“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, was considered a credible candidate with presidential stature after he made this statement at the start of his campaign. The Republican Party should listen to Lincoln, following his lead to discuss ideals and use them personally.
Lincoln knew that he needed to focus on the “big picture.” He used the art of public speaking to clearly convey his message, demonstrated honesty and integrity, preached a vision, used persuasion instead of coercion, and influenced people through conversation and storytelling. Lincoln recognized that he needed to stay informed about relevant topics, and people were an important source of information. Even as president, Lincoln was accessible to the people he led, and he had conversations with them.
Today, politicians “spin” the facts, talk in sound bites, attack those who do not agree with them, refuse to compromise or even talk to opponents, and often do not exhibit any qualities of good leadership. Most of them do not live in the “real world” or talk to the “common man.” Republican Party presidential candidates and other members of the party would better represent themselves, the party, and the nation by maintaining a focus on the fundamental principles that guided Lincoln.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.” Lincoln made this statement during his second inaugural address. The war would end in a few weeks, and there was much work to do to repair all the damage done. Lincoln, as always, was willing to make big decisions, and take full responsibility for them. He was the person who decided, amidst protest, that no Southerner, including Confederate officers, would be punished for his actions during the war.
There is a full slate of seemingly insurmountable issues before Congress at this time, issues that have been allowed to grow worse and worse because of inaction by leaders. To effectively handle these issues, those in the Republican Party should read an authoritative book about Abraham Lincoln’s life. Then they should do some hard thinking about how they can use his thoughts and actions to guide their own. Most scholars believe that what Lincoln accomplished is far beyond anything even the best leaders today have accomplished. Anyone can learn life lessons from Lincoln.
Throughout the war, Lincoln worked to keep the Republican Party together. He did not favor one faction in the party over another, and his military appointments were divided between Republicans and Democrats. His mission throughout his presidency was inclusion, compromise, and finding common ground among different groups. This is a good starting point for the 2016 Republican Party presidential candidate.
Many people in the Republican Party still refer to the party as the “Party of Lincoln.” A more literal version of that reference will go a long way toward solving problems that plague society today.
Opinion By Shelley Kuziak
Photo by Thomas Hawk – Creativecommons Flickr License