Thursday, January 07, 2021

Stephen Hayward On Lincoln On Trump

   The controversy over the fairness of the recent election needs to be seen in a broader context of the broad swath of the American people—perhaps a majority—who believe that the government is not presently protecting their individual rights and the principle of self-government. This is a serious issue—maybe the central issue—in our politics today. Judging the scene, and what to do about it, are matters requiring statesmanship of the highest order. In his Lyceum speech, Lincoln expressed worry that mobocracy increased the possibility of Caesarism—of the ambitious man thirsting for distinction on the public stage by whatever means, who “would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.”
   Donald Trump has shown great perception of the defects of our political order; he has had many salutary achievements in office; he has fought hard for worthy objects against the intransigent opposition of the permanent government; his love of country is undoubted; he has given new hope to many unheard and hitherto unrespected Americans.
   At the same time, his reckless public pronouncements have fallen short of the standard of the high statesmanship most needed—never more so than his remarks on the Capitol Mall on Wednesday. He has left himself vulnerable to the charge that he will exit office amid a flurry of “pulling down” not only fellow partisans, but the very institutions of our government itself.


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