicans about the issue because they see it as an inevitable historical trend.  

The 3rd of July Nailed it for the 4th of July

As it happened, the City of Fairfax held its annual Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks Display on the 3rd this year. Perhaps this choice of dates was more meaningful than one might at first suppose. By that I do not mean that moving the parade to Saturday, the 3rd, meant that everyone could go to Church on Sunday, the 4th, and still show their patriotism at the parade.  No, it was because, as Walter Rodgers pointed out in the Christian Science Monitor for 5 July, 147 years ago the Union forces won not one but two great victories against the Confederacy on the 3rd of July 1863, at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. The fall of Vicksburg (the "Gibralter of the Confederacy"), and the defeat of Lee at Gettysburg, were so important that "the eminent Civil War historian James McPherson" wrote in Battle Cry of Freedom:
Lincoln appeared at a White House balcony to tell a crowd of serenaders that this "gigantic Rebellion" whose purpose was to "overthrow the principle that all men are created equal" had been dealt a crippling blow."

The Confederacy never recovered from these twin blows, and when Union armies advanced into the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day, as the federal forces implemented the Emancipation Proclamation of 1 January 1863. Whatever lawyerly constitutional splitting of hairs has been offered before or since for secession, the participants in "The War" understood perfectly well why they were fighting: to preserve that union which was founded on the freedom of all men, every one equally a human being.