Well, isn't this just lovely? We Republicans had everything we'd hoped for in terms of having won both the White House and the Senate and Congress. Then our leaders blew it.
Many Democrats would love to think that yesterday's election was a rejection of the social conservatism (pro-life, anti-gay marriage, etc.) which has been a significant part of the Republican platform for a long time. I disagree. I think it was a rejection of hypocrisy on the part of Republican politicians who promised one thing and delivered something quite different from what they'd promised.
To compare it to another related recent scandal in the news: If people decide that Ted Haggard is no longer qualified to lead the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals) on account of recent allegations and revelations concerning his sex life and related matters, is that a rejection of Christianity and Christian values? Of course not. On the contrary, it's a rejection of Haggard's hypocrisy.
Of course, I hasten to add that we ought to be cautious about automatically assuming that all the allegations about Haggard are true. His accuser failed a polygraph test, and on top of that, Haggard's accuser freely admitted that he was politically motivated when he made the public allegations in the first place. If Haggard's version of events is accurate, then Haggard's accuser took the truth and then embellished it considerably, which is certainly a possibility we ought to at least consider.
But my point, when comparing the Ted Haggard scandal to the recent election, is that one can conclude that one's leaders have failed to live up to their potential and their promises without necessarily rejecting or abandoning the moral values or the political goals and ideals which caused one to look to those people for leadership in the first place.
When I voted Republican during the past two national elections, I did so because I felt (and still feel) that the Republican platform was more closely aligned with my own values and priorities.
If I'd had the president I really wanted, I'd have preferred a passionate social conservative such as Alan Keyes. I knew, when I voted for Bush, that his public commitment to the pro-life cause was a lot more lukewarm than I might have wished for, but even a lukewarm commitment was better than no commitment at all. No pro-life commitment at all is what we would have gotten if Al Gore and John Kerry had been elected.
Likewise, the Republican party came a lot closer to representing my own views on subjects such as gay marriage and "affirmative action".
At some point, I'll probably write in detail about my views on the latter subject, but for the time being, let it suffice for me to say that my opposition to affirmative action is not indicative of racism on my part, despite the liberals who would wish to portray people who oppose affirmative action as racists. On the contrary. I am strongly opposed to racial discrimination, and I was strongly supportive of the original civil rights movement. Unlike those who advocate what might best be described as "remedial racial discrimination", my principled opposition to racial discrimination is steadfast regardless of which race is the target of the discrimination.
Yes, I know that Alan Keyes and I disagree on that issue, but I also think that issues pertaining to affirmative action are secondary in importance to the goal of saving the lives of the millions killed through legal abortion.
I just listened to an audio commentary (which I downloaded from the web site for Concerned Women for America) regarding the 11/7/06 election results. They disputed the widely made claim that the election was a "referendum on George Bush". They claimed that local issues drove the election results. I think there's a lot of merit to that view, but I also have to acknowledge that people knew very well, when they voted in this election, that putting Democrats back into power would turn Bush into a "lame duck president" during his final two years in office, by creating a legislative branch which would make it very hard for Bush to get anything significant done during his final two years. And of course, the voters also knew that putting Democrats into office would significantly impact the direction of our policy regarding Iraq. In that sense, I do think that the election was motivated by more than just local issues.
Even though I'm glad I voted for George Bush when I consider that what he offered to social conservatives was much better than what Al Gore and John Kerry offered, I also feel that Bush has betrayed social conservatives in terms of his priorities.
Yes, terrorism was real and needed to be dealt with. And yes, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant who had committed genocide against the Kurds and who needed to be removed from office (regardless of whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or whether that country had subsequently disposed of the chemical weapons which we know Hussein had used against the Kurds).
However, it seems to me that Bush used social conservatives such myself to get elected, and then he subsequently forgot us for the most part. He clearly had his own agenda, and while advancing the pro-life cause may have been on his list of things to do, it definitely was not at the top of that list.
Bush's father wasn't really any better when it came to doing anything tangible to advance the pro-life cause. But I'm still confident that I made the right choice when I voted for that George Bush in the late 80's. Michael Dukakis was a nice and congenial man (who I'd met a couple of times when I was living in Boston in the 80's), but his position on the abortion issue was diametrically opposed to mine. I couldn't vote for him in good conscience.
Just as my pro-life convictions were the primary consideration with regard to how I voted in past elections, they were the primary consideration when deciding how to vote during the 2006 elections.
Here in Illinois, the guy who should have won the 2006 Republican primary (Jim Oberweiss) lost that election to Judy Baar Topinka, a self-serving woman who could best be described as a Democrat in Republican's clothing, in terms of her positions regarding issues which are important to social conservatives such as myself. Topinka was and is pro-choice, and she actively courted the gay community in a way which would have made any liberal proud, even going so far as to participate in Chicago's gay pride parade. Voting between her and Rod Blagojevich would have been like voting between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
I was torn. I was strongly opposed to Blagojevich, particularly on account of his move to impose his own values on pharmacists who didn't want to be forced to participate in actions they regarded as immoral. But I also felt that voting for Topinka would have contributed to the further dilution of the Republican party.
So I have a confession to make: I voted for Oberweiss during the primaries, but I didn't vote in the general election held on November 7 at all. And that's from a guy who is pretty passionate about politics in some respects.
Voting in an election in which both of the available candidates are lousy choices is like going into a restaurant and learning that there are only two items being offered on the menu, neither of which is particularly appealing from a culinary point of view. We all need to eat on a fairly regular basis, but there are times when the best thing to do is to skip a meal, if the only alternative is to eat something which is thoroughly unappetizing and maybe even worse. Even hunger is preferable to food poisoning.
I hope that the Republican party doesn't draw the wrong conclusions from yesterday's defeat. We need more social conservatism, not less. We need socially conservative leaders who show respect for the people who put them into office by enacting policies which reflect the values of those voters.
I'd like to help elect a Republican president two years from now, but if we do so, I hope that the means of doing so won't be to try to be more like the Democrats by abandoning goals such as the cessation of legal abortion, which has created a death toll of more than 40 million people during the years since 1973. If we do that, forcing pro-life Americans to choose between voting for politicians who don't represent their views on abortion or staying away from the polls, I suspect that a lot of people (possibly including myself) will choose to do the latter.
If that happens, it will be a sad day for America. Even sadder than yesterday, if that's possible.