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Political Miscellany a Week Before the Election

October 27th, 2008 | 4 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

The last two months I have remained relatively quiet on all issues pertaining to politics. With the elections a week away, I thought I would offer a few observations on our current political environment and the decision before us.

On the political affiliation of evangelicals: The story that evangelicals are leaving Republicans for Democrats has been written every four years. This time around, a new wrinkle has been added: the tension within evangelicalism is generational, as younger evangelicals are shifting toward Barack Obama. Whether there is any substance to the story remains to be seen.

On the miseducation of younger evangelicals about pro-life issues: If a significant break by younger evangelicals with Republicans occurs in 2008, it would indicate a lack of education by the pro-life community on the importance of the Presidency to their cause and the gains that have been made. Let me be blunt: I am at a loss as to how Christians can claim to be pro-life but vote for Barack Obama.

To that end, here are the two most important articles on the issue:

Robert George on Obama’s Abortion Extremism: George carefully articulates why it is more fair to describe Obama as “pro-abortion” than “pro-choice.” The conclusion:

In the end, the efforts of Obama's apologists to depict their man as the true pro-life candidate that Catholics and Evangelicals may and even should vote for, doesn't even amount to a nice try. Voting for the most extreme pro-abortion political candidate in American history is not the way to save unborn babies.

Michael New on the effect of Pro-Life laws: I have referenced Dr. New’s work before, but this article is worth highlighting in full. The conclusion:

During the past 35 years, the pro-life movement has made some real progress--progress that pro-lifers could at times do a better job of advertising. During the 1990s more states enacted parental-involvement laws, waiting periods, and informed-consent laws. More importantly, the number of abortions has fallen in 12 out of the past 14 years and the total number of abortions has declined by 21 percent since 1990. These gains are largely due to pro-life political victories at the federal level in the 1980s and at the state level in the 1990s, both of which have made it easier to pass pro-life legislation. Furthermore, since the next President may have the opportunity to nominate as many as four justices to the Supreme Court, the right-to-life movement would be very well advised to stay the course in 2008.

The lesser of two evils argument: Why vote for John McCain? One reason is Barack Obama. Is someone being the lesser of two evils sufficient grounds to cast a vote for that person? Would the nature of the evils being discussed affect the deliberation? To both questions, I would answer "yes."  If an Obama presidency would wipe away years of victories by the pro-life cause (it would), this is sufficient reason to vote for John McCain. I’ll defend being a single-issue voter on this one (though there’s little reason to—Obama’s economic policies are nearly as problematic as his social policies).

The divided house argument: For at least the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, Congress will be run by Democrats. It may even be the case that Democrats have a filibuster proof majority. Why does this matter? At the end of the day, Barack Obama’s social and economic policies matter little (though they are problematic enough on their own). What matters is what he would sign and what he would veto—which may or may not be the same as his stated policy positions. With a Democratic congress, Barack Obama could have the opportunity to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, to end 401(k) plans, and to institute the largest increase in government spending since the first New Deal, the effects of which would take generations to undo.

Who is John McCain? The irony of this political season is that John McCain’s argument that the American public knows who he is—which is true—conflicts with the rest of his campaign. His avoidance of policy (well-documented by Ross) makes him something of an unknown quantity, which is precisely why Republicans are less-than-enthusiastic about his campaign.

On Obama’s qualifications to be President: What are they again?

In case you needed more: The comprehensive argument against Barack Obama.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.