The National Security Agency telephone and Internet surveillance program is similar to Abraham Lincoln's Civil War act of suspending habeas corpus, National Review editor Rich Lowry tells Newsmax.
"When he did it initially, any reasonable person would think it was an appropriate measure because troops were coming down from the North at the beginning of the war when Washington was isolated and not protected, and they were stopped in Baltimore by mobs."
However, many in Lincoln's day believed the suspension went too far when it became almost a matter of routine, Lowry said.
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"You can argue that the NSA program may be something similar," he said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.
However, Lowry says, Lincoln would love our "contemporary communications revolution."
"He'd love Newsmax — an innovative company that's exploiting all these new technologies," but as a president who faced great challenges in his day, "he'd have a lot of sympathy for any American commander-in-chief facing this kind of threat that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama did."
Lowry is author of the new book "Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream — and How We Can Do It Again." [Editor's Note: Get "Lincoln Unbound" from Amazon! Click Here]
Lowry says, "Lincoln is the foremost proponent of opportunity in America," and while "you hear a lot of complaints from the left about inequality in contemporary America . . . what should concern conservatives more is a question of mobility."
Comparing the Republican Party under Lincoln to the Republican Party today, Lowry says that the GOP cannot be seen as elitist as it came across in the 2012 presidential election.
"The party just absolutely has to be the party of opportunity and aspiration," Lowry said. "If it's seen as the party that's looking down on half the country that's struggling and not doing well, that's just not going to work.
"That was one of the lessons of the 2012 campaign," he added.
While Lincoln, according to Lowry, had "a more active view of government," his views had "nothing to do with the kind of welfare state we have today."
"[The government now] takes money from some people and it gives it to other people, and on top of that, we have a huge bureaucracy and we have all these regulations that make it hard for people to build things. That would be fundamentally anathema to Lincoln."
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According to the best-selling author, Ronald Reagan was a "Lincolnesque figure."
"With both Lincoln and Reagan, the vision ultimately went all the way back to the founding, and the conservative project in America always should have two parts: one, we're going to make this country better, we're going to make it possible for people to get ahead, and we're going to do it by returning to the founding principles of this country."
Lowry says that progressives have always wanted to claim Honest Abe as one of their own, as Obama, a fellow Illinoisan, did by announcing his candidacy from the Old State House in Springfield and taking the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible.
However, Lowry says, there are stark differences. "He was fundamentally about fostering markets, economic dynamism, and change. He was about individual achievement and responsibility," he said.
"He hated class warfare. In fact, he was a lawyer for the biggest corporation in Illinois, the Illinois Central Railroad. He loved property rights, he loved patent law, and most importantly he revered the founders."
On immigration, Lowry says that "Lincoln was very pro-immigrant, which is very appropriate. All of us should be pro-immigrant, but we still have to come up with an immigration system that makes rational sense."
However, Lowry does not support the current comprehensive immigration bill before the Senate.
"My fear with this current bill is you're providing amnesty to illegal immigrants initially on the kind of promise that enforcement will happen eventually years later. We've tried this before in 1986 and it just didn't work."
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