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Abraham Lincoln warned about the rise of Donald Trump

In the spring of 1836 Francis J. McIntosh of St. Louis killed a policeman and wounded another. He would have received the death penalty in a court of law. A mob, however, tracked him to an outhouse where he was hiding and brought him to jail. Another mob gathered around the dead body of the policeman. Inflamed by the sight of the policeman “weltering in his own blood,” they stormed the jail, hauled McIntosh to the edge of town, chained him to a tree, built a fire at his feet and slowly roasted him to death. Then “a rabble of boys” took turns throwing stones at his head to see who could break it.

A judge refused to allow anyone to be charged in the lynching, claiming that McIntosh was a sort of terrorist, and was the enemy, thereby justifying the mob behavior.

Elijah P. Lovejoy, the editor of the St. Louis Observer, differed from the mainstream press. He believed the Constitution itself—and the order it was supposed to impose—had been torched along with McIntosh. “When the question lies between justice regularly administered or the wild vengeance of a mob then there is but one side on which the patriot and Christian can rally,” wrote Lovejoy. Lovejoy mounted a campaign against “mobology.” Before long, however, a mob, unhappy with his rant against them, ran him out of town. He set up shop upriver, but lasted only about a year before a mob destroyed his printing press and killed him as he tried to defend it.

A few months later, a concerned Abraham Lincoln was to give a speech in Springfield, Illinois. He chose the topic “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions.” He raised the question, What was the greatest threat to the Republic? He did not fear a foreign attack. He feared what would come from within, the disregard for the law in favor of lynch-mob vigilantism. “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher,” he said. “As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

“Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times,” Lincoln added. “They have pervaded the country, from New England to Louisiana; they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former, nor the burning suns of the latter… neither are they confined to the slave-holding, or the non-slave-holding States.”

Lincoln argued, as Lovejoy had, that the fact that McIntosh would surely have been sentenced to death anyway only made his lynching more offensive. To Lincoln, the offense was lawlessness, and he argued that both those who indulged in lawlessness and those who fell prey to it would eventually come to regard “Government as their deadliest bane . . . and pray for nothing so much as its total annihilation.” It was this feeling of “alienation” rather than “attachment” to public institutions that Lincoln feared most in the “mobocratic spirit.”

Donald Trump personifies the mobocratic spirit; he fuels it and is fuelled by it, though it is doubtful that he can control it. All the elements are there: the incessant, escalating lust for violence; the instinct for mobilizing a mob to take the law into its own hands; the claim that whole groups are the enemy; the belief that those who are not with the mob forfeit all protection from the mob and invite attack; the attribution of hostile conspiracies to peaceful independent actors; the contempt for evidence, as if accurate information and honest adjudication of competing claims were dirty tricks contrived to disadvantage the mob; the vilification of the press as hooligans who deserve to be beaten, if not killed; an all-encompassing animosity toward the government and its institutions; in short, an ever-intensifying lawlessness…

Trump’s “support reflects deep strains of pre-existing disenfranchisement, alienation, and division, but, although Trump gives echo to these passions and has an uncanny genius for harnessing them as his engine, he proposes no coherent remedy, only swagger: there will be blood. His success thus far reflects a world-upside-down sort of triumph, in which every word and deed that should destroy his candidacy only seem to fortify it.”

But Trumpism is not merely a U.S. phenomenon. Trumpism is global. The underlying trends that have brought us Trump in America are happening around the world, wrote Stratfor. Europe, especially Poland, France and Hungary have similar attitudes about immigrants among middle class families whose employment and livelihood are threatened by globalization. (See our briefing: Trumpism is not Just and American Phenomenon) ****inbed link in the title****

“Haunted by the spectre of Francis McIntosh, Lincoln described the coming of a figure startlingly like Donald Trump as all but inevitable: someone whose singular ambition and genius for power so ‘thirsts and burns for distinction’ that he will pursue it at any cost. It would be foolish, he warned, not to expect such a person to arise. And when that happens, Lincoln said, there is only one solution: ‘it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.’”

Once government institutions and politicians have undermined the Constitution to where it is a shell of its former self, the foundation is laid for the “mobocratic spirit” to arise. When the instruments of the rule of law no longer apply to a society, it descends into chaos and mob rule. When that happens it is easy to see how conservatives, fired by a religious zeal, and demanding redress of their grievances and frustrations, can fulfill the following prophecy.

“Though a general decree has fixed the time when commandment-keepers may be put to death [by mobs, no less], their enemies will in some cases anticipate the decree, and, before the time specified, will endeavor to take their lives. But none can pass the mighty guardians stationed about every faithful soul. Some are assailed in their flight from the cities and villages; but the swords raised against them break and fall as powerless as a straw. Others are defended by angels in the form of men of war.” The Great Controversy, page 631

The predicted rise of the “rule-by-mob” mentality is now here. Whether Donald Trump becomes president or not, the “mobocratic spirit” is now out in the open and will only increase. Its focus will change and once in control of the reigns of government, it will eventually target those who obey all of God’s commandments. It was a mob, working outside of the law that came and took Jesus by night in Gethsemane. It was mob rule that overthrew law and order in France during the Revolution and destroyed all that was good and noble. It was mobs that ransacked Jewish businesses at night during the Nazi government terror. Should Christ’s true followers expect any less in the final crisis?