by Rod D. Martin
August 30, 2004
The moon is full, reflecting tonight off the forest of skyscrapers which is Manhattan. The second act of a quadrennial dance — the 2004 Republican National Convention — plays out across the street in Madison Square Garden. And as the lights blare, the horns sound, the throngs pulsate in the night, I am struck by the immediacy, as well as the eternity of it all.
It seems just moments ago that terrorists rained destruction on this City. This weekend, terrorists attempting to carry out three separate bombing plots were thwarted here, while demonstrators marched with Palestinian flags in these streets, some carrying signs supporting the same Fatah which sends bomb-laden children to detonate themselves in shopping malls, the same Hezbollah which assists them while also hawking Michael Moore’s movie for fun and profit.
I idly wonder why they weren’t in Boston’s streets — not the bombers, not their apologists — for the Democratic Convention five weeks ago. No one answers. But the answer seems clear enough.
It’s not only them. It’s all those who believe a baby in the womb is a “parasitic lump of tissue”: they’re here, and very angry. They’re joined by the marriage-redefinition gang (the drag-queens are especially colorful), the radical anarchists, the gun-banners, the militant atheists, and everyone else who’s wild with hate and vocal in such for one Mr. George W. Bush.
One is indeed known best by his enemies.
When the towers fell, a few Christians joined Bill Clinton in proclaiming the attacks God’s judgment on America. Yet sitting here tonight it’s pretty obvious that God was blessing America, cursing His (and her) foes instead. Only 3,000 died that evil day, just 5% of the toll initially feared. Yet 70% of bin Laden’s men are dead or in prison this day. Saddam Hussein’s murderous fascist regime is gone forever. In this City and elsewhere, you see people openly respect cops and firefighters again. More people are in churches than before 9/11, both here and in Iraq. A dangerous enemy we were ignoring overplayed its hand and paid the ultimate price before it was able to deliver a crippling blow.
Do we all agree regarding the Bush policies in the war? No. Is it necessary to agree for us to see what God has done through them? Again, no.
The immediate, but also the eternal. It is almost three thousand years since another city, Jerusalem, came alive, as much like this one as technology permitted in its day, in what was the very golden age of the Israelite kingdom. David and Solomon reigned over what the Bible describes less as a monarchy, more as a federal republic with a president-for-life. It was the high point of Israelite history, the culmination of all which had gone before, and the high summit preceding a long decline ended only with the coming of the Messiah.
Contrary to the “agrarian vision” of some (who apparently think Christ’s dominion does not reach to financial or scientific advance), this faithful Jerusalem was a vibrant center of commerce, its tentacles reaching throughout the known world. It was an imperial center too, when at the height of God’s blessing (and never again after that blessing was withdrawn). It pulsated with life. And it will do so again — on a scale unimaginable — when God’s ideal culmination of all the work which began in a Garden arrives, the great city, the New Jerusalem descending from the sky.
It is so easy to raise our narrow preferences above God’s perfect plan.
This election will be like that. Jerusalem lost its brief dominion — not to mention it’s wondrous luster — just a few years after Solomon because the king had been faithless. Here, the people are king. Solomon, though wise, became a foolish king in his sin. Christians, though allegedly wise, have become foolish kings by just not doing their job at all.
On the one hand there are those who don’t vote. Of 60 million eligible Evangelical voters, only 15 million bothered to vote last time. The rest complain about their society and the dreck to which it has often fallen, never thinking that had just a few more of them voted, no liberal Republican, certainly no socialist Democrat could ever have been elected. When God starts judging people for the 47 million abortions, He’s definitely going to have something to say to these rocket scientists.
On the other hand, there’s the shrinking handful which continues to support one or another third party. I look down 8th Avenue at all the Republicans wearing “Vote Nader” buttons and see the brilliance of this strategy. As Reagan — a smarter politician than any of the self-anointed third party prophets — put it, a third party usually succeeds in electing those with whom it most disagrees. Nader provided that service for the Republicans in 2000, and these Republicans mean to help him do it again.
It is the responsibility of the king to show up. It’s also his responsibility to know his job. Republics survive by informed citizen activism, not by leaving politics to “people who are more interested” and certainly not by misunderstanding the nature of a system which would need a completely new Constitution to make the “Constitution Party” viable. In America (news flash: not a parliamentary system), we make our coalitions before the election. If you don’t like the coalition, you organize better and show up with more people in the next round of primaries. Christians have the numbers to blow the primaries out, but have never yet shown up in force. So they get what they get.
What they get this year is surprisingly good, considering. George W. Bush — a professing Christian who really means it — gets up early and prays for an hour every day. He’s got a nearly perfect record appointing pro-life judges, has reinstituted the Mexico City Policy, and has banned partial-birth abortion. He’s led the fight to keep a Biblical definition of marriage. He’s refused to allow the International Criminal Court even the slightest jurisdiction over American citizens, taken us out of the immoral ABM Treaty, and begun deploying the real missile defenses of which Reagan could only dream. He’s forced the Justice Department to both acknowledge and argue in court that the Second Amendment creates an individual right to keep and bear arms, something it had refused to do for forty years. He’s cut dividends taxes, capital gains taxes and death taxes, all while creating Health Savings Accounts, extending IRAs and 401(k)s, and taking concrete steps to privatize the federal Ponzi scheme of Social Security — each designed to help establish an “ownership society” which promotes every family’s security (even intergenerationally), ends its dependence on the state, and respects the commandment not to steal.
Oh, and he’s provoked enough fear and loathing among those who hate both our God and our nation to make them try to bomb New York this week while ignoring the Democrats. If there’s anything I like about him, I think I like that most.
His only serious opponent, Mr. Kerry, whom The Nation calls America’s most liberal (read: socialist) senator, would undo each and every one of these things, and lead us down paths contrary to every single thing we believe. Mr. Kerry’s supporters — from Howard Dean to Michael Moore — openly deride Christians and their faith. Men and women of their opinion will dominate our government for a decade and our courts for a generation if Mr. Bush loses.
It’s going to be close. George Bush isn’t perfect, but he’s good, truly good. In a fallen world, it’s hard to complain about that. And if Christians (and conservatives broadly) want better, maybe in 2008 they can actually show up to nominate and elect such a statesman. But right now, under the lights of this City, it’s pretty clear we should be grateful for that which God has given, and that we may only take one step at a time.