The people, at least a majority of them, have been won over by Big Government solutions and methods. They have doubled-down on the policies of the last four years. Better pundits than I have already weighed in on the results, and their portents for the future.
Some see America as irretrievably lost, and predict an ongoing spiral of financial and/or moral decline. Others see this as the usual ebb-and-flow of politics. Win some, lose some.
Pessimistic observers decry the implosion of American culture and way of life. They point to a mass abandoning of long-cherished values and virtues. They see the flounderings and capitulations of our socially conservative groups, and ask openly “what went wrong?”
Although explanations vary wildly, they seem to intersect at one common point: the public is unconvinced that conservative policies are the right ones.
How we got here is moot, really. Was it cultural influence? Missteps by our side’s leaders? Public moral failings? Allegations of hypocrisy that sometimes proved true? Poor use of modern media? Cultural antipathy to moral social positions? Foreign dollars? Activism on their side? Apathy on ours? Who can tell, and does it even matter? Regardless of which explanation you prefer, this is our new starting point.
There’s another way to see this. Maybe we’ve been overestimating our own strength all along. Maybe those allies we’ve counted on as having shared interests and values weren’t quite as solid as we thought.
So am I a pessimist? No. I recognize that previous approaches have failed. But, they have failed in the Thomas Edison sense. Since the 1960’s, we have discovered many ways not to win the public’s hearts to our side. Maybe now we can move to new approaches.
The assessment is that their team has superior numbers, and seems to hold the momentum advantage. This is where blaming liberals, media bias, and special interest groups won’t help. If those groups do not hold our values, why should we think they’d defend them? It isn’t their job to defend our values. It’s ours. It’s not their job to“come to their senses”. It’s up to those who cherish these values (like you) to step into culture and make our case. Persuasion, Voice, and “Church” will be more culturally compelling than Legislation, Coercion and State. [see my last article for how I mean Church and State as terms]
Alright, so culture has embraced values hostile to ours. Now what? That depends — is this an “Alamo” situation where even a principled stand will end in defeat, or is this the London Blitz: hold the line until help comes? We don’t know yet. The difference-maker in both scenarios was reinforcements. Britain’s allies came in time; the Alamo’s did not.
Who are the reinforcements that didn’t arrive last election? Notably, the Christian church. They weren’t as committed as we thought. Is this because they have rejected historical values, or because they haven’t thought through the connections and implications of each party’s policies?
In your own local context, do you know why there were no-shows? Have rank-and-file Christians had meaningful political (or even gospel) conversations with their peers? Do we know what their questions are, and have we endeavoured to answer them fairly? Have you had conversations with “liberal” churchgoers, asking honest questions about their values only to learn their actual worldview is more conservative than liberal? Have you patiently (and without resorting to straw men) tried to outline the actual platforms and values of both systems to contrast them? I have. It is both easier and more effective than you think.
This is where I could give some impassioned speech about historical and biblical examples of small forces triumphing over large ones. When minority forces changed the direction of the nation. Even the War of American Independence did not have majority support in the beginning. But I’m guessing an Agincourt speech doesn’t reflect the situation you see today, does it?
So instead, I’ll show you Jonathan, son of Saul, and friend of King David. We meet up with him in 1 Samuel 13. Times were bleak. Israel’s Philistine neighbors ruled over them; the morality of the people was at low-tide; they were despondent, and had been stripped of their weapons and even blacksmiths. They had to go cap-in-hand to a Philistine blacksmith just to get their farm tools sharpened. It was a clever tactic, since unarmed citizens are more easily bullied than armed militias.
But Jonathan, their prince, had a sword. Big deal, right? What difference will one sword make, right? Not so fast. In the next chapter, we read about how Jonathan and his armor-bearer charged a garrison of 20 men, and routed them. A small victory to be sure, but it was the first skirmish in a series of victories that culminated in Israel’s Golden Age with David as king.
Jonathan was one guy with courage, a plan, a friend and a weapon. When all the others cowered, Jonathan charged, and this event was the first link in a chain that turned the tide, bringing hope back into his nation.
Will you be that one?