These past two weeks has left me puzzled and left me questioning my position in politics. Last week we had the privilege of reading Thoreau, The Higher Law as well as for this week’s reading of Lincoln’s, On the Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions. Both of these authors’ views of government are on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Thoreau told us to fight against an unjust government, even if it means that we ought to disobey laws in the process. Lincoln, however, told us to obey the law and we must abstain from vigor if we want to change the government.
I thought more into what Lincoln was stating. He wants us to obey the laws in order to change them. I just thought to myself, “What a contradiction! Moonshine must’ve been a regular for Mr. Lincoln.” If my assumption is correct, my guess is that Lincoln would want the populace to obey the laws that are currently implemented, however, use our voice and power to vote for politicians that will oppose the laws that the populace disagrees with. Now, I feel uneasy about that because how many times has the masses vote a politician into office because they felt he/she will represent their views, then flip on their voters and do the opposite of what the politician said he/she would or would not do. An example of this would be how Doug Ducey ran his campaign stating he will not make any budget cuts to education, but once he was elected into office he first thing he did is purpose a massive cut to education. How promising. Now, I felt that Thoreau’s argument was a claim I can get on board with. I thought of those who disobeyed laws in the past in order to attain their ultimate goal. Such as those who fought for their rights and liberties (i.e. civil rights, women suffrage etc.) My only concern with this is that there may be severe consequences to those individuals who rebel against the government. Don’t get me wrong, it is noble and brave of those who are willing to stand up against their government and demand a change they want to see, but it truly aches my heart when I hear stores of these brave men and women who lose their lives and cannot witness the change they fought tooth and nail for. I think of incidents such as the Kent State shootings and what’s occurring in Ferguson. These, for myself, are difficult stories to hear and I cannot imagine the amount of pain the families endured when they lost their loved ones.
This is why I am sitting on the fence between Thoreau and Lincoln. I can see their intentions and their method of correcting the government. I am just unsure as to which would be the greater good. I feel that with Thoreau, more changes will be done since he calls the populace to action and to take matters into their own hands but then I think of Lincoln and his testimony. He is widely known for changing the government and for his accomplishments. Which leads me to challenge and ask you this. Who do you side with and why?