by Rob Schwarzwalder
November 16, 2012
Here is one of the most simple yet compelling sentences yet written about election 2012: The overall picture from the last few election results is pretty equivocal, writes Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics, and is suggestive of substantial strengths and weaknesses for both parties.
That about says it ambivalence are us. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney did well among some segments of the population. Their stark differences and the relative close race between them indicate the serious philosophical divide that is emerging as the single strongest element of the current political narrative.
Yet perhaps amidst in the somewhat turgid churn of post-election beard-stroking there is one fact that is being undervalued. This year, President Obama received 62.6 million votes; Mitt Romney received 59.1 million. In total, including ballots for third-party candidates, about 123 million American voters came to the polls to vote for a president.
In 2008, that number was higher, substantially. About 131 million Americans voted either for John McCain or Barack Obama that year.
The math is simple and startling: In the neighborhood of eight million fewer Americans went to the voting booths than only four years before. Particularly striking is that the population has grown by more than nine million people (from 305 million to 314.6 million during that same time).
Millions who voted in 2008 stayed home, as did millions eligible to vote in 2012. Why?
Let me offer a rather plebian explanation for the variance in vote totals: The people stayed home because they found neither candidate compelling. Neither the President nor the Governor so captured their aspirations, imaginations, and hopes, so ignited within them a glimmer of confidence about his leadership and its potential for the country, that they made the time to cast a vote.
This is not a matter of superficial charisma, but of heartfelt belief. That millions of Americans sat this one out is, perhaps, a referendum on our countrymens apathy. It is also a demonstration that millions of our fellow citizens were sufficiently skeptical, or even cynical, about the two major candidates that they couldnt be bothered to vote.
This is a sad commentary on the inattention of many Americans to critical issues, on the lethargy of many Americans regarding their own future and the well-being of their children, and on the growing belief that politics is about personalities too distant and issues either too complex or too painful about which to make a choice for voting to matter.
What can conservative Christians say to such attitudes? In terms of political salvation, there will never be the comprehensive hope and change offered by Mr. Obama in 2008 without the reign of Christ on earth. Jesus shall reign, not anyone else.
The ennui of much of the electorate presents Christians with a great opportunity to talk about where true and eternal hope lies not in princes, politicians, or parties, but in the King of kings. This is not to suggest we should stop standing for life, liberty, and family in the public arena, but rather that as we reach out to disaffected voters, we should remember that their citizenship in heaven might be animated, at least in part, by their frustration with their citizenship on earth.
Conservatives are people who believe in opportunity. Lets not miss this one.