As we celebrate Presidents Day, tributes to Abraham Lincoln and his achievements tend to center around the Thirteenth Amendment and his steadfast dedication to keeping the country intact. In this essay, Bill Moyers reflects on another legacy of the 16th president — his “empathy for people he didn’t personally know.”
“The working man. The soldier in battle. His widow and orphans.” These ordinary, struggling Americans mattered to Abraham Lincoln.
Bill laments that today, Washington politicians are more wrapped up in petty bureaucratic concerns than the real “people across the country suffocating in the wreckage of their lives.” The working man who walks 21 miles to his job because our public infrastructure has failed him (and the millions more who can’t find work at all). The soldier who returns from battle unable to find work, housing or the support he needs to recover. The single mother who works longer hours yet remains worse off than her peers in other countries.
And as billionaires who oppose government assistance buy our elections and put their interests ahead of everyone else, Bill reminds us that millions of Americans struggle “not because of their own failures, but because our political and financial elites rigged the economy for their own advantage.”