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To the editor:
With the historic midterm elections over, I would like to recall another historic election, the election of 1864, in the midst of the Civil War.
Things were not going well for the Administration and Lincoln was facing defeat. Lincoln, who had defined democracy better than anyone as a “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” was prepared to accept the wishes of the electorate. He wrote these words, “This morning as for some days past it seems exceedly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to co-operate to save the Union between the election and the inauguration.”
In the words of author historian Jon Meacham, who wrote the latest biography of Lincoln, “And There Was Light, Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle,” Lincoln was a President devoted to justice and the law. A President who put the experiment of the constitution and the good of others above his own self-interest.” Lincoln was not an election denier, he believed that the strength of democracy rested in our elections.
In the 2022 midterms there are a number of 2020 election deniers, endorsed by the Election Denier in Chief, on track to win big in key races around the country. At which point, candidates like Kari Lake of Arizona indicate they will accept the results of the vote.
As a historian I cannot help but compare the character of the first Republican president with the character of the last and wonder what has happened to the party of Abraham Lincoln? How did we get from Lincoln’s willingness to assist his democratic rival in 1864 in organizing a new administration to the January 6 Insurrection?
Mary Kathryn Gepner