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30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 11

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. — 1862

My Take – The dogmas of the past are how we got into this mess in the first place.  It didn’t start with Obama, or either Bush.  Almost every president in the 20th century either actively pushed the government into our lives and pocketbooks, or did nothing to turn it back.  Even Reagan, who is lionized by conservatives today, only slowed the growth.  If we are to come back from the financial abyss that yawns before us, we have to make the hard decisions, take the hit both politically and financially, and cut out the growth that is threatening to strangle us.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 10

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.  — 1838

My Take – No nation is invulnerable, as we have all learned in the past few years.  But if our country is to every truly fall, its causes will be found in our inability to act like a nation.  If America fails, it will not be conquered, but will split and rot from the center out.  Our responsibility as citizens is to work together to forestall that day for as long as possible.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 9

I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, too, that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract judgment on the moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this many times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery. — 1864

My Take – Leaders ought to have some absolutes in their beliefs.  “If X is not wrong, then nothing is wrong” is a wonderful thing for someone who is given power to have in their kit bag of beliefs. Lincoln was absolutely right in observing that we all come to our jobs with our individual beliefs and values.  The biggest difference between Lincoln and the last few presidents seems, to me, to be that Lincoln understood that the Constitution was superior to his own values and beliefs.

Lincoln absolutely hated slavery, but knew that under the Constitution he had no power to abolish it in the states that were not in a state of rebellion.  That’s why the Emancipation Proclamation only held power in territory that was captured from the Confederacy.  He fully understood that if you want to do something that the Constitution doesn’t give you power to do, then you don’t ignore the Constitution. You either work within its limits or go through the arduous process of changing it.  The Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the United States, was passed by Congress in 1864, but wasn’t ratified by the states until after Lincoln’s death in 1865.  Lincoln went to his grave living by his belief that the Constitution restricted him from acting on his personal animus toward slavery, no matter how much history would have lauded him for doing so.

That’s not to say that Lincoln was a saint by any means.  Some of the measures he took in his efforts to bring the Confederates back into the Union and to keep more states from going over might have gotten him impeached if anyone had had the guts to make an issue of it.  But he at least had the belief and made an effort to respect the Constitution in this manner.

What our current crop of presidents seem to believe is that the Constitution is more of a guideline, and that its limits are merely fuzzy lines on the map of politics.

  • Don’t like abortion?  Pass laws you know will probably fail in front of the Supreme Court in order to score political points.
  • Don’t care for guns or the people who own them?  Then get the Congress to pass a law that bans cosmetic things about some guns that will only inconvenience those who respect the law.
  • Frustrated that the Constitution protects the nation from over-reaching law enforcement and government monitoring?  Then take advantage of public fear of narcotics and terrorism to turn local, state, and federal law enforcement into a standing army that protects the country from its own citizens.
  • Don’t think it’s fair that some people work hard and get good health care?  Then pass a law that forces everyone who breathes American air to either purchase insurance or pay a tax/penalty/tribute so that you can give even more money to those who won’t work.

Yes, Lincoln had his warts, but we’d be better off if the politicians of the past few decades who profess to honor his memory actually acted a bit more like him.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 8

I thank you, in common with all others, who have thought fit, by their votes, to indorse the Republican cause. I rejoice with you in the success which has, so far, attended that cause. Yet in all our rejoicing let us neither express, nor cherish, any harsh feeling towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling. — 1860

My Take – We are all Americans, no matter our political feelings.  The spite that keeps going on after the elections is nothing but that, spite.  When we dehumanize our opponents too long, we run the risk of forgetting that they are indeed human, which is a dangerous place to be.  In short, once the election is over, the election should be over and we should get on with running the country together.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 7

Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. — 1865

My Take – When you’re telling someone about the mote in their eye, try to use a little tact.  Especially when telling them that what they’re doing is considered a sin in the eyes of $DEITY (or $DEITY[0] for those of you with a pantheon), lambasting them about their sinfulness is less than likely to get the result you are looking for.  The best you can hope for is that they turn their back on you and start in on their ‘sin’ with even more vigor just to piss you off. The worst case scenario is that you end up with a flat nose over it, and they just keep on sinning.

When I feel that someone is doing wrong, especially if they are doing it without thought, I try to be very gentle when pointing it out.  Sometimes all I get is acknowledgement of my input, but sometimes it gets them to thinking, and sometimes that leads to reform.  But if I gently remind someone that what they’re doing isn’t exactly right in the eyes of my god, and they keep doing it, it’s not my place to browbeat them into submission.  Bringing someone to salvation doesn’t count if they do it just to shut you up.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 6

A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. — 1858

My Take – Politically, our situation in this country has many similarities to what it had in 1858.   The southern slave states held roughly 50% of the votes in Congress and the electoral college votes for president, with the non-slave Northern states holding the other roughly 50%. The stalemate made a victory of any kind by either side look like the thing that would pull down the Republic, and the invective on both sides only grew stronger as the elections grew closer.  In our day, national elections are won based on only a few thousand votes in a few key districts, with everything else pretty much being cut right down the middle.  The two sides are making nice in the middle of the political soccer pitch, but the wings of the parties are becoming more strident and militant, and all it takes is the right spark at the right time for all this to blow up.

We cannot stay this way.  Getting even normal business like a federal budget is being put on hold in order to score political points, and this is an untenable situation.  Both major parties are to blame for how we got here and for the fact that little to nothing is being done to get out of this morasse.  I’m not saying that we are moving toward a shooting war between the red and the blue, but we cannot stay where we are.  We will either choose to become a socialistic nanny state where those who choose to work are squeezed for every possible dollar to pay for those who ch0ose not to, or we can force our country to stand upright and get on with business as a nation of workers, not thieves.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 5

While I do not expect, upon this occasion, or on any occasion, till after I get to Washington, to attempt any lengthy speech, I will only say that to the salvation of this Union there needs but one single thing—the hearts of a people like yours. When the people rise in masses in behalf of the Union and the liberties of their country, truly may it be said, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In all the trying positions in which I shall be placed, and doubtless I shall be placed in many trying ones, my reliance will be placed upon you and the people of the United States—and I wish you to remember now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if the union of these States, and the liberties of this people, shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me. I desire they shall be constitutionally preserved. I, as already intimated, am but an accidental instrument, temporary, and to serve but for a limited time, but I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, “Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?“ — 1861

My Take – We don’t need a leader, we need an executive to fulfill our will.  The power of the United States is not in Washington.  It is in every home and heart, and so long as those who want freedom are willing to work for it. we will survive.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 4

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere. — 1854

My Take – Ladies and gentlemen, there you have the best definition of my personal political viewpoint.  The government that governs least governs best.  Get the government out of our bedrooms, bodies, and paths, and we will do wonders.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 3

Well, I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals. — 1864

My Take – It’s amazing what will be overlooked and even encouraged if it’s associated with success.  For me, as long as you get the job done with the time and resources you are given, I don’t care what else you do.  Of course, that assumes a level of personal responsibility and trust that isn’t automatic.

30 Days of Abraham Lincoln – Day 2

Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal. — 1858


My Take – Generalizing about a group and how they should fit in some arbitrary social order forgets that human beings are individuals, capable of a myriad of talents and accomplishments.  We are not equal in outcomes, but we are all equal in our rights.  Saying that a group of people are inferior just because of their skin, religion, or whatever dehumanizes the bigot more than it does the maligned group.

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