The Other Lincoln Movie


Aaron Brady remembers John Ford's classic film, Young Mr. Lincoln, detailing its subtle misgivings about American democracy:

[T]he responsibility of America’s great men is not to inspire the better angels of our human nature—because we don’t have them—but to manipulate us into doing what needs to be done, to tell lies so persuasively that we mistake them for truth, and in that way, they can actually come true. When he declares to his first audience, at his first political speech that “You all know who I am, plain Abraham Lincoln,” the double irony is that this is true and untrue: he is working to become that, to become the plain Abraham Lincoln which would be worthy of their trust, but he’ll have to lie and deceive to do so, and they’ll never see through the deception that makes it true.