I went to Israel over almost two years ago, and I remember watching presidential debates the first week I got home–debates for the election that is about to happen on Tuesday.

Yes, the eternal campaign is almost over! And now the whole world waits in suspense to find out the outcome.

Some people predict an Obama blowout; others are saying it’s gonna be a close one. But your average yokel is basing those predictions on some (probably unreliable) national poll. As we all know, the President is not elected by popular vote, but by the electoral college. So the national polls are not the best means of making an informed prediction.

So if you look at a good electoral map (check out this and this), it’s not looking good for the McCain/Palin crowd. When the returns start coming in next Tuesday, be looking for the results from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida. If the news starts projecting all these states for Obama, you might be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour this election day, unless you really want to stay up and find out how big the Democratic advantage is gonna be in Congress.

The moral of the story is this: Brace yourself for a big day for the Democrats on Tuesday. An Obama loss would be shocking, and the Democrats are going to make huge gains in both the House and the Senate. Some conservatives are still predicting a close election and a big swing to McCain in the closing days, and that could possibly happen, but don’t hold your breath.

I’m curious to see the national response, whatever happens, especially among evangelicals. I’ve got some thoughts about the church, politics, and America brewing, and hopefully I’ll post those soon.

May God shed his grace on America. PEACE!

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O Church Arise

September 4, 2008

I have been pretty out-of-the-loop when it comes to American politics over the last few months. Between being in Uganda and camping with high school students, I haven’t had much time or access to the media.

Tonight I was able to catch the network television coverage of the GOP Convention. I was pretty curious to see Governor Palin’s speech. Overall, I thought it was pretty good; she spoke well and made some good points. However, a couple things stood out to me from the broadcast.

First, I couple not help but think how easily she could be the first female President of the United States. If McCain wins (it’s about a toss-up right now), Palin is only a heart-beat away from the Oval Office. And let’s face it: McCain is no spring-chicken. An article I saw in the LA Times this morning basically said that McCain has over a 10% chance of dying in his first term. Could Sarah Palin become the first female president without actually getting voted in as such? Time will tell.

Second, I will never cease to be amazed at how crazy these convention-ites get. From their applause and reaction, I have trouble discerning whether Palin is a politician, a rock star, or the Messiah. They hang on the every word of the speaker. From the comfort of my living room I can almost feel the disgust for anything Obama, Clinton, Democrat, or liberal. I know that any statement that touches conservatism or religion or patriotism or national defense is going to get the crowd hooting and hollering.

And sometimes I can’t help but think to myself, “Wow, this is overrated.”

Let me make some qualifiers to that last comment. I am not saying that as someone who is disinterested with politics or the political system. I am saying that as a Political Studies-Constitutional Law major. I am saying that as the guy who is glued to the TV screen the night of the Iowa Caucuses (hey, you never know when you might miss the next Dean Scream.) I am also not saying that people should not be involved in politics or go to political conventions; those are good things. I’ve even served at a convention before.

But sometimes I wonder if people get too sucked-in to the hoopla of politics. And I especially wonder this about evangelicals.

Where is the hope of the church to change America? Is it in the McCain-Palin ticket? Or is it in the Gospel? Again, I’m not trying to knock McCain-Palin at all; I plan on voting for them. I’m trying to say that the church needs to remember that the only hope for real change and real revival comes through the gospel. I’m all in favor of a conservative government, but having a church that is on fire for Christ is incredibly more important.

After I watched the debate, I listened to a song by Keith and Krysten Getty called “O Church Arise.” Here are the lyrics:

“O church, arise and put your armor on;
Hear the call of Christ our captain;
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies;
An army bold whose battle cry is “Love!”
Reaching out to those in darkness.

Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on ev’ry side,
We know the outcome is secure,
And Christ will have the prize for which He died—
An inheritance of nations.

Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,
As the Son of God is stricken;
Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!
And as the stone is rolled away,
And Christ emerges from the grave,
This vict’ry march continues till the day
Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.

So Spirit, come, put strength in ev’ry stride,
Give grace for ev’ry hurdle,
That we may run with faith to win the prize
Of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace,
We hear their calls and hunger for the day
When, with Christ, we stand in glory.”

I’m interested in the political process. I’m pulling for McCain-Palin. But I’m desperately praying for a church that lives this song out more than anything else.

The saga continues in the most interesting primary campaign of my lifetime.

On the Republican side, John McCain has the nomination all but wrapped up. Romney, who dropped out of the race a week and a half ago, has since endorsed McCain, who will soon have the delegates needed to secure the nomination. The only real contender left is Huckabee. While Huck has won some contests, McCain continues to add to his delegate count. Again, I’m pleased with how this is turning out; I think McCain is the Republican’s best shot in Novemeber.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama won his 9th straight contest tonight. He has now surpassed Clinton in the delegate count, but the race remains close. It seems to me the Democratic establishment favors Clinton–she is much more experienced. However, the voters continue to come out for Obama, who clearly has the most momentum of any candidate right now.

Another interesting thing to note is that the voter turnout is much higher on the Democratic side. When I watched Obama’s victory speech on the night of the Iowa Caucuses, I had this feeling that I was listening to the next President of the United States. I still feel like that is the most likely outcome, but there is still much campaigning to be done! So keep paying attention.

I’m hoping to post a blog not related to politics soon…

This week has been the most important one yet on the road to the White House in 2008.

First, there was Super Tuesday. On the Republican side, John McCain did the best, winning New York, California, and several other states while accumulating a large lead in the delegate count. On the Democratic side, the vote was very close (almost 50-50) between Clinton and Obama. Clinton holds a slight edge in the delegate count according to CNN.com.

Second, there was Surprise Thursday. Mitt Romney dropped out of the race. Romney had the support of much of the conservative establishment and was viewed as having the best chance to beat McCain. I was pleasantly surprised by this announcement. Romney strongly stated that Republicans need to rally around the nominee because of the important implications of this election for the future. This narrows the race on the Republican side to essentially McCain and Huckabee, and with his vast lead in the delegate count, McCain will likely be the nominee.

I endorse McCain for President. While I voted for him on Tuesday, I did go back and forth between him and Romney for a while. But now that the race is essentially down to two, I strongly support McCain over Huckabee for the Republican nomination. Here are a few of my reasons.

Foreign Policy. Of all the Republican candidates, McCain is certainly the stongest in this area. Not only did McCain serve in the military, he has proven to be a reliable voice on foreign policy in his time in the Senate. Throughout the Iraq War, McCain’s criticisms and suggestions have been incredibly accurate. At the beginning, McCain said we needed more troops. It turned out he was right. Last year, McCain supported “the surge” from the beginning, even though it was not popular. Guess what–the surge worked. If there is one Republican I want as Commander-in-Chief, it is John McCain. As for Huckabee, my first impressions of his foreign policy came from the time he jokingly said that he was not an expert in foreign policy…but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. When it comes to commanding the most powerful military in the world, I want John McCain.

Economic Policy. Over the last couple years, I have become discontent with the Republican Party over one important issue–they have begun to spend like Democrats. What happened to fiscal responsibility? John McCain knows that the government needs to cut spending, and I believe he has the spine to back up that campaign pledge. I believe this because McCain has a track record of doing what he believes to be right even if it is unpopular (e.g. the surge). When Congress sends earmarks and pork-barrel spending to his desk in the Oval Office, he will not be afraid to wield the veto stamp. As for Huckabee, his idea of good fiscal policy is the Fair Tax. This proposal has a couple big problems. Very few economists think it is a good idea, and it will never get anywhere in Congress. Again, in the area of economic policy, I support John McCain.

Electability. A realistic political participant must consider this factor, especially in choosing a nominee. John McCain can fight and win against Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. In fact, he may be the only chance Republicans have of regaining the White House despite the party’s current unpopularity. He has always been popular among moderates or independents, who may very well vote for him instead of a liberal Democrat. Also, the Republican base will come out to vote against Obama or Clinton. On the other hand, I do not like the idea of a nomination for Mike Huckabee and a national campaign featuring a Fair Tax economic policy and a Holiday Inn Express foreign policy. John McCain can win in November.

Let me make it clear that I do not think that McCain is the perfect candidate or that he will be the perfect president. Also, I am not saying that there is nothing to like about Huckabee. What I am saying is that I think the McCain is the clear choice for the nomination of the Republican party, and I look forward to voting for him in November.

Until next time, pay attention.

The stage is set for a political showdown in each party. You might even say that the race has reached the “Final Four.”

It is essentially a two-person (can’t say “two-man” anymore) race in both parties. For the Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to slug it out in a contest in which there is no clear front-runner. On the Republican side, John McCain and Mitt Romney have established themselves on top of the field. (Some Huckabites might disagree, but even though he may win a state or two on Super Tuesday, I have as big a chance of getting the nomination.) Between McCain and Romney, McCain’s victory in last Tuesday’s Florida Primary has given him a slight advantage at the moment.

So what’s next?

Well, after the Super Bowl has played out, all eyes will turn to the biggest political contest yet in 2008–Super Tuesday, which CNN.com calls a semi-national primary. A whole slew of states will have their primary contests this day–including California, New York, and Illinois. Hundreds of delegates are at stake, and I will finally get to cast my own vote (not totally sure who I’m voting for yet, but I might post on that Monday.)

I think McCain will do better than Romney on Super Tuesday, but neither will get enough delegates for the nomination. As for the Democrats, I have no idea. Dr. Stead, my American Political Thought II professor, is hoping for a brokered convention.

This is only getting started–keep paying attention.

Here are today’s results:

NEVADA

Democrats
Hillary Clinton 51%
Barack Obama 45%
John Edwards 4%

Republicans
Mitt Romney 51%
Ron Paul 14%
John McCain 13%

SOUTH CAROLINA
John McCain 33%
Mike Huckabee 30%
Fred Thompson 16%
Mitt Romney 15%

-Some are now saying it is a McCain-Romney-Huckabee race. Thompson was depending on a strong showing in South Carolina; many are ruling him out. Gulianni got 2% in South Carolina; if he doesn’t win Florida, he may be finished. But anyway you slice it, the race is still wide open. Many in the Republican base are not happy with McCain’s “front-runner’ status.

-Many are noting how Hispanics voted for Hillary over Obama in Nevada. If this trend continues, it may help Hillary in other important states. Speaking of trends, older voters are voting Clinton; younger ones are voting Obama. As far as John Edwards goes, it’s looking pretty dismal for his campaign.

-Who knows where this thing could go? There are still so many possibilities for who could could become a nominee. And beyond the primaries, I’m amazed the Republicans might actually have a chance (especially if Hillary is nominated.)

-I found a quiz on ABCnews.com that is supposed to match you up with a candidate. The three candidates it gave me were 1) Duncan Hunter (who just dropped out), 2) John McCain, and 3) Rudy Gulianni.

-Keep paying attention:
January 26- Democratic South Carolina Primary
January 29- Florida Primaries
February 5- SUPER TUESDAY

Here’s the scoop:

Romney wins. The race is wide open. Romney, McCain, and Huckabee have each won a major primary/caucus so far, and Gulianni still looms on the distance. Many who counted Romney out are counting him back in; I am learning to not listen to all the pundits who want to draw too many conclusions after every debate or primary.

So keep paying attention. And be looking forward to forward to February 5–Super Tuesday. Many states (including California and New York) hold their primaries on this important day. If you live in California, make sure you are ready to vote!

Here the official results:

Romney- 39%
McCain- 30%
Huckabee- 16%
Paul- 6%
Thompson- 4%
Guliani- 3%

Hillary won the Democratic contest, but Obama was not on the ballot due to technical difficulties. Don’t worry; that race is still wide open, too.

If you think politics is predictable, you’re wrong.

This summer political pundits, staffers, and donors thought John McCain’s presidential campaign was done. Tonight he won a fairly decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary with 37% of the vote. (Romney came in second with 32%.)

This weekend, the voices of politics began to announce the death of the Clinton campaign as Barack Obama was bound to win in the New Hampshire. Many polls showed him with a double-digit lead. Tonight, Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary with 39% of the vote over Obama’s 37%.

A few thoughts from me:

I’m starting to like McCain more and more. I’m impressed by how he has stuck by his positions (primarily the war and immigration.) On many issues, especially the surge, McCain took an unpopular position that ended up being right. He can look back and say, “I’ve been saying this all along.” Even my brief time in a peaceful part of the Middle East made me start looking for a candidate that could lead America in foreign policy. McCain shows signs of intelligence and leadership in this area. I’m interested to see how he does.

I’m also beginning to feel a somewhat cautious optimism about this election year, not necessarily an optimism for Republican victory in November. But I have begun to hope for an election in which the issues are discussed honestly and openly and then the voters come out in droves to decide.

Finally, this is only the beginning. Among the Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire and the Republicans in Iowa, Wyoming, and New Hampshire, five contests have been held in which real American voters have gone to caucuses and polling places to vote for a president. The voters have chosen five different winners. Nothing is over. This nomination process could full of twists and turns and ups and downs before it is over.

May the best candidates win.

Tonight the leading presidential candidates of both the Republican and Democratic parties faced off in consecutive debates sponsored by ABCnews, some channel in New Hampshire, and–wait for it–Facebook. Here are a few of my thoughts: (I watched the whole Republican debate, but only bits of the Democratic one. Hey, I’m a Republican.)

The Format. This was the best political debate I have ever seen because the format allowed for actual…debate. The first half of the debate was very much geared towards open discussion.

Immigration. McCain and Gulianni officially won me over to their viewpoints on immigration. Their plans offer some kind of path to citizenship for illegals already in the country. However, they do not offer pure amnesty; some kind of penalties would be imposed. Other plans (like those of Huckabee and Romney) would require all illegals to leave and get at the back of the line. Tonight’s debate made me realize that deporting 12 million people is just not realistic.

Romney vs. McCain. McCain and Romney were going back and forth, especially on immigration. I think McCain did a good job defending himself against Romney’s ads, but I think he might have gone one verbal jab too far when he agreed that Romney was the candidate of change.

Everyone vs. Ron Paul. As soon as Ron Paul opened his mouth, everyone pretty much teamed up to shut him down. I think they did an effective job of doing so. However, if you ask the people on Facebook, they will give you a different opinion. (Don’t ask me why.)

How They Did. Huckabee and Gulianni did the best tonight. While everyone took some shots at Romney, they did not get as involved in the fracas as McCain. They also communicated their positions well. (I liked Gulianni better.) Thompson made sense pretty much every time he opened his mouth…that is if you can stay awake through his answers. His campaign is struggling without energy. Romney was getting hit from all sides. With what the polls are showing, his campaign is taking on water. McCain did well, (especially in defending his position on immigration from Romney) but he would have done well to cut out one or two pot-shots. Ron Paul is just too far out there…unless you ask the people on Facebook who probably won’t vote anyways.

The Great Divide. From watching only a little of the Democratic debate, it was easy to see the huge divide between the parties. On the biggest issues of the night, health care and the war, each party offered fundamentally different answers. All the Democrats are pushing for nationalized health care. This is anathema to the Republicans (myself included.) There are going to be some big issues at stake in this election: foreign policy, health care, the economy (speaking of which, why doesn’t the falling value of the dollar get talked about more?), judicial nominations, etc. This is why I will end up voting for the Republican nominee. I like the way Sen. Obama talks, but his policies will take the country in a direction I fundamentally do not agree with.

The debates are over. We’ll see who New Hampshire picks on Tuesday.

UPDATE: One of the reasons I remain hesitant to jump on the evangelical bandwagon for Huckabee is his support of the FairTax. Here’s an article on nytimes.com that explains why.

The Iowa Caucuses are over. Here are some of my thoughts:

The Winners. Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama emerged as the clear winners in the Republican and Democratic Iowa Caucuses, respectively. Huckabee continues to ride the wave of rising popularity–a key part of which is his support from “born-again”, evangelical Christians. (Total sidebar: It’s amazing how much that term is getting tossed around. I wonder if people know what that means.) The question is whether the Huckatrain can keep rolling. Many Republicans still are not sold on Huckabee (myself included), and many believe that he cannot wage an effective campaign in the general election. Obama also had an outstanding night that was capped by his speech which the media cannot stop talking about. And there is some valid reason for that. His speech spoke to the issues Americans care about in a passionate, unifying way.

Overall, the winner of the night is change. People are tired of politics as usual. They want candidates that will bring change to Washington.

The Losers. While several candidates technically “lost,” I believe the two biggest losers are Romney on the Republican side and Clinton on the Democratic side. Romney poured so much time and money into this state that his losing effort here does not bode well for the future of his campaign. He needs a better performance in New Hampshire. Clinton’s third place finish also hurts. On a night when change is the theme, she seems to be the Democrat that gets pegged with the weight of the institution. Also, it seems that many believe she may prove to be too divisive in the general. All this said, it is hard to rule anyone out in this crazy election season.

Frustration. I’ll admit that I (as a Republican) am a bit frustrated with the Republican party and its candidates. As I watched the Democratic speeches, I heard them speaking out on the issues, and I do not seem to hear the same thing from the Republican side. I see a party that bounces around from mediocre candidate to somewhat likeable candidate as we realize that we’re not really excited about anyone. Why is that? I do feel like the Republicans are all trying to walk a tight-rope as they try to distance themselves from the establishment (insert ‘Bush Administration’ here) without distancing themselves too much from the base of the party. In the midst of all this, it is easy to forget what a conservative is and to speak clearly on the issues from a conservative standpoint.

The most frustrating moment of the night for me came during an interview of Rudy Gulianni on Larry King Live. Larry asked the former mayor about Barack Obama, and Gulianni was properly very polite and congratulatory. But as he wrapped up his answer, I kept on waiting for him to speak out about the same issues Obama had spoken about. Why can’t Republicans speak out about issues like health care and unifying America and optimism? Why can’t we say that we care about those same things but explain that the ways Obama, Edwards, or Clinton would deal with the problems facing America are wrong-headed?

Those are just a few of my thoughts. Seriously, though, the race is still wide open on either side. But it could narrow considerably next Tuesday in New Hampshire.