Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Re-Thinking the GOP and Faith Based Activism in WA State

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This past election has given most of us who care about our country and our culture reason for pause.

The State GOP threw their full weight behind Rob McKenna and a few other candidates who generally fell into the "moderate" category and came up, as they say in the Yakima Valley, "skunked." That's a bad thing.

While Christian activists generally agree that marriage is between one man and one woman, they not only failed to work together, but in some cases worked to undermine others who were working for the same cause---defending marriage. We all lost.

So where do we go from here?

What about the state Republican Party? What about some of the leadership in the faith community?

I want to share some personal thoughts with you regarding both the GOP and the faith based efforts in the state.

Today, some thoughts about the Republican Party.

Tomorrow, the faith based efforts to advance Christian principles and values in a culture seemingly more and more determined to abolish all Christian influence.

Re-Thinking The State GOP

Representative James Lankford has just been given the Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee--- the 5th most powerful position in the US House of Representatives. He is a Christian, a minister, and sees no conflict between his faith and his service to his country.

He told the press last week he "lives out his faith and represents the community that elected him" without conflict.

Unfortunately, he is from Oklahoma, not Washington State.

Rob McKenna has worked hard to cast himself as a "moderate," distancing himself from the "extreme" right values people, so much so that even the Seattle Times endorsed him. He has made it clear he is pro-abortion and while whispering that he supports marriage as between one man and one woman, left no doubt that he was not going to get involved in that issue.

The perfect Republican candidate. Right? A model for the future of the party. Lots of national attention.

It didn't work. He lost.

Why would left to far left secular progressives vote for a Republican trying to look like one of them, when they can vote for the real thing---one of their own?

Based on data I've seen and the volume of email I've received, many evangelicals did not vote for McKenna. They simply left the box unmarked or wrote in someone. This in spite of the fact that some in the evangelical community highlighted him in their church and actively and vocally supported him.

From what I could see, the motives varied from wanting a place at his table after the election, to, in the case of 2 different leaders of faith based organizations, wanting a job in his administration.

Aside from these few instances of acting in behalf of personal gain, the evangelical did not generally get behind him. I have been accused of at least some responsibility for the lack of support.

Kirby Wilbur, state GOP Chair, told the Seattle Times, "If we can't elect Rob McKenna, maybe it's time to move to Texas."


Or maybe its time to stop chasing the far left secular progressive parade, trying to secure leadership in a cultural march that stands in stark contrast to the Party's platform.

How far to the secular left are we willing to go to secure a "win"? And why would that be a win?

UW political science professor Matt Barreto says, "The electorate is going to continue to become less white and less old and less married and less religious and less straight."

Conclusion: "Add up each of those factors and it works in favor of today's Democratic Party and against the prospect of today's Republican Party," says Barreto.

So professor, what should the GOP do?

Well, he says, "The GOP can still maintain a conservative fiscal position, but their conservative stances on immigration, contraception and marriage are outdated and will only cost them votes in every future election."

To win, the GOP must become values neutral. Or at least remain silent on moral issues.

Bill Finkbeiner is a well known Republican in Washington State. He embodies Barreto's model Republican. By his own description, he is a progressive Republican who supports abortion and homosexual "marriage."

According to the professor, a model candidate for the new Republican Party.

Finkbeiner was a candidate for lieutenant governor.

He lost. It wasn't even close.

While Professor Barreto does not speak for the Republican Party, his narrative is close to that of those who in fact do speak for the party. Sam Reed, Slade Gorton and others in their own way echo this as a winning formula.

How far left would we need to go to win?

Randy Pepple, McKenna's campaign manager says, "There's no need for panic," suggesting that if the party just stays on present course things will work out. He also blames Romney's lack of support in the state and the lack of organization of the National Republican Party as the reason for McKenna's loss.

John Koster is a social conservative who could have won the newly formed 1st Congressional District, had the state GOP stepped up with money for TV ads. That didn't happen. What did happen, however, was a fierce struggle over how John Koster should be imaged. Local and national leadership demanded that he move away from his biblical "values" in order to win. The struggle often spilled over into the news. This is one of several Koster conflict stories.

Will this continual drift toward the left fix the state Republican Party? How can it when the Democratic Party owns the secular far left?

Perhaps the most important question for people of faith would be, why am I a Republican? And is a Republican win the ultimate goal?

For most of us, myself included, we are Republicans because we have felt that party best represented our personal biblical values. If, in the chase for a "win," morality and values are marginalized or dispensed with, why would I be a Republican?

How about this from an older, white, straight, married, religious man:

Would anyone consider recruiting an articulate, experienced, contemporary candidate, who actually believes in the Republican platform? And would run on it? A candidate who could be liberated from the obsession of cloning the far left in order to win---a candidate who would actually have the financial, intellectual and emotional support of their Republican Party---a candidate that would actually create a conservative candidacy around which all conservatives, social and fiscal, regardless of party affiliation, could rally? How about a conservative that so-called "moderates" could also support?

I'm not going to mention Ronald Reagan, but isn't there someone across this state who could be such a candidate? And couldn't the force of positive support and enthusiasm change the Republican Party leadership's idea of their "winning model" that isn't winning, at least for just one election cycle?

The chorus of paid and unpaid voices directing the Republican Party will, in one accord, say no that won't work.

Hopefully someone will respond in a clear voice alerting the experts that what they are doing now isn't working either. And doubling down on a losing model isn't going to change anything.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.