Abraham Lincoln: Can Republicans Learn From Him?

Rich Lowry is editor of National Review, the conservative magazine founded in 1955 by the late William F. Buckley.  Still a relative young 45, Lowry became editor at age 29.  He is no fan of the Clintons having authored Legacy:  Paying for the Clinton Years, and has said of Hillary, “She has an impressive resume with no real accomplishments.”   But he has also said (as have a number of us) he would like to have Bill back rather than the radical Barack Obama.

He has authored a new book, Lincoln Unbound, which deals with Lincoln’s vision of America as an opportunity for all society.   And for all means blacks as well as whites.  Lincoln lived this as was he was a personal friend of Frederick Douglass, the black intellectual and abolitionist.   He was invited by the President to attend his Inaugural Party at the White House.   Lincoln was greeting guests when he saw Douglass being turned away.  He went to the door and said, “This man is my guest,” as he personally ushered Mr. Douglass in.

The two men had a number of meetings and Frederick Douglass would say of President Lincoln:  “He is the first great man I talked with in the United States freely, who in no single incident, reminded me of the difference of color.  He was sincerely interested in my views.”  Lowry emphasizes that Lincoln believed in equal opportunity for all. 

Lincoln scholar, Lewis Lehrman, notes that Lowry spells out Lincoln’s belief in “the dynamic capitalism that dissolved old ways of life in favor of each one making the most of his life.  Stephen Oates in his brilliant one volume biography of Lincoln, With Malice Toward None, speaks of our greatest President’s reverence for the Declaration of Independence.  He said it contained the highest political truths in human history, namely that “all men are created equal and all are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   For Lincoln this meant that men like him were not chained to the conditions of their birth but could better their station in life and harvest the fruits of their own  talents and industry.

In the midst of the Civil War it is sometimes lost that Abraham Lincoln also transformed America by setting up land-grant colleges, the transcontinental railroad, the Homestead Act which privatized the public lands of the Plains States and the Freedman Bureau to assist blacks with the adjustment to their freedom after the war.   

He accepted war to preserve the Union and to free the slaves.  Without his leadership and resolve separate slave and free countries might have competed as neighbors on the same continent.  There then would not have been an integrated American economy and without that united industrial power  there might not have been a nation to destroy Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.   Lincoln believed in dynamic capitalism.  Under another great President, Ronald Reagan, the malaise of Jimmy Carter was replaced with the economic dynamo that would defeat the Communist Soviet Union.

If Republicans are to win again they must set in broad relief the freedom exemplified by Lincoln and Reagan with the statist control of Barack Obama for whom Russia’s Putin has contempt as he knows this is not the one we were all waiting for.  Here we need add a Democrat President, Jack Kennedy, who said in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961:  “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”   Sadly, it is hard to imagine Establishment, Ruling Class Republicans saying that today.  For Democrats it is sacrilege, anathema.

Let the Republicans today learn from Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan and turn the nation away from a small President Obama who would have us believe we find answers only in the state.  Nonsense!   Let us adopt Lincoln’s “Right to Rise,” for all.


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