It seems like a lot of people have now reached the conclusion that
truth is irrelevant to American politics. Even some supposed
conservatives urge us to be discreet about our true views about what’s
needed to sustain a good way of life, about what strengthens families,
and about what builds character for our children. “Don’t try to tell the
truth,” they imply, “just look for what wins and run with it.” In fact,
Rush came very close to saying as much about Dr. Jim Dobson just the
other day, when he suggested that the “far right” cares more about its
own virtue than about winning.
Thursday’s news that Dr. Dobson has suffered a minor stroke should
remind us of the great personal burden that discipleship to the truth
can be to a man in the short term. In the long run, of course, as Dr.
Dobson would be the first to remind us, the yoke of truth is easy and
its burden is light. Right now, I hope that everyone who reads this
column will join me and my family in praying to the God of truth for the
speedy return of His servant to his great work, and for his protection
in that work for many years to come.
I’m a great admirer of Jim Dobson, precisely because he is motivated
by a sincere concern for truth. Some people who are known as moral
leaders seem to be more interested in sustaining their organizations,
increasing contributions, and cultivating a bigger base of support. But
Jim Dobson isn’t like that. He’s a man motivated by one thought: “in the
eyes of God, what is it right to do; what is the truth?” He fearlessly
and unfailingly inquires what will strengthen families, what will build
a decent way of life, and what will make the education of our children
stronger and turn people into better citizens.
That is where we have to stand. If we articulate what we believe to
be true and right with all the integrity and sincerity we can, we may
lose today but we will win tomorrow.
It is not because we don’t care about winning that we must stand for
the truth. It is because ultimately we have faith that the truth will
prevail. God is Truth and will prevail. So we can know that if we stand
on the side of truth, we’ll end up the winner. If we are going to be
“pragmatic,” we should just stand on the side of truth no matter what.
It may look in the short term as if we aren’t winning. But we can know
that ultimately we will.
And we can see this written in our history. There were terribly dark
times when it looked as if the great moral truths on which America was
founded would never, ever, be effectively respected in our life. It
looked for a time as if slavery would go on forever. But there always
were clear, pure voices of conscience that moved the nation. And there
always were those who struggled to their uttermost to move that voice of
truth into our public life, and into our politics, in a way consistent
That was the spirit that founded the Republican Party and that
Abraham Lincoln represented. We didn’t follow the “I don’t care if
slavery is voted up or voted down” expediency of Stephen Douglas. We
ended up following the principled approach of Abraham Lincoln. Not
without prudence; this wasn’t a man who never thought about the
practical side of things. But he understood that we must define practice
in terms of principle, and then use our best common sense to promote
those principles. We must never abandon them.
That’s the kind of statesmanship we need in this country, so
different from the faltering courage of conviction that leads some to
criticize Dr. Dobson. Motivated by faith that the truth will prevail, we
can move forward to serve the truth to the best of our ability, and win
or lose, we will still understand that we are on the route to true
The people who are trying to push the Republican Party in a direction
that defines victory in terms other than the triumph of principle are
doing something that will be politically fatal for the Republican Party,
and that does a great disservice to America.
Some will say that to be honest we must accept that politics is
simply a game for grown-ups. I think we ought to take it seriously as a
vocation, as a responsibility. Our citizenship isn’t game-playing; it is
actually the serious business of our sovereignty. We are members of the
sovereign body that will have to answer to God for the future of this
country, and we need to be deeply responsible in carrying out our
Politics ought to involve thinking things through clearly and with as
much integrity as we can, and then standing up and offering those views
with integrity to people, and having them decide with integrity what
they believe is going to be best for themselves, the family, the
country, on the basis of the shared principles of right and wrong that
define us as a people. That’s the kind of citizenship we should be
We should conduct our business as citizens, as voters, and as party
leaders with an understanding that ennobles, rather than destroys, the
decent conscience and heart of the American people. If we conduct
ourselves that way, then we’ll once again use the word “politics” in the
true meaning of the term, as citizenship, not corruption. And we will
understand that when someone like Dr. Dobson speaks out to hold the
Republican Party to the standard of truth, he is acting according to the
highest standards of citizenship.