The Blog

Election Anxiety: Advice From Abraham Lincoln

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

By the time the votes are tabulated and our choice for President is confirmed, we will find ourselves standing at a critical fork in the road, one that leads either to a precipice from which we leap to our own demise, or toward a towering mountain beyond which lies a verdant field of promise. The choice will be yours, mine and our neighbors.

As I found myself concerned about this election and its implications, I turned to Abraham Lincoln for inspiration. Most of us know that Lincoln was a Republican, one who guided us from a troubling past of slavery into a future that seems very much upon us. His guidance from the past seems ever current today.

Please consider these eloquent words and join in creating a future in which we can all grow and prosper.

On the need to unite

"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."

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

As we move forward from the election, uniting for the common good will be critical, both for the well being of us as individuals, and more so for the well being of the country. Clearly, we need to support one another, to comfort one another, and to align ourselves in the restoration of good works from which and for which all will benefit.

"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"

Surely, neither the McCain nor Obama camps are trying to do harm to the nation, the people or to the world at large. They clearly disagree mightily about the right and proper course. Can we not find a way to align in service to the common good, to respectfully disagree, and address the negatives of the world without having to add negativity in the process? We need to step past the animus, the name calling, and join together to improve this country and well being of ALL of our citizens.

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

Could we please stop the insults, the outrageous accusations, and outright lies? Just today I watched an interview of voters in Texas proclaiming Barack Obama to be a socialist, a Muslim, and a friend of terrorists. Even worse, robocalls are circulating today in Pennsylvania accusing Barack of activities basically supporting domestic terrorism. Could we please stop circulating this kind of trash talk? Even if you think Barack Obama or John McCain is a "dog," at least let us be clear that he is of the four legged variety.

And in case you don't like someone from the other side, consider this advice from President Lincoln::

"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better. "

I sure hope everyone is listening! Could you be the person others dislike? Are you someone else's "jerk." I am not a fan of John McCain the politician; however, I have no doubt that he is a fine human being, one who cares and cares deeply. I can easily disagree with his approach without having to villify him.

I once commented that very few parents spend late night hours trying to figure out how to screw up their kids, despite what their kids may have to say about them. The same is true for both the McCain and Obama camps - no matter what you think of their poltiics or policies, neither is spending any time whatsoever trying to make things worse.

On America as leader in the free world:

"Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure. "

"My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth."

I sure hope we are listening here. We have seen enough of self-serving excuses to use war as an economic tool or the lever to force upon others that which we deem to be in their best interest. Could we please lead by example rather than force? Protection and defense are one thing, aggression based on deception is quite another.

As we move forward from this election, I sincerely hope our new President shares Lincoln's dream and will craft policies intended to inspire, to lead, and to ensure equall treatment for all.

On fixing the current political, social and financial crisis:

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

Don't we need to spend a few hours figuring out how to fix the current mess without rushing into ill conceived "plans" that can be usurped as easily as the plans that created the current mess?

"Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar."

Knowing that Lincoln was a Republican, you have to wonder if and how things could have changed so much. Can we find our way back to valuing people more highly than financial gain?

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today "

Every politician I have heard in the last couple of decades waxes poetic, with a bit of fire and brimstone thrown in when talking about mortgaging our future and shackling our children's children with insurmountable debt and financial problems. And then they seem to heap more kindling on the fire. Hopefully, our new President will heed Mr. Lincoln's advice and lead us into a new era of response-ability, accountability, and integrity. Please!

On leading us into the future:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Could whomever wins office tomorrow have the courage and character to address that which is for the common good, to look after the many rather than the few, and restore a sense of dignity and pride to who we are as a nation?

"He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help."

Nearly one hundred years later, Sidney J. Harris said: "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

May we all have wisdom to unite, the courage to face the future, and the heart to help.

I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at)


If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at)

Popular in the Community