Comparing The Ideologies Of Obama And Lincoln

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Barack Obama has expressed his admiration for Abraham Lincoln on numerous occasions and particularly in a 2005 speech where he mentioned “Lincoln’s rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat ...”

Lincoln and Obama both placed their hand on Lincoln’s Bible to be sworn into office at their respective inaugurations. They were both first-term U.S. senators from Illinois when they launched their presidential campaigns. Each man faced competition from U.S. senators from New York: Hillary Clinton challenged Obama and William Seward ran against Lincoln. Amusingly, Obama and Lincoln each appointed their former rivals to serve as their secretaries of state. Finally, both men rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for their inaugurations.

Lincoln, however, was a Republican and Obama is a Democrat, so I thought it might be interesting to do a comparison of the ideologies of the two men.

To accomplish this, I have set myself up as a horseback moderator in a mock debate. Because I will be asking questions related to today’s problems, I will first pose the question to Mr. Obama and allow Mr. Lincoln to respond.

All responses will be actual quotes from the two campaigners. (J is Jinx, O is Obama, L is Lincoln.)

J: Mr. Obama, some of your critics worry about the cost of your health care plan. What can you say to reassure them?

O: Many of my plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime — by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens.

J: Response, Mr. Lincoln?

L: You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

J: Mr. Obama, what is your answer to those who complain it is government regulations that have crippled our economy and that the government will only prolong the problem by going further in debt to bail out the private sector?

O: Only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending.

J: Mr. Lincoln?

L: You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.

J: Mr. Obama, do you have concerns about all the pork spending outlined in your various stimulus packages?

O: What do you think a stimulus is? It’s spending — that’s the whole point. Seriously!

J: Response, Mr. Lincoln?

L: How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. If they call the pork stimulus it’s still just pork. (Yes, this is a direct quote from Lincoln; they used these words in the 1860s too.)

J: Mr. Obama, I think we can all agree that it is wrong for an individual to forcefully take money from one person and give it to another. How do you justify to a person who has worked hard all his life to achieve success that the government is going to take his money and give it to someone who didn’t earn it?

O: It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success, too. When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.

J: Mr. Lincoln?

L: You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.

J: What about that, Mr. Obama? Was this country not founded on the principle that citizens have a right to keep what they earn, a right to the pursuit of happiness? What do you say to the hardworking men and women of this country who are not yet rich, but who would pursue the American dream without government handouts or government interference?

O: They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

J: Mr. Lincoln?

L: You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

J: Mr. Obama, with regard to Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, you have stated ...

O: Why can’t I just eat my waffle? Come on! I just answered, like, eight questions. I’ve now been in 57 states, I think ...

Como Siempré, Jinx

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