Lincoln’s Leadership Principles for Presidential Candidates
Lincoln’s Leadership Principles for Presidential Candidates

As America commemorates the birth date of Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12, his dignity, character, and moral courage deserve imitation from our presidential candidates.

Although born in 1809, and becoming president in 1861, the leadership qualities of the 16th president of the United States timelessly exemplify character, ethics, and leadership; so critical for the next commander-in-chief.

The American presidency is not one for ego, power, or self-aggrandizement, but for humility, ethics, and sacrifice.

Presidential Candidates: Contemporary Concerns

These are challenging times for America due to concerns here at home and on distant shores.

As addressed by both democratic and republican candidates, concerns include health care, veteran’s services, foreign relations, immigration, terrorism, police-community relations, violence, environmental degradation, human rights, border security, economic health, trade, infrastructure, education, and the criminal justice system.

America’s President: The Ethical Protector

In light of these concerns, Abraham Lincoln is a model of an ethical protector, which must be the heart of America’s next president.

As detailed in my article titled “America’s Next President Demands an Ethical Protector,” published in the Nov. 12, 2015 Epoch Times, I argued that “the presidential qualities of character, ethics, and leadership must not only serve America, but allow our country to be a model of decency for peoples of all nations.”

The article stressed that our president must live by ethical principles highlighted as the following:

  • Ethics is acutely aware of the efficacy of truth, honor, and valor and the destructiveness of deception, selfishness, and arrogance.
  • Ethics always opposes the immorality of injustice and disrespect toward anyone.

In a follow up work titled “America’s Next President Must Have Character, Ethics, Leadership” in the Dec. 17, 2015 Epoch Times, “ethical leadership” was emphasized with Lincoln as a model of “great reserve, quiet, and study.”

Lincoln was a president of character who treasured solitude, and a man with a deep spirituality, so different from many superficial politicians who attempt to be everyone’s best friend, and lack authenticity, trustworthiness, and integrity.

Lincoln: Authority, Empathy, Perseverance, Moral Courage

Lincoln spoke with authority such as when he warned the South in his Inaugural Address, “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you… You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it.”

Lincoln’s perseverance is well documented despite many failures.

He failed in business in 1831, was defeated for state legislator in 1832, and failed at a business in 1833. In 1835, his fiancée died and he had a nervous breakdown the following year. In both 1843 and 1848 he ran for congress and lost twice. He was defeated running for the Senate in 1855, and lost running for vice president the following year. In 1859, Lincoln ran for the Senate again and lost.

In 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, exemplifying his admirable perseverance.

A life size statue of President Abraham Lincoln in front of the entrance to his summer retreat where he lived during a quarter of his presidency and commuted to the White House on horse back, on the property of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 12, 2010. (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)
A life size statue of President Abraham Lincoln in front of the entrance to his summer retreat where he lived during a quarter of his presidency and commuted to the White House on horse back, on the property of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 12, 2010. (Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images)

Lincoln’s empathy was memorialized in his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…”

Another expression of Lincoln’s empathy is in a Nov. 21, 1864 letter expressing condolences to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, a widow who lost sons during the Civil War.

“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

“I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

Lincoln also had the moral courage to stand against the monstrous injustice against human rights of slavery as immortalized in his Jan. 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

“And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.”

Final Reflections

Candidates seeking the presidency must look to Lincoln as a model of leadership in the midst of the world’s conflict, turmoil, and challenges.

The American presidency is not one for ego, power, or self-aggrandizement, but for humility, ethics, and sacrifice.

Lincoln’s legacy demands that all presidential candidates take notice and without reserve, allow his character, ethics, and leadership to inspire their aspirations.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.

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