Lincoln would be heartbroken by this GOP field or something

Today’s GOP is committed to one proposition above all others: Reducing the size of the federal government. In this, Republicans resemble no group so much as conservative Democrats from the 1850s — minus, it must be said quickly and with gratitude, the shameful position such Democrats took on slavery. Even nullification and secession talk is now in vogue among some Republicans.

Imagine what would happen today to a Republican who said this: “Having never been States, either in substance or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of ‘State rights’. . . . Much is said about the ‘sovereignty’ of the States; but the word, even, is not in the national Constitution.” Abraham Lincoln spoke those words on July 4, 1861, and believed so much in the national government that he waged a bloody war to save it. Do you think any Republican will be quoting Lincoln on states’ rights during the 2012 debates?

What this nation most needs right now is a Republican Party that believes again in its own best traditions. It would be lovely if at least one of the party’s presidential candidates stood up for them.