Tuesday, November 08, 2016

As in 1864, a fragile democracy: Olbermann on Trump and the "national suicide" party.

Keith Olbermann's point is well taken.

Still, one might argue that in cases of terminal illness, suicide is a viable option -- for nations as well as individuals. I won't go there, apart from acknowledging that Olbermann has been among the most eloquent public figures in opposition to Orange Mussolini.

I have appreciated it.

Make no mistake: My internal political compass may be in upheaval, and yet I've detested Donald Trump since the late 1980s.  Rich, white assholes aren't my cup of Joe, though I'll make occasional exceptions for artists and musicians as long as they soft-pedal the asshole part.

Meanwhile, the story of the 1864 election remains fascinating. It's hard to overstate the rancor and violence of the Civil War, and most people now are clueless about it. By the time the 1864 election campaign got under way, war weariness in the North was very real.

Looking at the situation from our vantage point, it can be seen that the South was in the process of bleeding to death in the summer of 1864, but as with the fog of war itself, things aren't always what they seem. In this atmosphere, the fall of Atlanta in 1864 became a pivotal symbolic bellwether. Abraham Lincoln won the election, George McClellan lost, and the rest is history.

Two brief points: First, there has been a lively debate to the present day as to whether Jefferson Davis's replacement of Joseph Johnston by John Hood was the best idea with the Union troops nearing Atlanta. Had the Confederates held Atlanta, even under siege, how would the Northern election have gone?

For what it's worth, I believe Davis made the best choice available to him.

Second, Lincoln's winning margin was considerably enhanced, and perhaps his victory made possible, by votes cast by ordinary Union soldiers. They favored him by a margin of something like 4 - 1, despite the probability that a prolonged war would result in injury or death.

That's because they knew they were winning, and wanted to finish the job. There may or may not be analogies to today's election, but I find the 1864 election compelling just the same.

In 2016, the polls are closed here.


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