The 2006 Election

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Note: In this special broadcast, Prison Fellowship Founder Chuck Colson and President Mark Earley discuss the results of the 2006 election.

Chuck Colson: Mark, you and I both have pasts in politics. Were you surprised by what happened yesterday?

Mark Earley: Well, I think, Chuck, along with most Americans, as it got down to the election, and we looked at the polls—not really. I think obviously the war in Iraq was weighing on a lot of people’s minds. Even though I think most Americans support the effort, they are frustrated with the progress. And I think that weighed heavily on the minds of many.

Chuck: Yes, I think that’s one of the downsides of this election. I think a lot of people are going to think, “Well, Americans want to pull out and withdraw from the Middle East.” And of course, we can’t do that. Bernard Lewis, the professor at Princeton, said that the only thing that stands between us and another terrorist attack is the fact that our troops are over there. I hope people don’t misread the election, at least in that respect.

The other thing, of course, that figured in all of the voting, I think, is that the conservatives who came into power in 1994 determined to clean up the corruption in Washington, and they became as corrupt as the people they had run out of town. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, Lord Acton said. And we saw conservatives do it, which I’ll talk about on the air tomorrow because we betray our trust when we do it. We’re hypocrites when we do it—not so with the other side.

And I think that the other issue is the disillusionment with the Republican majority in the House, because they swept into power in 1994, cleaned out the culture of corruption and the K Street entanglements, all the money that was misused, and then they turn around and do exactly the same thing. We had fifteen congressmen alone with ethical challenges! It has been an epidemic. It’s bad when anyone in public office betrays their trust, but particularly bad with a conservative, because the first principle of conservatism is the preservation of the moral order. And so when conservatives misbehave and betray the trust, it goes to the very definition of who we are. It goes to our very character. And that’s why it is so egregious. I think that is why people were so grossly offended by it. And it shows in the election returns.

Mark: And I think, Chuck, for our listeners, those who go about their daily lives not in Washington and not in the state capitals around the nation, the real takeaway today is the same lesson we saw last night when we attended the private screening of the new movie about Wilberforce that is coming out in February, Amazing Grace, because Wilberforce was a man who, despite what was going on in the political arena, never gave up. He never gave up on his commitment to Christ. And he never gave up on the call God had on his life, which was to abolish slavery. And he did it through the government system, despite many setbacks over many years.

Chuck: Yes, I think it was ironic and providential that we watched that movie last night, Mark, the advance showing—Amazing Grace is the name of the film featuring the life of William Wilberforce. That’s a great dramatic presentation. The folks listening to us [and reading the commentary] will be hearing a lot more about that in the weeks and months ahead. That film comes out in February.

But the lesson from it is very clear: Christians must not look at the election results and get very discouraged and say, “We’re going to back away from things; we’re not going to get involved anymore.” Don’t do that. That’s an overreaction. We have to see this as a long-term fight, not only for the laws to be changed, but also for the culture to be changed, which is what we do best. And Wilberforce fully understood that. That’s really the takeaway lesson from this election, isn’t it?

Mark: You’re exactly right, Chuck. Wilberforce never gave up, and neither should we. As he said, “It would merit no better name than desertion if I were thus to fly from the post where Providence has placed me.”

Chuck: That’s the lesson in the wake of the 2006 election.


From BreakPoint®, November 8, 2006, Copyright 2006, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. “BreakPoint®” and “Prison Fellowship Ministries®” are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship Ministries.