Mourning in America

Mourning in America November 7, 2012

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.

So I mourn for our country’s future, but I also mourn because I believe she has lost her way.  I’ve never felt as close to a candidate as I have to Mitt Romney.  He was my Governor in Massachusetts.  I’ve met him.  Some of my friends are his friends.  I have friends in his campaign.  While I’m not nearly as close to him as many of my friends, I know that Mitt Romney is a man of great virtue and extraordinary capabilities.  I know that he is not what the Obama campaign made him out to be.  I believe firmly that he would have been an excellent President, and that his character, experience and expertise were precisely what the country needed at this moment in its history.  His vision for American renewal would have been good for the country.

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.

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  • this is my take on yesterday’s events ::

  • Thank you for putting into words the exact feelings that I could not.

  • Leslie

    You captured my feelings, and my thoughts too, almost exactly — but I harbor little hope that the American electorate is capable of discerning at some point that their “decision was wrong,” for reasons best summed up in a message sent to me last night, as we discussed the loss of once-shared American values. He said: “Liberty: what’s it mean now, to the millions of schoolkids who get their history from post-modern Democrat teachers, taught by radicals in leftoid colleges with no respect for the founding, the Constitution, the qualities that make this country unique. What would that mean to people who think it proper to confiscate from the productive and have it redistributed to people the power brokers like a little better. The powerful ones pay poor people to stay poor, the dreamers are enjoined from chasing their visions.” It’s not a fair debate of ideas anymore, plus the mainstream media is wildly complicit in this debacle. Imagine the different response there would have been to both Benghazi and Sandy if a Republican had been in charge — but it is hard to imagine anything less than catastrophic that would change that dynamic. Sigh . . .

  • God, what nonsense. Sorry, but approximately half of America feels exactly like this after every single election ever. And yet the nation manages to keep rumbling on. Eight years of Bush didn’t destroy us, eight years of Clinton didn’t destroy us and eight years of Obama won’t either.

    • Jeremy Forbing

      I think you’re being very unfair, when Tim has been very honest here. I may disagree with him on facts, but he is expressing his sincere thoughts, and doing so in a way that could be of great benefit many people who may have similar sentiments today but likely cannot express them so articulately. When you are truly invested in a candidate, not just in your mind, but outwardly, in your day to day activities, you become emotionally involved. Their future has stakes for you. The outcome of the election is something you have a relationship with. And if that candidacy– both the person and the collection of ideas that go with them, in which you have placed so much of your time and hope– should be defeated, with you so involved, the reaction you are going to have is something very much like grief: an emotional process of confronting and engaging with your loss.

      I did not support Governor Romney. I supported his opponent and have for many years. But in a time when apathy and pessimism make it easy to disengage with the political process, Tim didn’t just choose a candidate, but put his money where his mouth was. He has been an unflagging advocate for his chosen candidate since long before most of us were paying attention, and under his guidance, the Patheos Evangelical Portal has relentlessly made the case for a Mitt Romney presidency. If all the words written here to support this campaign were printed, who knows how many hundreds of pages they might add up to? This is a massive amount of real effort, not merely a preference or a rhetorical pose. How many of us can truly say they’ve put that much of themselves into a cause they believed in?

      No, I do not share Tim’s dire forecast for the next four years. And I believe this election did reflect a wisdom in the American electorate,wisdom that flowed from values that are different but just as American as the ones he discusses here. But I could be wrong, and he could be right. In the end, none of us know the future, we have only the conviction of our beliefs. Some of us act on our conviction more than others. And for you to so idly dismiss everything Tim has done to make the world a better place as he sees it, by suggesting he is wrong to be emotional about the way that work has ended, is not only an egregious insult to him, but an insult to everyone has ever given their all for a cause when that cause had no guarantee of success. It is an insult to the hope that every person in this country can make a difference, a hope engendered by the Constitution that promised a young nation’s people a greater voice in their own destiny than they ever had before. It is an insult to those who have given blood, sweat, and tears to elect any candidate, from Lincoln to FDR to the countless candidates who were not chosen. And yes, it is even an insult to those who put forth similar effort to elect Barack Obama.

      In his graceful and heartfelt speech last night, Governor Romney said he and his running mate had “left everything on the field” in this election. And that is exactly what my friend Tim Dalrymple did here. And while in some ways that is just a very precise metaphor, it also reflects the truth that when they leave the field of this struggle, something of themselves is left behind. Something real. Who do you think you are to call into question the enormity of that loss?

      Eventually, Tim and many others will dust themselves off, and return to the unfinished work of moving our country forward, in whatever form their personal contributions take. But for today, they are mourning what they have lost. And if anyone has, Tim has more than earned his right to mourn.

      • I’m going to second Jeremy’s comment here. I have different viewpoints on many things with Tim, but have always found him willing to thoughtfully engage in discussion on our disagreements. And while I might want to correct a couple of the items he implied to be facts here (such as the issue with the dollar and the domestic oil production levels, the latter of which hit an all time record two weeks ago …), it was not at all lost on me that he started this piece with “This morning, though, I want to rest a moment with what I feel. ” With his emphasis on the word feel making it apparent what he was indicating there. I may not agree with the logical side of his arguments here, but he’s human and a friend, so I can appreciate him sharing his feelings.

      • Doug

        Bravo again, Mr Forbing.

      • MatthewS

        wow, hat’s off to you, Jeremy Forbing!

      • Timothy Dalrymple

        You’re a very good man, Jeremy Forbing.

  • George C

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m finding that other people who support Obama cannot grasp that it’s not because I hate the President or completely favor the rich that I voted Romney. I firmly believe we’re on the wrong path and so many important things have gone the wrong way for us as a country and I believe Mitt was a step in the right direction again. I am even more disturbed by the fact that fellow believers seem to think a vote for Obama is a way to vote for the poor and needy and that makes them feel better when in reality, a vote for the poor and needy would be a vote for a thriving economy, not more handouts or socialized medical care. I’m chalking 2012 up to a victory of marketing, which saddens me because the electorate has become more susceptible to marketing ploys and slogans rather than solid truths and facts. I am praying for my country more than ever before.

  • nonce

    4 years to right the previous 8 is not enough time. especially when you have a load of repubs sitting in congress blocking anything and everything barry tries to do. At least now he can do his job without having to spend about another election. I’m not the biggest fan of Barry, but I”m pretty optimistic that’s the next 4 years will be better.

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    I know how you feel Tim. You have captured so well how I felt in 2004.

    I didn’t come for schadenfreude (other places yes, not here) but to see how a thoughtful political opponent like yourself is taking what for me is a truly glorious and life-affirming day (on marriage equality and for the preservation of the ACA especially). I will note that reading your words this morning, I am kind of amazed that we not only experienced completely different campaigns and candidates over this loooong election season (your versions of Obama and Romney and their campaigns are near unrecognizable to me) but seemingly completely different versions of the last four years as well. We are truly a divided nation, unable to agree on what has already happened let alone on what should happen next.

    I can only hope that the next four years do prove you wrong about this decision (at least in the areas where everyone wants the same outcomes but disagrees on how to get there). We are still all in this together.


    • J

      An extremely decent and well-said post. It occurred to me this morning that many saw 2004 as a “last chance for the country” sort of election. They were wrong to despair then, and anyone who voted for Romney would be just as wrong to despair now. You are thrilled about the reelection of our President and the votes to approve SSM – I am not. But I entirely understand and appreciate your joy. Thanks for the post.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Time will tell, Scott. Let’s pray you’re right!

  • Jeff Patterson

    We have another reason to mourn. In stark terms, Obama owes his re-election to the breakdown of the American family. Forget about race and ethnicity, class warfare and the economy. Unwed mothers were the key to the panderer-in-chief’s victory. They went to Obama 6 to 1. Since out-of-wedlock births now account for nearly half of all births in this country, the future, both economic and social, looks bleak indeed.

    We’ve always heard, “it’s the economy, stupid”. Why didn’t it hold true this time? Because the breakdown in the moral fiber of this once great nation has resulted in a large and growing class of folks whose welfare is completely divorced from the economy, and depends instead on the growth of government. Mourning indeed, and fear.

  • Hieu

    I cannot speak to your sadness over religious issues.

    But regarding economic and political, issues all I can say is, Republicans got you to blame the wrong person.

    Just try looking up Senate records how many filibuster threats were made by Republicans since 2006. Compare this to how many were made by Democrats during an equivocal 6 years when Democrats were the minority party between 2001 and 2006.

    This is only one example of Republican tactics. They blame Obama for not reaching across the aisle. An example is the ACA.

    But I ask you, do you know who came up w/ the Individual Mandate? It was a Conservative idea from 1993-1994 and championed by Newt Gingrich. I ask you this. What more do you want Obama to do to reach across the aisle? He used as his starting point a Republican proposal for the ACA. Obama didn’t start from his “far left” side and forced Republican to move left. He started w/ something Republicans came up with!!

    Again. This is just one example of how Obama reached across the aisle. Others include things like Cap & Trade (Republican idea), Immigration reform (supported by dozens of Republicans before 2008), Amnesty (last President to grant amnesty was Reagan), campaign finance reform (this topic has been in the RNC platform since 1992, but removed for the first time this year) etc etc.

    The facts point to Obama taking Republican ideas to use to make progress in this country. But Republicans abandoned those very things they once supported and even championed because Obama supported them.

    Then Republicans want you to believe that Obama is the one at fault for the dysfunction of government and the problems in politics and this economy.

    Just try looking up those things I have mentioned and see for yourself just how extreme Republicans became. Maybe you’ll see then why the nation (or a little over half) voted to give Obama 4 more years.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Just because a Republican at some point believed that X was a good idea does not make it a “Republican idea” in the present. People often bring forward ideas that, with time, the party recognizes is not a good idea and not a good fit with their values.

      Read Woodward’s latest book and I think you’ll see that Obama was not so much striving for bipartisanship as he was rushing to push through some long-delayed liberal dream programs. After the extreme partisanship of the stimulus and ACA battles, the ground was set. And if you think someone is driving the economy toward a cliff, shouldn’t you filibuster and try to stop it?

  • Frank Viola

    Well written post, Tim. It’s both interesting and good to hear a firsthand account of Mitt.


    Psalm 115:1

  • This whole election was about Israel. God is going to do something big for His glory!

  • Randy

    I think Mitt Romney is a fine man, a good American, and I have a lot of respect for him. But I do have a question for you. If Mitt Romney was so successful in Massachusetts, why did he lose his home state to Obama by more than 22 points?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      You’ve obviously never lived in Massachusetts.

  • Rick Middleton

    When Clinton, or Obama, wins an election, the Right wrings their hands and talk about how the country is going to the dogs, how disappointed they are in their fellow citizens. And when a person, any person, with an R next to their name wins, it is a vote for virtue, goodness, hope, faith, love and apple pie. I know you don’t believe you are partisan, but the whole post is nothing but partisan. A Democrat won. This happens; Roosevelt and Truman and Johnson won, too, and the country did pretty well for itself. Half the country waited in long lines to vote for someone who ended up winning. Stop telling us we’re brainless stooges who didn’t know what we were doing. We did know, and we won, and the country will improve, both for us and for you.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I know I’m partisan. I try to be pretty open about that. But I also try to be self-critical.

      I was against Akin, for instance. I’m not for just anyone with an R beside their name. But I do generally support those with the R because I find that Republican party best promotes my views right now.

  • I have to say, that if you had confined your message to just your knowledge of Mitt Romney and his personal goodness, it would have stood out as remarkable, and augmented your nice prayer of yesterday where this takes somewhat away. Then in a followup post include your thoughts, after having let a day go by. You are doing a great job of engaging; this is friendly advice from a technical blogger.

    I do think you have Obama wrong, that his opposition is personally misinformed as well as promoting misinformation down the line, and that the pandering innumeracy of deliberately conflating two different “47%” figures was a part of true-heart that many would not let pass.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks, Kenneth.

  • It is a wake-up call for the GOP. The “rape” and abortion comments by Akin and Mourdock poisoned the well. If we are going to get the female vote, male politicians have got to keep their mouths shut on what is God’s will in pregnancy. We cannot legislate our morality. Also we have to get beyond the illegal immigration issue if we are going to attract Latinos. Instead of demonizing Hispanics who are here without documents we need to welcome them for their contribution to this country. They need to be given work permits and their children need to be assimilated. I hope the Republican Party will listen to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and follow their lead. We don’t want to be the party of old white men. I thought the advertisment from Billy Graham was counter-productive. Nobody likes to be told by religious leaders how to vote according to the Bible. Ross Douthat’s books: Bad Religion and his other one, Grand New Party, is worth reading on this subject.

  • Cory Crabtree


    The republicans and religious zealots have painted President Obama as un-American, Muslim, anti-American, and so many other things. Your candidate got over 2 million votes less than John McCain did in 2008. What’s perplexing to me is that Mitt Romney has lied and flipped on so many issues. If you are too myopic to see that..than you have some serious cognitive dissonance. Your mourning as you call it…is fueled in part due to your disliked and so many others of President Obama…not because you particularly liked Mitt Romney. You said that Mitt Romney would have been good for the country….well …he claims to be a businessman. He poured 1 billions into his campaign… and got a very bad return on his investment. Businessmen have never been good presidents (herbert hoover for example). What you have to realize is that this country is no longer subject to the religious dictates of those who would force their bible on the American people. This is a free country. We have free elections. We freely pick who we collectively want. The American people spoke. President Barack Hussein Obama is our president for 100% not just the 47% or 1%. Stop your crying. Grow up. Do something for your country. If you don’t like this country or this president than move somewhere else.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I really don’t despise Obama. I think his policies are misguided and destructive, but I don’t feel much in the way of personal animus toward him. I’ve supported Romney for quite some time, and see his “flip flops” very differently than you do. With Romney as with Kerry, nuance too often gets qualified as flip-flopping in our polarized political culture. I did — and do — particularly like Romney.

  • Daniel E Staub

    Cheer up, Tim. In my mind, you were a “good and faithful servant.” I felt very secure during this year’s campaign because I trust you and learned a lot from your writings. As “an alien and a stranger,” born from above, I am ready to continue to be salt and light, “as a City on a hill,” here in Massachusetts. We all may want to look closely at the detailed voting results, town by town, and Praise God! that so many people love this country just as much as you do. You are not alone, Tim! -Dan from Lynn, Massachusetts, site of an early Puritan congregational church.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Great to hear from you, Dan!

  • Cordelia

    Thanks, Tim. And I am surprised (perhaps naively) at how many people had to come back here and wag fingers.

  • Tim,
    You know we are on differing sides when it comes to same-sex marriage. But as we were talking about the issue here in Minnesota, I learned to be more compassionate towards those who have different views on this issue. One of the reasons for that change on heart is because of people like you, who could explain their position against same-sex marriage in a reasonable and thoughtful way. I’ve learned the people on the other side are in many cases good Christians just like I am.

    So, while I celebrate the fact that I am one step closer to legally marrying my husband, I am thankful that you put your heart on the line in this post. Godspeed.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Thanks, Dennis!

  • connie

    i am sadder then i have ever been in my life. i dont have kids, but i cant imagine how much harder that would be. i think its time to have a national day of mourning. i think we need to pick an evening and gather in our town squares and have a candle light gathering and pray for our country.

  • Jake

    I completely concur

  • Is there ever a chance one can be “honestly and sincerely wrong” or honestly off the mark or sincerely misguided? Now I am not saying this of Mr Dalrymple, I am saying this in relation to the idea that merely being honest and sincere is sufficient reason for assessing an argument’s veracity and soundness.
    I disagree on the dire tone taken by a number of Christian thinkers, pastors, bloggers, seminarians, writers, leaders and Mr Dalrymple in this blog. I do think that a week away from the election would have equipped the usually thoughtful bloggers with the necessary articulation and nuance that they needed to continue to write well and thoughtfully about God and His work in the world.
    God has been relegated to the corner of our lives in this election, he suddenly seems bereft of his senses and power, maybe it was stolen or maybe he is at rest. I have not heard nor read of a resounding declaration of God’s goodness and power and sovereignty after this election took place. A lot of whining yes, a lot of doom and gloom yes, a lot of finger pointing and name calling yes, very little faithfulness.
    Maybe what is needed is a talk with a Christian who lives in a country without the benefit of democracy and representation and little chances for advancement in a system built on nepotism and partyism. See how he cheerfully goes about his work because it is well between him and God, see how he prays quietly and in deep trust for daily needs and mercies and forgiveness for his unworthiness, see how his hope rests in the coming of the True One, the real King upon whose shoulders the government will rest. See his hope for a better day that does not end.

    I am in mourning… for my Christian brothers and sisters.

  • Herbert Smith

    When will people stop blaming President Bush ror the financial crash? It was Congress and the notion that everyone should own a home, and with the banking institution taking advantage of the exploding house values. The collapse could well have happened on President Obama as it was going to happen at some time. Put the blame where it really is, not on President Bush.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      See my most recent (just posted) post on this. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  • Chris

    I think this is a very honest blog post.

    My problem through is the Mitt Romney he is talking about is not the Mitt Romney who ran in that election, a Mitt Romney which scares me and not because of the Obama campaign but because of his statements, his refusal to take questions from the media (Liberal bias or not), His inability to explain his tax plan which scholars from both sides have said is untenable and more. Many of these things are certainly more right wing than where I think republicans should be a middle of the road party.

    I am by far a moderate republican, a devout Catholic both and raised in Canada, but I hold both citizenship and vote in both countries. I cannot vote for the republican party in its current tea party state. They have lost their roots, as a reminder they have during this campaign endorsed contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage, and while I will never vote on these issues alone they do play a roll, well not this time since both parties really don’t meet what I am looking for on those fronts, when it comes to social justice the democratic party is much closer. In both Canada and the US I vote liberal and democrat respectively.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Which questions did Romney refuse to take? He did quite a lot of interviews and answered quite a lot of questions. And there was a single study from a partisan think-tank that suggested Romney would have to raise taxes by $5T in order to achieve its goals, and the Obama campaign ran with that and claimed Romney intended to raise taxes by $5T — which must stand among the most dishonest portrayals in recent memory of a politician’s proposal. It was not “scholars from both sides.”

      • Chris

        I cant recall questions he refused to answer, but rather the fact that at least for the last 22 days or so of the election he didn’t answer any questions because he refused to e interviewed or asked questions.

        I am not referring to him having to raise 5T through taxes , I was referring to him not explaining his tax plan in detail; if you proposing a tax plan I expect to see it detail everything laid out, not an unreasonable expectation for someone who is going to lead the most powerful country in the world for at least 4 years. When I did the basic math myself I could not make the numbers add up, and that was using only expenses and cuts Romney said he would make.

        You can do the math for yourself its not to hard, I am not going to post any math or numbers here to avoid any biases, but also because I recommend everyone be an informed voter. I would suggest here as one of many places you can look:, I also like looking at the CBO, because they pretty slam everyone as well. I find that any website that attacks both sides is a good choice to look at.

        One thing I would like to point out that Romney said:
        “Come on our website, you’ll look at how we get to a balanced budget within EIGHT TO 10 YEARS…The president hasn’t balanced a budget yet.”

        This sticks out as something that really annoys me, saying he can fix something is 8-10 years, but chides Obama for not fixing the problem in worst economic times in 4 years.

        To add though as an after thought, the Romney you have described would have caused me to actually consider who to vote for, but the Romney I saw through his own actions and words, would not get my vote ever. Since I live in Canada, I do not get many if any ads from either side, plus I do not listen to ads I listen to cold hard facts.

  • I wrote a similar column about my feelings, that the American people chose all the wrong things over all the right things, that in this election they, in essence, justified all the lies and wrongdoing of the current PResident and administration. Very sad indeed. See