Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Would These Men Be Elected President Today?

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Feb 21

Posted by Jim_Daly Feb 20, 2012




President's Day is an amalgamation of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln's birthdays. Where and how it's celebrated is dependent upon where you live, but the occasion gives rise to a question:

Would any or even some of the past United States Presidents be elected in today's climate - especially Presidents Washington and Lincoln?

Ironically, George Washington really didn't even want the job. He preferred farming to politics. Yet, he felt a duty and obligation to his fledgling country. Such a response to the role stands in stark contrast to the hungry ambition many current-day politicians possess.

As a candidate today, I’m not sure how the public would receive him. He lost all but one of his teeth and wore dentures - first made from cow's teeth and later those of a hippopotamus.

He also openly and plainly expressed his faith. How might these words, offered in 1790, be received today by some critics?

May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivering the Hebrews from their Egyptian Oppressors planted them in the promised land—whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation—still continue to water them with the dews of Heaven and to make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah.

What about Abraham Lincoln?

The nation’s sixteenth president was elected in 1860, but only because the Democrats were so divided over slavery that a third party emerged, splitting the vote three ways.

I'd like to believe that a man of Lincoln's solid character and principle would appeal to a majority of Americans today, but I'm not so sure.

Even setting aside his gangly appearance, would the "experts" deem him unelectable, even characterizing him as something of a "loser," at least professionally speaking?

In 1831, he failed in business. In 1832, he ran for the Illinois state legislature - and lost. An application to law school was rejected. By the end of 1833 he was bankrupt. He did win a seat in the Illinois legislature in 1834, but he had his heart broken by a woman in 1835 and nearly had a nervous breakdown later that year.

In 1843 he ran for Congress and lost. He won a seat in 1846 but lost his reelection bid in 1848. In 1854 he ran for the Senate - and lost. And in 1858 he ran for the Senate again - and lost.

Yet, in the end, it was President Lincoln who acknowledged the dignity of every person, proclaimed the slaves free and helped preserve the Union.

How did he do it?

Like Washington, he was a man who relied on divine strength. In the midst of the worst fighting of the Civil War at Gettysburg, here was how our President responded, in his own words:

"When everyone seemed panic-stricken, I went to my room, and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed. Soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into His own hands..."

That’s the mark of a great man who knew in Whom we trust.

That was our sixteenth president.

Could that man be elected today?

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