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May 13, 2021 05:09 PM UTC

"We Must Think Anew and Act Anew"

  • by: MichaelBowman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

I share the admiration of Abraham Lincoln with a majority of Americans; in surveys conducted since 1940, he has consistently ranked among the top 3, most often #1. Abe was the only president to hold a patent; he signed the first of the Homestead Acts, allowing poor people to obtain land. He established the United States Department of Agriculture in 1862 and nearly two months later signed the Morrill Act, which led to the creation of our land-grant university system. He established the progressive nature of income tax in the US. He signed the Emancipation Proclamation, abolishing slavery in the US. He established the US National Banking System, thus, a national currency. Apart from banks, Lincoln helped the economy flourish through canals, railroads & factories. He led the Union to victory in the Civil War; he laid the foundation for Reconstruction.

Lincoln kept us from being a ‘nation divided”, reuniting our nation rather than alienating the South.

Recently I had the chance to travel a significant portion of The Lincoln Highway (starting six miles north of Julesburg, ending in San Francisco),  America’s first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln, predating the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., by nine years. As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns, and villages along the way. The Lincoln Highway became affectionately known as “The Main Street Across America”.  

Just east of Laramie a monument to our 16th President marks the high point of this Atlantic-to-Pacific highway, which begins in Times Square in NYC and terminates near Lincoln Park in San Francisco.  There, an imposing bronze of Lincoln occupies the Summit rest area under the vast Wyoming sky; a plaque reads:

“We Must Think Anew and Act Anew”

Those seven words set the tone for the next 24 hours of driving.  It was a time to reflect on our national priorities today through the eyes of Lincoln as I enjoyed the ease of traveling the Eisenhower Interstate System; I passed by farms and ranches established under the Homestead Act, have sustained themselves through the early research efforts in our land-grant university system and the Ag Extension network. The convenience of an ATM machine and electronic swipes at cash registers, tied to our national banking system.

Satellite radio.

Instant, global communication.

What would Lincoln be thinking today? Would he go big or go home?

As I scanned the radio dial I listened to Senate Minority Leader McConnell say he’s 100% focused on blocking the efforts of the Biden Administration; hardly a “we must think anew and act anew” moment for a man (and party) who claims to be the party of Lincoln.  Abe wouldn’t have been a shrinking violet, held captive by zealots.  In the face of the challenges that face us, he would have been uncompromising.  He’d go big.  He’d be uncompromising about infrastructure; he’d support a strong educational system.  He’d focus his priorities on those who built America: the middle class. He’d be unyielding in his belief that “labor before capital” was the only way to build a just, sustainable economic system. He’d believe that a nation that survived The Great Depression, thanks to progressives and The New Deal,  defeated fascism, rebuilt western Europe, eradicated polio, electrified rural America, put a man on the Moon and a spacecraft on Mars, is more than capable of meeting the challenges of a 21st-century economy.  He’d stand by his belief that “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

This is our time to create.


13 thoughts on ““We Must Think Anew and Act Anew”

  1. Lincoln would be appalled at what his Republican Party has become. It would also look very familiar to him- the lynchers, the dividers, the vote repressors- those who want to bring back the Confederacy and the “Old South” and recreate it everywhere for all the other troublesome populations.

    Also familiar- the toxic political climate and  obstruction in Congress…the propaganda snd denial of reality. Only the speed and reach of media and the deadliness of weapons have changed.

    How would Lincoln be trying to unite the country now? 

    1. Compare Trump, or any of his sycophants, with G. W. Bush at Ground Zero from 9/11. There is no valid comparison. Like him or not, Bush was there to lead the country.

      1. . . . ignoring the warnings about Bin Laden, and then straight into Iraq, waterboarding, Guantanamo, enhanced interrogation, extraordinary rendition, Abu Ghraib, weapons of mass destruction, torture, yellow cake uranium, NSA spying on Americans, TSA shakedowns, mission accomplished, etc., etc., . . .

        . . . and, then there’s his economic accomplishments . . .

        Compare Trump, or any of his sycophants, with G. W. Bush

        . . . That hapless little-cowboy imbecile Shrub was no Lincoln.  Point of fact, and as you note, he only looks better now because of, and by comparison to, the most recent Republican debacle and attack on decency. But, yeah, W was clearly the greatest worst-President-ever (right up until the GOP figured a way to shat out its Ttump indecency upon the world).

        I shudder to wonder what GOPer dolt and outrages will have you cheerleading fifteen years from now the comparative “leadership” and sanity of Ttump??

        (PS. You’d be better off, sincerely, sticking with your revisionist reputational rehabilitation of Nixon.)

          1. We should all keep in mind and remember that the GOP hasn’t always been nearly as awful as it is today . . .

            (. . . they’ve worked very hard over many years to get progressively worse.)

          2. And yet…we have to take our Presidents ( and everyone else) as a whole, including accomplishments, destructive policies, and saving graces. Working backward…Biden is trying to implement solid progressive policies…needs to play hardball with GOP to get any of these finished.

            Trump has no saving graces that I know of…except perhaps to demonstrate that our norms and institutions wont save us from fascism. And we aren’t done with Trumpism yet.

            Obama restored hope and respect for democracy in the world, implemented the ACA, but ultimately failed to protect against the coming fascist tide. He should have appointed Garland to SCOTUS on the recess, made better immigration policy, He tried too hard to negotiate in good faith with people who have none. Still, best President in my lifetime. 

            Bush put an unnecessary war on our credit card, worsened climate crisis, made progress and good law with EPA administrators ( not enough though), expanded Federal role in education, declined to demonize Muslims after 9/11, but….still second worst President in my lifetime. 

            Clinton presided over two terms of mostly peace and prosperity,  signed Violence Against Women act, but still expanded school to prison pipeline and prison population with mandatory minimum sentences, zero tolerance and “ three strikes “ policies.  He was probably a serial sexual harasser with little respect for women’s boundaries.. He ended his term with a budget surplus- you’d think that fiscal hawks would kove him, but nooooo. 

            Skipping back about 26 Presidents, we look at Abraham Lincoln. He was a great, but imperfect President. He did indeed keep the Union together, promoted infrastructure and everything else MB wrote about in this diary.

            But he was not really an anti-racist , or even solidly anti- slavery – in early negotiations, Lincoln told the southern states that they could keep their slaves as long as they didnt leave the Union. He also floated the idea that slaveowners could be compensated for loss of property when said “property” up and walked out. 

            Taken as a whole, though, Lincoln and Obama are two of rhe best Presidents, and Bush and Trump two of the worst.



            1. Saying that what happens while a President is in office is HIS accomplishment or fault seems an excessive emphasis on executives. 

              1. I agree that much that goes on during a presidency is beyond his/her control. But, it IS fair to say that no other person in government has decision making authority that has such impact.

                This has become even more so since the "imperial presidency" of R. M. Nixon really began to extend the reach of the executive branch.

            2. Agreed that Lincoln, like all of us, was imperfect. I left the GOP ten years ago. I’d generally say ‘no regrets’ except for the freak show that envelopes the party today and what Trumpism and years of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity (not an exclusive list) have done to fine friends and family that were once known as Eisenhower Republicans’. I barely recognize any longer my community and the eastern plains that holds so much promise yet can’t seem to stop stepping on their man parts. 

              1. They are very much no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower. They are the party of Jefferson Davis and Jeb Stuart. The die is cast. 

                Only true insurrectionists and traitors will follow the Orange King into oblivion. 

        1. Thanks, Dio. I can make my own arrangements without any input from you. And I didn’t compare Bush to Lincoln at all–that is you trying to put words in my mouth.

          Save your “ire,” such as it is, for Moderatus when he shows up again. 

          1. Thanks, CHB.  I didn’t say you compared the two, just pointed out that Shrub was no Abe, and in fact, a terribly sorry leader, definitely not an exemplar — that is you putting words in my mouth.  

            (But, yeah, he was not as terribly sorry as Ttump — W was the Avis of terribly sorry — #2 (now), but he tried harder — whereas Ttump was paragon of lazy and a born natural.)

            I’m pretty sure I’ve got plenty of ire, such as it is, saved up for the ridiculous — regardless of its source. (And, I suppose I could probably always find more.)  I’ll parcel it out as I see fit without any input from you, but thanks for the concern.

  2. On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation to establish the U.S. Department of Agriculture and he later called it "The People's Department."

    Five days later, May 20, he would sign The Homestead Act. Between 1862 and 1900, the Homestead Act provided farms to more than 400,000 families.

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