Vol. 40, No. 2

View Print Edition

A Note from the Chairman

We have tried to continue that tradition in this issue by focusing on a number of important topics that we believe will have some prominence in the coming weeks and months. We lead off with a discussion of the Suburban Agenda, an effort by a group of House Republicans to craft a positive, issues-oriented strategy […]

The Suburban Agenda

There are two basic truths to mid-term elections in America – they are won on themes, and, historically speaking at least, they are usually lost by the party in power.

Suburban Health Care

The legislative agenda developed by the suburban caucus is meant to address our everyday concerns: the safety of our children at school, congested and overcrowded roads, and dwindling open space, for instance. At the very top of that agenda is health care. Seniors enjoying their retirement, couples raising children, and individuals in the suburbs face […]

Q&A with Dave Reichert

Dave Reichert represents Washington’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Elected in 2004, he first came to national prominence as the detective who led the effort to capture the Green River serial killer. He serves on three committees in Congress, and is Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science […]

How I See It

The question is simple enough. What do I think about increasing access to health insurance for American workers? Strengthening border security? Lobbying reform? I’m for them all, and House Republicans are taking aim at each. But beneath the veneer of these simple questions is, I believe, a fundamental misunderstanding of the role a Majority Leader […]

A Bipartisan Solution to Our Big Government Problem

The issue is the establishment of a Sunset Commission. For the second straight year, President Bush is proposing the creation of such a commission as part of his budget plan. Under this proposal, every federal agency and government program would automatically receive a 10-year expiration date, at which time they would essentially be required to […]

Devising a Terrorism Insurance Solution

When Congress enacted the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (also known as TRIA) in 2002, the government-backed terrorism reinsurance program it established was designed as a temporary stopgap to give insurers time to regroup and sort out the complexities of dealing with terrorism risk.

Dynamic Scoring: The Time is Now

It is hard to find any serious economist who would argue that the federal government’s tax and spending policies make no difference to U.S. economic performance. Indeed, all across the political spectrum and throughout the leading schools of economic thought, a broad consensus exists that what governments do with tax dollars and how they raise […]

Dynamic Scoring: Not So Fast!

They are frustrated because formal revenue loss estimates used by Congress during the budget process ignore revenues recouped from the increase in economic activity which occurs as a result of the pro-growth tax cuts.

Politics Never Sounded So Good

We wring our hands in this third century of the American Experiment. More of us, we’re told, can identify Paris Hilton than Paris, France. Frothy celebrity magazines thrive while serious political journals struggle. Citizens seem more excited about voting for the American Idol than the American President. Entertainment trumps civic engagement; staying amused is more […]

Lincoln, King and Scripture

When Americans marked the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., earlier this year, we were paying tribute to two leaders who did more to advance the causes of equality, human dignity, and civil rights in this country than perhaps any other Americans.

The Party Line: Great Republican Quotes from Lincoln to Reagan and Bush

Great Republican Quotes from Lincoln to Reagan and Bush

From the Archives: Thirty Years Ago in the Forum

Last month fort-five different House Republicans joined in groups of varying size to issue two in-depth statements, one on the draft, the other on foreign aid; eighteen introduced a Civil Rights Law Enforcement Act of major significance. The spearhead for the initiative was once again the Wednesday Group of moderate Republicans, joined in the draft […]

The Backpage: Maybe Clinton was right

Ten years ago this past January, Bill Clinton delivered his State of the Union Address in which he famously declared that “The era of big government is over.” In this same speech, he also reiterated his support for school uniforms and the V-chip.

Ripon Profile of Melissa Hart

I am a Republican because we are the only party that is offering positive ideas to make our country and our communities a better place to live and raid families.

Lincoln, King and Scripture

When Americans marked the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., earlier this year, we were paying tribute to two leaders who did more to advance the causes of equality, human dignity, and civil rights in this country than perhaps any other Americans.

We were also paying tribute to two leaders who found their source of strength in one common place – scripture. As we reflect on their lives and consider how their actions helped shape our world, it might also be worthwhile to reflect on how their use of scripture helped unify the nation, and how the example they set remains highly relevant today.

American history has been marked by one glaring contradiction – slavery – followed by its godchild – segregation. While many defenders of slavery came from the ranks of learned Protestant clergy, particularly in the South, Christianity had a significant role in eradicating slavery – in its first stage, one hundred years after our founding; in its second stage, another hundred years later.

During the first stage, the language and cadences of scripture, which had been used to justify slavery, played a significant role in its elimination. Lincoln’s use of scriptural language, perhaps best exemplified in his Second Inaugural Address, is significant in this regard:

“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.”

“It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.”

At the deepest, most personal level, Lincoln and King Affirmed that the opportunity for individuals to live freely and flourish is a -if not the- fundamental promise and premise of American life.

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue…as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’” 

These most remembered phrases operate at a mythical level. They give voice to the idea that a nation cannot be free as long as some of its citizens are enslaved. This combination of community and individualism marks American society at its best.

A century later, scripture played an equally significant role in eradicating segregation through the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His famous “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, is resplendent with Biblical language and images:

“We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteous like a mighty stream.’” 

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’” 

King’s most memorable passage, which emerges from these Biblical images, leans toward individualism as a constitutive element of community in America:

“I have a dream that one day my four children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Lincoln and King used Biblical language that spoke to community. Their language transcended differences, religious and otherwise. At the deepest, most personal level, Lincoln and King affirmed that the opportunity for individuals to live freely and flourish is a — if not the — fundamental promise and premise of American life. These two speeches of these two leaders are certainly among the most historically significant uses of scripture in American history.

The reason their use of scripture was so powerful is that it addressed a fundamental dimension of American culture – one that is spiritual and existential.  Their use of scripture was much deeper than the way today’s political parties and religious camps volley individual verses across the net at one another – with great intensity – seeking to score political or theological points and drive one another out of the game. 

The capacity to give voice to individualism is crucial to Americans. But at our best, we recognize that for individualism to flourish, communities must be healthy.  Lincoln and King captured this creative balance in their use of scripture. For our nation to flourish, we must capture the balance between individualism and community. For our nation to flourish “under God,” we would benefit by looking at the way Lincoln and King used scripture.

Indeed, whoever aspires to lead our nation at this crucial point in our history – a time when Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have come to play such an important role in our domestic and international affairs – needs to affirm the individualism so important to our heritage in a way that lifts the community as the context in which individuals can flourish. 

Lincoln and King affirmed that premise in a way that resonated and shaped American history. Despite the plethora of religious books in the marketplace and of religious leaders influencing national policy, no political or religious leader of recent decades has connected scripture to the creative tension between individualism and community that marks our society.

I hope someone will. Soon.

Larry R. Hayward is the Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia.