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Thursday, August 29, 2013

March on Washington - Listen Up Republicans: President Abraham Lincoln Was One of You

At the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, celebrated in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, this week- no Republicans from Lincoln's own political party, spoke at this momentous and historically commemorative event.

"...the closest thing to a member of the GOP to address the crowd was Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)..."

"Tim Scott, the only African American and a Republican, currently serving in the U.S. Senate, was only invited to attend as a spectator." President Obama paid tribute to Black political leaders in his speech. I'm confident Senator Scott was a consideration in the President's comments.  Be a grown up, Senator sad that you did not attend.

"House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor both had scheduling conflicts..."  (Shame on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, especially when President Obama acknowledged the Holocaust in his eloquent speech - I'm so embarrassed for you, Congressman Cantor...)
The speakers at the 50th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington were uniformly left-of-center, reports The Daily Beast.  

The lack of Republican speakers has stirred comment across the political spectrum. 

King's son, Martin Luther King III, was disappointed that "we didn't have bipartisanship," while Fox News' Bill O'Reilly raged at what he called the exclusion of "black Republicans and other conservatives."

Too bad O'Reilly.  What goes around comes around.

If Republicans were really political leaders, this snub didn't have to happen in front of the international media- because they could have claimed the event for themselves.  They must forget.  Abraham Lincoln was a Republican president and the leader who signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Why should obstructive Republicans be invited to the Lincoln Memorial?  Their obstructive policies would only desecrate the leader who was martyred on behalf of giving Negroes and Black Americans their freedom from slavery.

Would you invite people to your parents 50th anniversary celebration if they were the people who tried to dismantle your family's unity?  I don't think so.

Republicans want to dismantle our nation's progress on income security and human rights.  They use their Congressional majority to stop (a) voting rights (b) immigration reform (c) President Obama's American Jobs Act (d) Health Care Reform (e) womens reproductive rights (f)  the lifting of the stupid budget sequester and (g) taxation reform (whereby the rich pay their fair share). Republicans are intent on obstructing progressive public policies. Probably, the only policies Republicans support are the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge and unlimited Second Amendment rights, in spite of the thousands of innocent people who are killed by preventable gun violence.  

The boldface names at the March on Washington event were all Democrats: Barack Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter spoke. It was impressive to see two Southern state presidents standing proudly in the shadow of President Abraham Lincoln's enormous likeness.

While a number of Democratic elected officials spoke, including Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), as well as officials from groups closely tied to the Democratic Party, such as labor unions, there was not a single Republican who addressed the crowd, let alone a representative of the business community. In fact, the closest thing to a member of the GOP to address the crowd was Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) who isn't a Democrat, he just caucuses with them.

Some Republicans were invited, although, both George H.W. and George W. Bush declined to attend because of health issues and Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor both had scheduling conflicts. (Speaker Boehner did speak at a congressional commemoration of the march.) 

In addition CQ/Roll Call reported that John McCain and Jeb Bush were invited to speak but that Tim Scott, the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate, was only invited to attend as a spectator

It does not appear that the march's organizers were intentionally snubbing Republicans, but the lack of political diversity on the stage added unnecessary and unfortunate controversy to what should have been a celebration of the legacy of the civil-rights movement. 

Nevertheless, as far as I can see, if Republicans are upset because they weren't invited to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, it's because they have not earned the right to be there.

The weather was drizzly in the shadow President Abraham Lincoln, contributing to the appropriately solemn mood of the occasion.  

It was perfect weather to  underscore the reality that, in fact, there's not a lot to celebrate about racial equality in America, even 150 years after Abraham Lincoln singed the Emancipation Proclamation.  

Republicans cannot expect to be invited to events to celebrate freedom and equality when they work obsessively to prevent these human rights conditions from improving.  Rather, their obstruction continues to denigrate the human condition.

Perhaps the saddest take away  from the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is that Republicans shunned the leadership of their own President Abraham Lincoln.

Organizers of the 50th anniversary event have nothing to apologize for.  Just because Republicans, like O'Reilly, whine about not being invited, doesn't mean they should have been invited to the solemn celebration.  It's hypocritical for Republicans to participate in an event to celebrate racial emancipation and equality, when they don't support policies to improve the human condition.  Republicans can't expect to just show up, for the purpose of being seen, at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.  Quite frankly, they would have spoiled the party.

Republican snubs of Lincoln and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is a classic, "what goes around" event.  

Their snub will come around again at the voting booths, regardless of how long Black Americans must stand in line to cast their ballots.

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