The most serious issues for American conservatism today are naturally assumed to be the social policies, political tactics, and outright anti-Americanism of the Left. This would be the case if conservatives were not so confused and if some of the loudest voices on the Right were not so misleading over what it is that we are supposed to conserve. Take away the universal objection to liberals, and popular conservatism in America becomes a perplexing scene. This confusion is most apparent when attention is given to the thought, the character, and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
The first big-government liberal; conscious abuser of the executive power for tyrannical ends; contributor to the culturally destructive tendencies of radical egalitarianism; sufferer of an assortment of psychological complexes; and, of course, a racist these are favorite tunes played over and over again by scholars and journalists who claim to be taking a new, original, or "real" look at Lincoln. Thomas DiLorenzo, professor of economics at Loyola College, has done just that in his recent book, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War.
Ken Masugi, Director of the Claremont Institute Center for Local Government, has reviewed The Real Lincoln in the October 14, 2002 issue of National Review. Aside from DiLorenzo's poor attempt at historical scholarship, Masugi reminds us how gravely mistaken some conservatives are in declaring Lincoln the enemy when he taught the only true standard available in objecting to the forces of modern liberalism the Declaration of Independence.