There will be plenty of time to think about the choice Americans made yesterday, plenty of time to analyze and dissect and project and plan. This morning, though, I want to rest a moment with what I feel. It’s tempting to conceal what I feel, knowing that it will give occasion for crowing and schadenfreude on the Left, but that’s the price of honesty.
What I feel today is sadness. Not because my party lost. I’m not nearly as partisan as some of my readers believe. I have my convictions, and believe right now that the Republican party best represents them, but I have no particular loyalty to the party. I don’t like political parties as a general rule because they become institutions that serve their own interests rather than vehicles through which people of common convictions serve their country. Political parties are not intended to be self-preservative institutions. They are strategic, pragmatic, temporary allegiances of co-belligerents. They are people who, in the light of shared convictions, find it advantageous to work together toward shared goals.
No, I feel sadness today for my country. I had hoped for a new morning in America. Instead I’m mourning in America because I’m mourning for America.
Patriotism is more often feigned than felt. We go through the motions on Memorial Day or July 4th. Our politicians wear flags on their lapels for appearances’ sake. But there are some times when you’re reminded how much you love your country, and today is one of those days for me. For all its faults, I do love this country. It has provided me with extraordinary freedoms and opportunities. Before I had children, I might have thought this was merely a line, but with two daughters I feel it earnestly: I want those same freedoms and opportunities for my children and for my children’s children. I do not want my daughters to grow up and begin their careers in a country that’s in decline. It is the way of history that nations rise and fall, and I fear this election leads us downward rather than upward.
There are some potential positives, and I’ll come to those in a later post. But I’m afraid the reelection of Barack Obama will mean continued economic stagnation, continued high unemployment, a continuing weakening of the dollar, and a continued wrong-headed refusal to responsibly extract our natural energy resources. And don’t kid yourself: when the economy suffers, the poor and the vulnerable suffer the worst of it. I’m afraid his reelection will mean four more years of a weak and adrift foreign policy, inviting the continued re/growth of anti-American terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Libya, Syria and Iran. I’m afraid it means less protections for religious conscience and less support for the fundamental family structure, I’m certain that it means a strengthening of the abortion regime, including the appointment of liberal justices to the Supreme Court and liberal judges to other federal positions. I’m certain that it means that all the worst, most economy-killing aspects of Obamacare, which were shrewdly scheduled for after the election, will be enacted and ensconced in our system of government, and that the health care most Americans receive will grow worse. And I’m certain it means an even greater national debt burden — meaning that I and my children will work to fill the coffers of the Chinese communist party.
Yet the country — or slightly more than half, at least, of the those who voted — chose Barack Obama instead. It’s disillusioning. It’s disillusioning to see an incumbent prevail by continuing to blame his predecessor and by mocking and mischaracterizing his opponent. And while some of Obama’s supporters are completely thoughtful and capable of justifying their decision, it’s disillusioning to see an electorate that’s still enamored by the myth of Obama deciding to “give him more time” rather than holding him accountable for a failed first term. Of course they don’t see it this way, but it is, finally, disillusioning to see my liberal friends work so hard to defeat someone who could genuinely help the country and defend someone who cannot.
There is a romantic conservative tradition of lauding the collective wisdom of the American people. I hope that I’m wrong, but I think a little less of the wisdom of the American people today. I fear that wisdom is growing distorted by a rising entitlement mentality, by the deterioration of classic American virtues such as independence, industry and integrity, and by an increasing ignorance or even rejection of the fundamental vision that inspired this nation in the first place and nurtured it over the centuries.
I come back to my prayer from yesterday. We should look to accomplish all the good we can still accomplish in the next four years, and remember that the church and not the state is by far God’s greatest instrument in the world. But I cannot help but mourn, today, for what seems to me a very poor decision. I can only hope that the next four years will either prove me wrong about this decision, or prove to the American people that the decision was wrong, and thus lay the groundwork for a better future.