The GOP Needs Political Viagra

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

2/25/2008 12:00:48 AM - Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

The inference in the title above is not meant to be irreverent. It is simply meant to be illustrative. The answer to the lack of political passion and enthusiasm of the conservative movement can most readily come from a surprising source – the Religious Right. Before you discount this assertion let me explain my reasoning.

Four years ago the most powerful lobbying force and voting block was the evangelical movement. It created a positive maelstrom of GOP support. Their influence was felt from every state house to the White House. Many argue evangelical frustration with the GOP was also one of the major factors in the thunderous defeat of the Republicans in 2006. Feeling betrayed, some influential leaders have decided to sit this presidential election out. Others seem to be engaging in a wait-and-see approach to the election.

In the early primaries pundits believed that Huckabee would receive the lion’s share of the conservative, Christian vote. In their minds, the test of the evangelical community’s continued political viability would be Mike Huckabee’s campaign. Exit polls proved that both Huckabee and McCain have received a huge number of votes from the faithful. Several subliminal questions have come to the minds of the press and other political observers. The questions are:

1.Does this mean that the evangelical movement has become fragmented?

…or even worse…

2.Does it mean that the evangelical movement is dead politically?

The Washington Post decided it was ready to notify the next of kin that the conservative Christian movement was now truly on its deathbed. A startling headline read, “Bloom Is off Religious Right, Scholars at Conference Agree; Movement Criticized for Lacking Political Finesse.” It read, in part: “The religious right has fallen on hard times, torn by sectarian division, hindered by the uneasiness of some in its ranks with coalition building, dispirited by scandals involving television preachers and hurt even by some of its successes, according to scholars and movement partisans.” The most surprising thing about this article is that it was not written in 2008; it was written just after Thanksgiving in 1990 – 18 years ago.

Three years later when the movement failed to expire as predicted, The Washington Post in an infamous article published on February 1, 1993, attributed the movement’s success to the members of the Religious Right who were “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.”

The secular press of 2008 has fallen into the historic pattern of misjudging the power of the evangelical voting base. For nearly 30 years pundits have been saying that the Religious Right is about to expire. Despite the popular myth put forth by the Secular Left, the evangelical movement has never been led by a small group of masterminds or brilliant politicos. The Huckabee phenomenon shows that individuals with conscience and convictions are still ready to get involved politically. A relatively cashless campaign tapped into the hidden power of the enormous influence of the biblically oriented, evangelical movement.

The fact that many evangelical voters supported presidential candidate John McCain shows a thinking constituency that is making up its own mind instead of waiting for marching orders from headquarters. Further, this group sees its politics as an extension of their faith - not simply in terms of a commitment to a specific political party.

The GOP needs to tap into the energy of the faith community. In order to do this it has to create a faith friendly platform reflecting the greatest concerns facing evangelicals today. The movement has united around what it doesn’t want more than an image of what it does want. It did not have a pre-agreed upon list of priorities or a mandate form evangelicals that the majority of evangelicals had agreed upon with regard to economics, the war, and host of other important topics. The evangelical Christian movement has operated more like a mob than an army. Therefore, the movement has often been unable to execute cultural initiatives requiring sophisticated coordination, focus, and timing.

In a new book that Tony Perkins and I have written, we show that the Religious Right is actually growing. In fact, it is stronger than ever. What has been missing is a clear blue print for positive, visionary involvement in the political process. In Personal Faith, Public Policy, Perkins and I show the nature of our growing alliance and how we can champion seven issues together. Engaging the nation on these seven issues can change the entire direction of the 2008 elections. We believe that Christians would cross party lines if real answers were being given to America’s most urgent problems.

Our book addresses the following issues and a host of others including health care and the war:

1. The Value of Human Life

2. Immigration

3. Poverty and Justice

4. Racial Reconciliation

5. Religious Liberties

6. Rebuilding the Family

7. The Environment and Global Warming

Endorsed by Richard Land, Dr. Tim LaHaye, Senator Bill Frist, Congressman Mike Pence and a host of pastors and leaders around the nation; Personal Faith, Public Policy could be a blueprint for a spiritual awakening in our nation which will also revitalize the GOP. We believe that this book is a must read for every serious conservative or evangelical churchgoers in America. This book is available for pre-orders at Amazon.com and available in book stores everywhere March 4.