Lincoln Memorial, Close-Up (by Owen Byrne)

Lincoln Incarnate: The Speech

TwitterPinterestLinkedIn
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC (Photo by 'Raul654')
The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Complete photo credits are located at the bottom of this page.)

Prologue

It is a dark time in these United States of America. Crony capitalism has infected the legislative process, and the gap between blue and white collar citizens continues to widen as a result. The treasury has been emptied by ongoing war in the Middle East, and America’s leaders turn to shady foreign lenders in desperation, choosing to overlook their unscrupulous methods in exchange for vital economic relief. The American people, battered by ongoing recession and discouraged by rampant political corruption, turn to the heavens in despair, crying:

“Who will come to deliver us, in this, our hour of need? Who will save us from the sickness of greed, that twists hearts, even as it has turned our nation into a den of thieves?”

High above, the forces of eternity hear their lament, and are merciful. For, in a blazing splendor of light, The Great Savior of The Republic is reborn, to rally his flock in their darkest hour, and to lead them against the wolves, as he has done before…

Lincoln Incarnate: The Speech

Pres. Barack Obama Campaign Rally, Urbandale, IA (Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama at an election campaign rally in Urbandale, Iowa.

“My fellow citizens,

“Thank you for taking time away from your busy lives to join me here today.  My heart swells with each addition to our number, and I am humbled by the great trust you have placed in me with your support. If we are to succeed, then we will need the voices of every man and woman that we can muster, ringing with ours in single thunderous concert, so that we may shout down the purveyors of greed who set themselves up in lofty places! They think themselves beyond the reach of our protests, and so we must let them hear their mistake! We must unleash a terrifying roar of indignation, that they will feel in their bones!

“That the situation has grown dire, there can be no doubt. I stand before you today, not to offer easy answers, but to deliver a message. A message for the special interest groups, who have perverted our Republic, one backroom deal at a time. A message to that insidious, slick-suited school of sharks, who masquerade under the guise of ‘Personhood,’ attacking the fiber of our society- not with teeth- but with handshakes and checkbooks. Yes, I have a message for you unfeeling, callous, money loving things:

We. Are. Coming for you! 

"Robert Kennedy CORE Rally Speech" by Warren K. Leffler
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy speaking through a megaphone outside the Justice Department.

“My staff is already hard at work, pouring through every piece of legislation that has been influenced by special interest groups for the last two centuries. The first order of business for this administration will be to attack, and defeat, the stranglehold of money on government. Until that is done, no real progress can be made in any other area of concern. Must we not treat our house for termites, before remodeling the living room?

Let Them Talk

“It has come to my attention that the opposition has been running an ad campaign against me. That is good! Consider friends, every time you see an attack ad, the cost of production that went into making that ad. Our opponents believe that money equates to free speech, so let them spend their speech until their wallet tongues run dry! It merely informs us to their fear- and they are quite right to be afraid. We want them to invest an exorbitant sum investigating the minutiae of my life- like whether or not I talked back to my fourth grade teacher- and then produce commercials, pamphlets, radio spots, and other media about their findings. Every cent that is exhausted on such drivel is another cent that cannot be used to purchase ‘favors’ in Washington. Keep in mind that since we have rattled the puppeteers, the puppets will naturally be tasked with striking back- and you can always spot a puppet by the way they seem to stand in opposition to common sense.

“So, I say to the opposition and their Capitol-based employees, to their media mouthpieces and advisors: ‘You can throw around words like socialist and anti-capitalist. You can cry at the top of your lungs in an attempt to sow panic and discord. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing- greed.’

“Because, ladies and gentlemen, talk about traditional values and the strength of a free market economy is just that. Our enemies are masters of distortion, and they manipulate the truth in order to take advantage of simple people. Once they have riled the public by building up an exaggerated ‘Enemy,’ they promise to come to the rescue and restore things to normal. Satisfied, the people turn their attentions back to their own affairs, trusting that their interests are being adequately represented. However, it is only then that our opposition will show their true colors, and obstruct items that are counter to corporate interests, to the detriment of us all. We are- all of us- being played by a very small group of people, whose interest it is in to keep our nation running the way it is: Incompetently.

"Children Running Through an Open Field at the Rally to Restore Sanity" by Joseph Leonardo
Children running through an open field at the ‘Rally to Restore Sanity,’ in Washington, D.C.

An Appeal to Reason

“I would also say to the opposition: ‘It is not too late to change your ways! Greed is evil. You know this to be true. Join us, and we will show that you can be a responsible, ethical human being, and still be a good capitalist. You don’t have to be ruthless! Success and empathy can go hand-in-hand, and this combination is much more rewarding than the lonely success that is gained through cold avarice, absent compassion. People are essentially social creatures, and though the damage we incur when we step on our fellows may not be outwardly visible, it exists nevertheless.’

"FEJEE MERMAID" Advert, by P.T. Barnum
There’s a sucker born every minute: Newspaper advert for P.T. Barnum’s “Fejee Mermaid.”

“Unfortunately friends, I doubt many among the opposition’s ranks will come to their senses and take the offer. Greed has long been a powerful seductress of petty individuals, and the problem is not that the parties in question cannot decipher right from wrong. They simply do not care. If they are permitted to get away with it, they will. The brand of capitalism that these people subscribe to can be described as ‘Survival of the Fittest.’ To them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must be prosecuted at the expense of others, and this philosophy is justified with the reasoning that, to crush the weak is to strengthen our overall society. To employ a well-known pseudo-axiom: ‘It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money,’ as the famed conman Canada Bill Jones is reputed to have said. Similarly, ‘There’s a sucker born every minute,’ and these people mean to exploit each and every one! My, and your, breath is wasted in trying to convince such as these of the error of their ways. Victories over them in Socratic debate are meaningless, if they are then free to operate as they wish, regardless.

“It is important to remember that, despite the intimidating wealth, influence, and myriad other resources boasted by our adversaries, they are relatively few in number. Never forget that we hold the advantage, if we dare to seize it. I tell you my friends, we must! The ruthless among the capitalist class have only been able to operate as they have, for so long, because the majority has allowed them to. We must wake from our humble comings and goings, and use our overwhelming superiority in numbers to depose them.

Out of Many, One 

"Crowd" by James Cridland
E Pluribus Unum

“‘E pluribus unum,’ or, ‘Out of many, one.’ Friends, the few have long operated with impunity, owing to their wealth and influence. But they may not stand against a majority that unites to defend their common interests. As a nation, we have merely forgotten the simple, universal truth, that we are at our strongest when every American is afforded the same opportunities, independent of social and economic circumstance. Allow me to demonstrate: Though the phrase ‘E pluribus unum’ is present on the Great Seal of the U.S, our currency, and was even the country’s unofficial motto for over a hundred years, how many here actually knew what the phrase meant fifteen seconds ago?

“Don’t be embarrassed if you did not. I won’t single you out or mock you for it. In fact, I have a confession to make: I did not know myself until several years ago. Like so many, I didn’t care to know. I tell you now that I did not vote in a single election until I had passed my thirtieth birthday. This was due in part, I am ashamed to say, to apathy. I was too self involved with my own affairs to notice, or care, what was going on around me. More so, I did not feel qualified to weigh in on such heady issues, like who was best suited to govern. I trusted more informed men and women to make those decisions. But then, I began to suspect that many of our elected ‘Representatives’ did not have our best interests at heart. In fact, they seemed disproportionately concerned with the interests of their financiers.

“I was struck by the comic irony of the situation! The officials elected by the voting majority, could not hope to get elected in the first place, unless they managed to secure sufficient funding to run an election campaign. Naturally, the bulk of such funding must come from the few well-off people, or factions of people, in our society who could afford to spend large sums of money on such things. It follows that, with inadequate rules in place to guard against abuse, these ‘Democratically Elected Representatives of the Majority’ could- and would- soon find themselves owing their office to the largest campaign contributors. Even candidates who begin with the noblest of intentions must, inevitably, be overwhelmed by this de facto system of cronyism. The threat of revoked funding is literally enough to make a politician fear for his or her job in today’s America. How can a person in such a position ever be expected to act in the interests of the majority, if such interests happen to be contrary to the few to whom they owe their livelihood?

"Hamlin's Wizard Oil" poster (Circa 1890)
Poster for ‘Hamlin’s Wizard Oil,’ one of the many varieties of snake oil, or patent medicine, profiteering in American history. (Circa 1890)

“Worse still, are the crooked officials who fully embrace this corrupt system, and who actively seek to fleece the people in order to further the agenda of their unscrupulous masters. They can be likened to the ‘Snake Oil Salesmen’ of old, pushing such ‘Miracle Tonics’ as laissez-faire economics, and other similar- fruitless- derivatives, regardless of the fact that simplified philosophies of that ilk became illogical shortly after the Industrial Revolution.  This ‘Snake Oil Capitalism,’ takes survival-of-the-fittest-economics to the extreme, and social consequences be damned, as each and every individual seeks to improve his or her fortunes, forsaking ethics, integrity, and community along the way. It doesn’t take a lot of practical reasoning to conclude, that a society so infected by selfishness cannot stand for long without imploding.

“Nonetheless, the purveyors of this wretched perversion of the American dream see themselves as being merely a part of the natural order. To employ a metaphor: Snake oil capitalists (SOCs) fancy themselves to be the ‘Lions’ of society. Could you hate a lion for performing it’s natural function, such as when it pounces on a gazelle? Where, the lion has claws to dispatch it’s prey, the opposition has the money to carry out legislative manipulation. Also, just as lions will utilize the cover of tall grass to hide from their victim until the last moment, so will SOCs employ misinformation and propaganda to keep the public at large ignorant to the finer points of their machinations.

"End Corp Rule" Bumper-Sticker (Courtesy of WILPF)

Choice

“However, people are not destined to be prey. Our physical and cognitive tools are universal to every member of our species. In contrast, a gazelle may not choose to educate, and then to act. That is where the survival-of-the-fittest-economics theory is debunked: Choice. Animals have none. We, on the other hand, do not have to eat each other. Compassion and empathy are man made concepts- perhaps gifts from the divine realm, but unique to us. We may act like animals and adhere to our primal natures, but only if we choose to do so. We may choose to evolve, and live harmoniously with one another. We may choose to defend the weak, rather than exploit them. We may choose to be just or unjust. We may strive for something more, and be not bound by our lesser natures!

“So, my friends, cease your fruitless labors wherein you try to convince passively. Act! The time for scholarly debate has passed. Do not wait for the opposition to do the right thing, as you invalidate their arguments, as you wait for the rhetorical light bulb to come on over their heads. It has come on, and then been removed for convenience. You must accept that our opponents have cast out their empathy for ‘[T]he tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free…’ Only then may we begin to accomplish something- through action. In times past, snake oil salesmen often referred to themselves as physicians. However, at least they could only swindle a town once and never return, for fear of being tarred and feathered at the very least! On the other hand, we seem to allow ourselves to be ‘Hit’ every election cycle, by snake oil sales-folk who refer to themselves as lawmakers. This will continue to be true, while the majority is passive.

"Serengeti Lioness Hunting" by Schuyler Shepherd
A lioness hunting warthogs in the western corridor of the Serengeti.

“Consider the lion- stalking through the tall grass with quiet menace, eyes fixed and pupils dilated hellishly, mouth slightly ajar in anticipation of crushing the windpipe of its prey- even as you consider every piece of legislation that is sneaked through Congress, which creates taxation loopholes, relaxed banking regulations, ‘Pollution Credits,’ or some other such travesty.

"Lions and a Zebra" by Jeffrey Sohn
Lions gorging themselves on an unfortunate zebra.

“My fellow citizens, I tell you that these lions in Washington are destroying us! While we sit passively in our isolation, blissfully absorbed by singular affairs, they gorge themselves on the blood and entrails of our Mother Republic! No one of us alone may hope to withstand their onslaught, but all is not lost! Stand with me now- whether Republican, Democrat, Independent, or any other permutation thereof- and, together, we shall form our own party: A party of equals! A party of Citizens!

Citizen’s Party

(The curtain covering the stage behind Lincoln Incarnate’s podium is raised, revealing a giant banner that reads: “Citizen’s Party,” with a representation of a baboon in the center. The animal’s buttocks are painted red, white, and blue in a brazen depiction of Old Glory.  Scattered laughter can be heard from the crowd, as well as an overall sense of shock. Mr. Incarnate looks askance at the banner, then turns to regard the audience knowingly, a small smile on his lips. He continues speaking…)

Baboons in Helsinki Zoo (Photo by 'Polarit')
Baboons in Helsinki zoo

“My friends, there is one animal that even vicious lions know to be wary of: It does not possess an impressive stature, nor does it have great strength, nor even an over-abundance of cunning. Moreover, the beast’s livid, red, and bare posterior must make for an enticing target- especially in the way it is flaunted so! I am speaking, of course, of the baboon.

Grazing baboons in the Semien Mountains (Photo by Alastair Rae)
Grazing baboons in the Semien Mountains, Ethiopia

“But, why? Why would a hungry lion- master of it’s domain and threatened by none- be given pause, and seek a meal elsewhere, rather than attack a lowly baboon?

“The answer, good Citizens, lies in the animal’s extraordinary ability to mobilize. When baboons perceive one of their fellows to be under duress, the entire colony will leap into the fray as one, with terrifying ferocity, and make any aggressor pay with impunity. Even so, must we move as one to oust those who feed on our Republic, manipulating our legislature as they do, in order to gain for themselves every red cent that is possible.

“The opposition’s war chest is filled to overflowing with ill-gotten revenue, thanks to over two centuries of unethical business practices, performed behind closed doors, with the help of their cronies in Washington. Nevertheless, we must act now, for the situation is dire. If we tarry, we consign ourselves to a dim future:

“Where forthrightness, integrity, and hard work no longer purchase the American dream!

“Where we must slave away for a pittance, struggling every waking hour to make ends meet, devoid of hope or dignity!

“Where a select few hoard all of the wealth for themselves, striding leisurely over our wretched backs, already writhe with burden, as they make their way towards sweet providence- once the right of every American, but now held chidingly out of reach!

“Join me, in this our darkest hour, and let us unite! Let us mobilize, akin to our baboon familiars, and leap into the fray with terrifying ferocity! Together, we shall charge into the lion’s den, and take back that which was stolen! When those defenders of the status quo think to single out and attack- and they will- let them know their mistake, and cry out with me in a single unified voice that rings from the Appalachians to the Rockies! Deliver with me, this our battle cry, to the profiteers of the perverse, wherever they lay in wait to dispatch one of our number, so that they may know we stand united, sincere, and unafraid! Yes friends, wherever you encounter a proponent of this corrupted system, this unethical brand of capitalism, channel the resolve of all of your fellows, as you exclaim:

“Kiss my (red, white, and blue) ass!!”

"Baboon in Ethiopia" by Alan Davey
An Ethiopian baboon

 

Photo Credits

  1. Lincoln Memorial, Close-Up (by Owen Byrne, CC-BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, 2008 Oct 11)
  2. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC (Photo by ‘Raul654‘, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons, 2002 Aug 12)
  3. Pres. Barack Obama Campaign Rally, Urbandale, IA (Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr, 2012 Sep 1)
  4. “Robert Kennedy CORE Rally Speech” by Warren K. Leffler (Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons, 1963 Jun 14)
  5. “Children Running Through an Open Field at the Rally to Restore Sanity” by Joseph Leonardo (CC-BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr, 2010 Oct 30)
  6. “FEJEE MERMAID” Advert, by P.T. Barnum (Public Domain, viaWikimedia Commons, circa 1842)
  7. “Crowd” by James Cridland (CC-BY 3.0, via Fotopedia, 2007 Jun 23)
  8. “Hamlin’s Wizard Oil” poster (Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress & Hughes Lithographers, Chicago; Public Domain; viaWikimedia Commons; circa 1890)
  9. Bumper-sticker graphic for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, or WILPF (CC-BY 2.5)
  10. “Serengeti Lioness Hunting” by Schuyler Shepherd (CC BY SA 2.5, viaWikimedia Commons, 2006 Jan 9)
  11. “Lions and a Zebra” by Jeffrey Sohn (CC-BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, 2005 Dec 9)
  12. Baboons in Helsinki Zoo (Photo by ‘Polarit‘, Public Domain, viaWikimedia Commons, 2006 Mar 25)
  13. Grazing baboons in the Semien Mountains (Photo by Alastair Rae,CC-BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, 2010 Nov 19)
  14. “Baboon in Ethiopia” by Alan Davey (CC-BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, 2007 Nov 7)
TwitterPinterestLinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *