Our case is new. The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate. We must disenthrall ourselves if we are to save our country.
Lincoln spoke these words in 1862, when the cause of the Union was still in doubt. Americans North and South were slaughtering one another. The country was tearing itself apart over slavery. Our current divisions pale in comparison, but we are all fighting for our version of what our country stands for. We dislike each other as much as Johnny Reb and Billy Yank did. We just haven’t taken up arms.
If you look up “disenthrall” in Webster’s you won’t find it. Lincoln made it up, because no other word fit what he wanted to say. One is enthralled when one is spellbound, captivated. Lincoln knew that to preserve the Union he needed to break the spell that limitations on the power of government were permanent and unbreakable. He would soon issue his proclamation emancipating the slaves, and he knew he was on shaky constitutional ground. But he felt that it was necessary to win the war, and preserve the Union. In modern parlance, he wanted people to cut him some slack.
When I got back in the political game in October of 2013 I smelled rebellion in the air, and I am, by nature, a rebellious man. That’s why, when I was a freshman in ’62, I walked around the campus at Cal in my Goldwater sweatshirt. A lot of people are uncomfortable in confrontational situations. I kind of enjoy them. When I was a junior at Cal I was walking back from work, a long slog before I got my motorcycle, and I walked by a car with a couple guys in it with an American flag on the radio antenna, hung upside down. I walked over and tore the flag off the antenna. This guy got out, looked at me, and asked me if he could have his flag back, so I gave it to him. I was just a rebellious kid.
The rebellion I smelled was real enough, and it’s been building ever since. But someone else smelled it besides me, and he’s got the Republican nomination. The Republicanism of the Bush establishment is dead, and will not be revived. Bush 3 got four delegates. Ted Cruz was rebellious as hell, just not rebellious enough. Add Trump and Cruz together and it’s 3/4 of the Republican Party.
Just because I was right to smell rebellion doesn’t mean I know where this one leads us. What I failed to understand was just how powerful it is, strong enough to induce millions of Americans to rally behind a Manhattan Mussolini. If this rebellion isn’t properly channeled, it could become dangerous to the Constitution and our liberty.
Trump is a dangerous man. I underestimated him. Anyone who can’t see through him is a fool. He’s drunk with self love, and adored by millions. He will be stopped, I have no doubt. The forces aligned against him are too strong. What I’m concerned about is what happens when he does lose, because in so many ways he’s right. He’s right about political correctness, and NATO, and not going to war in the Mideast, and the border, and Muslim refugee immigration, and about a number of other things as well. The American working man is getting screwed, and has been for a long time, and he doesn’t want to take it any more. And he’s right.
We all need to be ready to pick up the pieces after November, and start over. And this is where we must think anew, and act anew. This country’s in trouble, and we don’t have forever.
I want people to think anew about the Constitution. That’s a tall order in a Kingdom of Tweets. But we’ve got to get the federal government under control, and we’ve got to use the Constitution to do it.
I wasn’t particularly popular with the ladies back in college. Part of it was my aggressive attitude. Between the time I left college and met Babbie, I had a lot of that knocked out of me. Just in the nick of time.