You know that group of people that we have always known was out there that agreed with us? The ones we knew we could count on to help us save the country if things got bad enough? In 1980, we referred to them as the “silent majority”, and in every election since 1980 we have counted on them to come to our side and carry us to victory on election night. Well guess what…
They aren’t coming.
In fact, they are never coming again.
The problem is, that silent majority has shifted to the other side. It is a different group to be sure, but it exists. It is a group made up of people who don’t live and die by politics each and every day. You might even argue they are not as informed on each and every issue as a typical run-of-the-mill Republican. But President Obama proved that once every four years, if you are successful at finding their motivation, they will vote. And when they vote, they win.
Perhaps this is best illustrated by my favorite line from the election coverage last night. Brit Hume stated that while Republican enthusiasm was much higher than Democrat enthusiasm, “an unenthusiastic vote counts the same as an enthusiastic one.”
So this morning, Republicans have one of two choices: they can fume, cry, quote scripture about the end of the world, blame the media and/or vow to fight President Obama on every front for the next four years or; they can take a long hard look in the mirror.
Up front, I will admit that the hardest thing about this election to swallow was the media treatment of Romney, their utter disinterest in Benghazi and their 180 degree coverage of a president following a hurricane that found FEMA as basically unprepared for Sandy as they were for Katrina. However, those are things I cannot change, nor do they address some fundamental problems facing the Republican party.
As the party of the Christian Right (and by extension, the subset to which I belong, the LDS right) I believe the time has come to examine if we are truly exhibiting the attributes and values of our Savior when it comes to our politics. And if we aren’t, are we comfortable losing each and every presidential election for years to come.
Now I can already hear the protests start before I make my case. “This is a center/right country. Didn’t you see the electoral map last night?” I did, but I saw some other things as well that caused me serious pause.
1. Republicans have won the popular vote for president ONE time since 1988.
2. Catholic Hispanics, a demographic that should be a natural fit for a values voting party such as ours, is growing each and every election and is voting for the democrat by a 40% spread or higher.
3. 1 in 5 voters no longer associate themselves with a specific religion. Even less attend church services regularly.
4. For the first time, single women voters outnumbered married women voters.
5. Tea Party candidates end up hurting more than they help. If you switch the four Senate seats that were considered sure pick ups for the Republicans over the 2012 and 2010 elections, but didn’t switch because of idiotic candidate statements, (“I am not a witch.” “We should get rid of Social Security.” “A woman’s body has a natural defense in the case of legitimate rape.” “When pregnancy occurs during rape, it is God’s will.”) Republicans would control the Senate today by one seat over the Democrats.
Some of these things we cannot control, but others we most certainly can. Specifically the Hispanic vote. For just a moment, let’s think about what happened here. Those of us who are white had our ancestors come across the sea and move in uninvited. Then some years later, we drew some lines in the sand and then told the offspring of the indigenous people that were on the wrong side of the line that they could no longer come across. We became prosperous. We did well. Those on the other side of the line, often through no fault of their own, did not do as well. Those on the wrong side of the line who decided to come here found it a ridiculous mess to try and do so legally. In some cases, the desperate need for food and supplies created situations where they could not wait and so they decided to come illegally. Sadly, drugs, human trafficking and other problems entered the picture and soon the border was a dangerous place. So what do we, the God-fearing Christian people do?
We passed SB 1070 and then defended it as if it were the bible.
Be honest, if you as a citizen of this nation had a law passed that stated you could be asked to prove your citizenship every time you are stopped for a traffic violation, or anything else, and if you can’t, you could be hauled off to jail until things are sorted out, how would you feel? No seriously, be honest, how would you really feel? Furthermore, is that really a law you can see our Savior getting behind. I don’t. But either way, it isn’t about how we as Republicans feel, it is how Hispanics-legal, legit, citizen Hispanics feel. And they don’t like it. And they aren’t going to vote for a party that supports this kind of incendiary law. If Republicans don’t back away from this kind of vitriol regarding immigration, we will never get Nevada back, Colorado back, we will lose North Carolina forever and Arizona will soon start turning blue on the national map.
“But Ryan, if we just make them all legal, they will overrun our welfare roles and we will go broke.”
To this I say, How dare you? That might be true for some, but this thinking is an excuse. Case in point, this is the same argument that caused Rick Perry to offer in-state tuition to illegals in his state because he knew they were going to be here either way. At least with an education they could become productive members of society. This one single act sunk his campaign for the Republican nomination. We have got to change our thinking on this.
Another area is with gay marriage. We don’t have to agree with the concept, nor give it equal billing within our places of worship. But we better start acknowledging that the homosexual population is made up of human beings with basic needs for acceptance like everybody else. We need to be reaching out and finding compromise on issues such as gay marriage and other items that are important to the gay community. I am not suggesting we fold up shop and turn away from our beliefs, but again, the vitriol with which we approach this issue is toxic. We send out the message that we view homosexuals as deviants and monsters not to be trusted around our children. We may not specifically say it with our words, but again, be honest, how would you react to the tone and demeanor if it was directed at you? I ask once more, is this the message our Savior would send? I believe the example of his life suggests not.
Not since FDR has a president been re-elected with the unemployment number as high and the economy as sluggish. I realized this morning why Barack Obama was re-elected. To millions, he is the new FDR. He cares about their issue. OR at least he has convinced people he does. The economy may be bad, but Barack cares about their issue. His campaign was brilliant in seeking out specific individuals and convincing them of such through targeted social media and other tools. Mitt Romney, in their eyes, did not. Republicans did not.
In uncertain times like these, people need to feel loved and cared for. Throughout history, that feeling of comfort has not always been available or offered, but it is something every human being craves regardless. It is time for Republicans, led by those of us on the Christian right, to get off our high horses of sanctimony and get out among the masses. We need to show our true Christian values of love and inclusion and not just talk about them. Because if we don’t, the masses are only going to continue to grow and we will find ourselves swept away in the process.