Abraham Lincoln had been involved with the Whig political party, but by the time he ran for President in 1860, he joined the new Republican Party. It's funny what time has done to America's political system. In Lincoln's day, the Republican Party's strength was in the northern states, and was made up of many abolitionists who of course sought to abolish slavery. The Republicans were the alternative to the Democrats who then dominated the south, and were pro-slavery. How times have changed. The abolitionists had to lean on Lincoln not to make a deal with the south which would've continued slavery within the confederacy, a deal Lincoln was considering in order to avoid civil war. An ex-slave and great orator of his time, Frederick Douglass, a sort of Martin Luther King of his day, also pushed Lincoln into making the abolition of slavery a goal in fighting and winning a civil war. In other words, the Republican Party was the progressive party in the 1860's, as opposed to the establishment status quo Democrats.
Over the course of time, events transpired which evolved the political parties into different directions. In the 1920's presidents like Harding, Hoover and Coolidge, were more hands off types who favored the wealthy and their ability to do business with little strings attached. With almost no oversight, America's unbound economy blew up and the Great Depression drowned millions into poverty. It took Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt to offer government backed programs which helped the new poor. It was here that the political parties began their transformation into what we have today: the south has become extremely conservative, dominated by Republicans, with progressives latching themselves on to the Democratic Party. Our political system is in need of a major rehabilitation because money itself has corrupted the system in general, but the Republicans in particular have become a party of the extreme right-no friend of people of color, or the poor. This is where things stand today.
You probably won't find too many Republican loyalists at the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington this week. Only the moderates of old like Bob Dole can remember not long ago when his party would work with Democrats to offer programs which would lift everybody. The extreme right's worst nightmare came true in 2008 when a Black man became president. The extremists used every scare tactic in the book to demonize Barack Obama and the Democrats: they would take away "our guns"; the new president was really a Muslim who wasn't even an American; he would create a socialists movement..etc..The fact is, Obama was able to bring the economy back from the brink of another depression, and yes, the unemployment of Black Americans still lags behind that of white America. The tea party types who have helped capture the Republican Party never seemed to be anywhere on the radar screen while George W. Bush devastated the economy: it took a Black man to become president before these self righteous types banded together, and helped capture and control congress. They were against any bail-outs, against extension of unemployment benefits, against most anything that would help the working poor which includes many people of color. This new Republican Party has one focal point: extended tax cuts and no regulation, two factors which helped create the Great Recession.
As people of color increase into a nation-wide majority, the Republican Party seems to retrench itself from opening their tent to the new immigrants, and seek to hold up immigration reform until our southern border is 100% secure: an absurd impossibility. They simply know more immigration means more people of color coming into America, and most likely, into the Democratic Party.Instead of realizing their weakness as it relates to the color issue, this Republican Party shrinks from its heritage as Lincoln's party to an all white political party incapable of change and reform. Lincoln would not recognize these Republicans. The intolerance of the 1860's has shifted to the Republicans. This week's celebration is open to all Americans, but, it seems, only one political party will be represented at the festivities.