Needed to be said
I dig this piece; saw it yesterday. And Scot McKnight is looking for feedback on it. For my part, I agree with the guts of it completely. As a registered republican (barely, I admit), I am proud of the ways McCain has, at times–not frequently–bucked his own party. I’m thinking of a few: immigration, campaign finance reform, torture, & certain tax bills. Of all these, his direction on immigration and torture impress me the most. They impress me even more given his personal history and his awareness of the seriousness of the national security issues we now face. His take on torture is historically informed, future-looking, and, frankly, far more respectful of the Judeo-Christian ethic so many of his detractors are so concerned about a President implementing.
Here’s something I see going on here as well: many evangelicals voted for W because he was one of us; we had an idea of where he was coming from, how he made his decisions, and we felt confident about someone who made decisions that way. Many such people, myself included, don’t trust that reasoning as much now because of several of W’s actual decisions, such as his initial decision to go to war (ignoring the advice of C. Powell, who should have had the most clout of any cabinet member in any such discussion), and his support for various torture techniques (the end justifies the means?), and other decisions, even the deficit. I personally was also discouraged by his hamstringing of the bankruptcy code which is a much-needed form of institutional mercy that this country picked up from our Judeo-Christian heritage. At any rate, for various reasons based largely on the actual decisions of the President, many evangelicals aren’t quick to vote for someone now just because the candidate is evangelical and can talk that talk. That selection method has hesitations now, and there are as many competing methods now as candidates. Now, a candidate’s sincere ‘evangelicalism’ is just one factor among others, which is unfortunate for Huckabee, but likely a good thing for the Republican Party and definitely a good thing for the country. But as a new selection process settles in, there’s a little confusion on the right, and fewer easier answers. We’re growing as citizens and voters, even though it results, for now, in many traditional conservative mouth pieces, who have preached their various conservative litmus tests for years, having to accept a candidate who’s never had much use for such tests. Change is hard, especially for ‘conservatives’. It’s harder to make decisions with so many factors to consider. It’s also part of growing up.