A Letter from the Founders
"We as people of faith should never put political ideology above principle, we should never convince ourselves that if we only subscribe to certain political principles that we can somehow prevent certain moral failings in our country. These values are not owned by one particular philosophy or political party, but have been forged by people of many political perspectives who have come together and to do what is right."
After I penned the previous words, I immediately began receiving calls about how this would hurt organizations that had fought so hard to exert their influence on the selection of the upcoming judges for the Appellate and Supreme Court. At the same time, many of the more moderate newspapers were very elated to find that there was a conservative organization that held to a broad set of principles that was guided more by moral convictions than ideology. As a result, far right conservative organizations began to question our convictions, and those more moderate and liberal organizations began to sow the seeds of dialogue to see how we could find common interests and policy that could help all Americans.
As my twins turned 18, I began to wonder what kind of world and legacy the baby boomer generation would leave for them. The Gen Y that I had met were much more idealistic, willing to volunteer their time and resources to help, rather than pursue personal wealth or fortune, and concerned for family.
Maybe this was an outgrowth of the failed policies of the Great Society, coupled with the rampant divorce rate and breakdown of family units that so characterized the emergence of their parents generation. The rampant explosion of sexual gratification, radical individualism, and destruction of the sacred institutions of family, marriage, along the rampant exploitation of children, likely accounts for the need for young people to find fulfillment in serving their fellow man and finding security in stable long term relationships.
As moral constraints began to unravel further during the late 90s, conservative groups began to emerge, funded by wealthy donors and philanthropic organizations, the voice of spiritual renewal and moral constraint began to resound among the majority of Americans. The moral failings and liberal social policies of the Clinton Administration became too much for many Americans. Soon, as media outlets such as talk radio, Christian radio programming, and conservative media such as Fox News began to emerge, suddenly the conservative movement had a mechanism to reach thousands of people with an alternative message. This convergence of grassroots activism and media support found themselves with a candidate that met all the criteria of a revolutionary leader, George W. Bush, who narrowly won election in the fall of 2000.
Soon, however, the practicalities of governance became apparent to President Bush and many of the conservative political leadership. Over the next 4 years, many social conservatives became frustrated and vocal over the lack of response to many of their agenda items, with too much attention to economic interests alone. This led to another concerted effort among Christian conservatives, most notably James Dobson, Tony Perkins, FRC, Don Wildmon, and others, to make sure President Bush was reelected, and that representatives (The US House and Senate) that portrayed their ideology, be elected as well.
As those of us who study political history, the rise of conservative values must always be tempered by our own principles, such that the agenda doesn't become the God that we serve. My friend, Chuck Colson, cautioned shortly before the election, that having served in the White House previously, that his hope was that we, as people of faith, would truly know how to govern, respect those who differ from us, and develop policy that is truly nonpartisan, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. The question remained, could they govern?
It is in that spirit that we began Redeem The Vote, to register people of faith, regardless of party affiliation or personal political beliefs, but as a matter of Christian principle, that people of faith must be engaged in the political debate and vote as a matter of moral imperative. Since then, we have continued to reach out to both parties to find the best in both, and find solutions to the debate, not trump or destroy one person or party. This is in stark contrast to many of those conservative Christian organizations that seek to develop a partisan mentality and approach to problems that have solutions beyond partisan rhetoric. In fact, some believe the development of working relationships between Democrats and Republicans may even be counterproductive in the sense that large sums of money would be difficult to raise if there was no battle to be fought, or political enemy to be slain.
Our hope is that we can engage evangelicals to support a broad agenda that embraces the common good of all Americans.
Randy Brinson, MD
Founders, Redeem The Vote