What Would Abe and Teddy Do?


A Democratic Member of Congress told me one recent day that his work load was a lot lighter because the in-charge Reeps don’t believe in government and consequently don’t do much. Made me think again about the old giants of the Other Party, and how sad is the current crop of Republicans, including our own Tom McClintock.

Just a couple of examples — Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln.

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The first thing about Abraham Lincoln is, unlike Tom McClintock, he did actually live in the District he represented in Washington. This is a replica of his home in Springfield, then the 7th Congressional District of Illinois.

Springfield house.png

More cogently, Lincoln asked Congress for, and on July 4, 1864 signed, the Act to Encourage Immigration. 

Yet even more striking, Republicans and Lincoln  invented the US progressive income tax. The rate was initially a flat 3 percent, but after an amendment the wealthy — earning more than what today would be a quarter million — paid 5 percent. The poor paid nothing. 

In the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln chartered the National Academy of Sciences which today, ignored by McClintock, bravely insists that we are changing our earth’s climate. 

Also, Lincoln believed deeply in railroads. Tom McClintock voted fruitlessly to defund Amtrak.

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Modern Republicans would really find much to hate about Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President. 

He quit a safe government job to fight in a war. He established five new National Parks and hung out with John Muir. 

TR & Muir.png

He distrusted big business, and he believed in and used government to regulate it. He wrote that he opposed “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men whose chief object is to hold and increase their power.” 

Roosevelt, like Lincoln, believed the rich should pay more. “The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the state,” Roosevelt told Congress in 1906, “because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.”

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McClintock and others of the Far Right — Newt, McCain, Ryan — love to snuggle up to these Republican heroes, these great men. They name them proudly, quote them in speeches. You can Google it. 

But in truth, if Lincoln or TR were actually around, neither would be invited to sit at the Republican table for lunch. 

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Tom DeVries at once worked for a Republican office-holder, but he’s relived to add that the politician later became a Democrat.