At the recent Washington Press Club’s Foundation Dinner, Lindsey Graham made one of the most despicable jokes I’ve ever heard.
“If you kill Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you.”
This promotion of death on the Senate floor is not unusual for a Congressman from South Carolina.
The streets of Kansas were running with blood due to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Known as “Bleeding Kansas”, anti-slavery Northerners and pro-slavery Southerners were flooding the region, fighting over whether the territory would be a free state or a slave state. Congressmen had ignored their voters, betrayed the American people, and supported the Act so as to avoid taking a stand. Now there was blood on their hands.
Fed up with Democrats and Whigs inaction after promising to fix slavery, several members of both parties revolted. Determined to eliminate slavery once and for all and defend equal rights under the Constitution, they formed the Republican Party. Members were bold, outspoken, fearless, and unapologetic. Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA), one of its founding members, led the movement.
Taking the Senate floor in 1856 to address the Kansas issue, Sumner harshly criticized the authors of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Senators Stephen Douglas (D-IL) and Andrew Butler (D-SC). Two days later, a Representative of South Carolina and Butler’s relative, Preston Brooks, marched into the Senate chambers and gave Sumner the tongue lashing of his life. But that was not satisfactory to Brooks. When he was done with his verbal beating, he lifted his cane and began to thrash Sumner, literally within an inch of his life. The only thing that probably saved Sumner was the fact that Preston’s cane finally broke.
Throwing down the remainder of his weapon, Brooks turned on his heel and walked out of the chamber with all his Southern pride and glory. While Northerners were outraged, Southerners, especially those from South Carolina, were inspired. Brooks resigned only to be reelected to office. Supporters showered his office with canes and he was held up as a Southern hero for the cause.
Sumner was deemed a hero as well. He was also reelected even though he spent years recovering. His Senate seat was purposely left vacant during his lengthy absence as a statement of free speech. Seeing the resolve of Sumner to truly end slavery, Northern abolitionists and equal rights activists unified behind the new Republican Party. Support for the party exploded.
Charles recovered in time to usher in the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, and returned with even more passion, determination and drive than he had before his beatdown. Brooks, on the other hand, died shortly after his reelection along with the institution of slavery, which he so dearly loved and defended.
Ironically, February 25th, the day Graham made his horrifying joke, was also the anniversary of Sumner and the Republican Party seating the first black Senator, Hiram Rhodes Revels into the U.S. Senate in 1870. Brooks may have won the battle, but Sumner won the war.
So, just as Brooks thought he was victorious, Graham believes he and the establishment have beaten Ted Cruz down to the point of no return. But Cruz, like Sumner, is not driven by personal gain, preservation of the status quo, or maintaining power. He is for the Constitution and the God-given rights and freedoms to all, regardless of race, creed, color, or religion.
Graham thought he was being funny when he also stated, “A good Republican would defend Ted Cruz after tonight. That ain’t happening.” You’re right, Senator Graham, because none of you are good Republicans. You are establishment RINOs who are dead set on keeping the American people as your slaves. You lie to your voters and then tell them to sit down and shut up when they fight back. Donald Trump is the very result of your inaction. This is your “Bleeding Kansas.”
Like his fellow South Carolinian Preston Brooks, Graham enjoys the idea of killing Constitutionalists on the Senate floor and walking away with a smile. But take heed of this story, Mr. Graham. Long after Brooks was gone, Sumner lived on to bring freedom and equality to slaves.
Ted Cruz will live on to fight another day. Graham, the RINOs, and quite frankly the Republican Party, have gone the way of the Whigs.
But that’s just my 2 cents.