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Lessons from Lincoln
Crook County Library lecture series begins with a discussion on political bipartisanship
November 01, 2012
When Americans wake up on Nov. 7, the 2012 presidential election will be over, but the political bickering will go on and on.
To help people explore the possibility of toning down the partisanship that grips our nation, the Crook County Library will host a discussion led by history professor Dick Etulain entitled “Lessons from Lincoln: Is Political Bipartisanship Possible?”
“I hope to get people to think about the fact that there is a middle ground between the partisan poles,” says Etulain.
Etulain’s discussion is part of series on a wide range of topics sponsored by Oregon Humanities called the Conversation Project. The library is able to offer the program due to a grant from the non-profit Oregon Humanities.
“We thought that one would be relevant because it is scheduled for the day after the election,” said Amber Smith, the library’s public services associate.
These programs, along with a Dec. 5 Christmas-card-making workshop, are part of an effort by the Crook County Library to provide more programs for adults. Adult programming had dropped off in recent months because of reduced staffing levels.
“My hope is that we will start to have more participation in adult programs and that we will draw more people into the library,” said Smith.
The Conversation Project events are intended as discussions rather than lectures. Etulain will open the November gathering with a 20- to 30-minute talk on how Abraham Lincoln used bipartisanship to work through the tough issues of the Civil War era and then ask some questions to start a discussion on partisanship and contemporary issues.
People should come ready to participate and be challenged. “What topics or controversial issues are people willing to think about and possibly ask themselves, ‘Am I willing to compromise on this issue for the good of the country?’” says Etulain.
Although the discussion he leads is about partisanship and contemporary politics, Etulain will not espouse his own point of view on current issues.
“These are non-partisan,” he said. “My hope is that when we finish this presentation, you will not know whether I’m a Democrat or a Republican.”
Etulain has taught American history at the University of New Mexico, Northwest Nazarene University, and Idaho State University. Now retired, he has been leading discussions on this topic for two years.
Before that, Etulain gave Chautauqua lectures on a variety of topics for 40 years in Idaho, New Mexico, and Oregon, including some at the Bowman Museum in Prineville.
Chautauquas generally are free lectures by experts on a vast range of topics intended to further adult education. Oregon Chautauqua, sponsored by Oregon Council for Humanities for 28 years, was a speakers bureau offering free lectures at not-for-profit locations such as museums and libraries throughout the state. Other states have similar programs.
“I have probably given 500 Chautauqua lectures,” he said.
Etulain is also the author or editor of numerous books. His 50th book, “Abraham Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era” will come out in February. Etulain will have copies of some of his books available for purchase and signing at the Crook County Library event.
The event will be Nov. 7, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the library’s Broughton Room. Admission is free and light refreshments will be provided.
The library will host a second Conversation Project discussion on Feb. 1, entitled “From Print to Pixels: The Act of Reading in the Digital Age.”