Thoughts on “Lincoln”

All in all, a great movie. I liked the gravity of it, and it did a good job at not making Lincoln too much larger than life. I didn’t like the dumb comic relief, and the soundtrack was a little heavy-handed in the way it seemed to force emotions at key moments.

Watching this movie, seeing Lincoln and others in action, made me feel more than ever that I want to do something great. What, I don’t know, but it touched something inside of me. I feel like my posture has improved with respect to my goals and my morals. It made me want to be as magnanimous as Lincoln. Here’s a man who understood power; he wasn’t afraid to buy votes or to commit an impeachable offense. He understood that legal and moral flexibility is essential to power.

There was a great piece of dialog between Thaddeus Stevens and Lincoln. Linclon is trying to get Stevens to reign in his radicalism so that he doesn’t upset the Democrats and risk losing their votes. Stevens is stubborn in his single-minded support for racial equality. He wants the South to pay dearly for the abomination that is slavery; he wants to take it far beyond the mere legal emancipation which the amendment proposes. He chides Lincoln for navigating with an “ossified” moral compass, and Lincoln responds by asking what good a compass is if it doesn’t show you where the obstacles are, if it doesn’t prevent you from getting stuck in a swamp. Here Lincoln is acting in a way that Saul Alinsky would much later approve of, and Stevens is exactly the kind of radical that Alinsky warns us not to become.

Stevens: foaming at the mouth, irate, indignant. Lincoln: practical, realistic, compromising.

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