By Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Now that some of the shock is wearing off, conservatives are experiencing another emotion. Disbelief. Less than 48 hours after barely surviving the election, liberal leaders insist they have a mandate to lead America even farther Left. I don’t know about you, but squeaking out an election in a bitterly divided nation is hardly what I’d call a blanket endorsement of the President’s policies. In fact, the only mandate we’re aware of is the one 43 institutions are fighting in court!
Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from assuming this new mantle of self-entitlement. During a press conference yesterday, Sen. Reid made it clear that he’s seizing these results as a national nod to higher taxes. “The mandate was look at all the exit polls, look at all the polling, the vast majority of the American people, rich, poor, everybody agrees that the rich–richest of the rich–have to help a little bit.” Well, interestingly enough, those same exit polls showed a huge discrepancy between the Democrats’ proposal and the voters’ opinion. Asked if taxes should be raised to cut the deficit, only 33% of voters said “yes.” If that’s how liberals define a consensus, then there’s more separating these parties than politics!
In reality, Mitt Romney had a huge advantage with voters in areas that should force the President to rethink his in-your-face strategy. In several of those exit poll questions, voters gave Romney a double-digit edge over the President in categories like “shares my values,” (55-42%), “is a strong leader” (61-38%) and “has a vision for the future” (54-45%). Americans also thought Mitt was more qualified to handle the economy (49-48%) and the deficit (49-47%).
As disappointing as the election outcome was, it wasn’t a mandate. A little more than two million votes separate the two candidates in the popular vote, and, as John Podhoretz points out, they aren’t even done counting. “It’s a little noticed fact that in two weeks following every presidential election, votes will continue to be reported… by the millions.” A lot of these are military, provisional, and absentee ballots that could break the Governor’s way. So the idea that waging a close and bitter campaign that divides the country somehow gives the President a blank check is ridiculous.
Michael Barone hinted at this on Tuesday in his column, “America Is Two Countries, Not on Speaking Terms.” “One America tends to be traditionally religious, personally charitable, appreciative of entrepreneurs, and suspicious of government. The other tends to be secular or only mildly religious, less charitable on average, skeptical of business, and supportive of government as an instrument to advance liberal causes… Now the two Americas disagree, sharply.” And for four years, President Obama’s administration has done more to widen the gulf than bridge it. He spent his first term as the leader of one America–and chief antagonist of the other. So, as far as I’m concerned, this election isn’t a mandate–it’s a second chance. Despite a highly controversial four years, some Americans still believe this President is capable of putting aside his acrimony, his extreme social agenda and assuming the unifying role our nation needs. But that’s not a mandate. That’s leadership.
FRCA Had Plenty of Election Im-PAC
As more people sift through the polling data and try to piece together what happened Tuesday, evangelical voters seem to be on a lot of pundits’ minds. In the aftermath, many have wondered if the church’s enthusiasm for Romney wasn’t as high as many leaders–including myself–had predicted. Turns out, evangelicals were not only voting, they outperformed their 2008 involvement. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, it still wasn’t enough to overcome the massive turnout by Democratic Hispanics, African-Americans, and young people. “Of white evangelicals specifically,” Ed Morrissey writes, “turnout was steady at 26% of the electorate from four years ago and Romney took 78% of the vote compared to just 74% for McCain.” Apart from how people self-identify (as either Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, etc.), weekly church attendance was another key statistic. Forty-two percent of this year’s voters worship weekly (compared to 40% in 2008) with Romney capturing 59% of that vote compared to John McCain’s 55%.
For FRC and FRC Action, those numbers help validate all the work and miles we logged to increase values voter turnout. And the evidence of impact stretches well beyond the presidential. Despite losing the big prize and grieving the loss of so many key ballot initiatives, it was still a good day for the FRC Action PAC and the men and women we endorsed. After all of the disappointment on the national stage, our team was thrilled to see that 81% of our congressional candidates won. In the House and Senate, we celebrated victories in 129 of 159 races where the results are final (five contests have not been called). Our thanks go out to everyone who invested in the FRC Action PAC. It was money well spent! Whether we were replacing phony moderates, beating liberals, or reelecting strong conservatives, you can rest assured that there are new leaders in Congress who have our pro-family seal of approval!
A couple of days have passed since Tuesday’s loss, but for many of us, it still stings. The outcome was not what we hoped for, worked for, or anticipated, but even in the midst of it, I have not once questioned what we did or what we stood for. Even when the criticism comes–and it will come–the words of Teddy Roosevelt never ring truer for FRC, for our movement, or for the millions of voters still fighting, at great personal cost, for the truth.
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 them better. The credit 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 short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in 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 know neither victory nor defeat.
The reality in life is that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. In times like these, we have to keep an eternal perspective, remembering that as Christians, we go from victory to victory. That doesn’t mean every election ends with a parade, because our battle is not temporal; it’s spiritual. Voters may reject the values that have sustained this nation for more than 230 years–but an election is not going to change the sovereignty of God, nor will it alter his eternal truths. Our charge is to not lose heart; to stay faithfully engaged in the struggle for faith, family, and freedom.
And our challenge is to pray. In Luke 18, Jesus’s parable reminds us that, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry out to him day and night?” If Paul could call on believers in his day to pray for those in authority, like Nero, who used Christians as human torches, then we can pray for our President and government. Prayer gives us the grace to go on, the mercy to maintain, the patience to persist, the courage to care, and the strength to stand–which is what we are called to do. As John Quincy Adams said when asked about his unyielding and unfruitful fight to end slavery, “Duty is ours, results belong to God.”