So, I was standing at a corner in Chicago waiting for the light to change before crossing, when a bus rumbled by.

I caught a brief glimpse of a sign on the side of the bus. You know, the space where it usually depicts inane ads for TV shows or products that one has never heard of.

But, instead, there was a picture of Abe Lincoln and the quote: “Bad promises are better broken than kept.” I saw no explanation of what the purpose of the signage was, but then I did only catch a glimpse.

Strange place for a quote.

“Bad promises are better broken than kept.” I had never heard that quote of Abe’s before, but it made me wonder what he would think of all of the promises currently being made by our candidates for the presidency of the nation he fought so hard to preserve. If he were alive in this election year, what would he say about promises made that most assuredly will be broken?

The words of President Lincoln are often quoted by modern day politicians. We have, no doubt, idealized the “honest one” through the years. But, I wonder if he could have imagined promising actions and results to the American people in his runs for office that he knew, unequivocally, he could not keep. Would he alter that quote if he had the vision to foresee how very little promises made by politicians, in this day and age, really mean?

We have a candidate on one side promising free college, among so many other things.

We have a candidate on the other side promising “great” just about everything!

One is thumping his bible while, at the same time, insisting that all must believe as he does.

One is basically telling us to ignore all of the accusations and rumors as unimportant and focus on her plans.

All of the candidates, in one form or another, are assuring us that he/she is the only one that can bring the country together for a united, brighter future.

And, then we have our representatives in both houses of Congress who seem to have redefined their job description to have only one, dual-pronged purpose; to get re-elected while not allowing the other side to be able to accomplish anything.

If I had the power, I’d fire the whole lot of them, Democrats and Republicans alike!

But, back to Abe’s words.

Doing a little research led me to another Lincoln quote from his second inaugural address.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds …”

I wish Abe would have given us some insight into just how to accomplish that. Just think what we all could do together. Yet, who believes that any of them will heed the words of Abraham Lincoln instead of just quoting them?

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to Visit wendy’s website at

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