Proverbs 16:33 says, “We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.” (NLT)
Conservative ideology was not defeated last week! The conservative movement is one of the most encouraging trends in American social and political life today. Unfortunately, our walk has not always matched our talk. A few years ago, conservatives began a grass-roots reform movement; this movement has in recent years moved from the peanut gallery to the center stage of political control and power.
Last week’s election was a referendum on how the current administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have carried out a noble and lofty worldview. Perhaps the outcome last week was nothing more than a “mid term” report card. We conservatives have been grading ourselves as “A” pupils, yet our teacher and fellow students seem to think otherwise. The message sent by our deplorable report card was this: “If you ever want to have governing power again, you’d better clean up your act.”
CNN’s exit polls gave us two reasons why Republicans were defeated at the polls – corruption and Iraq. If the people polled were honest in their assessment, these two elements mixed together created a new kind of Kryptonite. These polls say that the administration was graded on both competency and character.
Let’s talk about competence first. The war in Iraq, out-of-control gas prices, and economic devastation in states like Ohio speak to the average person of a wholesale lack of competence. Momentary setbacks can often be explained if we can look to big picture strategy. Although Republicans are generally better at messaging than the democrats, the lack of a clear vision for the nation left a void and made Republicans vulnerable.
In the absence of a compelling vision, people voted against their fears instead of choosing a dream for America. The same thing happened in 2004. Liberals were talking about changing the structure of our society so profoundly that values voters came to the polls with a sense of righteous indignation.
This year, we did not have a strategy explaining how we could really win in Iraq. Many folks felt as though they were being hustled and deceived – instead of honored, informed, and led. Therefore, conservatives in many states were defeated because the voters unanimously stated, “You have had your chance. Let’s see what the other guys can do.”
Then secondly, the Republican Party was graded in the area of conduct and character. Whether conservatives like it or not, we are held to higher standards that the liberals. If they fall into immorality or get their hands caught in the till, it’s only to be expected. On the other hand, if we even come close to same degree of “business as usual “ politics; we are harshly rebuked. Ironically, we cannot have the double standards so commonly associated with politics.
I agree with Chuck Colson who said, “In one sense… all Bible-believers are conservative, because we believe in governing our lives by revealed truth rather than by man-made, utopian ideologies.” The conservative polemic that I have come to understand has a moral base and a clear set of values. Evangelical Christians have flocked to the movement in huge numbers over the past decade because of a sense of connection with a standard of ethical behavior that matched their greatest dreams for America.
The people have spoken very clearly. Perhaps it’s time for the Republican Party to move back to its base and begin to bring up its grades on both character and subject matter.
In simple, non-political terms, this means that social conservatives have to bump up their game by hosting more Townhall forums and write more books that explain the tenets of faith and practice that make the conservative movement America’s best choice. In addition, we must raise up a generation of young, vibrant politicians who practice what they preach to be a vanguard for changing the direction of our nation.
This is not a time for true conservatives to hang their heads or to run for cover. This is a time for a moral, political, and spiritual renewal to grip the very heart of the nation. My prayer is that this revolution will begin with me personally. I want to be the model Christian, conservative, and values voter that I want to see populate America. St. Francis of Assisi expressed what I am feeling this way, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”