(CCU Faculty) Election 2012 is over and in the books. I am pretty passionate person when it comes to politics (cf my FB and Twitter posts during the national debates). Last night I sat with some of my CCU students and family as the results came in. The news folks announced a "call" for Ohio going to President Obama and the air went out of the room.
My reaction? Disappointed? Yes. Forlorn? No. There are two foundations upon which I believe that make last night less "doomsday" as some are commenting this morning. First, as a believer in Jesus Christ and His reality in my life, there is something far more eternal than an election. Second, as someone who has studied and played the "election game" for years, I see this as a loss, and much like a sports team, you reflect on the loss, learn from it and move onto the next part of the game - namely mid-term elections in two years and an even bigger presidential election in four years.
My bigger concern had to do with my "worldview" perspective on what I saw happening last night. I think some of the comments I am hearing from conservatives correctly point to what the consequences of the election can be. Clearly there are challenges ahead for those of us who oppose "Obama-care" and its infringements on religious liberties. There are challenges to the potential selection of Supreme Court Justices who will legislate from the bench for the next 25 or so years. There are challenges to those of us to who believe that fundamentally it is people who should guide their own lives and not the federal government. There are challenges to the ideas of which ideas we want to impact the US conversation and action in the rest of the world.
Much larger than those challenges are the challenges at an ideological level. Decisions were made last night that elected a President who believes government knows better; marriage is no longer between just a man and a woman; that pot should be legal and enjoyed by all; and that government money should be spent on things like abortion.
Now follow me here because in each of those cases the deeper ideas are the ones that begin to lead down a path that is not "slouching" (to use Bork book title) toward cultural demise but taking a flying leap. Let's look at these pathologies through the argument used to make these decisions.
President: One of the comments made in jest immediately after the announcement that President Obama had won was "Great President Obama is going to buy me a cell-phone!" Whether this is true or not, I believe the greatest single ideology that fed this election was the remnants of post-modern thought - which is namely that the world revolves around "self" (my own interpretation of reality, and the shift from the ideas of the "other' to "me"). This is where the roots of entitlement come from. President Obama won re-election because his community activist background taught him well that you deliver the message that people want to hear. In this case it was the idea that he will do what is best for me - not the whole or others, but me.
Marriage: 32 times marriage initiatives have have been introduced and last night two states passed laws that protect same sex marriage on par with traditional marriage. One might argue that it just took that long to overcome the bias against same sex marriages. Perhaps but I believe the larger issue is that of "utra-tolerance" in world where to be against something is looked down upon, especially when it involves other people. I have no problems with same sex couples having the same rights in health care, etc. but change those laws not the re-definition of marriage. For over 50 years academic research has shown that in communities where traditional marriage is the norm, the community benefits in over a dozen ways. We don't have comparable data that says if same-sex marriage is the norm that we end up with disadvantages, but we just don't garner the advantages. Why is that true? Maybe, just maybe, it is because God designed it that way those are the natural consequences of going against the natural order (note I said natural order, not tradition). We take a further step (small in some people's eyes but a step) toward opening up public policy rights to all and we will cross a line at some point. The problem with Slippery Slope Land is that the line gets moved so subtly that we don't realize it most times.
Legal Marijuana: Two states also passed laws to legalize recreational use of pot. Not a shock that one of those states was my home of Colorado. Here is the rationale that threw me for a loop and is so very typical of the road to Slippery Slope Land; since drug enforcement hasn't worked then we should make it legal. Together with that is the positive spin put on it that it will increase tax revenue and save our schools. Even some very well known conservative Republicans in the state advocated for it and voted in favor. I disagree with both Mike Rosen (Denver based radio host) and Tom Tancredo (former Colorado legislative leader) vehemently. If their rationale is valid, then anything we have difficulty enforcing should be legalized. And anything that is additionally a potential for increased revenue is valid. With that thinking would it be too much of a reach to legalize prostitution? It could make it safer and raise vast revenue. If marijuana can do this why not legalize cocaine? Then there was the overuse of the "prohibition of alcohol" analogy that was invoked. Fallacious logic at best. Analogies should be truly comparable and the cultural context of both is vastly different. That is primarily because of where we are on this trip down the road to Slippery Slope Land.
Don't be concerned that our guy didn't win the election. Do be concerned that some of the ideas we stand for are threatened and in this great country guess what we have the freedom to do? Stand up, pull up our boot-straps and get to work. Tomorrow is here and its time to get to work making our worldview a way of life.
Dr. Christopher Leland is professor of political communication at Colorado Christian University.