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  1. No, no, I'm not saying Lincoln was a zombie Yes, this! Lincoln obviously and consciously expanded the powers himself, but this was accompanied with the expectation that when the war was over, the powers would dissipate. He never envisioned, let alone planned for, his successors to artificially keep the expanded powers for no reason, since he deemed the powers only necessary during time of war. It's like blowing up a balloon and not tying it. You expect and articulate that it'll deflate in the near future. But you don't expect somebody to come along (your successors) and keep blowing into it so it never deflates. For instance, here's a portion of a letter written by Lincoln in 1863 in response to criticism over the expanding powers he was overseeing: I'm not arguing that Lincoln was correctly interpreting the Constitution, but it is clear that he viewed the expansion as a gamble and his gamble to take. He doesn't see the expansion of powers as something permanent he can put into place for years to come, but as something granted to him by the Constitution he was sworn to uphold and trying to protect. At the same time, he expects the public to put his actions in context, which they can only do by knowing all the facts: ie, what actions the President took, why he took them, and what the law says about it. Nixon (and future administrations) tend to completely skip over that second portion It's not so much the acceptance of responsibility that I meant to get at. What Lincoln expected was for his actions to be reviewed and absorbed into the nation's collective intelligence, for lack of a better term. When the war ended, he expected the courts and Congress to look at what he did and say yea or nay. If they deemed that what he did was criminal, then Lincoln (realistically in my view) expected that future Presidents would thus have a precedent to follow and know where the line was. If his actions were deemed in the right, he still didn't think the expanded powers would be permanent, only that he would be vindicated and a little more clarity to the Constitution would be made. Let me quote part of Nixon's interview with David Frost from 1977 Nixon never expected to be held accountable. Thus, if he can't be held accountable, neither can any future President for their subsequent actions as well. It's a fine line, but an extremely important one to me. He's arguing that if the President does an action, it's inherently legal. He does later say that the President can't "run amok in this country and get away with it," but his version of consequences for that are not getting re-elected. Lincoln's were impeachment, criminal prosecution, or jail time. Nixon might have very well thought anything he did was in the "nation's best interest," as Lincoln did, but again I'd argue that the distinction is he never expected to be held accountable. If later on his actions were judged to be criminal, oh well, big deal. And THIS interpretation is not only much more dangerous, but as we've seen over the last 2 decades, much more commonly used through "Executive Privilege" and the such. What I'm trying to get at, the Nixon part aside, is that Lincoln is often blamed for the actions his successors took despite his clear expectations for the contrary. Lincoln had very little precedent to go on, knew his actions were a gamble and expected that after the war there would be some sort of oversight, review, and a clearer interpretation of the Constitution to help guide future generations. The fact that this didn't happen because of his untimely death isn't his fault. You can argue that he could have set up some sort of official court to make sure the review took place just in case he wasn't around, but then you're simply arguing that he didn't plan for his death well enough.
  2. I didn't quote the entire post, but these sentences are where I think Lincoln's legacy draws the majority of it's misunderstandings as I highly disagree. Lincoln's legacy may be responsible, but that's only because later men used it to further their goals. Lincoln himself did not seek to expand the powers. While there's no arguing that Lincoln committed many questionable acts during the Civil War, including some that outright conflicted with the Constitution, he also clearly stated that he felt he was responsible. His writings show that he believed the Constitution granted the President the powers to do whatever he felt was necessary for the good of the country in times of emergency. However, after the conflict was resolved, he felt all of the President's actions should not only be reviewed and critiqued, but that accountability should be maintained. If the courts or Congress found his actions to be criminal, the President should take full responsibility and serve the punishment. If people want to hate on Lincoln because of his actions during the Civil War or his perception of expanding the Executive branch, I'd suggest taking a look at Nixon instead. He, like Lincoln, believed that the Constitution granted the President excess powers in time of emergency. Yet Nixon tried to argue that any act taken by the President inherently made it legal. Nixon saw the President as a figure who could do no wrong and who thus effectively could rewrite the "Rule Book" whenever he felt like it with no consequences. Lincoln was fully ready to accept responsibility for any of his actions that were later deemed to be criminal by his peers, the courts, or the nation. Nixon cheery-picked Lincoln's beliefs to serve his own and has thus set a dangerous precedent that we've seen called into play (Executive Privilege anyone?) time and time again over the past few decades. It's almost as if Lincoln is being faulted due to his assassination. It's not his fault he was never able to face his possible vindication or punishment. It would have been interesting to see how Lincoln's life and legacy would have played out had he not been killed. This, to me, is the perfect example of Historical hindsight. At the time Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, this would have been a perfectly good argument for any pro-slavery proponents. However, we can see that this was simply a move to ensure the greatest chance of victory in the war. It's not pretty, but you have to pick your battles. And again, thanks to hindsight, we can see what occurred soon-thereafter. Had Lincoln drug his feet and not pushed the issue of freeing every slave in the nation, I would agree. But that's not what happened, as the states that had been given a previous pass were ordered to follow suit and release their slaves. The main objective of the war had been achieved and as soon as that occurred, he turned to the slavery objective. Yes, he was killed 8 months before the 13th Amendment was ratified, but he put it into motion as quickly as possible. Had Lincoln seen the end of the war coming and then dropped the slavery issue, it would be a valid argument to say that slavery wasn't a major concern of Lincoln's and that he'd only used it as a ploy for his goals. But the speed and urgency he used to make sure all the slaves were freed even when it didn't bring him any distinct rewards should speak to his dedication to the issue.
  3. My dad and I have never really been that close, let alone seen eye to eye on most issues. As I was packing up for college, he handed me Fountainhead and told me I should read it. Books were actually one area where we shared similar tastes and I absolutely devoured it during my first few days Freshman year. That of course lead to Atlas Shrugged a while later and down the rabbit hole I tumbled. We're still not really that close, but I "get" and respect the hell out of him now thanks to that initial book suggestion. Rand goes well with hindsight!
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