Team of Rivals

8 Jan

I finished (finally!) “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

It was a good book. What was so amazing was realizing Lincoln’s strength in uniting people. He had a natural talent for that, and he also worked hard to do it during his administration. He made sure people were heard. He may not have done what they wanted, but he listened. And if he didn’t do what they wanted, he often explained why in such a way that they completely understood his choice.

That, to me, is what politics should be. People working together, voicing different opinions, but reaching compromise or at least understanding. None of this left-is-bad, right-is-bad mentality. Lincoln was also driven by a sense of purpose to keep the Union together. He kept that goal, that purpose always in his sights when making decisions. He also worked to keep people’s spirits up during the war, never losing faith in the purpose and helping others stay upbeat about the outcome.

It also made me wonder how that skill could be learned and/or applied in everyday life by everyday people. Do we listen to each other and the other side enough? Do we explain our choices when they impact others? Or do we just bulldoze and do what we want and expect others to like it? Obviously, I’m not talking about simple little decisions like what I have for lunch. But those bigger decisions that impact others – do we work to be inclusive and consultative? I will be the first to say that you can go too far with consultation and reaching consensus. So there does need to be a balance.

I think the telling thing about Lincoln was how broken up people were upon his death, even people in Washington who started as his enemies. He had worked to include them, listen to them, and they were truly grieved at his assassination.

(Side thought: How different would reconstruction have been if Lincoln had lived? He was already showing himself to be more lenient and kind towards the South than the rest of his cabinet. By killing Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth made it much more difficult for the South to recover from the war.)

The book made me think about how people are treated and included. Something we can always try to keep in mind, and most of us often don’t.

It’s a long book, but well worth it. Lincoln is a fascinating character to read about.

2 Responses to “Team of Rivals”

  1. Booksphotographsandartwork January 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Sounds like a great book. I know my husband would love it but he doesn’t like to read books anymore, only things on the computer. Lincoln was an amazing man. I will look for this one at the Goodwill.

  2. GrowthLines... January 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Team of Rivals is such a rich road map of leadership, working together, and in many ways, community.

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