What would Lincoln do?
This past election demonstrated once again that candidates, all over the country, in both parties, love to quote Abraham Lincoln. My guess is that Lincoln, being an iconic figure in American history, still inspires us when we remember his personal character, quotable remarks, admirable achievements and poignant death.
As a matter of fact, April 19, 1865, Dr. Phineas D. Gurley preached Lincoln’s funeral sermon and stated: “Probably no man since the days of Washington was ever so deeply and firmly embedded and enshrined in the very hearts of the people as Abraham Lincoln.”
So maybe our new and returning elected representatives should adopt the motto “WWLD,” or “What Would Lincoln Do?”
Here are a few considerations:
Lincoln was not a political cannibal. Lincoln didn’t view public service as a means to personally consume national resources. That observation serves as an anomaly among the current horde of representatives who unapologetically belly up to the national trough and gorge themselves on publicly funded “perks” that leave them over-bloated “legal-lethargics” reeling from collective acid reflux.
Lincoln valued principle above party. Third-party advocates in our day should be inspired by Lincoln, who became our 16th president as a third-party candidate in an era when the Whig Party and Democratic Party were the two leading parties. Someone needs to remind the “elephants” in Washington, D.C., that the patriarch of their party didn’t crush progress by being a corpulent, cookie-cutter candidate.
Lincoln said more with less. Did you know Lincoln’s most memorable public speech was his shortest? The Gettysburg Address was only 10 sentences long used only 272 words! The great American orator Edward Everett spoke for two hours before Lincoln, yet very few even remember his contribution. Isn’t there a lesson here?
Lincoln loved people. Nothing captures his love for the human soul more than the brief note tendered Nov. 21, 1864, to Lydia Bixby, who had lost five sons in the Civil War. In his private note to her, he said: “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully, A. Lincoln.”
Finally, Lincoln loved the wisdom of Scripture. Our 16th president frequently referenced Scripture, quoted Bible verses and wasn’t afraid to use Bible narratives as modern analogies. On June 16, 1858, Lincoln accepted his party’s nomination for the Illinois Senate seat. In his acceptance speech, he quoted Mark 3:25: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Our obvious affection and admiration for Abraham Lincoln is well-founded. Maybe it’s time for folks in Washington, D.C. to ask: WWLD?