We're all familiar with Lincoln's "You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Doubtless, its universal currency arises both from its rhetorical appeal as well as its reach. I mean, it seems so comprehensive. But is it?
Actually, no. Turns out, that with every turn of the electoral wheel, which is to say whenever a plebiscite is on order, most of us more or less default to a rather fervently - if unconsciously - clutched belief that you can't even fool most of the people some of the time. That is precisely the basis of our faith in democracy. But we have learned over time, like the Church since Copernicus and Galileo through Darwin to an ever newer - if not braver- world, it pays to be flexible. We seem to have made peace with the fact that sometimes most of the people are willing to fool themselves.
They kid themselves that they can satisfy their bigotry without sacrificing their own economic and social standing. They have been doing this now ever since LBJ signed the historic Civil Rights legislation of the 1960's. That is what provided the modern Republican Party with the racist foundation for arguing that anything so powerful that is can insure equal status under the law for all, regardless of race, is too damn powerful to be trusted to do anything right.
Hence, white working class people have participated in and fueled the suicidal dismantlement of every institutional (Federal government) underpinning of the modern American middle class and the degradation of societal norms in general: Social Security and Medicare, labor rights, public education , safe food and drugs (case in point: the current unregulated drug related national meningitis outbreak), environmental protection, Banking/Wall Street regulation, and even restraint over the out and out buying of the electoral process itself by home grown and foreign plutocrats and fascists. What's next, the buying and selling of body parts? Oh, wait, pretty sure that already goes on. How long before we're back to buying and selling whole living bodies again?
So, whereas even a rather shopworn Lincoln quotation can still provide a jumping off point for a current political observation, nothing seems more spiritually wanting than a miraculous Lincoln resurrection.