Richard Warren Field
Politicians Aptitude Test: Question Six
The Lincoln Dilemma
The Scenario: Half the country has threatened to secede and start a civil
war if you are elected, because you have stated your opposition to the
institution of slavery. You believe it is essential to keep the country
together. What will you do?
have won the election decisively over three other candidates, you resign
immediately. You have become the issue, and perhaps the horrors of civil
war can be averted if you remove yourself as a point of contention. The
personal sacrifice and disregard for the will of the electorate will be
worth it, if just one life is saved.
You work out
some kind of autonomous rule arrangement through negotiations, allowing
the secessionist half of the country to keep all of its institutions, no
matter how morally repugnant this may be. Nothing is worth losing thousands
of lives and plunging into the agony of civil war.
that the country must stay together. You commit all the nation's resources
and your leadership abilities to making sure that it does. You accept no
compromise on your election as President. To do so could threaten future
election results, setting a dangerous precedent by rewarding threats of
secession. The main point of the conflict is an immoral institution that
must inevitably end. You realize it would be a tragedy for the process
of ending that institution to cause the country to splinter.
yourself to prosper from the situation. You do this by leading a vicious
military campaign against the secessionists. Since you know your half of
the country has the resources to defeat and dominate the other half, you
can maneuver to benefit from the spoils of war by inflaming the passions
of the population, guaranteeing an exploitive occupation of the defeated
After the states
have seceded, you offer to join their new country. That would keep the
on the flag to go to the next question.
Copyright © 1998 by Richard Warren Field
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