I am in utter disbelief that Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, said that because the GOP is the party of Lincoln, President Donald Trump’s tweets could not be racist. There are so many things wrong with this statement, I cannot cover them all.

The one main point that I do want to make is that the Republican Party of the 1860s was vastly different than the Republican Party of today. Today’s GOP cannot hide behind the great accomplishments of those early Republicans just so today they can make xenophobic comments meant to tear our great nation apart.

I am particularly maddened by this because Hannibal Hamlin is my relative. His name should not and will not be dragged through the mud that the GOP is currently wallowing in.

Hannibal Hamlin was a governor of Maine, a U.S. senator from Maine, and an ambassador and vice president of the United States. In fact as most probably know, he was Lincoln’s first vice president.

Hamlin did not have a great run at being vice president, but the one thing he championed while in office — the one thing that caused him to switch parties to the Republican Party — is that he was a fierce abolitionist. He was as anti-slavery as you could get, so much that when Lincoln’s second term came, one of the completely unfounded attacks made against him was that he had a “swarthy” complexion, so he must have “Negro” blood in him.

I wrote this so that the great people of the state of Maine will stand up and recognize their important role they had in this great nation’s history. One of their own, with deep ties to the state of Maine, stood up against slavery at a time when that was dangerous and even deadly. Maine has many heroes of that era, Joshua Chamberlain being another very prominent player during the Civil War, and should be proud of its history.

I ask the people of Maine to rebuke the GOP’s attempts to cloud history, force Republican senators such as Susan Collins to not only call out Trump’s racist remarks and actions, but also to push the rest of her party to do so too.

I ask the people of Maine to vote in the next election. More important, research your vote. I will not ask you to vote for a specific person, against a specific person, or for a specific party, but only that you inform yourself when you do vote.

The people of Maine are hearty, strong, and intelligent. They do not need someone to tell them who to vote for, they can figure that out on their own.

 

Kevin Hamlin lives in Eagan, Minnesota.


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