“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business…” so said Hillary Clinton at a town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio, Sunday night, 13 March — creating an uproar amongst conservative Republicans, adding fuel to the raging fire Donald Trump was already fanning.
And despite pledging to generate clean energy jobs to replace them, and reaffirming her plan to invest $30 billion in protecting coal miners’ benefits and pensions, one could argue she put her presidential aspirations on the line with this kind of realistic honesty.
Abraham Lincoln took the same risk, nay, an even greater risk, in his historic Cooper Union speech in New York City in February, 1860, when he was a low-odds candidate for the Republican presidential nomination against Stephen Douglas who, three months earlier, had already soundly defeated Lincoln in their run for the Illinois senate.
He took a controversial stand against the “immorality of slavery,” and posed a direct challenge to the 40 percent of US voters who resided in the 15 slave-owning states, along with many others who favored expanding it to the territories: “… you have a specific and well-understood allusion to an assumed Constitutional right of yours, to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. But no such right is specifically written in the Constitution.”
These are the kind of courageous, honest stands that make America what it is today, rare as they are. Lincoln was putting a divided nation at risk, and risking his opportunity to become president, with his position. But he prevailed, although at a dear cost: a mere five weeks after he took office the first shots were fired at Ft. Sumpter, igniting the Civil War, which led 650,000 Americans to their death before the north prevailed, and Lincoln was able to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.
But he was right, wasn’t he? Yes, he was. At the end of the Civil War nearly four million fellow humans held in bondage, were eligible for freedom.
But it was even more complicated than that — and even more like the scenario Clinton has immersed herself in.
Lincoln’s candidacy was embroiled in similar kinds of economic issues facing our country today — rooted in essentially the same politically ignited geography.
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