Tag archives: Elections

Conservative Values Won Big Across America, Except in Contested Swing States

by Connor Semelsberger

November 20, 2020

The 2020 election revealed many interesting trends. Most notably, it revealed a number of unexpected conservative victories in federal and state elections. From the suburbs of Miami, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati to key races in Iowa and Montana, Republicans held onto key seats or made substantial gains despite millions of dollars in spending by Democrats. Yet despite these positive results, with ample opportunity to win similar races in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, Republicans came up short in these states. What explains this?

One of the biggest headlines from the 2020 election was President Donald Trump’s increased number of votes in major urban areas across the country, including substantial gains among the Latino community, especially in Florida. President Trump improved his percentage of the vote from 2016 in Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Toledo, and even Portland and Seattle. These gains propelled President Trump to capturing north of 73 million votes nationwide, even beating President Obama’s record-setting popular vote total in 2008.

Republican candidates down ballot also had several major victories: 

  • Florida – Republicans flipped two U.S. House seats and made gains in the state legislature.
  • Iowa – Joni Ernst won her tightly contested Senate race and Republicans picked up one and potentially two U.S. House seats.
  • New Hampshire – Republicans lost competitive U.S. House races but flipped both state legislative chambers.
  • Montana – Republicans held onto the U.S. Senate and House seats and flipped the Governorship.
  • Texas – John Cornyn won his Senate race, and Republicans kept control of both state legislative chambers despite aggressive Democrat challenges.
  • California and New York – Republicans have flipped at least one seat in each state and are on track to take back several more.

Republicans outperformed expectations in nearly every state, except the key battlegrounds that continue to have election integrity questions and will ultimately decide the final outcome of the electoral college.

There were very similar opportunities for Republican success in down-ballot federal and state races; however, they all came up short in these states. 

  • Arizona – Incumbent Senator Martha McSally lost her race, and Republicans failed to pick up either competitive U.S. House seats outside of Phoenix.
  • Georgia – Both Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler failed to secure 50 percent of the votes, triggering runoff elections. Also, Republicans failed to pick-up a competitive U.S. House seat in the Atlanta suburbs and lost a nearby seat, the only Democrat pickup not caused by redistricting.
  • Michigan – John James failed to unseat incumbent Sen. Gary Peters in a very close race and Republicans failed to pick up either of the two competitive U.S. House seats covering Oakland and Wayne counties outside of Detroit.
  • Nevada – Republicans had very strong challengers in two U.S. House seats just outside of Las Vegas, but both came up short to the Democrat incumbents.
  • Pennsylvania – Republicans held two competitive U.S. House Seats. However, they failed to pick off any of the three vulnerable Democrats in districts outside the major population centers of Allentown, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

The geographic and demographic analysis of these key states reveals a lot. Urban and suburban districts in regions across the country turned favorably for Republicans, causing House districts to flip and President Trump to secure key swing states like Florida, Iowa, and Ohio. Having campaigned on law and order in response to the civil unrest throughout the summer, it makes sense why Republicans saw their prospects improve in these areas. However it is odd that these gains happened nearly everywhere in the country except for the key battlegrounds states, especially when President Trump campaigned almost exclusively in these states in the final days. National Review did address outliers for Joe Biden’s performance in several major cities, but no piece has fully captured how Trump performed compared to his 2016 totals and the impact on down ballot races in key urban and suburban centers.

One answer may be that President Trump’s message just did not resonate with the swing voters in these key battlegrounds or that there was a much stronger anti-Trump sentiment that turned out for Biden. That may be true to some degree. Yet why did geographically and demographically-similar cities and regions swing even more favorably for President Trump? The rust belt cities of Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago, and Gary, Indiana saw President Trump improve his vote totals, and in some cases saw Biden lose support compared to past Democrat presidential candidates. Compare those cities to Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, where Joe Biden beat Barack Obama’s unprecedented totals from 2008 and Trump underperformed, even losing support in the blue collar pro-coal, pro-steel city of Pittsburgh. When we compare them, something is amiss.

Another theory is that conservative values are gaining traction in unlikely areas, but voters just did not like Trump and his personality and so voted against him. However, if that were the case, then it would have been likely that at least one U.S. Senate or House seat would have gone in Republicans’ favor in either Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, or Pennsylvania. Instead, Democrats won nearly every close race. 

It is not clear what this contrast between the presidential results and the down ballot races in key swings states means, but it certainly exists. If voter fraud were occurring, that could help explain it. There continue to be allegations of targeted voter fraud in these key swing states; allegations are currently being resolved by courts and state legislatures.

Whatever the ultimate explanation, these seemingly strange outcomes in down ballot races deserve to be analyzed and explained.

The Media Still Doesn’t Get It: Conservatives Tend to Vote Conservative

by Daniel Hart

November 6, 2020

Four years after one of the most shocking presidential upsets in American history, and three days after another election that is too close to call, a vast swath of the mainstream media still has not figured out (or perhaps simply chooses not to acknowledge) why almost half of American voters filled in the oval for Donald Trump.

While it is certainly true that the motivations of Trump voters remain diverse, the primary motivating factor is as plain as day: millions of Americans are conservative, and they in fact voted for a president that has enacted conservative policies. This isn’t rocket science.

Two recent articles in The Atlantic particularly highlight how myopic, and even dangerously prone to vilification (as will be discussed later) so many mainstream media writers remain. In an otherwise insightful analysis of the state of our country, George Packer refers to Trump rallies as “red-drenched festivals of mass hate.” Hmmm. It seems that Mr. Packer has himself fallen prey to becoming, in his own words, an “influential journalist” who “continue[s] to fail to understand how most of their compatriots think, even as these experts spend ever more of their time talking with one another on Twitter and in TV studios.”

Does Mr. Packer really think that those thousands of people who attend Trump rallies are full of “hate”? Or could it be that they simply appreciate Trump for his public policy accomplishments that have helped keep blue collar jobs in America and unemployment low by deregulating the economy, supported the family and religious liberty, respected the value of the unborn, etc.?

Then there is “A Large Portion of the Electorate Chose the Sociopath” by Tom Nichols. Over and over again, without citing any actual proof, Mr. Nichols and many others on the Left continue to carry on the narrative that a massive swath of Trump voters are driven primarily by racism. Mr. Nichols makes this stunningly nauseating assertion: “The politics of cultural resentment, the obsessions of white anxiety, are so intense that his voters are determined not only to preserve minority rule but to leave a dangerous sociopath in the Oval Office.”

Is it possible that intelligent intellectuals like Mr. Nichols, who holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown, actually believe in their heart of hearts, that racism, not policy, is what is driving Trump voters? Again, without citing any actual evidence, he asserts that “far too many of Trump’s voters don’t care about policy.” Once more, Mr. Nichols has apparently not bothered to notice the policies that President Trump has put in place, policies that reflect the goals of the Republican Party platform on protecting the unborn, preserving religious liberty, advocating for school choice, promoting free enterprise and job growth through deregulation, appointing originalist judges, etc.

Millions of American voters also saw through the false façade that Biden is somehow a “political centrist,” as Mr. Nichols described him. How does a “centrist” run on “the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in the modern history of the party”? That’s a quote from a Democratic operative in The Atlanticthe very publication that Mr. Nichols is writing for. How does a centrist have a vice presidential nominee that is, according to the left-leaning Newsweekmore liberal than Bernie Sanders, and who openly advocates for public policy that enforces equality of outcome?

But beyond the patent dishonesty of this kind of writing, something much more dangerous is occurring here. The Atlantic is continuing to publish opinion pieces that grossly and disturbingly mischaracterize and demean the motivations behind Trump voters, which will only further demonize conservatives in the minds of liberals, further contributing to the breakdown in mutual respect and assumption of good faith that is critical for a functioning democracy.

Having said that, all of us, whether conservative or liberal, have a lot of work to do in order to assume that most of our fellow compatriots hold their political views in good faith—because they honestly think they are what is best for our country.

The mainstream media, though, which has so much power to shape prevailing patterns of thought, has a particularly important responsibility to do better in this area. If George Packer, Tom Nichols, and the vast majority of their mainstream media colleagues did some actual research into the true motivations of most Trump voters, they just might discover that they are actually pretty ordinary: decent, hardworking people who simply want to preserve America as a free republic.

Do Candidates’ Family Structures Affect Voters?

by Peter Sprigg

October 26, 2020

When Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate, much attention was paid to the fact that she is the first woman of color to appear on a national ticket (her mother was from India, her father from Jamaica). However, less attention has been paid to another characteristic of Harris that may break new ground, or at least break recent precedent.

It appears (from some quick research on Wikipedia) that she is the first nominee for national office on a major-party ticket since at least 1952 (which is as far back as I went) who was not a parent of her own children.

Harris is a stepmother to her husband Douglas Emhoff’s two children from his first marriage, but they were apparently both teenagers when she married him in 2014. So she has never had the experience of raising a child from birth, or even from childhood.

This struck me because in 2017 at the World Congress of Families in Budapest, Hungary, one of the speakers mentioned that all three of the leaders of the major Western European powers at the time—Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Britain’s Theresa May—although married, were childless. (Merkel and Macron, like Harris, have stepchildren; Theresa May and her husband struggled with infertility.)

The speaker seemed to suggest this raised a question about the extent to which they could personally empathize with the challenges of family life, and suggested that by their own choices they might be showing the relatively low priority they placed on the importance of family formation in general.

It’s unclear whether voters will have such concerns about Harris, or whether it will have an impact on their decisions on Election Day. But Harris herself has given evidence that she is conscious of the issue, since she has gone out of her way to emphasize the loving bonds that unite her with her stepchildren Cole and Ella—who call her “Momala.” In May of 2019, when Harris was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, she wrote a Mother’s Day article for Elle in which she appears to be deliberately trying to portray herself as someone who does understand the struggles and difficult choices of parenting.

Obviously, the Constitution has no “parenthood test” for public office, and Donald Trump himself may serve as evidence that voters care more about the candidates’ policy positions than their personal lives. Nevertheless, the nomination of a childless candidate, who did not marry and form a blended family until she was almost 50, may be at least symbolic of some significant differences between the two major political parties—not just on family issues, but with respect to family structures.

The evidence seems to be strong, for example, that married people are more likely to vote Republican than single people. Exit polls after the 2016 election showed that among married voters (59 percent of the voting population), Donald Trump out-polled Hillary Clinton by 52-44 percent, but among the unmarried (41 percent of voters), Clinton beat Trump 55-37 percent. However, this marriage gap was even larger in favor of Mitt Romney in the 2012 election—even though Romney ultimately lost and Trump won. Research on voter turnout has also shown that married people are more likely to vote in the first place—a fact which should be an advantage for Republicans.

With regard to parental status, the evidence is more mixed. Republicans tend to have more total children than Democrats, by a large margin. It’s been calculated that on average, “100 conservative adults will raise 208 children, while 100 liberal adults will raise a mere 147.” In fact, the top 10 states in children per capita are all heavily Republican “red states.” This “fertility gap” between the parties may give Republicans an inter-generational advantage.

While Republicans may have more children, in my research I was unable to find definitive proof that merely being a parent (regardless of marital status or the number of children) makes people more likely to vote Republican. One article asserts that Barack Obama won a large majority of the votes of parents in 2012—but no source was cited. The turnout data suggests that married people without children are the most likely to vote, while parents who have never married are the least likely to vote.

Sociologist Brad Wilcox has noted that cultural factors are at work—“married Americans tend to be more socially conservative and religious than their unmarried peers”—but there are economic ones as well:

We know that men, women, and children in married families are more likely to enjoy financial success, economic stability, and private health insurance. This means that married adults typically pay more in taxes and depend less upon the government for their financial welfare. These financial factors, then, probably help to explain why marrieds are more likely to vote Republican.

This may also explain the mixed data on parenthood and voting—single parents (who are more likely to depend on government assistance) may be more likely to vote Democratic, while married parents are more likely to vote Republican.

The person who poses the most direct contrast to the childless Harris, and the most dramatic illustration of the family structure differences between the parties, is not Harris’s opponent, Vice President Mike Pence (father of three). Instead, it may be President Trump’s latest nominee for the Supreme Court—Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the mother of five biological children and two adopted ones.

It has been widely noted (sometimes, from the Left, sarcastically) that Barrett would be the first mother of school-aged children to serve on the nation’s highest Court.

The 2020 Election: A Letter to Young Conservatives

by Molly Carman

October 16, 2020

Dear young American conservatives,

I am a recent graduate from college who has only just begun my professional career, and like other young conservatives today, I have been restless as we approach the 2020 elections. Whether you will be a first-time voter in the election, are a recent college graduate, have started your first young professional job, have recently married, or are nearing 30, I invite you to consider your role and responsibility in the election this fall.

Many of you plan to do one of three things this election: vote for Trump because you actually believe he is the best option, vote for Biden because you don’t like Trump, or completely disengage and not vote because you are “conflicted” and feel like you are having to choose between the lesser of two evils. For some reason, passivity has become commendable and ignorance has been deemed bravery when it comes to politics this election season. However, we are fools if we truly believe that our inaction is more beneficial then our action.

When conflicted on whether or not to stand up against Hitler during World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer chose to take a stand because he was convicted that, “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” We have been given a stewardship and a trust with our vote as citizens of the United States of America. This is why Elizabeth Stanton in the suffrage movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights movement fought for the right to vote.

The United States of America is a constitutional republic, which means that power belongs to the people and they choose who is placed in positions of authority and government. As noted by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist paper 22, “The fabric of the American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority.” It is not for authority to be passed down, but to be passed up.

Romans 13 is clear that ultimately, God is the one who places individuals in positions of authority. Because God places them in positions of authority, Paul commands everyone to, “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (v.1). When we vote, we are giving our power into the hands of another and charging them to lead our nation under God. Citizens are to seek God’s wisdom and ask for discernment as we nominate, endorse, and vote for these roles.

Because we the people hold the power to elect various officials, we must steward our vote intentionally. We are not just voting for party, personality, or how presidential they look. When we vote, we should vote for policies and platforms that uphold justice, life, family, religious liberty, and representation of the people. Through my personal conversations and from observing social media behavior, it is clear that numerous young conservatives are choosing to become recalcitrant this fall. The attitude has become, “Lets bad mouth and crack jokes about the candidates and platforms.” In terms of actually participating in the political process, it has become popular to disengage—to make smart remarks but fail to engage in the civic duty of voting.

Do not get me wrong: elections can be frustrating, politics can be strenuous, and policies can be exasperating, but these emotions—though real—should not lead us to conclude that disengagement is the best response. When we make the choice to throw away our votes, we are choosing laziness over responsibility, passivity over action, naivety over wisdom, immaturity over courage, and selfishness over the republic.

I do not believe that it will be helpful to tell you stories of times when men and women decided last minute to vote and their candidate won by one point and this moment changed their whole perspective on voting. These stories have occurred, but this is not why we vote. We vote to preserve the values and virtues that our Founders fought and died for. The future of our nation is dependent on who you vote for, because for better or worse, they will be the sword bearers of power and the leaders of our nation.

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave because George Washington decided to leave his home at Mount Vernon and lead the fight in the Revolutionary War, because young men left their homes to fight on the beaches of Normandy, because Martin Luther King Jr. chose to reject inequality and fight for civil rights. You only have your vote today because of the blood, sweat, and tears shed to retain it. It is a slander on our nation, on your character, and to God when good men and women do nothing and squander our stewardship.

To vote or not to vote” is not the question. Voting is your duty! To consider more reasons why young conservatives, especially Christians, should be politically engaged, go to frc.org/engage.

Your fellow patriot,

Molly Carman

Election Polls in 2020: Deja Vu All Over Again?

by Matt Carpenter

October 13, 2020

With less than a month to go until election day, both President Trump and former Vice President Biden are campaigning to see who will fill the Oval Office for the next four years. From the moment the two earned their party’s nomination, public opinion polling has shown Biden leading President Trump both nationally and in most swing states. The RealClearPolitics (RCP) average of national polls currently has Biden with a 9.2 point lead, similar national polling aggregators FiveThirtyEight and CNN show Biden with an 8.4 point lead and 11 point lead, respectively.

With that said, it’s important for voters to recall some of the disasters in public polling from the 2016 race when then-candidate Donald Trump pulled off perhaps the greatest electoral surprise in American history, winning the electoral college 304 to 227.

Looking at just the polling data alone in this year’s presidential election, you could swap out “Biden” with “Clinton” and you would see a very similar race to 2016. In fact, a recent CNN poll shows the former Vice President up 16 points on President Trump nationally. Interestingly enough, CNN released a similar poll at around the same time 2016 showing Hillary Clinton up on Donald Trump by 12 points—and we all know who won in 2016. The stunning collapse of the public polling industry in 2016, and the confidence in which they projected Clinton’s inevitable win, leave voters this year skeptical of the same prognosticators and pundits who failed to call the 2016 election correctly.

Voter registration data can inform us on existing trends in the swing states that will likely determine the election. It’s one thing to answer a poll on the phone, or online, and simply state your intentions to vote—it’s another thing to see how voters are actually behaving.

Among the most coveted swing states this year are Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Each of these states report partisan registration data. A recent article from CBS News took a closer look at voter registration trends since 2016 and shows some interesting numbers. What does the voter registration data in these key swing states tell us?

In Florida, Republicans have outpaced Democrats in new voter registrations by about 183,000 new voters. Florida is the quintessential swing state. Diverse demographically, economically, culturally, and politically, small moves in the electorate can have huge ramifications for both state and federal elections. In 2018, Ron DeSantis won his race for governor by just 30,000 votes and Rick Scott unseated longtime incumbent Senator Bill Nelson by just 10,000 votes.

Pennsylvania also shows some interesting numbers of newly registered voters since 2016. Since 2016, when Donald Trump became the first GOP presidential candidate to win the Keystone State since Reagan in 1988, Pennsylvania Republicans have grown their ranks by 3.7 percent, while Pennsylvania Democrats have actually lost 1.5 percent of their share of the electorate. Just looking at voter registration numbers since June of 2020 shows a startling contrast: 135,619 new GOP voters registered in the state to the Democrats’ 57,985.

Of these three swing states, none show more promise for the president’s reelection hopes than North Carolina, where the number of registered Democrats has tumbled more than 6 percent since 2016, and GOP voter registrations have grown by almost 3.5 percent. In 2016, President Trump won North Carolina by 173,315 votes, or 3.6 percent. A shrinking pool of voters for Biden to pull from will undoubtedly make his task of improving on Clinton’s performance there in 2016 difficult.

Next, let’s look at two of the rust belt states that were reliably Democrat for decades and flipped to the GOP in 2016: Wisconsin and Michigan. Neither of these states register voters by party affiliation, so it’s hard to tell exactly how the major parties are faring. But both Michigan and Wisconsin make information on voter registration numbers by county available. Looking at changes in voter registration numbers at the county level and how each county performed in the last presidential election can give us a good picture of how each area of the state will vote in this year’s election.

Let’s start with Wisconsin—a state where then-candidate Donald Trump won 60 counties to Hillary Clinton’s 12. Since November 2016, the total number of voters in Wisconsin has dropped by more than 31,000. If we look only at the 60 counties Trump won in 2016, we see those counties actually gained more than 2,900 voters—a modest number in and of itself, but significant in that it bucked the statewide trend. When we turn our attention to the 12 counties Clinton won, we see a net loss of more than 36,000 voters. The bluest areas of the state are hemorrhaging voters.

In the electoral-vote-rich state of Michigan, Trump won 75 counties to Clinton’s 8. Michigan has seen its voter rolls grow by more than 400,000 voters since November 2016. Since then, the 75 counties that went for Trump reported an increase in over 245,000 new voters to the Clinton counties’ 155,000. Put another way, 61 percent of new voter registrations in Michigan are attributable to counties of the state where President Trump won, compared to just 38 percent from areas Clinton won.

Both Wisconsin and Michigan were decided by less than 1 percent. Wisconsin was decided by 22,748 votes, or 0.82 percent; Michigan was decided by a mere 10,704 votes, or 0.24 percent. Every vote matters, and with less voters in deep blue counties, we have to assume Biden will need to do far better than Clinton did in areas Trump won. Conversely, with more voters in areas Trump won, the president will be able to add to his column in these counties.

In each of the swing states we’ve discussed, Democrats still retain an advantage in overall voter registration. In North Carolina, that edge is around 400,000 voters; in Florida, the Democrat advantage is 183,000 voters; and in Pennsylvania, the Democrat edge is 717,000 voters. But the trend lines are clear: more new voters are opting to register as GOP or are registering in areas that lean heavily GOP.

It is also worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has not left the voter registration game unscathed. In fact, as colleges and universities remain shuttered in response to the virus, voter registration numbers in college towns have plummeted. This will lessen the impact deep blue college towns have on swing states as tens of thousands of out-of-state students who would otherwise be able to register to vote in the swing states mentioned earlier are forced to vote in their home state—which may or may not be competitive this year.

In closing, voters should be wary of reading too much into public opinion polls, and instead should look at other data. We’ve looked at how voter registration rolls in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have changed. In states that allow partisan voter registration (Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina), we have seen a clear increase in GOP voter registration numbers since the last time Donald Trump was on the ballot, and in some cases, we’ve seen the total number of Democrats actually decrease since 2016. In the two other states we looked at (Michigan and Wisconsin) that do not register voters by party affiliation, we looked at the county-level data and saw that areas where Donald Trump won in 2016 reported larger increases in voter registration numbers, while deep-blue areas where Clinton ran up the score either reported lesser numbers of new voters or even lost voters since 2016.

The last time Donald Trump was on the ballot, the odds looked to be stacked against him. Many national and swing state polling showed his path to 270 electoral votes to be practically nonexistent. Trump won in 2016 by pulling blue collar voters into his coalition and remaking American politics. While it is possible the pollsters have gotten their act together this year and are now telling us the actual state of the race, it is also just as likely they are making the same mistakes that undercounted the president’s base and failed to accurately predict turnout. The available voter registration data seems to be telling us that Trump’s base has actually grown since 2016, and this election will come down to who turns out to vote.

Pete Buttigieg’s “Different Way” Is Not Biblical Christianity

by David Closson

January 15, 2020

Yesterday, six candidates participated in the final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and Tom Steyer each made their pitch for why they should be their party’s nominee to take on President Donald Trump in the general election.

Buttigieg’s repeated emphasis of his religious background is unique for his party: Democrats have been reluctant to speak about their faith on the campaign trail. While last night’s debate focused on foreign policy and the recent tensions with Iran, Buttigieg made a point (as he has throughout the election) to highlight the role of religion in politics. Responding to a question about his electability, Buttigieg highlighted his Midwestern roots, military service, and Christian faith. He said, “If a guy like Donald Trump keeps trying to use religion to somehow recruit Christianity into the GOP, I will be standing there not afraid to talk about a different way to answer the call of faith and insist that God does not belong to a political party.”

The comment received little public attention following the debate, but Christians should pay close attention to what Buttigieg is suggesting. He is arguing that President Trump’s relationship with the faith community is transactional and utilitarian. In Buttigieg’s view, President Trump is using religion to advance his political agenda, and Christians who support him are allowing their faith to be co-opted. This is the same argument Mark Galli made last month in his widely shared Christianity Today editorial. In Galli’s words, if Christians don’t oppose President Trump, the “reputation of evangelical religion” and “the world’s understanding of the gospel” will be harmed. Buttigieg evidentially agrees with this assessment, which is why he is proposing a “different way to answer the call of faith.”

Buttigieg’s (and Galli’s) allegation deserves a response. How should Christian voters think about Buttigieg’s call for a “different way to answer the call of faith?” Is it true that Christian leaders have sacrificed their moral witness for a seat at the table of political power?

First, when it comes to evaluating the theological claims made by Buttigieg, it is important to remember that he is a member of the Episcopal Church, a theologically liberal denomination that has taken public stands against the historic teachings of Christianity on a host of social issues. For example, the Episcopal Church ordained its first clergy member who openly identified as gay in 1977 and continues to actively support LGBT causes. Also, since 1967 the Episcopal Church has opposed national or state legislation that would restrict abortion and, in 2018, called for “women’s reproductive health and reproductive health procedures to be treated as all other medical procedures.”

Buttigieg’s liberal politics align nicely with the liberal politics of the Episcopal Church, so it is not surprising that he finds himself at home there. Thus, when Buttigieg argues that the “Christian faith is going to point you in a progressive direction,” it is important to realize that by “Christian faith,” Buttigieg means something very different than what Christians have taught and believed for two millennia—not only about the nature of marriage and life but also about the role of Scripture.

Buttigieg’s understanding of the Bible came up in an interview with Rolling Stone last November. When asked to respond to the charge that his progressive faith disregards the Bible’s teaching on social issues, Buttigieg said: “There’s so many things in Scripture that are inconsistent internally, and you’ve got to decide what sense to make of it. Jesus speaks so often in hyperbole and parable, in mysterious code, that in my experience, there’s simply no way that a literal understanding of the Scripture can fit into the Bible that I find in my hands.” 

A shocking admission, Buttigieg’s comments shed light on the candidate’s flawed understanding of Christianity. They also explain what he likely had in mind during last night’s debate when he referred to a “different way to answer the call of faith.” By calling the Bible “inconsistent” and insisting that Jesus spoke in “mysterious code,” Buttigieg is rejecting what theologians refer to as the perspicuity of Scripture, which says the Bible communicates the doctrines of the faith clearly.

It is worth noting that some passages in Scripture are more difficult to understand than others. In fact, when referring to the Apostle Paul’s epistles, the Apostle Peter said, “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16b). But even as he acknowledges the fact that Paul’s writings could be hard to understand, Peter underscores the fact that Scripture is objective and that failure to attend to the meaning of the text is harmful. The Bible teaches elsewhere that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While there may be portions of Scripture that require extra study and attention, the Bible is clear on the doctrines of God, man, the way of salvation, and many issues with social and political implications.

However, by rejecting the clarity of Scripture, Buttigieg is conveniently able to remake and reinterpret the Christian faith to suit his preferences and beliefs, advancing proposals and policies in the garb of Christianity that either bear little resemblance or directly contradict “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

A clear example of this is Buttigieg’s argument that “there’s a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath.” This despite the Bible’s repeated affirmation of the personhood of the unborn (see Psalm 139:13-16, Psalm 51:5-6, Luke 1:39-45, Jeremiah 1:4-5, Job 10:8, Genesis 25:22-23, and many others). By doubling down on this demonstrably false claim, Buttigieg is showing that political talking points, not Scripture, informs his view on life. 

Finally, in response to Galli’s charge that Christian leaders have sacrificed their moral witness and are no better than Buttigieg and his supporters on the religious left, it should be conceded that some on the right are willing to trade their credibility for influence. However, to allege, as Buttigieg has, that the “credibility of Christianity” is at stake because many Christians have supported President Trump and his party after measured consideration of their voting options is both unfair and inaccurate. Far from sacrificing their values and credibility, it is largely due to Christian encouragement that President Trump has taken significant action on issues of concern for social conservatives—issues such as life, religious liberty, Israel, and a return of faith in the public square.

As the 2020 election gets underway, it will be important for Christians to submit everything to the Lord, including their political engagement. As I argue in my recent publication, Christians ought to engage, but we must engage biblically. And as Christians, this requires prayerful consideration of candidates, party platforms, and most importantly, the Bible’s teaching on moral issues. On one level, Buttigieg is right when he insists, “God does not belong to a political party.” However, God does care deeply about many issues in our politics. And if Christians are going to be faithful in a time fraught with political turmoil and confusion, it will require more, not less, commitment to God’s Word.

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Conservative Values Won Big Across America, Except in Contested Swing States
by Connor Semelsberger (Nov. 20, 2020)

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