WILMINGTON — Congressman Steve Stivers spoke Monday at the Clinton County GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
Stivers spoke about How We Elected Lincoln, a book published in 1916, written by Abram J. Dittenhoefer and which is the only firsthand account of Lincoln’s campaign, according to the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Abraham “Lincoln was not a polished person,” Stivers said. “I don’t know if somebody like that could be elected president today. … It certainly was a surprise to a lot of people.”
Stivers said it was the power of his ideas, including the idea that all people are created equal, that drove Lincoln to become president.
“Lincoln was elected because he stood up for people who had been beaten down,” Stivers said. “A lot of people are getting beat down. A lot of people are being overwhelmed by big government. We can take a lot of lessons from the campaigns of 1860 and apply them today.”
Stivers recounted that Lincoln spoke to an Ohio regiment during the Civil War to say that anyone can become president – even Lincoln, a man from the prairies of Illinois.
“Now, because of big government, that’s not true anymore,” Stivers said. “Income inequality is exacerbated by government. The policies out of Washington, things like the war against poverty since the 1960s, is really causing permanent divisions in our country because we’ve divided into a country of workers and people who don’t work, people who pay taxes and people who take a check from the government.”
Stivers said it’s time to bridge those divides and bring people together.
“I believe we’ve got to do a lot of things to get Americans back to work,” including making sure that most programs foster work rather than discouraging it, Stivers said. “The best way to fight poverty is a job.”
Stivers also said that party members have to remain focused on the ideals Lincoln perpetuated and to support the eventual Republican nominee.
“This presidential campaign is going to be about ideas and solutions, and it’s important to elect someone who believes in limited government, lower taxes, 2nd Amendment rights and traditional values,” Stivers said. “We are at a tipping point. … We probably now have to run uphill a little bit because we’ve already started to pass that tipping point for America, but we’ve got to make sure that we bring back responsible, effective, limited government.”
“I hope that we can all write a book about this election, and I want it to have a happy ending,” Stivers said. “But it depends on us. It depends on how hard we work” and how the party responds after the “nasty” primaries.
“We have incredible talent in our party,” Stivers said. “We need to all come together, and that’s one of the lessons Lincoln taught us.”
Stivers is currently in his third term and is seeking a fourth term. He faces no Republican opponent this March but will face Democrat Steve Wharton and Green Party write-in candidate Dennis Lambert in the November general election.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.