Trump vs. Clinton — The ‘Party of Lincoln’s Path to Extinction?
In her speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for President, Hillary Clinton alluded to the events that took place in Philadelphia 240 years ago, when representatives of the people of the United States declared their nation’s independence from British rule. She spoke of the “enduring truth that we are stronger together.” She made no mention of the self-evident truths set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Yet that document has been acknowledged in every generation before now as the basis in principle for the unity of the American people, and our sovereignty as a nation.
In his speech accepting the GOP nomination for President, Donald Trump alluded to the premise that would guide a Trump administration’s plan of action for America. He said “our plan will put America first. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.” But as set forth in the Declaration of Independence, America’s creed puts God first, as the Author of our humanity. The Declaration thus exemplifies the common identity of the American people, as with one voice they uphold the premises of God-endowed right and rights, not just for Americans, but for all human beings.
But like Hilary Clinton, in his entire speech Donald Trump makes no mention of those premises. He makes no mention of the creed that upholds the premise of God’s creation, whereby in fashioning each and every human being, He endows all of them with an equal share of humankind’s responsibility to do right. He never mentions God’s endowment of right at all, or the provisions of the laws with which God informs, preserves and perpetuates the nature of all things, including human nature.
It’s striking that neither Mr. Trump nor Mrs. Clinton recalled to mind the authority of the Creator, God. But they were almost identical in the offhand way in which they evoked the name of God at the end of their remarks, literally as an appendix or afterthought. Each called for God’s blessing, much as some people still reflectively do when they hear someone sneeze. This habitual gesture sharply differs from the thoughtful priority the representatives of the American people give to God’s power in the Declaration.
Turning to God as “the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions” they declare their decision to relinquish their ties them to the British King and his subjects. They appeal to “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God” to certify the deed by which they are entitled to “assume among the powers of the earth” their “separate and equal station” as a sovereign nation.
Donald Trump’s failure to evoke the Declaration’s creed is especially telling. His dereliction in this respect contrasts sharply with the spirit that has informed the Party of Lincoln since it began. The Declaration was central to the understanding of justice that impelled those founders of the Republican Party, who opposed the South’s efforts to force all Americans into complicity with the enforcement and/or territorial expansion of slavery. On his way to be inaugurated as the first Republican President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln gave a brief speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the place where the text of the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1774. In that speech Lincoln described his own reliance on the Declaration’s premises when he affirmed that:
…all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated and were given to the world from this hall. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
Thus, as a matter of practical fact, the Declaration informed the understanding that guided Lincoln’s statesmanship. That statesmanship preserved the Declaration of Independence as the ground for the post-war renewal of America’s union. To be sure, it was rectified and christened in blood on the battlefields of the Civil War, even as it had been justified and christened during the Revolutionary War, at Concord and Lexington, Yorktown and Valley Forge.
And when Lincoln himself was assassinated, his blood commingled with that ground, affirming at the highest level of America’s national consciousness the requital given by all the Americans whose lives, and ways of living, perished in the grueling hecatomb of Civil War—a sacrifice which Lincoln frankly ascribed to the righteous judgment of God, to atone for the sin of enslaving the species God created free.
Donald Trump’s acceptance speech did not just disregard the Declaration’s creed. It slyly made shift to replace it. Where the Declaration puts God first, defining America in terms of the right and rights which He ascribes to all humanity, Trump’s credo puts America first, without regard for the limits God assigns to the meaning of every human bond, except with Him.
Contradicting the Declaration creed, Mr. Trump says, that “the most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its citizens.” By contrast the Declaration’s creed first upholds God’s standard of right, articulated in the unalienable rights with which He endows each and every human being. Then it says that “governments are instituted” to “secure these rights”, including both life and liberty.
Clearly the rights in question are not American rights; or English rights; or black rights; or the self-willed rights of LBGT people— they are the rights of all, according to the nature God determines and assigns to human beings. As such they are inseparable from responsibility to God, and from the respect due, on account of His rule, to all he has created.
In this respect for right, as God determines it, the Declaration creed departs as well from the understanding Hillary Clinton relies upon it her acceptance speech. Unlike Trump, Clinton acknowledges government’s duty to defend “rights”. But like Trump, she discards the standard of “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God” that takes first place in America’s Declaration creed. So she champions the right to destroy the innocent lives of our posterity, which the laws of Nature direct us to preserve. So she equates the institution of marriage, which respects God’s sovereign and obliging will for the perpetuation of humanity, with the willful substitution of pleasure and self-gratification, which implicitly denies and disparages that obligation.
Like Trump’s evocation of strength, pride, safety and greatness at the end of his speech, Hilary’s slogan, (“Stronger together”) discards the standard of right and rights heretofore acknowledged as America’s primordial cause. Time and time again America has been made stronger by individuals who had the spirit and courage to face down mobs that were intent on violence; to resist the pursuit of corporate greed at the expense of justice; to oppose abuses of law informed by bigotry and hate. The true premise of America’s union begins with the self-evident truth that we are stronger when we stand in the will of God for right and justice; and that liberty fails when right is not kept in view.
But in 2016, the nominees of both the Democratic and Republican parties reflect the elitist faction’s rejection of the Declaration creed that forged America’s union when we stood together to uphold the standard of God for human justice. Indeed, all the parties tainted by the elitist faction’s self-idolizing mentality define liberty as the power to act freely, rather than the God inspired vocation to do right. Thus bereft of any choice that respects the original common ground of our union as a people, are the people of the United States doomed to reject the Declaration? By accepting the choice of evils that reject the Declaration’s standard of God, GOP voters put the “Party of Lincoln” on the path to extinction.
Does the defective choice, Trump vs. Clinton, mean that the ‘the people of the United States’ must end up there as well?
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