My opponent in the Maine United States Senate race – Angus King – likes to quote Abraham Lincoln.
King’s favorite quote of Lincoln’s may well be the following, which he has repeated on multiple occasions:
“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.”
Think and act anew.
I agree with Lincoln’s sentiment above entirely, and President Lincoln is one of my heroes as well.
Where is the Lincoln in today’s times? If today’s political environment is contentious – and it certainly is at a minimum – Lincoln’s was brutal.
But out of great crises arise the potential for great leaders to emerge.
On Hammerformaine.com I write of King in part:
“Is it enough to be intelligent, hard-working and likable, or should we require a higher standard for a United States Senator?
Specifically, rather than rewarding someone with a United States Senate seat because we like them and appreciate their hard work, should we instead (or also) expect the person who we vote for in this critical position to be someone who can deliver on their promise of bringing the country much closer together — and thus someone who can significantly drive the agenda and conversation in Washington rather than simply being an active participant?
Angus King repeatedly explained during his campaign for a first term in the United States Senate in 2012 that why he was running for the United States Senate was to do the job that caused Olympia Snowe to leave the position – that is, to bring the country closer together in a bipartisan or post partisan way.”
Fast forward to 2017 and King doesn’t seem to talk much at all about bringing the country together anymore, much less his role or ability to do so.
Lincoln had flowery rhetoric, but he had courageous action as well. Although there were incredible wounds as the nation descended into Civil War, Lincoln’s bold actions tied to higher principles eventually brought as much positive resolution to the period as was probably humanly possible.
I am not Lincoln by anyone’s wildest imagination (and I do mean wildest) but I do seek, as with Lincoln, to be a courageous truthteller to all sides.
In that vein I also say:
“The United States Senate and Congress are not divided because of Democrats, Republicans and/or Independents.
Washington – and the nation – is divided because there is a greater incentive to highlight differences than to find common ground solutions….
but here’s the thing: No system, dysfunctional or otherwise, can survive UNLESS there is sufficient by-in from the citizens to support it.
Our elected officials can be partisan only if they have political cover and political will to be so from a wide enough swath of citizens who are also partisan and/or tolerate it.”
I believe that ultimately it is much more important and compelling that we ultimately be “for” something rather than “against” something.
As I expand upon the notion, I believe that we can start to live better and more prosperous lives when we collectively and collaboratively face difficult truths and work together to improve them.
One thought question to consider: What would the nation (and Maine) look like if we could make our collective decisions while removing fear – which is often at the basis of our divisions for both sides – out of the equation?
In March following a public “listening session” session King held on whether he should vote for or against Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court, King was quoted as saying, “(Abraham) Lincoln used to talk about public opinion baths, and I think that is what I had today.”
We must draw from the great leaders of the past but we must move beyond rhetoric into leadership-based problem solving.
Perhaps – most likely – there is no one Lincoln today, but instead that Lincoln’s great ability and wisdom during times of crisis can inspire all of us to be a little more Lincolnesque.