October 10, 2016

By Arthur H. Gunther III

A tall, gaunt man with the cares of the world deeply set in the lines of his craggy face walked into the big room and sat in the back as two presidential candidates “debated” in the current contest.
The man was black, though not recognizable as such. His dress was also black and old style. A few in the audience
glanced at him, but he drew no particular focus.
The candidates continued to insult each other, both ignoring the moderator, who seemingly had lost control of what was never a debate, for the traditional time rules, statements and responses were not part of the exercise. Instead, each candidate followed rehearsal to challenge the opponent on personal style or nonsensical matters rather than the weighty issues the next U.S. president would face. It was bad entertainment that should have had the country booing.
The black man in the black clothing was intent, with a puzzled look. He saw “Republican” under one candidate’s name and wondered how the party he knew as anti-slavery, human rights-centered, as a champion of individual freedom could now be represented by someone who would build a wall to block immigrants, who insulted individuals over gender and appearance, who called for restricting the right of people to walk freely without being stopped could be on the ticket.
Equally, the tall fellow, so uncomfortable in his seat, peered at the Democratic candidate and was puzzled why a key characteristic of that party had failed to disappear when it was obvious the Republicans had gone in for a new suit of clothes. The mysterious man remembered the Democrats of his time as speaking broadly and with great flair about social and other “progress” but hardly ever acting on it. He added, though, that he always found the Democrats willing to compromise, and that great and beneficial change was possible working with the party.
By now, readers must know that the tall, gaunt fellow in the black suit was our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln.
* Why was he attending the 2016 presidential “debate?” Well, he’s been in the room at every one, going back to the 1960 Richard Nixon/John Kennedy exercise.
* Why was he black? Abe Lincoln said there is every color in Heaven, and he chooses who he is, even who she is, even his religious beliefs, for that is the real Heaven.
* Why did the Great Emancipator comment on the Trump/Clinton debate? He said that a history lesson was in order, that we citizenry have forgotten too much, or that we never learned.

The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via This essay may be reproduced.