CultureWatch

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The US Conservative Landslide

Nov 3, 2010

The map of America is looking very red indeed at the moment. While splashes of blue are to be found, red is the dominant colour throughout. For the politically naive, red is the colour of the Republican tsunami which has just rolled over the United States, while blue is the colour of the decimated Democrats.

This midterm election has been a conservative landslide in many respects. Although the Senate is still in Democratic control (only just), in every other area the Republicans have taken decisive control. This is how the numbers seem to stack up (with a few seats still to be decided).

In 2008 there were 257 (out of 435) Democrats in the House of Representatives. Now there are only 191. The Republicans went from 178 to 243, a massive gain of 65 seats. That makes this the biggest election win in 70 years. Even Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois was lost to the Republicans.

In 2008 there were 59 Democratic Senators (out of 100; this included two so-called independents). Now there are just 51 Senators. They retain control of the Senate, but only by a thread. One change (eg., a death) could result in a drawn Senate.

In 2008 there were 29 Democratic governors. Now there are only 18. Thus we now have a sizable majority of 31 (out of 50) Republican governors. Some of these wins involved some decidedly pro-life governors. Also, a number of radical initiatives were voted down. For example, a pro-marijuana measure in California was soundly defeated. And Oklahoma passed Question 755 which banned the implementation of sharia law.

As mentioned, the pro-life movement did well, and they made some big gains in the Senate. In my home state of Wisconsin there were a number of conservative wins, including the defeat of long-standing pro-abortion Senator Russ Feingold. Unfortunately Amendment 62, the pro-life Personhood amendment in Colorado failed.

Of interest is how minority groups fared in the Republican victories. There were at least three governors – two Latin American and one Indian American – and two black Congressmen from America’s deep South. And by Indian I mean a woman whose parents were born in India.

The conservative grassroots Tea Party movement did quite well all around the country. They scored not only victories over the leftist Democrats, but put establishment Republicans on notice that conservatives voters are tired of the wishy washy direction the leadership of the Republican Party has taken.

For those unfamiliar with how the US system works, here is a very brief outline:
-The President has a four-year term (and can only go for two terms).
-Those in the House of Representatives have two-year terms (435 members in total).
-Those in the Senate have six-year terms (100 Senators in total). These are staggered so that around a third are elected every two years.
-Governors’ terms vary from state to state (50 Governors in total).
-This was a mid-term election (in between the main presidential election).

With the swing to the right in the Congress, Obama remains in the White House, but his ability to carry out his radical agenda will be severely curtailed. He still has veto power, and he can also cause damage by appointing radical Supreme Court judges and the like. But he will now have to learn how to work with the Republican-controlled House, and the Republican majority of Governors.

Political commentators have remarked on what all this will mean. Philip Klein says this: “While Obama’s presidency is shaping up to be a spectacular failure from a political perspective, he may view it as a smashing success from a liberal ideological point of view. Instead of squandering Democrats’ time in power by playing small ball, he went bold.

“His efforts culminated with the passage of a national health care law, which has been a primary goal of American liberalism for decades. Even if Republicans ultimately succeed in repealing it (which remains an uphill battle), they will have expended so much political capital to do so that it will inhibit their ability to advance conservative policies.

“So what does this mean for the incoming Republican majority in the House, especially if eventually joined by a Republican Senate and president? When Republicans controlled the House from 1995 to 2007 (and the presidency for six years of that time) they failed to live up to conservative principles. The GOP will have to decide whether they will act boldly and truly attempt to rein in government while they have the chance, or play it safe. In this sense, the true test of the Tea Party movement will be whether it can successfully pressure Republicans to actually govern as conservatives once in power.”

Richard Viguerie, commenting on the rise of the Tea party said this: “The last time the GOP was in power, it became the party of big spending and Big Business special interests. Tens of millions of mainstream conservatives, future members of the Tea Party movement, gave up on the Republicans, leading to the party’s defeat in 2006 and 2008.

“This year, members of the Tea Party movement provided almost all the excitement and energy, and 90% of the grassroots volunteers and small contributions that made a Republican victory possible. Now, Tea Partiers have the power and the responsibility to rebuild the GOP into a party that represents mainstream working-class and small-business-class Americans.”

Terence Jeffrey put it this way: “In the redistributionist America that Obama would build, it would not be government that paid for anybody’s college education or health care, it would be the other class of Americans – those who believe in freedom and self-reliance, who take care of themselves and their own, who lead industrious and productive lives, and who value freedom over security.

“In Obama’s America, members of the self-reliant class would have ever greater portions of their hard-earned income and savings taxed away so redistributionist politicians could give more to the dependent class, which they would continue to nurture and build until there was no one left but the politicians and government dependents – in a bankrupt country.

“The lesson of the 2010 campaign is that most Americans do not want more government in their lives, they want less. They do not want handouts from President Obama. They want him and other politicians like him off their backs and out of their wallets.”

How the new political reality in Washington plays itself out remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure – it can no longer be business as usual, at least for the Democrats.

spectator.org/archives/2010/11/03/the-ephemeral-nature-of-politi
www.christiannewswire.com/news/1173815397.html
patriotpost.us/opinion/terence-jeffrey/2010/11/03/obama-talked-class-war-now-hes-got-one/

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25 Responses to The US Conservative Landslide

  • Great news indeed. IT was predicted that when there are more than two or three major issues at stake and the incumbent government is seen as defective, there are massive swings against the government, and this has certainly proven to be the case.

    I just hope and pray that we can turn the Australian liberal-socialist tide around too.

    But the democrats/labor are good at pushing awful stuff through parliament. They know that the more liberal and disconnected their policies are from what the majority of the country wants, the less likely it is that they are going to be able to hold power long, so they rush through much previously-rejected, controversial, & ill-formed legislation when they get the chance to entrench their socialist policies all the while knowing that it’s so much harder to reverse such legislation and kick out controversial judges than it is to get them there. And then the other side has to spend much political capital and time trying to weed it out.

    It’s like boom and bust politics – short time in to do heaps of damage, a long time out while the other side tries to root out he cancers and repair the country.

    Garth Penglase

  • It must have churned Obama’s stomach to have seen a conservative Republican gain his own state of Illinois in the Senate! As my father would say, “I don’t wish him any harm, but I hope it continues to give him reflux for the next two years” – i.e. until he is thrown out as a failed president! Then (hopefully) he will return to the back alleys of Chicago, from whence he came, while decent people try to clean up the damage he has inflicted.
    Murray R Adamthwaite

  • I was listening to Michael Savage’s radio show yesterday and he feels that this may make Obama more determined to push is agenda. I think Savage still thinks Obama is just getting started and has his presidential powers he could still use. I am at the moment reading Michael’s book Trickle Up Poverty and reading about the Wall Street scam and at the moment reading how bad Obamacare really is. As an Australian, I can find his book just as relevant and I think it is worth reading.

    BTW Bill, Obama is off to India and it is apparently going to cost 200 million dollars a day. When I last heard, that’s a lot of money.

    www.ndtv.com/article/india/us-to-spend-200-mn-a-day-on-obama-s-mumbai-visit-64106

    Carl Strehlow

  • Your “home state of Wisconsin”? What?
    Thought you were of Aussie origins

    Feingold is out? yay!

    Nathan Schellinger

  • Thanks Nathan

    Yes it is true. I am originally from the US, and no, I still don’t like Vegemite. But go Wisconsin!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • What a coincidence. I also am from Wisconsin. Spent most of my life there, and now here I am in Western Australia. Small world.

    I do still watch the US from afar, with keen interest of what they’re up to. Its VERY interesting that the Republicans won in Wisconsin. I usually found voting there to be a depressing and useless activity as the state typically slants with the liberals.

    I think its important though, to not forget that no matter who wins, Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same corrupt political coin. They just want to give the appearance of being true rivals. But at least with the Republicans in power, fewer new blatantly anti-Christian laws will come down the line.

    Nathan Schellinger

  • I think a lesson to be learned out of this is that conservative voters need to be able to have a secondary party that is strongly conservative and will prevent the traditional conservative parties from moving more to the left as society heads down that path. We just saw it with the Tea Party in America. We did not see it in Britain with the conservatives now on the left side of politics as Peter Hitchens has mentioned.

    The upcoming state election is going to be dangerous as the current state liberal party is quite weak willed. We should look at supporting a secondary conservative party instead.

    Jonathan Bertuch

  • Thanks Jonathan

    In a sense the Nats would qualify. But they tend to get bogged down by the weak Libs that they are in partnership with. Smaller conservative parties do exist and can and should get our support: CDP, FF and DLP.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks guys

    Here is some interesting info: “The largest single constituency in the electorate in the 2010 midterm elections was self-identified evangelicals, who comprised 29% of the vote and cast an astonishing 78% of their ballots for Republican candidates.”
    www.christiannewswire.com/news/1660315402.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Greg Sheridan has a good piece on this. He points out the two minority Republican governors now in power, giving the lie to claims of American and Republican ‘racism’;

    www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/americans-flock-to-the-tea-party/story-e6frg6zo-1225947488568

    Damien Spillane

  • Dear Bill, I wish the same would happen here and we could get rid of the Gillard government which is rapidly heaping disgrace on Australia. She went to socially conservative Asia of all places but put her hosts in an impossible situation by flaunting her non-marital status. The President of Malaysia had to say he had the chicken pox which was obviously a thinly disguised snub. The government owned Press said she was here with her husband. Had she no sense of protocol when visiting these countries. Who is advising her? She obviously knows how highly these cultures value the sanctity of marriage because with the large Asian immigrant population in Australia in mind she has already said that there will be no same sex marriage. This is because she knows that idea would be abhorrent to them. Yet she obviously ignored the fact that they also frown on fornication and adultery as well which is just as much part of their moral code and tradition as being against homosexual acts are. It is not just the Christian culture which disagrees with these things. In fact the Indonesian President said in effect recently that it would be unwise for them to follow foreign countries in these trends. In other words they can see the mess we are in socially. What really gets me is that at least Americans are discerning in the fact that they chose a married family man in Obama even if they were deceived in that this was only a front for his liberalism which they can plainly see now. I can’t see the Americans ever being so stupid as to do what we have done. At least they have some standards left.
    Patricia Halligan

  • Thank God! What a fantastic result. You can bet that there was a lot of prayer behind that. Now for Australia…let’s round up intercessory groups in all our local areas to pray in something like that here!
    Dee Graf

  • Yes quite right Dee

    The majority of those in the Tea Party movement are evangelical Christians (see the link I provide in my comment above). They got themselves organised and active – as well as prayed up. We need to do the same here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • It’s amazing what a bit of prayer can accomplish.

    These results from the US are also one in the eye for the “atheists”, and it’s hard not to smile about that!

    Barbara Murray-Leach

  • Bill, loving vegemite is the first test for citizenship.
    Seriously though the prayer that has gone in to the decisive shift in political climate in the states is something we must seek to emulate here. In the US it seems there are many Christian leaders who are preaching truth and informing their people about the shenanigans in the political sphere. We don’t yet seem to have here the commitment to prayer or the leaders who are informing the folks. Thanks Bill for your hard work in this arena, Keep it up.
    Glenn Christopherson

  • Wonder what the response will be on Q&A next Monday night? Spin, sneering or silence…
    Anthony McGregor

  • Many Christians in Europe – and I suspect in the USA – are appalled at the right wing swing in the American elections and find the apparent Christian sentiments expressed frequently at odds with the biblical words of Christ with his compassion for the poor and oppressed. The words of many of the Republicans, especially of the so-called Tea Party, seem selfish and greedy, uncaring of those less fortunate than themselves. How do you square the current views expressed by many of your correspondents with the principles expressed in the Beatitudes, or Matthew 25 (31-40) or Luke 4 (16-21) ?
    David Maidment

  • Thanks David

    But your comment appears to be one long non sequitur. Indeed, it seems quite incoherent as well. How in the world does concern about runaway government and statism (as well as Obama’s anti-life and anti-family policies) translate into hatred of or disrespect for the Sermon on the Mount and other texts? Not only does this not follow, but your remarks simply tell us that you seem to believe bigger government, higher taxes, and more government intrusion into everyone’s lives (as well as Obama’s pro-abortion, pro-homosexual policies) is somehow more Christlike.

    I have written plenty of other articles on Christianity and economics which you are welcome to peruse. There I point out that the so-called religious right does not care less about the poor than the left. They simply differ on what is the best means – and the historically proven means – to actually help the poor.

    So I am afraid your grand sweeping statements and stereotyping, complete with massive judgments on other Christians who happen to think differently than you, is not all that impressive in my books. Indeed, to borrow your phrase, I am rather appalled at them.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • My comments were more about the comments and statements I read in the media from many Republicans, especially from the ‘Christian conservatives’ who are a minority in the Christian community of most countries, certainly in Europe. They were not comments either endorsing or criticising the Obama administration although the extreme language by many Americans about Obama seems extraordinary to me and somewhat unChristian. Clearly we shall beg to differ. I do think the state has a responsibility to look after the most vulnerable and this will mean that those of us who have the means will expect to pay the appropriate taxes to help those – many through no fault of their own – who are at risk. As founder and chairman of an international charity supporting street children worldwide, I spend time pressing my own government and those of countries where we work (India and East Africa) for national policies to give such children a chance in life. 100,000 children run from abusive, alcoholic, drug-addicted or mentally unstable parents or carers in the UK every year. I’m advised that the number is nearer a million in the USA. I can’t see how such problems can be overcome and sustained long term without more government action and support. The numbers of such vulnerable children are just too great – UNICEF estimates the number of street children worldwide at more than 100 million. Charities can’t cope with such numbers – and that’s just one group of the vulnerable and oppressed. Thank you anyway for printing my views.
    David Maidment

  • Thanks David

    But the question remains, how do such conditions tend to come about, and what are the best means to relieve such conditions. The argument is more complex than to say that governments should simply do more about it. Indeed, what if governments are part of the problem to begin with? But as you say, we may have to agree to disagree here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Even if David’s charges against Christian conservatives were all true (and of course they aren’t), nothing could outweigh the crime of murdering the pre-born that Obama and most of those on the Left are guilty of supporting. The difference between street children and the aborted pre-born is that at least the former have been given the right to life.

    A bankrupted nation, such as the US will become unless conservative political forces can turn it around, won’t help anybody, street kids included.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

  • Bill, thanks for your response and courteous replies. Clearly we shan’t agree and I’ll sign off with this. These issues are complex – whether it’s economic policies, ‘socialist’ medicine (and I’m proud of my country’s National Health service and I owe my life to it) or abortion. I would just say that on the whole Obama is still widely respected in many countries, especially compared with his predecessor, and what seem to be the vicious and sometimes nonsensical attacks on him (calling his policies Nazism and accusing him of not being American born etc) do the reputation of your country a disservice internationally. No man is all good or all bad and a sense of balance is required. Best wishes to you – I’m off now on a lecture tour to Amnesty and Church audiences in the UK on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and on the Railway Children (www.railwaychildren.org.uk). It is on such issues that I feel I have my Christian calling.
    David Maidment, UK

  • David,
    I am constrained to take up your challenge to the so-called “Christian right”, and your angst regarding its resurgence. You say at the outset that you are appalled at the swing to the right in the American elections, then in your response to Bill you seem to backtrack and allege that it’s only certain statements by Republicans and Christian conservatives that worry you. Now which is it? Do the personalities of say Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Sharron Angle (who admittedly lost, but campaigned well), and Allen West appal you, or is it just that they don’t blow the socialist trumpet that you seem to do?

    The fact is that they believe in limited government with limited powers, a la the Constitution (whose drafters had a strong Christian outlook), and they would claim – rightly in my view – to get this from Scripture. For one: man is a sinner and corrupt, and hence cannot be trusted with too much power. Sarah Palin is adamant on this in her recent book “Going Rogue”, p. 385f. That is what brings the conservative movement into conflict with the left, for the latter believe man’s essential virtue, or at least his perfectibility, and the power of the state to achieve that. This involves more and more power to central government, that the whole notion of checks and balances is outdated and should be seriously modified, that government is the great saviour to fix all problems. This to conservatives is a formula for subservience to and tyranny by an all-powerful state. In short, it makes the state into a god. We have seen this deification of the state, of demagogues and tyrants in the history of the past century. Leftists will even put it bluntly, as I have recently seen, that people must be prepared to trade off their liberty for the welfare state and its alleged benefits. This is asking us to forego our great heritage of religious freedom, of free speech and assembly for a mess of social welfare pottage. NO, NO, NO!

    Then I must take issue with you on the magnitude of the problem: in the past Christian organisations have led the charge on welfare in poor countries, but have at the same time opposed the social gospel, and the “social justice” programme of the left. One such organisation, which I support, does much to install wells and supplies of fresh drinking water for villages in Africa and elsewhere. Yet its Director, James Robison, has recently come out against “the false teaching of social justice” being peddled in many American churches, and also the policies of the current administration and the direction in which the current President is taking the nation. He takes that stand, but don’t accuse him of neglecting the poor!

    I must also take issue with you regarding the Sermon on the Mount and Matt.25:31-46. The Sermon is NOT a manifesto for some sort of Christian welfare state, as Christian Socialists have often believed, whereby its teachings can be translated into legislation and enforced by acts of Parliament. It is a statement of principles for Christ’s Kingdom of grace and salvation. It has nothing to do with the state and its obligations. As a matter of fact, the secular states around the world, and especially the UN and its affiliates, are hostile to Christian-based welfare work. The difficulties which Christian aid workers have faced e.g. in the Sudan from the UN fairly beggars belief!

    As for Matt. 25, please read 25:40, 45 “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even to the least, you did it to Me.” and the corresponding negative in v.46, with the phrase “These brothers of Mine” elliptically omitted. Who are Christ’s brethren? The Gospel of Matthew tells us: “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, he is my brother sister, and mother.” (Matt.12:50). Then in Hebrews 2:11-12, “Therefore He is not ashamed to call them brethren”, and there quotes Psalm 22:22. Who are the “brethren”? In context the Christian believers who are sanctified by the suffering and death of the Mediator Jesus Christ. So in other words, at the end, people will be judged by their treatment of Christ’s followers, which will be held as an index of their treatment of and regard for Christ Himself. What is the attitude of modern (welfare!) states to e.g. persecuted Christians? To ask it is to answer it. They don’t lift a finger to help them. On the contrary, as often as not in our present world they participate in their persecution. Their attitude is, albeit not stated in so many words, “Let ’em rot!” What is the attitude of many left-wing Christians to the persecuted church? Ditto. David, what is your attitude to the persecuted church. I leave you to answer it.

    Murray R Adamthwaite

  • Thanks again David

    Allow me as well if you will a final word here. You seem to think American Christians (at least the more conservative ones) are somehow blinded by their nationality and are missing out on the true gospel. But that would of course be true of everyone, including European Christians. They too can well be blinded by the values, ethos and beliefs of what comprises modern Europe. That is, your Christianity may be as Euro-centric as others may be American-centric.

    And from our vantage point, Europe has long been known to be quite left of centre, and strongly anti-American. So again, might it not be your Europeaness that is behind your comments as much or more than any biblical concerns? Why do you seem to think that we are somehow blinded and beholden to an unbiblical ideology, while you are not?

    And again, I remain quite baffled by any person who calls himself a Christian – wherever he may live – who can support someone like Obama knowing full well that he is not only the most ant-family (pro-homosexual) president ever, but also the most strongly anti-life (pro-abortion). For you to seemingly just dismiss these vital biblical issues as somehow mere secondary concerns absolutely staggers me.

    The truth is, the religious left goes on and on about social justice, but seems quite happy to deny social justice to the unborn. Sorry, but if you are dead, all your food programs or relief and development work, does not mean a hill of beans. You have to first be alive before any of these things are of any use. With all due respect, if and when you start recognising that social justice must begin in the womb, then I will take you and your work more seriously.

    And BTW, why exactly is abortion complex? Every abortion stops the heartbeat of a living baby. What is so complex about that? Why does your Christian compassion not seem to extend to the unborn? Sorry, but your Christian social justice seems to be remarkably selective here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi David,

    I’m glad you feel that lecturing Amnesty International on the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child is where you feel you have your Christian calling. Before you head off on your lecture tour, however, I hope you have familiarised yourself with both your audience and your topic.

    The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child States:
    “WHEREAS the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth” www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/humanrights/resources/child.asp

    By contrast you should also be aware that Amnesty International advocates removing all legal protection from unborn children by decriminalising abortion worldwide.
    www.theage.com.au/news/national/amnesty-in-hot-water-on-abortion/2007/05/27/1180205077430.html

    I hope you are therefore planning to condemn Amnesty International for its complete repudiation of this UN declaration, and call on them rather to accept and uphold the Rights of the Child.

    And by the way, abortion is not a complex issue. The solution is quite simple: legislate to make murder illegal and then enforce the law. This shouldn’t be too difficult to understand as it is the same way everybody else in society is protected.

    Mansel Rogerson

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