Renewing the American Experiment of Self-Government

In her insight piece for this month, Katerina Kosmopoulou seeks to put the issues surrounding the upcoming US election into historical perspective. US presidents have used the power of their office to renew and rebuild the US at times of political, economic and social turmoil and we expect the next president to do so as well, in particular by embarking on investment in the infrastructure so desperately needed after years of neglect.

Renewing the American Experiment of Self-Government

This, then, is a story of Lincoln’s political genius revealed through his extraordinary array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended, might have escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates; to share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an unparalleled ability to keep his governing coalition intact, a tough-minded appreciation of the need to protect his presidential prerogatives, and a masterful sense of timing.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

As I sat down for a quiet coffee this Sunday morning, I caught a glimpse of my copy of American historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, her seminal biographical portrait of Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet, resting on the bookcase. It seemed timely to revisit it.

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