Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family
The so-called “values voters” who handed both houses of Congress and the White House to Republicans in 2000 and 2004 were at this year’s election, they just didn’t see anybody promising to represent them, according to several leaders influential to that group of Americans.
“The unfortunate thing is that Republican leaders still don’t appear to get it. Sen. Arlen Spector, R-Pa., said on Wednesday that the election results represented a ‘seismic earthquake’ and that his party must become ‘a lot more progressive and a lot less ideological,’” said James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and director of its dozens of publications and broadcast service that reaches about five million Americans daily.
“Dick Armey emerged from four years in the wilderness to blame conservative Christians for Tuesday’s defeat. They were, he said, ‘too involved’ with the party. He can’t be serious! Someone should tell him that without the support of that specific constituency, John Kerry would be president and the Republicans would have fallen into a black hole in ’04,” he said.
“In fact, that is where they are headed if they continue to abandon their pro-moral, pro-family and pro-life base. The big tent will turn into a three-ring circus,” Dobson said.
“Values Voters are not going to carry the water for the Republican Party if it ignores their deeply held convictions and beliefs,” he said.
Dobson was joined on his radio program by Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, Tom Minnery and Carrie Gordon Earll.
Minnery pointed out that in 2004, 11 out of 11 state constitutional amendments defining marriage as being between one man and one woman were passed by voters on one night. This year the record was just about as good, at seven out of eight, and the one that lost failed by only a few percentage points in Arizona, where the pro-marriage campaign had suffered several serious difficulties, including the death in an auto accident of a key leader.
“In 2004 voters handed them a 10-seat majority in the Senate and a 29-seat advantage in the House. What did they do with this advantage? Very little that values voters are concerned about,” Minnery said.
“We thought there finally was a Congress that was going to nail down the definition of marriage. It was like pulling teeth (to get them to talk about it),” he said.
Bauer noted that in Virginia, where a heavily-favored George Allen was expected to win a Senate seat easily but relinquished the battle to Democratic challenger James Webb, the marriage amendment ran hundreds of thousands of votes better than Allen.
But instead of emphasizing his support for marriage being limited to between one man and one woman, Allen spent money attacking his opponent on the concept of women in combat.
Dobson noted that the U.S. economy is as high, and unemployment as low as ever, so it couldn’t have been reaction to economics.
“There are people who have these values, values voters haven’t vanished,” said Minnery. “What they’re looking for is someone who will articulate their values, and then really importantly, to get them to come back, to act on those promises they made during the campaign.”
Perkins said exit polling showed two-thirds of the voters expressed concern over Iraq, but three-fourths of all voters said scandals were a major concern.
“That’s the values gap, the values voters. The values voters of 2004 have become the integrity voters of 2006. Values are not something you can just talk about at election time. They should guide your conduct. The Republicans failed to do that and they lost,” he said.
Bauer noted that 60 percent of the voters responded that America is headed in the wrong direction. “The evidence is overwhelming what most Americans are thinking about is not the economy. Some may be thinking about the war. A good deal are thinking about the breakdown in values, the attack on marriage,” he said.
Meanwhile, several Democrats had won great support campaigning on values: One cited was Barack Obama, who said in a recent speech about gangs that the problem is moral, that there is a “hole in that young man’s heart, a hole that government cannot fill,” said Minnery.
“Republican leaders in Congress during this term apparently never understood, or they forgot, why Ronald Reagan was so loved and why he is considered one of our greatest presidents. If they hope to return to power in ’08, they must rediscover the conservative principles that resonated with the majority of Americans in the 1980s – and still resonate with them today. Failure to do so will be catastrophic,” Dobson said.
Earll noted confirmation of the presence of values voters came in South Dakota and Missouri, even though those abortion and cloning issues were decided wrong, from a pro-life perspective.
Almost half of the voters in South Dakota voted for a total abortion ban, a measure that pro-life organizations in the United States have only been able to dream about since the 1973 “Roe” decision. In Missouri, even though outspent 10-1, pro-life groups very nearly defeated the constitutional amendment that will now create the “right” to clone human embryos, she said.
The voters weren’t looking at party, Dobson said, they were looking for an endorsement of their values. In many cases, they were able to vote on issues, but failed to find a candidate worthy, he noted.
Earll noted the divide was stark in Colorado. Voters chose a Democratic governor and constitutionally protected marriage between one man and one woman and at the same time torpedoed a “gay partnership” proposal that that same gubernatorial candidate endorsed.
“The way it’s being spun by the media, and some Republicans, is that this is a rejection of the pro-family agenda, the values voters perspective,” said Dobson. “That’s simply not true when you look at the individual races. What is happening is we’re seeing values embraced and the parties being rejected.”
Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger told WND the election can be described easily: voters rejected what the Republicans did after they were given a mandate to run the country on faith and values.
Dobson noted he’d been interviewed by U.S. News and World Report after the 2004 elections and warned if Republicans squandered their opportunity, they would pay a price at the polls in either 2008 or 2006.
Dobson’s predictions about values and the Republican Party go back even further than that, too.
In 1998 he told a reporter that the GOP was in danger of losing its ability to “claim to speak for those of us with deep moral convictions.”
He said at that time the party has “ignored the moral issues year after year, term after term” and said at that time it was “time to fish or cut bait.”
Eight years ago he warned the GOP Christians and conservatives “will abandon them if they continue to ignore the most important issues.”
Even before he made that forecast, Dobson said that Christians should tell the GOP leadership – at that time Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Trent Lott – that “the ground is shifting underneath their feet; that they are aware that they have been ignored … and if that lack of commitment to the things in which they believe continues then they will abandon the Republican Party.”
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