Johnson grew to become president due to an murderer’s bullet. Whereas Johnson immodestly in contrast himself to Jesus and Moses, Trump claims he’s the very best at every little thing, even boasting just lately on Twitter that his recognition amongst Republicans exceeds that of Abraham Lincoln.
Certainly, pundits have likened in the present day’s partisan divisions to these of the Civil Warfare period. However they extra carefully resemble the politics of Reconstruction, the interval after the struggle when for the primary time in historical past, an American president, Johnson, was impeached by the Home of Representatives.
However the resemblance between the 2 males goes deeper. Johnson’s white-supremacist views had been blatant and his insurance policies precipitated a constitutional disaster that put the President at loggerheads with Congress and his personal celebration, the Republicans.
(Do not forget that every little thing you realize about Republicans and Democrats in the present day ought to merely be flipped for the 19th century. The Republican Occasion then was the liberal celebration of anti-slavery, large authorities and Lincoln. The Democrats had been the celebration of white supremacy, Southern slaveholders and states’ rights. Within the 20th century, after the New Deal and civil rights motion, the events exchanged ideological roles.)
That precipitated a constitutional disaster. Johnson took his case to the individuals, Trump model, through the 1866 midterm elections. He performed the race card, arguing that giving African-Individuals rights would weaken whites’ rights. He known as his political opponents traitors, even main members of his personal celebration.
Congressional Republicans within the 1860s, tempered within the fireplace of the Civil Warfare, put their nation earlier than a traitorous President. They first handed the Tenure of Workplace Act of 1867 to guard Republican Cupboard members and workplace holders from Johnson. When Johnson violated the regulation by firing Secretary of Warfare Edwin Stanton, congressional Republicans drew up articles of impeachment in opposition to him.
Congressional Republicans in the present day, in distinction, haven’t lifted a finger to guard Justice Division officers and particular counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation from the specter of interference by Trump. The truth is, they’ve aided and abetted the Trump administration’s undermining of each.
Johnson scraped via his impeachment trial by one vote within the Senate, however for the remainder of his time period he was a lame duck, repudiated by his celebration and nation. Republicans changed him with the victorious Union normal, Ulysses S. Grant, within the presidential elections of 1868. Grant was extra dedicated to black rights and helped stamp out the Ku Klux Klan within the reconstructed Southern states.
The Republican Occasion, like Southern slaveholders of yore, is quickly changing into an anti-democratic power prepared to sacrifice the nation, democratic establishments and the sanctity of the electoral course of to guard its political energy and enact its reactionary political and financial agenda. We are able to solely hope that it, like John C. Calhoun, the thinker of slaveholders and champion of minority rule, will probably be consigned to the dustbin of American historical past.
Immediately, because the celebration of Trump traffics in nativism, racism, archaic views of girls’s and homosexual rights, with political and financial insurance policies lifted from Gilded Age robber barons, it’s helpful to recollect the phrases of one other, far wiser Republican.
“With regards to this,” as Abraham Lincoln put it in a well-known rebuke to anti-immigrant nativists of the 1850s, “I ought to want emigrating to some nation the place they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for example, the place despotism could be taken pure, and with out the bottom alloy of hypocrisy.”