Now, contrast this lesson to that of another New Jersey governor, another presidential candidate, from precisely 100 years ago—with an amazingly similar trajectory to Christie’s. Newly elected New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat and progressive’s progressive, had been governor for only one year in 1912. Suddenly, he was being pursued by his party to seek the presidency and dislodge the Republican incumbent from the White House. In a wide open race, Wilson was poised to persevere.
Wilson, a devout five-point Calvinist with a superb command of Reformed theology and an unwavering belief in predestination, never shied from confidently interpreting God’s will. Modern secular liberals neglect that this progressive icon had an extremely rigid perception of the hand of Providence, of being “chosen.” He was adamant that he could accurately construe God’s plan, whether as president of Princeton, governor of New Jersey, president of the United States, or author of the League of Nations—the latter of which, Wilson believed, was God’s intent and he was God’s instrument to make it happen. Anyone who opposed Wilson in his religious sureness was judged a malefactor working against God’s resolve.
In 1912, Woodrow Wilson concluded that God wanted him to be president.
Would today’s conservatives, who strongly dislike Wilson, agree that Wilson was right in seeing God’s hand guiding him? Would Gov. Christie agree that Wilson had correctly answered a direct call from God?
Conservatives would beg to differ. (Would liberals?) As for me, I won’t hazard a guess.
My point, however, is that some leaders feel a call—particularly from Divine Providence—and some do not. What may be most important for a leader is to respond to the call of leadership when he feels a nation is hungering for it and for him. Governor Christie may not ever feel a call from God to be president. But he may be getting a call from his party and from America. And that may be the voice he needs to heed right now.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."