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On the 2022 Midterm Elections
Congratulations to the Houston Astros and their coach Dusty Baker on winning the World Series. You had a good run, Astros, even if a lot more people watched college football on Saturday than Game 6.
They’re finally here. The 2022 midterm elections have arrived. After tomorrow campaign ads will depart the airwaves, colorful signs will disappear from busy intersections, and everyone in the news media will begin obsessing over the 2024 election. Sigh.
Given all the build-up to this year’s elections, I thought a good way to channel our collective sense of partisan exhaustion would be to make this newsletter a simple list—a list of observations and relatively non-controversial predictions about what we can expect to see tomorrow and in the coming weeks and months. As to the predictions, feel free to hold me accountable later!
Now, in no particular order:
(1) Observation: It’s an unstainable political model to make elections constantly about how much more dangerous the other party’s nominee for office is. If one midterm election could end democracy, it’s quite likely democracy was already over.
(2) Observation: If Democrats’ closing message is to be thorough, it should be: Help us save democracy by voting for us over these other candidates who we spent millions of dollars supporting in the primaries.
(3) Prediction: Both parties will cite either election fraud and/or voter suppression as part of the reason for losses in particular races.
(4) Prediction: President Biden will blame misinformation for a bad outcome on the Democratic side, then quickly try to project a centrist tone, inviting Republicans to work with him in a bipartisan way.
(5) Prediction: Multiple charismatic candidates will draw the wrong conclusion from nearly winning their races, and will immediately fuel speculation about their plans to run for some office in 2024.
(6) Prediction: Make no mistake: regardless of which Democratic and Republican candidates lose, they will blame the media, big money donors, Big Tech, the establishment, and President Biden or Trump.
(7) Prediction: Republicans will retake the House of Representatives and spend more time in the next year on investigations than trying to enact legislation on crime, immigration, and parental rights in education, though they campaigned on these issues.
(8) Observation: Celebrities running for office only seems to be a problem when they run as Republicans or express conservative views.
(9) Prediction: A fistfight will break out on the floor of the House or Senate in the next two years.
(10) Prediction: When Republicans do well, they will wrongly assume that America is with them on all their key issues, and when Democrats do poorly, they will assume their losses are due to bad messaging and white supremacy, not terrible policy ideas.
I realize that such a list raises many more questions than it answers. Let me assure the reader, I do not want to be cynical or pessimistic. I certainly intend to cast a ballot, and I have encouraged others to do the same. I’ve sought to research the candidates and be informed on the issues. In no way is political participation inherently at odds with our identity as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Nevertheless, I’m trying to be honest about human nature and political trends and tendencies over the last few decades of American public life. As I’ve said many times before in prior newsletters, the church must be prepared to offer our neighbors something different. We must be a counter-polis, God’s new creation breaking forth into this present evil age.
To be sure, being that new creation leaves in tension with our current political environment. On the one hand, honest analysis will inevitably be less-than-enthusiastic sometimes (see above). On the other hand, joy in the Savior who is reordering our lives through the Spirit should break through as we speak about where our hope lies. Even as we make electoral decisions which may not conform to the expectations of some of our neighbors, we should take every opportunity to show where our understanding of Scripture is informing our understanding of civil life.
So think, pray, vote, and move on with your week. And maybe stay off social media for a week or two!
*Cover image credit to The Economist
Quote of the Week:
Although most of us can make moral judgments in concrete cases, it is extremely hard to reflect on the criteria determining our values and to explain the various concepts implicit in them. We are inclined to take for granted the truths we learned in early childhood or at school without close scrutiny. While this may well lead us to the truth, it can also place impoverishing limitations and narrowness on our grasp of that same truth. For clear vision we must look more closely, ponder more deeply.