I still expect McCain to win, but the chance that he'll lose is higher than I expected earlier this year. If he loses, he and his campaign will be criticized for their mistakes, and that's appropriate. But the criticism probably will be out of proportion. The party most guilty for the election results, the people who voted for Obama, most likely won't be criticized nearly as much as they ought to be. And even if Obama loses, the fact that so many people supported him in the polls and on election day is remarkable and inexcusable. Criticism of those people, criticism on a large scale and for a long period of time, is warranted, regardless of whether Obama wins. We don't have to wait for election day to know whether a large percentage of Americans are so undiscerning as to support Obama. The polls have already proven it.
It's common among conservatives to refer to the wisdom of the American people. When an election is drawing near, conservatives will often comment that they trust the American people, even if the polls are currently favoring a candidate who isn't a conservative. When Americans contribute money to disaster relief in foreign nations or do something else that's virtuous, we hear about the goodness of the American people. Supporters of third parties often suggest that the American people are waiting for the right candidate to come along, one who represents them, then they'll vote in large numbers for that third-party candidate. Supporters of conservative third parties, for example, often suggest that the American people in general are conservatives at heart, but that the two major parties aren't representing them.
Sometimes such comments are accurate, depending on the context. On some issues, most Americans are right. But the majority is often wrong. The same Americans who give money to charity also pay for their daughter to get an abortion, spend several hours a week at pornographic web sites, or can't name the four gospels. Remember, the same Pharisees who murdered Jesus were monotheists and gave money to charity.
I don't think the American people need their ego stroked. They get more than enough of that from advertisers, politicians, etc.
Here's what I think is going on with this election. Among those likely to vote, a large minority is liberal and committed to Obama, and a large minority is conservative and committed to McCain. Another large minority is less knowledgeable of the issues, can and sometimes does keep going back and forth between the two candidates, and is currently favoring Obama. The primary reason why that third group supports Obama most likely is laziness. The current president is a Republican. They're dissatisfied with the economy and some other things, to the point of wanting some sort of significant change. They haven't thought through the issues enough to logically hold George Bush responsible for such problems. But blaming Bush is a simple solution, and it's a solution the Democrats, the media, and other segments of society are encouraging. Bush is a Republican. McCain is a Republican also. Therefore, we should vote for Obama. I think that sort of easy, lazy approach toward the election, in which little effort is put into researching and thinking through the issues, is the primary explanation for what's going on. That sort of laziness has benefited Republicans in the past, but it's benefiting a Democrat this year. Sometimes that laziness leads people to vote correctly, despite the fact that they arrived at the correct vote by the wrong means. But other times the laziness leads people to vote wrongly.
People often refer to how a large percentage of the population is dependent on the government (welfare, etc.), and I think that's a factor as well. The more dependent you are on the government, the more likely you are to vote for a Democrat. Much the same can be said about the sexually immoral. Misery loves company, and so do sinners (Romans 1:32). The teenager who spends several hours a week at pornographic web sites and is having sex with his girlfriend probably is going to tend to vote Democrat once he's old enough to vote. And the Republican businessman who gets involved in an adulterous relationship, and is unrepentant about it, probably is going to become increasingly sympathetic to the claims of the homosexual community and other politically active groups with a sexually immoral agenda. In an interview with Christianity Today, the New Testament scholar N.T. Wright made the following assessment of many of the modern critics of the Christian view of Jesus:
"'Probably they learned to disbelieve in the miracles of Jesus at the same time they first had sex. For them this stuff is part of liberation. To say maybe the conservative position is right is really to undermine their lives.' I asked Wright whether that would describe a younger generation of scholars. 'Oh, no,' he said, laughing; 'they have sex much earlier.'"
Robert Funk, a deceased Biblical scholar and founder of the Jesus Seminar, said that one of his reasons for wanting to "reinvent Christianity" was to have a Christianity that would support "protected recreational sex among consenting adults" (U.S. News & World Report, August 4, 1997, p. 55).
I think that sex plays a large role in Biblical scholarship. I also think it plays a large role in how Americans vote. For example, abortion is commonly used as birth control, and one party is much more likely to keep legal abortion available.
And the American voter lives in a society that's been largely secularized and trivialized, in addition to being more sexualized than in the past. David Wells, in his book God In The Wasteland (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1995), writes:
"It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life. Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in God's existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers' sweet fog of flattery and lies. That is weightlessness. It is a condition we have assigned him after having nudged him out to the periphery of our secularized life....Weightlessness tells us nothing about God but everything about ourselves, about our condition, about our psychological disposition to exclude God from our reality." (pp. 88, 90)
John Piper comments:
"Where is God in your daily newspaper or in your talk radio show or the network TV programming or Time and Newsweek or the theater or the public school classroom? God is the most important reality in the universe. But he is almost totally ignored. And if not, he is as likely belittled as reverenced....Disregard for God is the greatest evil in the West today. It is as though an ant on his anthill should disbelieve in the earth." (A Godward Life, Book Two [Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 1999], p. 19)
I don't think Obama represents where the American people are at the moment. Neither does McCain. Most Americans are less liberal than Obama and less conservative than McCain. But if we don't want them to go even further in Obama's direction, we need to spend less time criticizing conservatives like McCain for not winning and more time criticizing the American people for voting the wrong way.