Watching the interesting struggle within the Republican Party to decide on a nominee, and the acidic, highly divisive ideological issues coursing through the political biosphere, I am put in mind of another time when the nation was similarly divided along ideological lines, and when it was the Democratic Party, not the Republicans, that were so torn apart. I'm referring to the lead-up to the 1860 election. At that time, although the issues were different, the dynamic was similar, in that a minority of the Democrats wanted an uncompromising, ideologically pure approach to the issue of slavery, while the majority (but not a big one) preferred a more moderate approach that would accept some compromise. When it became clear that a united party would nominate the moderate Stephen A. Douglas, the fire-eating Southern Democrats seceded from the party and nominated their own candidate, John C. Breckenridge. The Democrats, by running two opposing candidates for president, threw the election to Abraham Lincoln, the nominee of the new Republican Party, and set the nation on the road to calamity. Although the particulars differ, it seems to me that passions within the GOP are running as high today as they were within the Democrats in 1860. Will the Republicans unite behind a single candidate today? Or will the party split in two, as the Dems did on the brink of the Civil War?