Aftermath: Lessons From the 2012 Election
- Wednesday, November 07, 2012
A Changed and Changing Electorate
Fundamental changes to the American electorate also became evident. Vast demographic changes mean that the electorate is far more ethnically, culturally and ideologically diverse. The electorate is becoming more secular. Recent studies have indicated that the single greatest predictor of voting patterns is the frequency of church attendance. Far fewer Americans now attend church, and a recent study indicated that fully 20 percent of all Americans identify with no religious preference at all. The secularizing of the electorate will have monumental consequences.
America is becoming more urbanized, and this also changes voting patterns. Younger voters are disproportionately identified in ethnic terms, pointing to long-term electoral shifts. Fewer Americans are married and fewer have children in the home. This, too, changes voting habits. These are just a few of the factors pointing to a fundamental change in the nation.
The Demise of the Republican Coalition
Though many Republicans will draw encouragement from the popular vote, the electoral college now confronts the Republican party as a massive problem. The map just does not add up for Republicans in terms of the present reality, much less the shape of the future. Put simply, the Republican Party cannot win unless it becomes the party of aspiration for younger Americans and Hispanic Americans. Otherwise, it will soon become a retirement community for aging conservatives. The party’s position on immigration is disastrous, and it is at odds with the party’s own values.
No party can win if it is seen as heartless. No party can win if it appeals only to white and older Americans. No party can win if it looks more like the way to the last than the way to the future. The Republican party could not defeat a sitting president with a weak economy and catastrophic unemployment. As columnist George Will has said, a party that cannot win under these circumstances might need to look for another line of work.
The Republican party will surely enter into a period of intense self-examination and a struggle for the future shape and direction of the party. That fight will be necessary, and it will be important to those of us who are concerned about a range of issues.
A Catastrophe on Moral Issues
Evangelical Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial moral concerns. The election of President Obama returns a radically pro-abortion president to the White House, soon after he had endorsed same-sex marriage. President Obama is likely to have the opportunity to appoint one or more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are almost sure to agree with his constitutional philosophy.
Furthermore, at least two states, Maine and Maryland, legalized same-sex marriage last night. Washington state is likely to join them once the votes there are counted. An effort to pass a constitutional amendment preventing same-sex marriage went down to defeat in Minnesota. These came after 33 states had passed some measure defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. After 33 victories, last night brought multiple defeats. Maine and Maryland (and probably Washington state) became the first states in the union to legalize same-sex marriage by action of the voters. There is no discounting the moral shift that momentous development represents.
Other states considered issues ranging from abortion and marijuana to assisted suicide. While not all were lost, the moral shift was evident in the voting patterns.
Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues. This will not be easy. It is, however, an urgent call to action..
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