After the Elections: Who is Keeping Score?Sports teams expect opponents to score against them. It is all part of the game. The important thing is to amass a steady string of victories to win the championship.
The same logic that applies to sports does not seem to apply to politics. In the aftermath of the November elections, there has been much talk on both sides of the political spectrum about the decline of moral issues.
Talk is rife about a social conservative consensus that is supposedly wearing thin. Moral values were edged out by the economy and jobs. The pro-life movement is beleaguered. The traditional agenda of opposition to abortion and same-sex “marriage” is all too narrow. Conservatives need to retreat from the moral issues and broaden to other more politically correct fields.
Based on such commentary, one would have thought that moral issues had taken a real thrashing last November. Cultural conservatives were left to simply pick up the pieces and bewail their fate.
However, that is not what happened. If anyone was keeping score, about the only thing that did not get thrashed was moral values.
State Marriage Amendments
Consider the State constitutional amendments against same-sex “marriage.” Cultural conservatives extended their winning streak to 27, count them, victories. This year, seven out of eight ballot issues won in a thrashing that should make the other side despair.
Tennessee’s amendment passed with a whopping 81 percent of the vote. In South Carolina, it was 78 percent. Some 63 percent refused marriage-redefinition attempts in Idaho. In the remaining states, the anti-amendment vote was closer. Meanwhile, only in Arizona did the amendment lose by a razor thin margin. Many attribute the loss to the fact that other side focused on the threat to existing unmarried couple benefits and not same-sex “marriage” issue itself.
In sports, a 27-1 record gets a team in the playoffs. In liberal politics, the single defeat is spun as a thrashing.
Some might argue that these moral issues did not get people elected. Here again, an adjustment needs to be made. There is a big difference from the moral issues themselves and the politicians who often pay lip service to them. Other major issues like Iraq, scandals and corruption also undeniably played a major role in the elections that cannot be ignored.
However, the facts do not show that moral issues themselves were the cause of the defeat. If anyone was keeping score, they would see it is quite to the contrary.
Robert Novak notes that EMILY’s List, a group that funds pro-abortion women, supported a slate of candidates that were effectively thrashed. Of the 19 truly competitive House races involving candidates funded and backed by EMILY’s List, only two won. In a similar case, Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America donated to the campaigns of five pro-abortion Republicans (including three incumbents). All lost their races.
Of the thirteen incoming House Republicans, none call themselves “pro-choice.” It was a disproportionate number of moderate Republicans soft on moral issues who lost and not the other way around. Consider also the fact that some Democrats broke ranks with the party line and ran and won on pro-life issues.
The South Dakota Debacle?
Liberals point to the defeat of the abortion ban “debacle” in South Dakota as a sign that the pro-life issue is in decline. Framed as dangerous and extreme measure, that ban was originally passed as a constitutional gamble to overturn Roe v. Wade. During the elections, the gamble lost by a ten percent margin. Even in this case, if anyone is keeping score, the victory was hardly an overwhelming thrashing of the pro-life cause in that state.
Pro-life advocates have consistently pummeled pro-abortion radicals in South Dakota. The state has only one abortion clinic open a different day each week. Because of the stigma attached to the practice, no native doctor will do abortions. The sole clinic is serviced by an out-of-state doctor flown in weekly. Pro-lifers have succeeded in passing numerous restrictions on abortion. The state ranks 49th in both number and percentage of pregnancies ending in abortion. Pro-life governor Mike Rounds who signed the failed abortion ban into law handily thrashed his opponent in the 2006 elections.
The fact that an abortion ban could not win in one of the reddest of red states is hardly a sign there is no hope for such moral issues. The same argument is certainly not made for Massachusetts where lawmakers are stonewalling Gov. Mitt Romney’s request that they honor the 170,000 state residents who petitioned to put same-sex “marriage” on the ballot. If legislators fear putting same-sex “marriage” on the ballot in the bluest of all blue states, what hope is there for the pro-homosexual cause?
Moral Values Not Cause
All this serves to highlight three points: first the 2006 elections did not signify a rejection of moral issues. It was more a non-ideological face-off between the two political parties, decided by Iraq, scandals and corruption.
Second, the results served to underscore the polarized state of American politics. Both sides of the moral issues have sizable minorities that are contesting the future. Success will come to those who stick to their principles. If anyone is keeping score, they will see that moral values have an excellent record.
Rather than diluting their values or broadening into more politically correct fields, cultural conservative should only strengthen their resolve and highlight their moral values. What worked in 2006 were moral values, it only makes sense to use that which worked.
A Cultural War
Finally, the battle for America is not a ball game. It is a cultural war where the rules of engagement are entirely different and those keeping score can and do break all the rules.
It is a war of attrition where this polarization is primarily religious and moral. Each side is trying to outlast the other.
On one side is the cultural left with its decade-old attachment to secularism, feminism and all types of sexual liberation. It won the election more by opposing than proposing. It is a movement long in crisis led by aged activists and academics of revolutions past. This side can count on the support of Hollywood stars, a liberal establishment and academia. With the constant help of liberal media, it can spin the worst defeat into victory.
And on the other side are the cultural pro-family conservatives, mugged by the terrible reality of the breakdown of society. With dogged determination, political savvy and prayer, these grassroots Americans have put together an impressive string of victories ignored by major media yet completely obvious for anyone who is keeping score.
That is not to say that this side does not have its own trials and problems but it has weathered many storms. Over the years, its position has often been declared untenable and impossible by more “moderate” sectors that favor the politics of concession. But they have ignored such naysayers and fought on.
Indeed, the odds are still against those who fight on. However, their strength is in something the other secular side does not understand. Faith sustains them as they trust in God – who is keeping score.