Ever since James Dobson declared that he would never vote for John McCain, the big question has been whether the Republican Party’s Religious Right base would follow suit or whether they would support McCain simply as the lesser of two evils.
While there appear to be some efforts underway to threaten to abandon the GOP altogether, McCain has been making inroads with various Religious Right leaders and slowly securing endorsements from the likes of Gary Bauer and Fidelis. And while some on the Right, such as Tony Perkins, are perfectly happy to see Mike Huckabee stay in the race in order to remind McCain that the Religious Right is not dead and force him to cater to the “voters who are passionate about the issues that Mike Huckabee addresses,” others conservative leaders predict that, for all the public grumbling and gnashing of teeth, the Right will eventually come around.
As Haley Barbour put it:
If people like that don’t vote for John McCain, it means Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is going to be President. It’s one thing in February or May or even August to say that you’re not willing to support John McCain. But life is a series of choices, and inevitably the choice in November is going to be between McCain and either Clinton or Obama. Now, those people will look into their hearts and decide what to do. But for an incredibly high percentage of conservatives and Republicans, they’ll vote for John McCain.
Others are making the same point – and even militant McCain-hater Rick Santorum says he’ll suck it up and vote for McCain:
Less than a week after Romney withdrew from the race, Santorum told WORLD he’s still rankled by McCain, but won’t avoid the ballot box in November if he’s the GOP pick: “When you look at the [Democratic] alternatives, it makes the choice of whoever the Republican nominee is that much easier to vote for.”
Ultimately, pointing out the alternative may be the key to McCain’s hopes of wooing conservatives. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says McCain could take several steps to reach out to evangelicals, but adds: “In the end, there’s not anything that John McCain can do to unite conservatives that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can’t do better.”
The prospect of a Democratic presidency looms large in Gary Bauer’s support of McCain. The Christian conservative and former presidential candidate formally endorsed McCain in early February and told WORLD he’s baffled by evangelicals who say they won’t vote for the senator if he’s the Republican nominee.
Bauer points out that the next president may nominate as many as three Supreme Court justices. “If those justices are appointed by Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, we will have abortion for another 35 years and we will have same-sex marriage,” he says. “We will have lost the two main things on the social agenda, probably forever.”
And just in case the wavering right-wing voters needed any more convincing, Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina weighs in to say that sitting out the election would be an affront to God:
Most troubling, however, is that many conservative evangelicals are now acting as though God were not sovereign in the political process. Have we become more focused on the process than on the God who controls it? Granted, we must diligently seek to influence the culture for righteousness sake. Nevertheless, evangelicals are not sailing the ship politic and never were. There is but one Captain – the Lord – and He raises to power whomever He wills. Infighting and laying blame is counterproductive to advancing the kingdom.
These experiences test our faith in God’s mysterious ways. And they strain our commitment to Christian liberty – the very foundation of our belief in political freedom. Let us lay aside the attacks on our brethren.
Neither is this a time to withdraw. Only a straining of the facts makes John McCain equal to or worse than the godless direction a Clinton or Obama ticket would take the nation. Such would not only imperil the social agenda of conservative evangelicals, but jeopardize one of the greatest of family values – protection of the American people from the violence of its enemies. If America bails out on the war effort before the job is finished, the United States will not only be dishonored, but the terrorists will follow our troops home.
Moreover, to disengage – worse still, not to vote – I believe is a grievous mistake. Though a person certainly has the right to adhere to his/her conscience in such action, it should be noted that to do so is to walk away from one’s place at the table. With what credibility can one possibly speak to those serving in office when one was previously unwilling to even vote? At that point, one’s credibility as a part of the discussion – now or later – becomes significantly compromised.
For whatever it’s worth, having served as a lobbyist in the North Carolina General Assembly since 1999, there are two great truths constantly before me when seeking to influence the politics of those sacred halls: (1) God is sovereign over everything and ultimately His will cannot be defeated; and (2) no person or group involved in politics ever gets all they want all of the time. But for Christ’s sake, one must ever be vigilant in victory and defeat. And one must always find positive ways to stay engaged in the process.