Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is today, was the first Republican President. The party that for more than a century afterward became known as the “Party of Lincoln” did not exist when Lincoln was born. It was founded – six years prior to his receiving its nomination – by Horace Greeley and other abolitionists in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and to prevent the spread of slavery into new states and territories.
Abraham Lincoln is widely considered by historians to be our greatest President, certainly our greatest Republican President. His only major competition on the greatest lists is FDR, who was a) a Democrat; and b) got to serve two more full terms than Abe. Lincoln is also the “favorite” President of the majority of Americans (i.e., winner of the People’s Choice Award), popular enough to be the subject of a Spielberg movie and countless other biopics, so popular his head is on both the penny and the five dollar bill. Show me the money!
Surprisingly, however, almost none of the current Republican candidates for the top office list Abraham Lincoln as their favorite President. These days, among the Tea Party of Lincoln, he gets almost no love at all.
I suppose this might be due, in part, to a lingering resentment of our 16th President in certain parts of the South, deemed key to their election by GOP candidates as far back as Nixon in ’68 with his so-called Southern Strategy. Lincoln didn’t respect property rights and he insisted on calling the Civil War the Civil War instead of the War of Southern Secession. A lot of current Republicans also view the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution as egregious examples of judicial overreach and the work of Congresses that would have been well-advised to focus instead on budget deficits and putting pushy women in their place. Sorry, in two places … kitchen and bed.
So who are the favorite Presidents of the current leaders of the Party of Lincoln?
John Kasich’s favorite President is fellow Ohioan Warren G. Harding, who proved that public service didn’t have to prevent you from continuing to earn a good living. Recent dropout Chris Christie is a big fan of another Ohioan, William Howard Taft.
Jeb Bush’s favorite President is George Herbert Walker Bush and he hopes you’ll forget that he is also related to the other President W. Marco Rubio’s favorite President was Fulgencio Batista and he’s hoping to make Cuba the 51st state. The favorite President of failed candidate Paul Ryan is Ayn Rand … somebody break it to him now that Paul has more time to read. Ben Carson liked President Jesus. And the favorite of Donald Trump won’t take office until 2017 … President Donald Trump.
And that just leaves us Ted Cruz, the only candidate who lists Lincoln as his favorite President, but it isn’t Abe Lincoln, it’s some other Lincoln guy.
Which is maybe why that every time I see an elephant these days, he’s crying.