Last night the American people had the final word. In essence, approximately 60 million voted for Keynesian economics and 57 million voted against. Many who have studied economics, with an eye on America’s massive $16 trillion debt and high unemployment and the plight of tens of millions on food stamps, will try to make sense of the election results. It is predictable that there will be a rising chorus of voices for more moderate Republican presidential candidates the next time around. History demonstrates the pitfalls of this strategy.
The moderation argument is pretty straightforward. The Republican Party should moderate its policies in order capture a greater proportion of votes from key groups such as single, young women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and others in Independent circles. If Republicans cannot do better with these voters, the Democratic Party will have a lock on future elections.
But there can be problems with uninspiring moderation. In recent decades, every single moderate Republican presidential candidate has lost. Gerald Ford lost in 1976; George Bush, Sr. lost in 1992 (unlike in 1988, he distanced himself from Reaganomics); Robert Dole lost in 1996; John McCain lost in 2008; and Mitt Romney lost in 2012. These were the choices of the Republican establishment.
In the late 1970s, there was no guarantee that Ronald Reagan, a genuine conservative, would receive the Republican nomination for president. But with America suffering under the burden of stagflation (high inflation and stagnant economy), grass-roots Republicans were able to buck the odds and see their guy chosen. Reagan handily beat the Democrat president and won big four years later. The statistics of Reagan’s economic success exist for anyone wanting to educate themselves. And because Reagan’s policies won the Cold War, the 1990s were good economic years (a smaller percentage of government spending to the military and greater international trade). What Republicans need is a candidate with clear and consistent conservative convictions.
It is probably true that as American society becomes increasingly secularized there will be more talk of big government. Scholars note the link between secularization (and even worldly Christianity) and statism. If statism is the wave of the future, choosing a moderate Republican candidate would appear at first blush to make perfect sense. However, another important issue cannot be ignored. What will the state of the economy be in 2015-16? I hope I am wrong, but I fear that President Obama will be unable to disentangle himself from disastrous Keynesian economics. The government-is-the-answer mentality will have a major impact on those groups who voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. Poverty is horrible and it speaks loudly. If the future brings more stifling taxes and little improvement in the economy, many Americans will rethink their political inclinations.
In the next presidential election, Bible-believing Christians will continue to support traditional values of individual opportunity, personal responsibility, and human freedom. As they champion a conservative candidate, so too will millions of former Obama voters.