Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Nation of Grinders

David Brooks writes a very thoughtful and readable essay using Lincoln to great effect. He is trying to understand success. Lincoln’s simplicity, humility, and work ethic (plow horse like) should appeal to the young--too many of whom want to get rich as fast as possible--argues Brooks. He thinks that most successful people, like Lincoln, also have a core faith inn the moral power of hard work. Here is a paragraph, but read the whole thing; light and breezy.

"In the land of the plow horses, wealth is acceptable because it is legitimized by the creed of social mobility, which in many ways originated with Lincoln and the Whig Party, of which he was a member for most of his career. According to this creed, affluence is admired because it is the product of hard work, and it does not corrupt because you continue to work even when you don’t have to anymore. According to this creed, social mobility is the saving fire that redeems society. Social mobility opens up horizons because people can see wider opportunities and live transformed lives. Social mobility reduces class conflict because each person can build his own fortune, rather than taking from the fortunes of others. Social mobility unleashes creative energies and keeps everything new and dynamic. It compensates for inequality, because the family that is poor today may become richer tomorrow. It is the very essence of justice, because each person’s destiny is somehow related to the amount of talent and effort he or she pours into life. The purpose of government is to ensure that there is, to use Lincoln’s words, ’an open field and a fair chance’ so that everyone can compete in the race of life.

This is the sensible, steady and admirable ethic of American life. And people who hew to this ethic are still rewarded. If you get an education, get married and stay married, the odds are overwhelming that you will rise. If you migrate here from a developing country, and if you work hard, the odds are pretty good that you and your children will enjoy brighter and more open futures."
   

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