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Time to Lead from the Middle
By Susan Stamper Brown
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Someone once said, history repeats itself because no one was listening the first time. All one needs to do is look at the ever-widening ideological divide and partisan bickering going on in America to understand Americans are slow learners. And, unless a Lincolnesque figure rises to the occasion, America is headed for another Civil War sans the bloodshed.
Sure, today’s ideological war is waged with words rather than muskets and canons, but it still reaps similar results when extremists on both sides of the political aisle refuse to consider any common ground--simply because they want to get their way. All this tugging left and yanking right does is extend the already-gaping hole in the middle. The only way we will ever experience relief from the partisan gridlock in Washington is if we choose a president who will help us find common ground by leading us from the middle. (There is nothing wrong with compromise, just as long as sound principle is not forfeited along the way.)
Before he was president, Abraham Lincoln spoke to the value of compromise. During a speech to the House of Representatives in 1848 Lincoln said, “The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject anything is not whether it has any evil in it; but whether it has more of evil than of good.”
Food for thought: Lincoln’s “rule” was the measuring stick used by former President Bill Clinton, when he signed the sweeping welfare reform bill in 1996. After signing, Clinton said, “I signed this bill because this is an historic chance, where Republicans and Democrats got together...We should not have passed this historic opportunity to do what is right”. And Mitt Romney did the same thing when he, as a Republican governor in a Democratic state, passed a healthcare bill in partnership with the late Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy. Dissimilarly, what could have been his shining legacy, Obamacare, became a conspicuous black eye on the one, President Obama, who chose partisanship over compromise to deliver healthcare legislation.
In sharp contrast, Romney has promised to carry a Lincolnesque spirit back to Washington. During the first debate, Romney said, “We have to work on a collaborative basis...we need to have leadership...that will actually bring people together and get the job done...I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again...”.
Two candidates. Two records: One led from the middle and promises to do it again, and one consistently leads from the left, behind, or in some cases, from an island all by himself. One promises unity; the other delivers discord.
The choice is ours.
In 1861, Lincoln said the future of our nation is “with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, ‘Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?’”.
Suddenly feeling a heavy burden? This country is worth it.
Susan Stamper Brown is an opinion page columnist, motivational speaker and military advocate who writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture. Email Susan at or her website at