Lincoln’s Way: Rival Parties in Collaboration

enmity_foolsA common complaint with regard to government is that the political factions have become radicalized and government at all levels has become deadlocked. In another article, I have suggested that a good way to think of the government is to compare it to the brain in the human body. The two main factions of Right and Left can be compared to the right hemisphere and left hemisphere in the brain. I suggested also that the ideal government would be one in which the Right and the Left factions are harmonized and working together. In this article, I will look at the advantages of having the Right and the Left working together, and will consider the “Lincoln Way.”

Lincoln’s Government

Pres. Abraham Lincoln

Pres. Abraham Lincoln

One US president that made an effort to harmonize the political factions in his administration was President Abraham Lincoln. In his presidency (1861-1865), Lincoln included three cabinet members that had opposed him in the 1860 presidential election. These former rivals occupied the posts of Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury. In other words, Lincoln was willing to share power with his political opponents.

If one were to ask Pres. Lincoln about his governing philosophy, he might not have compared it to the brain. Still, he seemed to have known that political rivals are not enemies but rather good people who see the government from different angles. This is exactly the way proposed in the Back-to-the-Body Perspective. It is also what I call “The Lincoln Way.”

Three things are remarkable in the Lincoln Way: first, the fact that Lincoln thought about inviting his opponents to collaborate with him. Next, the fact that his opponents accepted that invitation. Finally, the way in which Lincoln managed to keep those political giants harmonized, united, and pulling in the same direction.

Three Rivals

Three Rivals

I believe there are three reasons why a president would want to work together with political rivals. The first reason is that a great political leader must know his/her limitations. By working with rivals, a leader can overcome a lot of those limitations. Next, a great leader is able to identify a common goal—or a common enemy, if you will. By inviting the rivals to focus on fighting that “common enemy” rather than each other, the leader is able to achieve oneness. Finally, there is the proverb that says, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” When a giant mind becomes all of a sudden disengaged, it may decide to do evil things to its opponents. Thus Lincoln, by having his former opponents working together with him, prevented any further opposition from them.

Why Collaboration with Opponents Makes Sense

From the Back-to-the-Body Perspective, we can consider the government as the “brain” of the nation.  Before becoming united, our brain can be seen as a battleground between two world views: a view from the Left, and a view from the Right.

The Left connects with the Stomach and can become infused with RESENTMENT. The Right connects with the heart and becomes inspired by hope, the big picture, the enthusiastic perspective.

Reagan: the Paradigmatic Right Brain

A good example of a leader focused on the right hemisphere of the brain was Pres. Ronald Reagan. In his Farewell Speech, he said,

Countries across the globe are turning to free markets and free speech and turning away from the ideologies of the past. For them, the great rediscovery of the 1980’s has been that, lo and behold, the moral way of government is the practical way of government: Democracy, the profoundly good, is also the profoundly productive. (Web)

Pres. Ronald Reagan

Pres. Ronald Reagan

Here was Reagan at his best: the big picture, hope, high spirits, faith in people, faith in the world. He spoke constantly about FREEDOM–his beloved value. Reagan abhorred the Left and became the ideological voice of the Right.

It should be noted, though, that Pres. Reagan, in his day-to-day approach to government, was very much willing to work with his political opponents. In this sense, he was very much like Lincoln. When it came to getting things done, Reagan would talk to his opponents and find a way to move this agenda forward.

Carter: An Example of Left Brain

Jimmy Carter, who was President of the United States from 1977 to 1981, was the “small picture” president. He focused on details, information, knowledge: the left-hemisphere of the brain. Instead of freedom, Carter was committed to human rights. Instead of hope, Carter was committed to truth: “I will never lie to you,” he said. Instead of projecting strength, Carter chose to project compassion. Carter would get lost in the intricate details of issues, instead of allowing himself a large vista of the world. Thus, Pres. Carter prized punctuality, neatness, attention to details.

While Reagan promised a return to a hopeful American optimism, Jimmy Carter promised better roads, schools, and hospitals. While Reagan wanted to place America first, Carter wanted to place the people first. While Reagan would spend hours honing his speaking skills, Carter would spend hours studying the writings of theologians.

But here’s a great difference between Reagan and Carter: Reagan worked hard to win the legislators over to his proposals, whereas Carter would go to the people and use them to FORCE the legislators to do what Carter wanted. This is one of the characteristics of the left-leaning governments: they tend to run roughshod over legislators.

As you can imagine, the focus on partisan politics can only result in deadlock. Thus, people feel disappointed, pessimistic, and frustrated. There has to be a better way forward for humankind.

Parties Are Not Sufficient

Collaborating Right and Left

Collaborating Right and Left

The way forward for humankind in the 21st century is to relinquish our dependency on political parties and start thinking in terms of unity and collaboration. Lincoln’s way is the best way: get political rivals to work together. A party is just that: a part of the whole. Why would we want just one part? Would we not want the whole?

What is best: Inhalation or exhalation? Up or down? Inside or outside? Right or Left? Hope or truth? Human Rights or Opportunity?

As you can see, these questions are nonsensical: how can we choose? Of course we want both! That is why the Back-to-the-Body Perspective chooses both. It is a nonpartisan perspective. It speaks to the north and to the south; to the east and to the west; to the  young and to the old; to the first and to the last. The body embraces all; thus, the Back-to-the-Body Perspective embraces all.

Have we not been disappointed again and again for our hopes on this or that party? The reason is that, a party, if acting alone, will lose power, will lose steam. Can one hand clap? Can one team play without a rival? Thus, giving all power to one party in the hopes that this party will save the nation is a fruitless venture.

Instead, we should pursue Lincoln’s Way. This is the best way to break through the political deadlock that we find on the state level and on the national level. Lincoln’s Way of collaboration among political rivals is the best way.

I conclude with a quote:

Where a people loves the beautiful, where it honors the genius in its artists–there a common spirit wafts like the air of life. There the shy mind opens; self-importance dissolves, and all hearts are pious and great, and enthusiasm gives birth to heroes. The homeland of all men is among such a people, and the stranger may gladly linger there.
In German: Wo ein Volk das Schöne liebt, wo es den Genius in seinen Künstlern ehrt, da weht, wie Lebensluft, ein allgemeiner Geist, da öffnet sich der scheue Sinn, der Eigendünkel schmilzt, und fromm und groß sind alle Herzen und Helden gebiert die Begeisterung. Die Heimat aller Menschen ist bei solchem Volk und gerne mag der Fremde sich verweilen.
Excerpt From: Friedrich Hölderlin. Hyperion. iBooks.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
October 8, 2014

Photo Credits:
Photo:  Enmity; Author: Iqbal Osman; Source: http://bit.ly/1vMAHRo; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo:  Lincoln Sitting; Author: Cliff; Source: http://bit.ly/1qgEGzQ; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo:  Rivals with swords; Author: Robert Couse-Baker; Source: http://bit.ly/1vMCANP; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo:  Collaborating Hands; Author: Falk Lademann; Source: http://bit.ly/1oQjHo2; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Photo:  Pres_Reagan; Author: Linsey; Source: http://bit.ly/1scLchK; CC License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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