After studying the life and times of Abraham Lincoln for over 25 years one thing stands out about our sixteenth president above all else; he was indeed, one of a kind. Some would compare Kennedy or Reagan to Mr. Lincoln but no one can be elevated above him.
He was the best man during the worst of times. We lost less men in WW2 than in the Civil War and the 58,000 lost in Vietnam pales in comparison to the nearly 600,000 lost in the Civil War. Those lives were used up not just to retain freedoms but to keep us as one nation undivided.
Voices were clamoring for dissolution of the union and the emergence of the other United States and one man along with those that stood by him had the vision and determination to see that the divide was thoroughly circumvented. While not one soldier may be lost in this present cultural war, the life of the nation is most certainly at stake.
As we approach the 2012 election year in America it is clear that we are in another civil war. That it is based only upon ideology and viewpoint makes it no less serious. Our nation has not been so clearly divided since the Civil War and nothing less than a strong Lincolnesque figure is going to mend the chasm that is now forming and threatening our future.
The historical precedent of electing our first black president is all but lost on Barack Obama because of his policies, social tendencies and inept and amateurish handling of our economy. But the worst of it has to do with Mr. Obama’s lack of understanding in life and matters having only to do with something called the American way.
Obama clearly has the appeal of a pop culture hero but in trying times like these, a mere flash in the pan is no eureka. Must we be reminded that fool’s gold is not a substitute for the real thing; it has no intrinsic value. Everything in pop culture gives way to reality under the inexorable passing of time.
In the clamoring among the conservatives there is a circus-like atmosphere that is almost embarrassing but no one seems appropriately red-faced as the circus travels down the road to the next town. While the foundations of the nation are abandoned, attacked or regarded with complete indifference, will the frolic and laughter suffice us in the trying times just ahead?
New Jersey’s Chris Christie has jokingly threatened suicide to prove to the GOP scouts that he is not running. Palin is hanging out with easy riders and keeping her public waiting while she conducts her Heritage Tour. Who doesn’t love hearing her talk about our hard won freedoms as she tours the land but her supporters are yet waiting to see if she is going to be defending those freedoms in a serious bid for the White House and beyond.
Everyday someone else throws their hat in the ring. Giuliani, Cain, Pawlenty, Santorum and a host of others are probing, prodding and positioning at least tacitly toward a chance to grab the brass ring. Like a carousel of colored ponies and lovely painted unicorns they are passing before the public each time the news cycle brings them into view again. In today’s world of al-Qaeda, Muslim unrest, looming worldwide and domestic economic disaster, is it a day for straw hats, bunting, bands and politics as usual?
Even more than it not being the time for politics as usual is the hollow resounding of the political machinery of the GOP in its assurance that there must be a chosen front runner. The machine seems fully incognizant of the fact that the seven most deadly words for any person or organization are, “we have always done it that way.”
The proclivity to choose candidates only for a single strength is wholly misguided. If the economy were the only issue that is beleaguering the nation the supposed front runner, Mitt Romney, would be a perfect choice, but that is not the case. Mitt Romney has exercised his freedom of conscience in choosing the Mormon religion and while no one can fault him for that choice, it must be noted that most evangelical Christians still view Mormonism as a cult or a heresy with highly questionable beginnings.
The moral climate and the rule of law based on our Constitution are being threatened and should they continue to be ignored, this nation will continue to decline. Romney has changed his mind on several occasions about same sex marriages and abortion. He is saddled with creating the worst health care behemoth in states’ history. If the country were indeed just a business, a venture or a corporation, no one would hold a candle to Romney but that is not what the United States is, or ever was.
It must be noted that even though Americans love the stories of our entrepreneurial heroes like Horatio Alger, Henry Ford, Paul Getty and of late Donald Trump and Herman Cain, history has shown that we don’t put them in the White House. Raw business acumen, financial success and amassing fortunes intrigues the American psyche but something far greater is what we look for in our presidential hopefuls. It has always been a matter of both fabric and weave in America. We the people will weave the pattern of our nation as we see fit but only after we have chosen the very best fabric.
It is only after troubleshooting the nation’s problems from a completely neutral position that a few names emerge at the beckoning of necessity, common sense and acknowledgement of the perilous times in which we live. What are those names and is it possible to compare them to Abraham Lincoln?
The best fabric on this list starts with Michelle Bachmann. She is bucking the fact that only one person (James Garfield) from the House of Representatives has ever made it to the White House but this is not a day when old rules should apply. She has been instrumental in creating a Tea Party caucus in the house and has a clear record of right choices and a good voting record. She is more than outspoken, she is unafraid to reveal that the basis for making decisions is her faith in God. We who trust that God has only our best interests in mind have no trouble believing that Michelle can only do us good. If she wants to quote the Bible we don’t mind because that is after all, very Lincolnesque.
While Sarah Palin is yet unannounced she makes the list because she has an uncommon helping of what Americans call common sense. She is a woman of faith and a family oriented soul who knows the nitty-gritty of everyday life and family problems. She has not been dulled by the beltway ethers that so easily alter the minds of our leaders into a state of abstract political somnambulism.
She has her eye on our own natural resources to alleviate our energy needs and she wants to reign in the reckless expansion of government into our lives. With the savvy to choose a cabinet and appointees that can tame the economy she may even be able to tackle the great moral issues of the day like same sex marriage and abortion. She has many Lincolnesque qualities not the least of which is her powerful love for America. Motivated by that alone, she could hardly fail.
One factor that makes Sarah Palin a powerful possibility for 2012 is the same thing that may cause her to forego entering the race at all. It is almost a spiritual factor because it is hard to explain in conventional terms. The resistance from the left and the media has been so intense that it shows that they see her as the greatest single threat to the incumbent on the entire political front. It is the hammering, haranguing and hostility toward her that is the signal from the left that she is the best choice for the right.
Perhaps we are too willing to believe that any woman who can stalk, shoot, dress and mount an elk in a rugged wilderness can pretty much handle the mealy mouthed media who have so mercilessly dogged her from the start. Will she allow them their pound of flesh or will her Lincolnesque qualities win out?
Gingrich is top material and Texas Governor Rick Perry could change the political landscape but they do not at the moment make this list although arguments to the contrary can, and have been made.
As the historical significance of a first black president lies battered and bruised under the harsh reality of a failed call to “A Change We Can Believe In,” who would guess that we would so soon be given a chance to make history again with our first female president.
Far from being banal, the call to identify Lincolnesque qualities in our candidates for 2012 has never been more important. Not only are we in the throes of a cultural civil war but the very existence of the nation is in peril.
On April 14, 1865 Abraham Lincoln died and only moments later Secretary Edwin M. Stanton declared “Now he belongs to the ages.” God forbid that we pass this critical moment playing politics as usual and it ends with the demise of the greatest nation the world has ever known whose Stantonian epitaph would say of America, “Now it belongs to the ages.”
There may be as many reasons to run for president as there are candidates. What many of us hope for is a candidate whose reasons are much like that of Abraham Lincoln’s as possible. What were his reasons for seeking the Oval Office? Just before he announced his candidacy he said these words which give clear definition to the word: Lincolnesque.
“I know there is a God and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place for me, and I think He has, I believe I am ready.”
Copyright ©2011 Rev. Michael Bresciani