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Wednesday, November 08, 2006 

My Thoughts on Election 2006

As I browse the blogosphere, I have found very few conservative Christian bloggers who have reacted to yesterday's election. What I think is happening (and has been happening for a few months now) is a lethargic reaction to politics by the majority of Evangelicals. In some circles there is even an outright dislike of the entirety of the political realm. After reading David Kuo's book, Tempting Faith, part of me rejoices that this is the case. But the other part of me worries that while the Dems will not spare any expense to bring about corporate or global regulations, they will likely push to de-regulate everything from abortion to cloning to the internet, which may mean a much worse climate could result in this country than what is proposed by global warming watchdogs.

I had thought about discussing the reasons why I think Christians have become at least lethargic about politics, but what I would rather talk about is what I see as the pro's and con's of this election. So here they are in no particular order:

The Pro's:
  1. The Democrats put forward a few pro-life candidates like Heath Schuler and Bob Casey, Jr. Only time will tell whether they tow the party line or do indeed help hold the line against a sure onslaught of abortion deregulation legislation. My hope is that if these candidates are successful and helpful to the Dems, we might actually see more candidates like these in the future, allowing Christians like myself to vote on issues like the environment, poverty reduction, welfare reform, and border security.
  2. I think this election sent a clear message to Republicans that Evangelicals will not be counted on in the future simply because one claims to be pro-life or suggests they care about families. More than simply appointing a few nominally pro-life judicial nominees must be done to secure our votes.
  3. I think this election shows the power of the Evangelical voting block, which seemed to be split fairly evenly this year between Republicans and Democrats in states like Pennslyvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. David Kuo's book no doubt had some impact and Evangelicals showed once again they they are savvy enough to speak their mind at the polls.
  4. I think this showed the weakness of the Evangelical voting block (yes, that's right I am seemingly contradicting myself - but hold on). Evangelicals are divided on what the main issues are. Many are beginning to believe exactly what David Kuo has been screaming from the mountaintop over the past couple of months - that we can't truely change the country through politics. To the extent that this re-focuses Christians on acting locally to impact the kingdom of God eternally, this is a very good thing.
  5. I am encouraged by all of the talk by Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emmanuel, and Chuck Shumer that they desire to work in a bi-partisan manner in Washington. Only time will tell whether or not this is an empty promise. But if it is true, then maybe they would be willing to sacrifice the more controversial issues like funding embryonic stem-cell research and raising the minimum wage by 50% within 6 months in favor of throwing more money at cord-blood stem-cell research and raising the minimum wage gradually over the next 3 years or so (you know, something that wouldn't send the economy into a tailspin and ruin that 4.4% unemployment bonanza that we just saw a few days ago).
  6. Finally, I am encouraged that after all the talk (including one crazed liberal who already claimed the election had been stolen before it began), there were actually very few voting irregularities and almost no significant reports of voter intimidation or fraud. Hopefully, this will invigorate voters and put a stop to the seemingly endless barrage of charges ranging from racism to classism to outright conspiracy theories about the Illuminati rigging the elections.

The Con's:

  1. Obviously this win by the Democrats will hurt the hard-charging economy. Just this morning the markets dropped significantly (this after the single largest one-day gain in the Dow Jones in over a year). While Dems will certainly focus on the impoverished to a degree, they might end up hurting these people by causing job growth to slow to a crawl and hurting middle class retirees who live off their 401K's and not their Social Security checks. If they stop further legislation for border security they run the risk of a population increase in low income workers that will eventually crush the economy of not only the U.S., but Mexico as well. If they move quickly to roll back the tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals they will certainly remove money that is reinvested into the U.S. economy, which always results in more job growth and less unemployment.
  2. The pro-life position will no doubt take a hit. The Dems will likely move to fund embryonic stem-cell research, which will result in an increase in the destruction of human embryos, given that those that scientists claim could be used now are not nearly in enough quantity to make a dent in the research needed for adequate conclusions. Meanwhile groups who are working with adult stem cells and those from cord blood will lose out and this will probably lead to fewer medical developments in the next few years, as all the energy will be focused on bringing embryonic stem-cell research to the forefront. Additionally, there may be rollbacks in legislation regulating abortions and Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups will probably recieve even more federal funding.
  3. There is a great possibility that attacks will skyrocket in Iraq as the insurgents recieve the news that they "Tet Offensive" has worked to change the climate in Washington. This may eventually result in a drawdown of troops that will cripple the region and effectively end any hope of stability being restored to the Middle East. Hope for a free Iraq - an ally in the Middle East and a haven of religious freedom - will be dashed. The Dems will blame Bush and we will likely be immersed in oversight hearings for years, as more troubles mount in the region and Israel becomes a more likely target.
  4. Finally, the whole election shows that this is a nation that is deeply divided. Races in all the states were fairly close. They show that while the Independents and Moderates probably carried the day for the Democrats, there are still hard-liners on both sides that dominate the landscape of the parties and will continue to engage in culture war. Had it not been for the Iraq War, this election would probably have had a very different outcome, but people are war-weary and I believe that swayed the vote toward the side intent on change.

In the end, the truth is that there were dangerous implication for this country had either side come out on top. Politics cannot solve the problems that only the inbreaking of the Gospel can. Hopefully, Evangelicals will grow weary of politics over the next few years, as policy makers control Washington, pushing each side back and forth through a tide of partisanship and gridlock. Maybe, just maybe, this will cause Christians to begin to focus inward and work on change in their own communities, taking the Gospel again to their neighbor next door.

I think negative #3 is only the beginning of the nightmare scenario: added to Vietnam, a Somalia-like withdrawl from Iraq and the subsequent collapse of our allies will send a clear message to our enemies -- all of them -- that we are weak, a "pitiful, helpless giant" that's just begging to be laid low.

And with the endless hearings that the Bush Administration will likely face, a circus mostly over policy differences, future administrations will see the deep costs of trying to be assertive in defending this country and its interests.

If the Democrats in power do not take seriously national security and instead use it as a political football -- and sober-minded leadership would be a dramatic change for them -- then the next two years could be brutal for national defense.

We could end up giving two clear messages, encouraging all our enemies in being more aggressive and discouraging all future presidents from bold opposition to their aggression.

Another libertarian conservative, Russ Wardlow (similar to Billy Beck, who I referenced earlier) has an entry expressing other fears:

"[Compared to the threat of terrorism,] passing Bush's amnesty/guest worker plan would be orders of magnitude worse. It would ensure that the nature and character of the basic polity of our country would be radically changed in the space of a generation. America would cease to be the same nation; it will transform into a racially and economically stratified third world state. It would cease to be a European-based country and become a Latinized basket case, with all the crime, socialism and corruption that goes with it."

I'm not sure I'd agree, especially if nuclear proliferation gets completely out of hand. But, barring that, he may be right. The really irritating thing is that those who most strongly opposed amnesty were those most punished: House Republicans.

Regarding the abortion bit, keep in mind that South Dakota voted against banning abortion. It wasn't politicians doing the deciding there. It was the people who voted on a specific issue. And that's a pretty red state. Maybe Democrats aren't as out of touch with the average person as Republicans have tried to make them out to be.

Don't be so sure about the Dow Jones.

I hope the Democrats don't think they have the favor of God. Lightning does not always come down and strike WHEN we go against His will. Otherwise, we would all be fried. Marilyn

Bubba, I am very worried about the illegal immigration issue. In the midst of all of the election fallout, that is the one issue that Rush Limbaugh seemed to hammer home as problematic.

First, at the time that I wrote this the Dow was down pretty big. It did rebound, but as all the analysts noted, it was due to Bush's comments about nothing changing in Iraq, the resignation of Rumsfeld (both of which rallied the defense sector), and the bulls taking advantage of a sell off to make some quick cash. Of course Fannie Mae and some of the alternative energy stocks went up, thus quelling the free fall. But, as Jim Cramer predicted on "Mad Money" today, it means there will be a stall in the economy and investors and companies will have to be careful over the next two years.

As for the South Dakota decision, I am not all that surprised. The ballot initiative did not allow for any exceptions for rape or incest, which many non-Christian anti-abortion conservatives do not support. I think had those exceptions been made, the bill would have passed easily.

BTW, Bubba, did you get my reply to your email?

Daniel: I have a wonderful Christian friend who worked tirelessly to help Christian men and women get elected. (sorry to say only a few made it) However, in her canvasing neighborhoods, she related to me what a wonderful thing it would be if we church members would canvas our neighborhoods for Jesus. What a challenge. Appreciate your post. Hope it stimulates us all to major on the major and leave the minors to minors. SelahV
P.S. I did post a little thing on the election. However, not nearly as pointed and outlined as yours. Grace to you.

Didn't get your email, Daniel. Don't know why, so I'll be emailing again shortly.

As you know, D.R., I come to this day from a very different perspective, but I can still affirm about 3/4 of your points, at least in part. I look forward to discussing them further--as soon as I get finished celebrating the best congressional elections in my adult life.

I think the election of more pro-life Democrats is a good thing and if the Supreme Court bans partial birth abortions, it will get my wholehearted support.

The evangelical NT scholar, Ben Witherington, whom I read often and agree with many times, has written an excellent post-mortem on the elections at his blog:

He calls it, interestingly, "Evangelicals in a post-Haggard, post-Rumsfeld Era."


Worth a look

Note: Obama supports a dialectic 'flip-flop' on almost every issue.
His less recognized or publicized pose is a maintained position on
opposing principle. Case in point: His support of humanistic collectivism & Marxist Liberation Theology at the same time he claims spiritual Christian Individual Value.

He has earned the title; "Mr. Oxymoron."

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About me

Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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