Would it be possible for an "Abraham Lincoln" caliber of leader to be elected in the current political climate?
we celebrate the leadership and humanity that saved the Union. These are some of the qualities of leadership demonstrated by our greatest president, Lincoln Abraham. We certainly need these qualities in a president but Im not sure if this type of person can be elected in our current political climate. What do you think?
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America is split down the middle these days and can't agree on who we are or what we believe and represent. I would guess that this might be exactly how people felt in the mid-1800s when there was even more division about topics like slavery and states rights. Lincoln wasn't popular during his time for half of the country. Lincoln was questioned and looked-down on by many in the north. How many times did he have to run for president before he actually got the job? It wasn't until afterwards that his greatness was realized, it seems; hence, it would be the same way for us today. We probably wouldn't recognize a great leader in our own generation because we are too critical of those with whom we are familiar. It is only generations later who reap the benefits of such great leaders who are able to recognize their greatness. If we see the economy come back strong, and all the wars end, then maybe we would see such greatness. On the other hand, why don't we as a people rise up and be the great leaders that Lincoln was? Why do we need a leader to make us great or better?
No one like Abe will be elected anytime soon, but the fact that he did get elected suggests that in times of difficulty, exceptional candidates can rise to the occasion. Of course politics is different now than it was then, but there will always be varying degrees of crisis. When it's extreme enough, the "Abe" type candidates will appear.
However, the whole question of Abe's "qualities of leadership" is questionable -- wouldn't it have been better to not suspend Habeas Corpus, keeping the Constitution intact? Wouldn't it have been better to have let the South secede and avoid 600,000 dead?
Other editors make a good point about how important personality and appearance is in our media age. This would definitely not count in Abe's favour. In addition, unfortunatley I think electoral success is all about money nowadays, and to get money you have to endorse policies that will favour the rich and big businesses. This is something that would make it hard for a leader like Abe to come to power.
My guess is that Lincoln would have a harder time being elected today than he did in 1860. His physical appearance would not appeal to many people but would be featured constantly on television. His voice was apparently high, which would also hurt him in an age when most people get their news not by reading but by watching TV and listening to the radio. His skill in long debates would not matter very much in an age addicted to sound-bites and to the one-minute answers promoted by many modern debate formats.
Abraham Lincoln served this country in a very different climate. The obstacles he faced were much more serious in some ways than today: the country was divided and families were pitted against one another on the battlefields of the Civil War. Lincoln appears to have been a man of intense devotion to bringing the country together again. In fact, the moral caliber of Lincoln can be measured in his devotion to the country and its people, who he served. This is the key, I think. He was a servant of the people. It is difficult to find politicians who are willing to serve without getting something out of it—power, money, etc. There are some, but they are many times not the people who have the financial wherewithal to run a strong campaign. If a person cannot make it into the public eye, it is impossible for them to be considered for public office. Too many times it seems to be about money—and popularity. If someone represents a controversial view, and there aren't enough advocates or there are too many groups representing the opposition, someone with the values of a man like Abraham Lincoln cannot make it into office. It is important to realize, I think, that sometimes people are elected and it has more to do with powerful groups supporting them than the votes of U.S. citizens at large.
I sometimes think we can't know the quality of the leadership until the accomplishments are viewed in hindsight, and I think most presidents fall into this circumstance. We have great regard to Lincoln because of what he was able to accomplish under such trying circumstances, but did the nation know that is the kind of man he was going to be? I would like to think there are many men and women of great integrity, vision, and perseverance like Lincoln, who would make great leaders for our country, but I am not sure we would really know that for sure until their time in office was over.
Lincoln was elected during a very turbulent time, when disagreement on important issues (issues that would decide the fate/character/future of the nation) were the subject of open debate.
I think that if a person like him could be elected at that time, speaking his mind on those issues and maintaining his positions on them to a laudable degree, he could do it today.
It's not too much to ask that our leaders be men and women of integrity. The "reality of our political situation" can be changed and changed quickly. That kind of change might not seem likely, it might not be likely, yet it is certainly possible. And the more we collectively believe in this possibility the more likely it becomes.
I think that it is hard for a leader to be as effective as Lincoln was in today's complex world. Everything is much more interconnected now. We are more affected by other countries, and our economy is linked to theirs. It's also hard to know as much about Lincoln, since it was long ago, to be able to answer this.
Lost in many of the plaudets that are thrown Lincoln's way in the public imagination is the fact that Lincoln was a remarkable politician. Remember, though we like to emphasize the things that divide us today, Lincoln was elected in the most divisive atmosphere possible, cobbling together a northern coalition that was by no means a sure thing, even with the split of the Democratic Party. I don't think we have a politician with the skill of Lincoln among the national candidates in either party, but I also think that Lincoln's skills were not only in the leadership department. In short, there is nothing about Lincoln that would keep him from winning in today's ugly political climate, in fact his type of politician would flourish.
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