For Abe Lincoln, on his Birthday

Two centuries and nearly two decades ago, our fathers brought forth a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

We have improved since that time. “Men” has come to include women. African Americans have acquired their other two-fifths.

Since that time, our great nation has cultivated the prairies, invented vaccines and flown to the moon. We the People have done much to form a more perfect union.

But we aren’t done yet. African Americans were freed from slavery but sentenced to convict labor and eventually prison – where they are legally barred from voting but count in full for someone else’s political apportionment. Women can vote but still earn 77 cents on the male dollar and occupy only 20 out of the 100 seats in our U.S. Senate. One in five of our children goes to bed hungry.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether our nation, or any nation conceived as ours, can still endure. Our government is being taken away from us. Campaigns have become auctions. House districts are gerrymandered. Corporations are legally people. Unlimited anonymous deceitful attack ads are protected as free speech; efforts to counter them are decried as fascism.

Our roads are crumbling, bridges collapsing and trains running off the rails. The common goods that unite us as a people – from public schools to the air we breathe – are ground into the dust. Corporate “speech” is protected more than the right to vote.

It falls to us, the people, to be dedicated to the unfinished work of perfecting our union. We hereby resolve that previous generations shall not have worked in vain. We resolve that this nation, our one nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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