GOP: Party of Reagan, Lincoln, or … Dan Winslow?

Recently I applauded a video released by Rep. Dan Winslow  for getting two mentions of Abraham Lincoln into only a little over two minutes of video. But I also questioned whether it is realistic to reclaim the mantle of the Party of Lincoln for an institution that has so long been the Party of Reagan. So does Dan Winslow of the Massachusetts GOP represent the Party of Reagan or the Party of Lincoln?

Here is what I have in mind, in addition to the quotes in my prior post wherein Lincoln argues that labor is the superior of capital.  One of President Ronald Reagan’s most famous and enduring quotations is from his First Inaugural: “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Contrast Reagan’s dismissal of government to this viewpoint of Lincoln, from “Fragments of a Tariff Discussion” (December 1, 1847?) “To [secure] to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.”

Reagan famously broke the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization and had generally hostile views toward labor. Lincoln seems quite willing to use government to protect labor, as a “most worthy object of any good government.”

Times change. Winslow recognizes that a Massachusetts Republican must be “a different kind of breed from the national Republicans.” He’ll have to show what that means to avoid Scott Brown’s fate of being dragged down by the national GOP. Perhaps we will witness the birth of the Party of Winslow?

About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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