At 6:00 AM election day, I left home to drive to one of the largest and most Democratic precincts in Montgomery, Alabama, where I was to serve as a Republican poll watcher. When I arrived at 6:30 AM, a half hour before the polls were to open, I was stunned to see hundreds of people already lined up to vote. I knew immediately, this was not going to be a good day for Republicans. By the time we finished the count around 8:00 PM, the result from that precinct was 4,249 Obama, 338 Romney. I’m pleased to say that while Obama carried 60% of Montgomery County, Romney carried Alabama with better than 60%, and Roy Moore, the Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice who was removed from office in 2004 for refusing to follow an unconstitutional order by a federal judge to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Judicial Building, was returned to office by the voters. But except for this and a few other bright spots, it was a sad day and a day of defeat, made even sadder by the fact that we came so close to winning.
And so, we face four more years of economic uncertainty, class warfare, an Administration that is at least indifferent and probably hostile to Judeo-Christian values, and constant worry whether, in America’s struggle against the enemies of freedom, the supposed leader of the Free World is really on our side.
And we wonder, why? If only this had happened, if only that hadn’t happened. And why did God allow this? Others have offered their thoughts; I’ll offer mine, speaking only for myself and not for the Foundation.
(1) Let’s not attack Mitt Romney. After every losing campaign, Wednesday-morning quarterbacks are ready to heap blame on the candidate and opine about what he should have done differently. But Romney was our standard-bearer, he carried our banner proudly, and he carried it well — not perfectly, but well. Some may disagree, but I really don’t think any other candidate would have done better than Romney, and most probably not as well. I appreciate the way he took up our cause, and I have the highest respect for him — his ability, his experience, his family values which he has not only professed but also lived, his indefatigable enthusiasm, and his presidential dignity, and my admiration only increased as I listened to his gracious concession speech early this morning.
I like the words of Teddy Roosevelt,
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The redit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
I will correct one thing I said earlier. After the third debate, when many said Romney should have gone after Obama about Benghazi, I argued that Romney was right. Obama was undoubtedly prepared for that question, and the better debate tactic, I thought, was to surprise Obama and throw him off-balance by not asking the question, and raising the issue elsewhere or by others. That’s exactly what I would have done. But in retrospect I was wrong. By not hitting the Benghazi issue in the debate which aired nationally, we enabled Obama and the media to bury the issue. As a result, those who listen to Fox News were kept abreast of the story on an hourly basis, but the rest of the voters were largely unaware of it. Had I realized that would happen, I would have said, go for it. But enough Wednesday-morning quarterbacking.
(2) We must find new ways of getting the message out. Many of those who voted in the precinct where I served as poll-watchers, were brought to the polling place in church buses and vans. My thought was, what kind of church would transport people to the polls to vote for abortion and same-sex marriage? But while some of these may be followers of another god, many, I am sure, worship the True God but misunderstand His will, and they believed it was God’s will that they voted for Obama. I saw so many voters wearing Christian religious symbols, and I thought, if I could just sit down with this person and show him/her what the Bible says about issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, and compare the Bible’s message to what the candidates say about those issues, maybe I could sow some seeds that could lead to change. As a poll-watcher I was prohibited by law from trying to influence anybody’s vote in this election. But I had some very good conversations with election clerks (probably Obama supporters) about family, job, military, and spiritual matters; I think I made some friends and possibly opened some doors for future communication.
Abortion and same-sex marriage aren’t the only issues. The Bible commands that we help those who are less fortunate, but entitlements and income-redistribution programs don’t help them in the long run. Many blacks and Hispanics understand this, and many of them hold very conservative views without realizing it. But they have not yet made the connection that holding these views and voting for a candidate like Obama just don’t mix.
I thank God for Fox News and all the information it provides. But the majority of voters don’t listen to Fox on a daily basis, and the other networks simply will not convey the message. Without changing our basic values or principles, we need to package them in diverse ways that minorities, young people, and women will find attractive and persuasive. And we need to find alternative ways to bypass the networks and deliver our message. The internet is one, but there are myriad others.
(3) Keep on! I know how discouraged many of us feel; I certainly have those feelings myself. But our cause is right, and as a great general once said, “Duty is ours; consequences are God’s.”
God works in ways we don’t understand. A very talented and dedicated young friend of mine traveled to Ohio at his own expense to devote a weekend to the Romney campaign, even though Romney had not been his first choice for the nomination. As it turns out, he didn’t change the outcome. But he connected with some old college friends who, it turns out, were genuinely confused about the issues, helped them to see things differently, and may have influenced a major change in their lives. Who knows in what ways God will use them in the future?
My heart goes out to Mitt Romney and his family, knowing how hard they have fought and how badly they wanted to win. But God may have mercifully spared them. I believe that if anybody in America is capable of fixing our economic mess, it is Mitt Romney. But if economic catastrophe is inevitable, I’d sure rather see it happen on Obama’s watch, so people know who and what is responsible. And maybe such a catastrophe is necessary to get people to see the failure of socialism and the need to get back to sober economic and constitutional principles.
So keep on, despite this defeat and despite the feelings of hopelessness. Remember, that’s just how our opponents want us to feel. Remember those immortal lines from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools: …
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
Okay, if you need to, take the weekend off. But come back refreshed Monday morning, because the battle goes on!