The 2004 election contained a surprise to pollsters and pundits when exit surveys revealed that the number one issue on the minds of voters this year was values. Fully twenty-two percent of voters ranked this as their first concern when entering the polling booth. The first day or two of post-election coverage was largely filled with raw reports of the surge in values voting, the re-emergence of the evangelicals at the voting booth and the consequences of this issue in Bushs second term.
It has been interesting since that point, to watch the liberals, democrats and cable-TV talking heads begin to deconstruct this significant element of Election 2004 in the weeks that have followed. In some ways, it reminds me of watching someone going through the various stages of grief. There was denial as in there was obviously a problem with the exit polling questions. There was depression If the religious right is that powerful in America, Im moving to Canada. There was bargaining Well, Mr. Bush is going to need to reach out and compromise some of those values if he wants to be an effective President. There was anger Those radical, homophobic, fundamentalist, extremists are taking this country to hell in a hand-basket! Im still waiting for the Acceptance phase.
Actually, none of this comes as a real surprise. For liberals to face the truth would require a harsh visit with reality they are, for the moment, losing the culture wars. They got greedy. They began pushing their agenda way too strongly. While they were pushing gay marriage, Whoopi Goldberg values and celebrity worship, American Christians have been quietly teaching, training and organizing to counter their pagan to-do list. Now, all that they can do is either admit that they are out-of-touch with Americas heartland or the can spin, spin, spin. Apparently, they are choosing to spin and quite frankly, that suits me just fine.
Let them think that Christian conservatives arent really concerned about values nor are they committed to involvement in the political process. Let them misinterpret the depth of our frustration and even disgust at Janet Jackson, Gansta Rap, Barbra Streisand, Michael Moore and gay marriage announcements in our community newspapers. Let them hurl exaggerated and ridiculous epithets at us like extremists, Baptist taliban and homophobes. Let them say that the question was flawed and the results were skewed and this was an anomaly and more than likely some sort of conspiracy. As long as they are chasing pink elephants, they wont see the reality that a large part of America religious or not, evangelical or not, heartland or not is really quite fed up with the culturally destructive bent of the leftists that have hijacked the Democratic Party. This will give those of us who checked the values box additional time to entrench, improve our organization and protect our children.
Most political strategists will tell you that it is better to under-estimate during an election cycle than over-estimate. Cultural Conservatives have a tremendous argument in their arsenal as we push for family-friendly policies that respect life, honor God and support marriage. Simply put we deliver the votes and we have a lot of them.
Within a Republican party that has notoriously promised lots and delivered little to Cultural Conservatives, this is both a carrot and a stick. As demonstrated in the Presidential elections of the 1990s, when evangelicals stay at home, Republican candidates lose. So, as is the reality of politics, its time for the Republican majorities in Congress and the Republican President to offer something more than a warm smile and sincere thanks. Lets start seeing some protective legislation. Lets get those conservative judges seated. Lets go to the mat for a constitutional amendment protecting the definition of marriage and the right to life for pre-born citizens.
As for all the voices who wishfully intone that the values-driven voters dont really exist well let them spin themselves into oblivion. They simply dont get it and never will. The culture wars are far from over and now is no time for weakness. The hope of conservative Christians is not found in politics, but we shouldnt ignore the process either. Lets thank God for values-friendly leadership and lets not be afraid to hold them accountable.