My Thoughts on Election 2006
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.