By David Lane
The article “Rove Says Romney Lost Because of those Horrible Conservatives” and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn’s interview with Politico are helpful as we try to sort through the 2012 election rout.
Politico reports: “During an interview in his Senate hideaway in the basement of the Capitol, Cornyn told POLITICO that the 2012 elections exposed that the GOP had a ‘brand problem.'” It’s not clear why the prize pupil of Karl Rove – John Cornyn – feels it necessary to bring up the Republican “brand problem.” We’ll need to go back a quarter-century to gain perspective. Perhaps Ronald Reagan wasn’t perfect, but there’s a rationale why he removed a sitting U.S. president – Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980 – and won 49 states for re-election in 1984 – and it wasn’t “the economy, stupid.” President Reagan bequeathed to the Republican Party the magnificent, “brand” of:
- limited government
- lower taxes
- deregulation of business
- The principle: The one thing government can do for me is leave me alone
Freedom requires virtue; Christianity is the “sole force capable of fostering the virtue and restraining the vice necessary for the health of the republic” (Os Guinness, “A Free People’s Suicide”). But until evangelicals begin to demand His kingdom and His justice within the the American electorate – and the Republican Party – America will continue to degenerate and deteriorate.
“Until American churches actually function as outposts of Jesus’ heavenly empire rather than as cheerleaders for America – until the churches produce martyrs rather than patriots – the political witness of Christians will continue to be diluted and co-opted” (“ Between Babel and the Beast,” Peter J. Leithart).
The moderate, mercenary GOP chieftains and lieutenants – the evangelists that constructed and maintain the Permanent Republican Majority – truly believe that their political philosophy and “amoral values” trump the principles and foundation laid by America’s founders.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
It is of little concern to the present GOP gurus that evangelical and pro-life Catholic Christians oppose:
- the $1 million political expenditure to elect Massachusetts liberal, activist homosexual candidate Richard Tisei; to the GOP chieftains, if Tisei can be elected in liberal Massachusetts as a Republican – regardless of his beliefs or character – it advances the end goal of the Permanent Republican Majority;
- homosexual marriage and abortion being deposited in the Republican Party; to the GOP chieftains, it gives them the end goal, potentially, of more Republicans – their kingdom of god.
However, the GOP chieftains and lieutenants do require that evangelicals leave our excessive – and bigoted – values at the church house door.
This in a sense has been the failure of the contemporary evangelical leadership. It’s been reduced – by Karl Rove and potential access to Romney money – to a chaplain or chaplaincy – dependent upon the ruler’s favor, financially and politically. These leaders owe their standing – and itsy-bitsy seat at the table – to the current, most popular Republican nominee, regardless of his principles. This acquiescence is necessary to maintain their seat at the table, the length of the chain determined by the Ruler’s tolerance. The evangelical leaders have basically lived off the crumbs, the largess, from the Bush Boys – and, by extension, Karl Rove – since 1988.
Conservative Christians are coming to their moment of truth within the Republican Party. Be friendly and disarm, or annoy and aggravate the GOP kings and lieutenants by laying down the law on Christian principles and Christian values.
The moderate GOP chieftains and lieutenants’ philosophy of government and set of values – in the long run – are incompatible with Christian morality and principles. As these secular “pastors” – the GOP chieftains and lieutenants – seek to bully and dictate their worldly, amoral ethics – according to their importance, omnipotence and power of the purse – there can be no amicability and meeting of minds.
Again, Christian conservatives have a big decision to make – one set of values is going to reign supreme. Be friendly and disarm, or annoy and aggravate by laying down the law on Christian principles and Christian values; these are the two options.
Long term, either principled conservative leaders participate in guidance and management of the Republican Party, or it goes the way of its predecessor – the Whig Party – which collapsed in the mid-1800s, ultimately over its attempt to bring expansion of a social evil, slavery – like present-day homosexual marriage and abortion – to the territories.
The GOP chieftains and lieutenants view it as thoughtful and benevolent that we evangelicals get thrown a crumb or two and are offered invocations, benedictions and prayer breakfasts at GOP events – but please don’t come out with the J-Bomb. The present GOP chieftains and lieutenants will tolerate evangelical participation in the Republican “Big Tent,” as long as biblical principles don’t lead to theologically grounded demands.
The directive is loud and clear: Keep your religion to yourself, in the confines of your own place of worship, if you want to have a seat at, access to, or influence with the National Republican Party chieftains and lieutenants.
In the spiritual context – to paraphrase Peter J. Leithart – the key practical difference is ecclesiological: Is the church or the RNC the “carrier” of God’s purposes in the world? If the church is, then we may have to oppose the GOP in order to be faithful to Jesus.
Another way to put it is: I don’t think that “restoring America” is a Christian imperative. Being a witnesses to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the imperative. If that restores America, wonderful; if it means that America collapses – like Rome – the byproduct of the Permanent Republican Majority or a decadent, sinful, immoral culture and people, the church is God’s permanent “nation.”
As you can see, long term it’s an unworkable coalition; someone’s values must reign supreme.
There is good news in the current Republican collapse and failure – brought about as a byproduct of the amoral, empty philosophy of the Permanent Republican Majority – a political opening, a kairos (in the Greek New Testament kairos means “the appointed time in the purpose of God,” the time when God acts) for evangelicals.
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” William Shakespeare
David Lane conducts Pastors’ Policy Briefings to educate evangelical clergy in mobilizing their congregations to vote their faith through the American Renewal Project. Ten thousand pastors, plus spouses, have participated in 15 states.