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Professor discusses bipartisanship through the example of Abraham Lincoln

Richard Etulain to visit the Estacada Public Library on May 14


What does bipartisanship look like? Is it possible today?

Richard Etulain, professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico, will discuss bipartisanship through the example of Abraham Lincoln during a program at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, in the Flora Room of the Estacada Public Library.

Etulain called Doris Kearns Goodwin’s "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" the “best recent book on Lincoln.” The 2012 Steven Spielberg film "Lincoln" was based on this book.

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Richard W. EtulainEtulain said Goodwin referred to Lincoln as a man of “golden character.”

In his conversation, titled “Lessons from Lincoln: Is Political Bipartisanship Possible,” Etualain will explore how Lincoln’s “golden character” made him a paragon of bipartisanship.

Lincoln’s cabinet was a diverse one. Etulain will describe how Lincoln invited men from parties other than his own to become some of his closest advisers.

He will give examples of how Lincoln dealt with people who disagreed with him.

After his brief presentation on Lincoln and bipartisanship, Etulain will discuss the subject and how it relates to the possibility of bipartisanship today.

Etulain has given this particular presentation 15 times in the past few years.

He thinks the topic may be of particular interest to people who identify as political independents.

Independents are the fastest-growing political party in the United States — meaning they are not satisfied by either the Democratic or Republican party.

He hinted that aspects of identifying as an independent may facilitate bipartisanship.

“One of the keys to be able to be bipartisan is to be nonpartisan in some legislation,” he said. “It’s hard to create bipartisanship if people vote straight tickets.”

However, Etulain won’t reveal anything about his own politics during the conversation.

“I try to finish this program and practice bipartisanship or nonpartisanship myself so they don’t know when I’m finished whether I’m a Democrat of Republican," he said.

"It kills the conversation if the speaker comes out really strongly one way or other."

Etulain’s conversation comes to Estacada as part of Oregon Humanites’ Conversation Project. Through the Conversation Project, prominent scholars and thinkers discuss challenging issues in public settings.

The Estacada Area Arts Commission and the Estacada Public Library have teamed up to sponsor three Conversation Project speakers to come to Estacada.

City Planner Nan Laurence spoke on “A City’s Center: Rethinking Downtown” on May 7.

On Tuesday, May 21, incarceration expert Walidah Imarisha will speak on “Beyond Bars: Re-envisioning the Prison System.”




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