A friend recently called my attention to an article by William Lloyd Garrison, “On the Constitution and the Union,” in The Liberator, Dec. 29, 1832. Here is the link: http://fair-use.org/the-liberator/1832/12/29/on-the-constitution-and-the-union
Garrison made several points:
- He called the Constitution “the most bloody and heaven-daring arrangement ever made by men for the continuance and protection of a system of the most atrocious villainy ever exhibited on earth.”
- He said that those who wrote it “had no lawful power to bind themselves, or their posterity, for one hour—for one moment—by such an unholy alliance. It was not valid then—it is not valid now. Still they persisted in maintaining it.”
Garrison aimed his fire not at the slaveholders but at those who maintained the compact with them.
- Why did they do so? Garrison asked. “For the sake of achieving a political object—an unblushing and monstrous coalition to do evil that good might come.”
- Because they liked the company of the slaveholders too well to offend them, they “solemnly pledged” to stand by them “to the last.”
Is there anything in the article that applies today? Obviously, slavery of the old kind is no more, and the Constitution is not an explicit issue (although it might become one). But substitute “Democratic Party” for “Constitution” and you may find something of value.
In spite of their misgivings, some people I regard as friends are urging a vote for Clinton as a way of stopping Trump. The people I have in mind know Clinton’s history as well as I do. Viewing the Democratic Party as the barrier to Trump, they have muted their attacks on it, for fear of strengthening his chances.
Some people in Garrison’s time said that agitating the question of slavery would divide the Union. Here is his response:
- Believe it not; but should disunion follow, the fault will not be yours. You must perform your duty, faithfully, fearlessly and promptly, and leave the consequences to God: that duty clearly is, to cease from giving countenance and protection to southern kidnappers. Let them separate, if they can muster courage enough—and the liberation of their slaves is certain. Be assured that slavery will very speedily destroy this Union, if it be left alone; but even if the Union can be preserved by treading upon the necks, spilling the blood, and destroying the souls of millions of your race, we say it is not worth a price like this, and that it is in the highest degree criminal for you to continue the present compact. Let the pillars thereof fall—let the superstructure crumble into dust—if it must be upheld by robbery and oppression.
Garrison pointed out that the slave system depended on the support of the loyal citizens of New England, and predicted as early as 1832 that it would collapse if that support were withdrawn. He proved to be right. The neoliberal policies of the Democratic Party are the soil out of which Trump grows. He has already gone a good way toward destroying the Republican Party. Even if elected he could not govern without the participation of the Democratic Party. Its collapse will remove one of the pillars of his rule. Speedily may it come!