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At Last: A Gettysburg Address America Can Be Proud Of

One of the great tragedies of American life is that our republic was founded and for many years led by white males, many of whom were insufficiently trained and qualified for the offices they held. Not a single one of the so-called “Founding Fathers” held a Ph.D. in political science from a reputable university. Alexander Hamilton had never studied graduate economics before establishing the American financial system; George Washington was an unqualified militia commander, and Benjamin Franklin was a pseudo-scientist, whose so-called ‘discovery’ that lightening was electricity was published prior to any meaningful peer review.

Here at Via Meadia, we are dreamers — constantly thinking about what might have been if only the founders of this country were as wise, as well qualified, as thoroughly credentialed and as enlightened as we, their mighty descendants. What NGOs they would have started, what class action suits they would have initiated, what public squares would they have occupied, what national medical systems would they have devised if they were as well credentialed and as enlightened as we are today?

From time to time we will be re-imagining a better America — the America that could have been if only today’s system of education and professional organization had been in place back when those pathetic losers struggled in the darkness to organize some kind of national life.

Today, we bring you the Gettysburg Address as it would have been delivered by someone better trained and more credible than the poor schmuck who was in charge at the time. Abraham Lincoln would have been thrown in jail today; this is a man who practiced law without graduating from or attending an accredited law school. He never took a course in Legal Ethics, never enjoyed the benefits of diversity training, and rose to high office in an old boy network that discriminated against women. He could not have qualified for even a junior tenure track faculty position at an accredited university today and, without even a recognized high school diploma or GED, would have flipped burgers or sold cars for a living. Sadly, the lack of appropriate screening procedures and credentials allowed him to enter politics where his militaristic spirit and jingoistic populist appeals led this country into a futile attempt to impose democracy by force. America’s global image worldwide was incalculably harmed as this unqualified ignoramus violated such important court decisions as Dred Scott, abused military tribunals and otherwise exhibited a depraved indifference to human rights.

His so-called “Gettysburg Address” is a melange of cliches and divisive, triumphalist American exceptionalist rhetoric. His appeal to primitive superstition and blatant violation of the separation of Church and State embodies the jingoistic, nationalist arguments that the theocratic agents of plutocracy used in this age of Social Darwinism.

Americans deserve something better than this to mark important turning points in our history. And so, with all due modesty and respect, Via Meadia presents the Gettysburg Address as it would have been delivered by a properly credentialed and trained president with all the advantages of our contemporary educational system. We suggest that school teachers and text book writers troubled by the divisive language and poor social attitudes of the original substitute this version for the ‘traditional’ text.

The preponderance of historical evidence suggests that at some point in the past a group of non governmental organizations representing civil society sectors established independent institutions and electoral systems capable of fostering open democracy in this under-developed country, founded on local traditions yet upholding international democratic norms.

Despite a lack of transparency, significant failures of inclusion, and genocidal wars of expansion against unoffending indigenous nations, progressive forces within this emerging nation found opportunities for working cooperatively and in decentralized ways to contest official narratives of patriarchy and racial hierarchy, creating a legacy which, with certain necessary reservations, we can celebrate or at least observe today. While we reject the idea that this nation or any nation can or should ‘lead the world’ in any meaningful way, we can acknowledge the increasing consciousness among us that, with much effort, we can someday hope to be numbered among those who follow the world in embracing international norms and enacting all the relevant resolutions of the Congress of Vienna and the Concert of Europe into our domestic law.

In recent years, regional authorities and warlords refused to accept the legitimacy of the internationally recognized government in this country and have armed themselves against the internationally-recognized central representative democratic authorities.

The international community rightly views the resulting instability and bloodshed with great concern.  Government troops and radical insurgents have been involved in armed clashes at flashpoints across the country and an internal refugee problem has emerged as displaced persons seek shelter from the violence. Unarmed, internationally representative peace monitors are working now to resolve the armed conflict and inspire civil reconciliation efforts between combatant groups. We are grateful to the international community for its mediation efforts and hope someday that the peace process will fully take hold.

The need for a national reconciliation process has never been stronger. The meaningless destruction of life in episodes of inter-communal and inter-regional violence is a tragic waste. It must end.

We have convened here today a group of civil society representatives and elected officials on the site of a great and violent confrontation between opposed groups. Some have suggested that this site in some way be dedicated to those who perished here or that in other ways we memorialize the violence that took place at this site.

This, of course, is absurd. We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate this ground. To do so would be to condone, even to endorse, conduct which has no place in democratic life. What the militias and armed forces did here must and will be soon forgotten as the reconciliation and peace process takes hold. Both sides have resorted to excessive violence in the political impasse, and we must do our best to forget those who have struggled and killed and died in these regrettable incidents.

But if we must put all thoughts of violence aside, we must forever remember what I say here as I call on all parties, ‘north’ and ‘south’ to lay down their arms and begin political talks under international supervision and without preconditions of any kind.

Troubling evidence has emerged that members of government security forces have engaged in activities that violate internationally recognized norms.  As president, I pledge to identify those responsible and turn them over to international authorities for trial and I apologize for this conduct.

In consultation with relevant international authorities and in full compliance with global norms, I pledge myself and my administration to the quest for a peaceful resolution of these political differences and announce my determination to refrain from all use of force.

It is my hope that the success of the IRRCP (the inter-regional reconciliation and consultation process) will lead to a renewed commitment to the norms of international conduct; that instead of being an object of concern to the civilized world the United States will once again resume the struggle to be a responsible stakeholder and sincere cooperator in the peaceful development of the international community.

And so, my fellow Americans, I ask you to join hands with me to ensure that government by properly credentialed and appropriately socialized people, of properly credentialed and appropriately socialized people and for properly credentialed and appropriately socialized people shall never perish from this earth.


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  • Gene


  • John

    Finally–a new Progressive history _all_ Americans can be proud of!

    Perhaps the greatest shame, and there are many shames, is that it took so long! (It is certainly in the top five shames.)

    It is long past time to set aside our quibbles, squabbles, petty differences, and outrageous divisions to unite together under the true diversity of Progressive leadership, to finally–finally!–move Forward to a better, more inclusive, more socially just America, the America of which all of us–all of us who matter–have always dreamed! And all paid for by taxes on the reactionary rich!

    Thank you, Professor Mead, for this spiritual message on an already fine, leisurely Sunday morning. May Gaia’s blessings, in the form of clear policy preferences and the harmony they inspire, gently rain down upon you this day and always.

  • Surfed

    My eyes started glazing two and a half paras in. It reads exactly like it would sound in a mandatory diversity class. Excruciating.

  • Anthony

    WRM, satirical point of essay well taken; permit me to add that Lincoln and founding fathers were noteworthy not because they had credentials or property; they were noteworthy because they happen to be men of broad learning, vision, and insight. They were men prepared to defer to their own number (Franklin, Madison, Hamilton, et al) who showed especially sharp insight – Men a far cry from those tarred by your Quick Take’s satirical undertone.

  • Jim.

    The old metanarratives beat whatever novel nonsense you care to name every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    There’s. reason some things become “cliched”. The reason is, they’re better than the standard run of what we see.

  • Josh Kilroy

    Successful satire needs a light touch.

  • Corlyss

    @ Jim

    Good post. Pithy. I like pithy.

  • Impressed

    Professor Mead,

    This is fantastic.


  • trevalyan

    Some high quality snark. A little -too- much focus on the “armed forces” in the revised copy, though. At least one paragraph should have been dedicated to “Today, at my direction,” and, “Shortly after taking office, I directed my Secretary of War to immediately resolve the armed conflict with regional groups.”

  • dearieme

    “Benjamin Franklin was a pseudo-scientist, whose so-called ‘discovery’ that lightening was electricity was published prior to any meaningful peer review.” So-called indeed: there are some cruel souls who suspect that he made no such discovery but rather framed a (successful) hypothesis and passed it off as a discovery. In other words, they believe he never performed the kite experiment. Me, I ask, can they really expect me to believe that a politician lied? Shame on them.

  • SC Mike

    Quite nice. You might also enjoy Peter Novig’s PowerPoint of Lincoln’s address:

  • Mark Sherman

    Professor Mead turns it up to 11! Well done Professor!


  • Scott

    While that is a sad commentary on what we’ve become, it is so on the mark that I hereby declare it a Via Meadia instant classic.

  • Angel Martin

    Outstanding ! the difference in length is also a key feature

  • Gary L

    Lol! This ranks up there with another great satire of an American founding document (though it’s approaching its source from the opposite end of the spectrum…..)

    WHEN THINGS get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody.
    All we got to say on this proposition is this: first, me and you is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better; second, nobody ain’t got no right to take away none of our rights; third, every man has got a right to live, to come and go as he pleases, and to have a good time whichever way he likes, so long as he don’t interfere with nobody else. That any government that don’t give a man them rights ain’t worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of government they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any government don’t do this, then the people have got a right to give it the bum’s rush and put in one that will take care of their interests. Of course, that don’t mean having a revolution every day like them South American yellow-bellies, or every time some jobholder goes to work and does something he ain’t got no business to do. It is better to stand a little graft, etc., than to have revolutions all the time, like them coons, and any man that wasn’t a anarchist or one of them I.W.W.’s would say the same. But when things get so bad that a man ain’t hardly got no rights at all no more, but you might almost call him a slave, then everybody ought to get together and throw the grafters out, and put in new ones who won’t carry on so high and steal so much, and then watch them…….
    This is the Declaration of Independence, translated into American” by H.L. Mencken in 1921. The proto-elitist sage of Baltimore wrote that “it must be obvious that more than one section of the [Declaration] is now quite unintelligible to the average American of the sort using the Common Speech…… When, during the Wilson-Palmer saturnalia of oppressions [1918-1920], specialists in liberty began protesting that the Declaration plainly gave the people the right to alter the government under which they lived and even to abolish it altogether, they encountered the utmost incredulity. On more than one occasion, in fact, such an exegete was tarred and feathered by shocked members of the American Legion, even after the Declaration had been read to them. What ailed them was simply that they could not understand its Eighteenth Century English.”

    Whether or not defenders of the Declaration were actually tarred and feathered in the late years of the Wilson administration, Mencken’s contention that most Americans cannot comprehend the Declaration is probably even truer today than it was in 1921, thanks to blue-state advances in educational practice. And of course, Mencken’s pervasive contempt for middle-class America has been adopted enthusiastically by our contemporary intelligentsia. Ironically, Mencken, an aristocrat by heart, would have been appalled by the political trends which inspired WRM’s satire.

  • Lorenz Gude

    It was so good that I couldn’t stand to read it through. Under international law it is clearly an enhanced interrogation technique.

  • Bob N

    The Gettysburg Address as Eisenhower would have written it. “I haven’t checked these figures but 87 years ago, I think it was, a number of individuals organized a governmental setup here in this country, I believe it covered certain Eastern areas, with this idea they were following up based on a sort of national independence arrangement and the program that every individual is just as good as every other individual. Well, now, of course, we are dealing with this big difference of opinion, you might almost call it a civil disturbance, although I don’t like to appear to take sides or name any individuals, and the point is naturally to check up, by actual experience in the field, to see whether any governmental setup with a basis like the one I was mentioning has any validity and find out whether that dedication by those early individuals will pay off in lasting values and things of that kind.

    Well, here we are, at the scene where one of these disturbances between different sides got going. We want to pay our tribute to those loved ones, those departed individuals who made the supreme sacrifice here on the basis of their opinions about how this thing ought to be handled. And I would say this. It is absolutely in order to do this.

    But if you look at the overall picture of this, we can’t pay any tribute — we can’t sanctify this area, you might say — we can’t hallow according to whatever individuals’ creeds or faiths, or sort of religious outlooks are involved about this very particular area. It was those individuals themselves, including the enlisted men, very brave individuals, who have given this religious character to the area. The way I see it, the rest of the world will not remember any statements issued here but it will never forget how these men put their shoulders to the wheel and carried out this idea.

    Now frankly, our job, the living individuals’ job here, is to pick up the burden they made these big efforts here for. It is our job to get on with the assignment — and from these deceased fine individuals to take extra inspiration for the same theories for which they made such a big contribution. We have to make up our minds right here and now, as I see it, that they didn’t put out all that blood, perspiration and — well — that they didn’t just make a dry run here, and that all of us here, under God, that is, the God of our choice, shall beef up this idea about freedom and liberty and those kind of arrangements, and that government of all individuals, by all individuals, and for the individuals, shall not pass out of the world picture.”

    From: New Republic, June, 1957

  • Dean from Ohio

    Les Adresse de Gettysburg from ze French:

    There are lots of people heere today to celebrayte a great battl. Naturallee, it falls to me to say that seence no French wehr takeeng part, it was of no great seegneefeecance.

    Now wehr can I obtain a deecent meal out heere in these, as you say, steecks?

  • J R Yankovic

    Well now, I don’t suppose it gets much more fun than that.

    Many thanks to Via Meadia for a rollicking good time and a brilliant sendoff.

  • TGGP

    Speaking of H. L. Mencken, here’s his take on the Gettysburg address:

  • Jim.


    Apologies for my usual long posts. To paraphrase Pascal – I seldom have time to write short ones.

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