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John Avlon Quotes Lincoln: 'We Need To Repudiate The Wolf's Dictionary'

"That means insisting that facts matter and words have real meanings, or to use a favorite conservative refrain, facts don't care about your feelings," he said.
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As he so often does, CNN's John Avlon puts his finger on the problem we're facing today.

"In the five weeks since election day, it often feels like we're having a debate in a hall of mirrors," he said.

"President Trump trying to overturn an election, while saying he's protecting election integrity. Death threats leveled at election officials by people who accuse them of doing violence to our democracy. And now, an uptick in civil war rhetoric, chapters as what was once known as the party of Lincoln. Last county, the Dane County GOP held a rally at the Wisconsin state capitol they promoted by saying, 'Our nation is on a path to civil war.'

"Yesterday, the Arizona state GOP sent out a tweet asking followers if they're willing to die in the effort to overturn election results. This is aggressive defensiveness and dangerous nonsense. But what makes it worse is that so many of Donald Trump's supporters have bought into the big lie. They've been misled into believing they're fighting for the very virtues they're being used to attack. And here's how it works, starting at the top of the disinformation chain.

I am determined to protect our election system, which is now under coordinated assault and siege. We will restore honesty and integrity to our elections and we will restore trust in our system of government.

"The opposite is true. Our election system is under siege, but from Trump and his league team. And no president has done more to erode trust in our system of government than Trump with his refusal to respect the election. But Trump's alternate reality gets amplified on hyperpartisan media. Check out these graphics from 'Hannity' the other night, demand transparency and fight for Trump. Well, Lou Dobbs and Stephen Miller stoke each other's outrage over a banner which read, 'Trump campaign fights for free and fair elections.'

"If you only listen to right-wing echo chambers, you might believe it all. So you go to a rally and hold a sign that says, 'Defend democracy', or 'stop the steal,' or 'stand for truth.' These are admirable emotions, but they don't fit the objective reality of what you're actually fighting for. Without knowing it, you bought into what Abraham Lincoln once called the wolf's dictionary. Back during the real Civil War, Lincoln agonized that both sides believed they were fighting for liberty -- yes, even Confederates that were fighting for slavery under the cloak of state's rights. He addressed the problem in a parable, that when the wolf drives the sheep, the wolf denounces him as the destroyer of liberty, especially if the sheep was a black one. The wolf and the sheep have very different definitions of liberty.

"But as the war raged on and some border states voted to abolish slavery, Lincoln said that the wolf's dictionary can be repudiated. We need to repudiate the wolf's dictionary today. That means insisting that facts matter and words have real meaning, or to use a favorite conservative refrain, facts don't care about your feeling. So the judges that have said that Trump's lawsuits have no basis in reality. If you say you believe in the rule of law, you need to respect the rule of law. If you say you're a proud patriot, then put country over party.

"And then let's work together in good faith to reason together, because we are not as divided as the screamers say. and that's your reality check."

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