I awoke this morning to an evangelical climate more prepared than ever to consider the legitimacy of the claims of the Mayan calendar. Doom, gloom, and the collapse of the Republic!
I suppose events like our most recent presidential election are the reason that anyone would continue to have a blog. It’s your (or, in this case, my) vehicle to throw your voice into the great storm of noise. Interesting how thoroughly we are committed to instant analysis and conclusions, despite long experience with human history that says significant events can only be understood with any clarity – or even seen to be significant – from a distance of time. Nonetheless, yesterday felt very significant – yes, perhaps because we continue to hear (as we do every four years now) how THIS ELECTION IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IN YOUR LIFETIME! – and that justifies a bit of introspection at Ground Zero even as we acknowledge time will be the ultimate revelator of just what in the cacophony of last night really mattered over the long haul.
Two things, one mostly secular and the other mostly sacred.
1. The big question amongst conservatives today is how the GOP might go forward from this drubbing into a more successful future. Of course, I would be quite happy if the GOP went (along with the Democrats) into fragmentation. However, I don’t expect that – at least not yet. What I see is a party that will do it’s level best to reconfigure in such a way that they feel confident they will offer the career politicians in control of the party good reason to believe they will continue to enjoy the perks of elected office in this country. One of the chief points I heard bandied about this morning on Fox News was the need for the GOP to address changing demographics, to stop being a party of old white men and start being one that young, hispanic, and female voters feel comfortable in.
To that I say sure. And why did it take so long for you guys to figure that out?
It has long been obvious that Barak Obama’s strength is his appeal to young voters. Sure, it’s based largely on naivety and self-centeredness amongst that group but it accounts for a large number of the arrows in his quiver. That the GOP wouldn’t address this issue is astounding today, just as it was over the past four years.
Where, oh where, would the GOP be able to find an energized, multi-ethnic, young contingent of voters? Could they be found even in important swing states that delivered the electoral votes Obama grabbed to seal his victory in this election? Good news! You can find them in large numbers and in those states. Look for the Ron Paul bumper stickers. Dr. Paul has done a remarkable job, particularly as an aged white man from a Southern background, to energize and mobilize a passionate base of youthful and ethnically diverse voters. Think I’m wrong? Read the following links then spend some time on Google looking at how Dr. Paul polled in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.
The GOP spent the better part of the last election cycle trying to ignore Dr. Paul then, in this, actively opposing him. Not without irony do we look back and see that that strategy cost them the very constituency that they needed in this election but also drove off young people (like myself) previously aligned with their party.
Do they take a lesson an bring Dr. Paul into party leadership? Can’t expect so – career politicians like few things as little as acknowledging where they were grossly and negligently wrong. I expect that we’ll get a Hispanic candidate next election who, like Romney, is only “conservative” by comparison to whatever extreme leftist the Dems trot out. One can hope, however, right? Assuming that Jesus delays wrapping up the project of human history I believe that hope will become site in my lifetime – either in the GOP returning to authentic conservatism (less likely) or collapsing under the weight of their refusal to do anything other than guard the interests of party leadership.
2. The re-election of Barak Obama will be a net gain for the church if it serves to break the church’s ungodly fascination and faith in the secular political process to accomplish the ends of the Kingdom of Christ. As Al Mohler noted well, this election was a product of worldview commitments – a worldview decidedly unconcerned with the claims of Christ (a luxury only temporarily afforded the image bearers of God but one afforded nonetheless). Similarly, Greg Gilbert tweeted “…a representative government is representative of its people.” Said another way, this election delivered the President that the people of the United States desired.
Political wrangling and better ad campaigns won’t change this. Only a change of mind – or heart, if we prefer the Biblical term – will reverse this self-destructive desire in our neighbor. The good news is we have the very thing designed by God to change minds, hearts, and people – the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. The danger is that we would continue to associate the gospel with political parties or stay the course of the Moral Majority that sought to leverage political power for the cultural interests of the church. Making disciples – both among the converted and unconverted – and healthy churches through the proclamation of the Gospel remains the only legitimate option for doing lasting good to our neighbor and, by extension, our culture.
If four more years of Barak Obama will help us to remember this truth I’ll take it. We Christians have the privilege of employing a long-term strategy. So many despondent Christians in my social media feed are reminding us (or themselves?) this morning that Jesus is Lord regardless of the state of affairs on this particular continent. Amen! It would be good to remember that calling Christ Lord assumes we’ll do what He says and He says to make disciples.
 Some online documentation of this point: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/us-election-republicans-face-struggle-over-party-s-direction-289595 / http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-07/republicans-stung-by-loss-begin-debate-over-future / http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-07/the-future-of-romney-and-the-republican-party.html / http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/11/06/where-republican-party-goes-from-here/