(A Lincoln student, also a long time friend and MillersTime reader, emailed the following to me a few days ago — a response to Michael Gerson’s “Failing the Lincoln Test: Obama’s ordinary response to extraordinary challenge,” Washington Post, 9/13/11. Click Here to read Gerson’s article).
from Richard Margolies:
Michael Gerson’s op-ed, 9/13/11, fails the Lincoln vision test. He claims that Obama does not meet our crisis with solutions. He selectively builds his case and overlooks similarities between these two leaders.
Both Lincoln and Obama responded to fundamental changes facing our nation. Lincoln saw the country moving to a new manufacturing economy in the 1850s and 1860s. Obama sees the country moving to a knowledge and service mode of production in the 21st century.
Lincoln prepared for the new economy by supporting railroads, instituting the National Academy of Sciences, and funding land grant colleges to educate a new working class coming off farms. Obama has established public-private funding for a national smart electrical grid, supported green industry, and high-speed Internet for all regions of the country. To strengthen the economy, Obama proposes high-speed rail initiatives. He saved the US auto industry, increased fleet mileage requirements, created more jobs than in the previous 8 years, and signed significant legislation to discipline Wall Street’s undermining the productive economy. He is attempting to rebuild the deteriorated US infrastructure.
Internationally, Lincoln had to hold off other nations intervening in our Civil War. Obama inherited two international wars and new forms of terrorism. His vision is to reposition our country in the community of nations as a partner, not the policeman. He has clarified that the US is not an enemy of Islam. He ended our internationally provocative practice of torture. At the same time he has strengthened asymmetrical counter-insurgency, including an increasing use of drones and Special Ops strike teams. He is bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that have ballooned our national debt.
Lastly, the Affordable Care Act is not an “entitlement” as Gerson asserts. It engages private insurance companies and addresses the tremendous drag of health care costs on American business. It includes efforts to reduce costly medical errors and bring down costs through Accountable Care Organizations and engaging free-riding citizens in the private insurance marketplace.
Lincoln and Obama both showed foresight in preparing our country for its future. We are fortunate that Obama tries to learn from the other Illinois state legislator who became President. Both faced mockery, threats, and hatred from people who wanted them to fail. Undeterred like Lincoln, Obama responds with visionary and pragmatic initiatives.
The writer is a psychologist and member of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org