Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn was the keynote speaker Friday at the Branch County Republican Party’s 124th Annual Lincoln Day dinner in Dearth Community Center in Coldwater, Michigan. Arnn spoke about Lincoln’s strong leadership and how society should follow his example today.
“He was a beautiful human being, also he was great because he got the chance where it would either fail or be glorious,” Arnn said. “That was not the first time our country had been in that spot. It was the second and this is the third, where we are tonight.”
The Lincoln Day dinner is hosted annually by the Branch County Republican Party and this year’s event included four other guest speakers, Chair of Michigan GOP Laura Cox, U.S. representative Tim Walberg, state senator Mike Shirkey, and state representative Eric Leutheuser.
Arnn used Aristotle’s four causes to compare the country’s current situation with that of Lincoln’s time. He said how pursuing the principle of equality, the final cause, was the crisis during Lincoln’s presidency, and how this issue is relevant to that of today’s. With current politicians only favoring those agreeing with their beliefs and shunning those who do not, the principle of equality becomes lost and less of a safeguard in human history, but following it can be regained if Lincoln’s example in leadership and perseverance is followed, Arnn said.
“If we love the right things and study them, and we shine our character so that courage is in us, then in God’s good time we’re going to fix all of this and we’re going to be like the generation that founded this party,” Arnn said.
After Arnn’s speech, attendees said they became hopeful for the country’s future improving when considering its present situation. Hillsdale College sophomore and Vice President of College Republicans Aidan Wheeler said the speech was great because it implied the importance in reading and studying the writings of Lincoln.
For President of College Republicans junior Patrick Farrell, he said Arnn’s reminder inspired him that good can still come out of seemingly hopeless times.
“You never know what to expect every time you hear Dr. Arnn talk, because he always adds something new to it and I always get something more out of it,” Farrell said. “It sometimes seems like we can never attain the government we had before, but Arnn’s speech brought the message that things can be that way again as long as we keep up the good fight.”
Freshmen Jacob Hooper said he was rather surprised at the relevant application of Lincoln’s values in today’s world and how important it is to remain faithful in the good fight, just as Lincoln did.
“There were a lot of people wanting to kill Lincoln, but he didn’t give up. He went fought through it and the challenges encompassing it. Not to be cliche or anything, but strength rejoices in the challenge,” Hooper said. “It’s just important to remain strong and push through what we believe is right for everybody, and if we stay true to that hopefully we can see a reasonable solution to the end of our current constitutional crisis.”
Though Hooper expected an analysis of Lincoln’s leadership styles, he said he was glad that Arnn brought up this serious topic while remaining sentimental about Lincoln.
“Arnn called Lincoln a true American, especially through his fight for equality, and it’s something that we should keep in mind today because we don’t think that we need to push for equality as much anymore, but essentially we still have to fight for what’s good and for what it truly means to be an American. And I think Lincoln really ecompassed that,” Hooper said.
From this speech, Farrell said he hoped people remember their sense of duty to help this country and to remain steadfast to its foundational beliefs.
“It definitely inspired me,” Farrell said. “If you really believe in these things, to go out there and to give of yourself, make something of yourself, and they’ll end up fighting the good fight. It takes some self-sacrifice and courage, but at the end of the day it’s worth it.”