I’ve been waiting to post in large part because I wanted to take some time to sort through my feelings — which have veered wildly between a sense of profound peace that we did all we could do and a deep sense of sadness and loss. There’s no mitigating what happened Tuesday night: American voters didn’t simply reject a candidate, but they also largely rejected the values our candidate advanced. When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as Vice President and then Barack Obama ran a campaign that focused on abortion, contraception, and economic redistribution, the election moved from “referendum” to “choice” — a choice between opposing political and cultural world views. Our world view lost. From a personal perspective, Nancy and I poured years of our life and thousands upon thousands of hours of effort into, ultimately, a losing cause. Even worse (again, from our perspective) this wasn’t simply one loss out of many races, but the only political race we’ve personally engaged. Both of us are far more issue- and values-oriented and tend to focus not on any given political race but on cultural and theological ideas and practices. We made an exception — a big exception — to support Mitt Romney.
But I have no regrets. None. Instead, I’m profoundly grateful for the experience.
To paraphrase our pastor, one of the prime missions of any Christian is to battle the effects of the Fall — in other words to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. This battle takes many forms — from the small things like a hot casserole for the hurting family to the big things like laying down your life to defend your nation and community from profound evil. It is our family’s purpose to fight this fight on as many fronts as we can, while we can. We cannot predict or guarantee any of our efforts will enjoy any earthly success, but the duty remains nonetheless. We work for success and hope and pray that we see success, yet it is for us to take joy in the race regardless of the earthly outcome.
While Mitt Romney did not win, God blessed our efforts in profound and unexpected ways. First, it brought us innumerable — and hopefully lifelong — friendships, both evangelical and LDS. There are few things that bond one person to another more than life together in the proverbial foxhole (the bond from actual foxholes is deeper), and we worked together, prayed together, hoped together, and — ultimately — shed tears together. Words can’t describe our gratitude for the friendships that were created and strengthened during this journey.
Second, we played a small part in jump-starting a new and fruitful evangelical-LDS dialogue. I don’t want to overstate our role here — after all, I think we were ultimately a footnote to a footnote to a footnote to history (on a good day) — but to help link men and women of different faith traditions in common cause for virtuous ends was a true gift. As an amateur (very amateur) student of history, I realize no truly meaningful social movement is born out of just one community, and the great causes — like defending and protecting unborn life — are going to require great coalitions.
Third, (and this seems almost academic now) our arguments worked. The polling numbers are astounding. Evangelicals supported Mitt at truly historic levels. We supported Mitt by a greater gap than we supported John McCain or George W. Bush and even constituted our largest-ever portion of the total electorate. In fact — and this will shock some — evangelicals supported Mitt by one percentage point more than Mormons supported Mitt. To be clear, we are not taking credit for this success. We were a very small part of a very large effort, but the case that we made was the case that many others made, and we were vindicated. Evangelicals would and did vote for a pro-life man of integrity and ability who shared their cultural and political values even if they did have important theological differences. Evangelicals wisely chose life and liberty over sectarian strife, and it was a wonderful moment for evangelical conservatism — a moment that will bear fruit as our fight continues for years and decades to come.
When it was all over Tuesday — and we finally said good night to dear friends at 4:40 a.m. in the lobby of Boston’s Marriott Long Wharf — I felt completely empty. We had given all we could give. Nancy wrote a post the next morning titled “Tearful Eyes, Empty Hearts, Just Lost” that captured our feelings exactly. Today, things are different; today, it’s:
Clear eyes — we see the cultural challenge before us.
Grateful hearts — we’re thankful for our experiences and companions.
Won’t quit — because our cause is just.
Thank you, dear friends and readers. And we look forward to advancing with you, not retreating, in the face of our daunting cultural challenge. One chapter closes, the page turns, and another begins . . .