Jackie Hogan, head of the Sociology department at Bradley University in Peoria, wrote a piece for the Christian Science Monitor in which she argued that Abraham Lincoln would have difficulty in winning the presidential nomination of the modern Republican Party. The article cries out for a fisk, and I am happy to oblige:
1. Lincoln ‘invented’ income tax
While Republican candidates today win kudos for signing Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, it is unlikely that Lincoln would sign on, since he, in effect, invented income tax. That is to say he was the first American president to sign federal income tax into law. And not only that, but it was a progressive income tax, with the wealthiest Americans paying a higher rate.
He made no distinctions between earned income and capital gains – money made was money earned – and Lincoln’s administration needed its cut to pull the nation back from the brink of collapse. Strike one against Honest Abe.
Actually current Republicans would hail the Lincoln income tax. It had two rates, 3% and 5%. Many Republicans have been calling for a flat tax for years, and Lincoln’s two tier system with very low rates would receive thunderous approval from a GOP audience.
2. He didn’t advertise his faith
Strike two: He didn’t advertise his faith. Debate over Lincoln’s religious beliefs is heated. But there’s good evidence that he questioned Christian orthodoxy, perhaps not so surprising at a time when Biblical verses were routinely used to defend slavery, an institution he found morally repugnant.
While it’s true that Lincoln frequently evoked the Divine in his speeches, he never took up membership in a church, and certainly never spoke publicly about his personal relationship with Christ.
I find this to be simply bizarre. Few Presidents have invoked God more frequently than Lincoln. This section from the Second Inaugural would certainly brings calls for Lincoln’s impeachment from the American Civil Liberties Union:
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” (more…)