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This edition: What We Can Learn from Lincoln

Episode Details

Original tape date: December 31, 2012.

First aired: December 31, 2012.

One reason so many people are disillusioned by the state of things in America -- even more so after the terror in Newtown -- is that our political system hasn't produced consistently good results in a long time. We’ve forgotten that democracy is supposed to be about addressing our problems through a political system that encourages bargaining, compromise, and progress. Except for taking us to war, showering largesse on the privileged and powerful, and courting donors instead of representing voters, Washington politics promotes gridlock, paralysis, and stalemate.

But Bill Moyers points to a new ray of hope -- not in politics, but in theaters: the movie Lincoln. On this week’s Moyers & Company (check local listings), Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner, who wrote the film’s screenplay, joins Bill for a “history lesson about politics.” The two talk about finding the man inside the monument, and what Abraham Lincoln -- 147 years after his death -- can still teach us all about politics, compromise, and the survival of American democracy.

“The job of the president is both to make the compromises necessary to actually have things happen in a democracy, which means compromising at a slower pace than anybody would necessarily like,” Kushner tells Bill. “At the same time he has to keep telling us where we're going, what we're trying to arrive at. And I think that Obama has done an astonishing job of doing that over and over, of reminding us that government is a good thing, and that we share responsibility for one another because without that shared responsibility our own lives are destroyed.”

"You will be reminded that politics can be made to work for the good of the country,” says Bill of the show. “It could even help us reduce the violence in America and make more Newtown tragedies less likely."

Also on the show, Bill reflects on the elementary school shooting in Connecticut and its implications for our culture.

What can we learn from Lincoln? Next on Moyers & Company.

Guest List

Tony Kushner Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright/Screenplay Writer

Bill Moyers Broadcast Journalist, Host of Moyers & Company

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