The Future of the Christian Rightrnby Martin MawyerrnLike a cold front, you could feci the defeat coming; and yourndid not need Dan Rather or George Gallup to prepare you.rn^bu kwQw it in vour bones as you listened to the sound bites onrnthe exening news: Clinton saying nothing and saying it well;rnDole sa ing nothing and saying it pood-. It was a campaign ofrnstlc rather thair substance, and Bill Clinton was by far the betterrnstylist.rnhi the absence of genuine issues, interest in the presidentialrnrace plummeted. According to the Committee for the Study ofrnthe American Electorate, President Clinton attracted the secondrnlowest percentage of eligible voters since the election ofrnJohn Quincv Adams. Despite an increase of seyen million eligiblernvoters ox’cr the last four years, the turnout declined in everrnstate in the Union. As a matter of fact, in eight states, morernpeople ()ted in senatorial and gubernatorial races than in thernpresidential race. So should we condemn Bob Dole for not attractingrnenough voters to avoid a decisie defeat? Should wernblame him for failing to beat a scandal-ridden incumbentrnwhom almost 60 percent of the people deemed untrustworthy?rnNo, it wasn’t really Dole’s fault. True, he had no message,rncertainly not one that appealed to the bulk of born-again Christians,rnwho comprised fully 29 percent of the electorate. But thernpro-fanrily movement did not insist on a message. The movement’srnmost ‘isible leaders gave Dole a free pass on the majorrnsocial issues. They told him he did not have to talk about partial-rnbirth abortion or gays in the military or the distribution ofrncondoms to schoolchildren or half a dozen other outrages thatrnwould have moved traditional-minded xoters his way. And sornhe ended up talking about nothing.rnExerett Dirkscn summarized the wa’ politicians think andrnact as follows: “When I feel the heat, I see the light.” Bob Dolernne’er felt the heat. It was our responsibility to light a fire underrnhis moderate rump, hi refusing to do so, we failed him as sure-rnMartin Mcni’ver is president of the Christian Action Network inrnForest, Virginia.rnIv as we failed our own constituency. We should ha’e forcedrnDole to be a better man and hence a better candidate.rnSo was the 1996 election a repudiation of conservative profamilyrnalues? Alrcadv the architects of Dole’s dismal campaignrnarc tring to place the blame on that perennial source ofrnall wickedness—the religious right. One GOP expert has suggestedrnthat without the pro-life, pro-family mo’cnient to appease.rnDole might have run a more aggressive race. (On whatrnissues?) Another has blamed Pat Buchanan for forcing Dole tornspend all his primary money by early summer. (1 he GOP leadershiprnobviousK believes the liberal wing of the parts has an indisputablernright to pick the presidential nominee prior to thernprimaries.)rnBut what happened in the congressional races indicates thatrnthe country is more pro-life and pro-family than either BobrnDole or the national Republican leadership, hi fact, far from arn”moderate” ictorv—as the news analvsts were doggedly maintainingrninto the wee hours of the morning—the 1996 electionrnwas a mini-triumph for traditional values.rnNot only did Republicans increase their numbers in the Senate,rnbut conservative, pro-family forces made e’en greaterrngains. Seven examples: conservative hardliner Sam Brownbackrntook the vacant seat of the Old Ecjuivocator, Bob Dole; PatrnRoberts, a moderate conservative, replaced liberal Nanc’ Kassebaum;rnpro-family Republican Jeff Sessions took the scat of retiringrnliberal Democrat Howell Heflin; conseratic RepublicanrnGordon Smith replaced liberal Republican Mark Hatfield; profamiKrnRepublican Tim Hutchinson captured the seat of liberalrnDemocrat Daid Pryor; conservative Chuck Hagel, a young Republican,rnwill replace liberal Democrat James Exon, who retired;rnand GOP abortion foe Michael Enzi now ow ns the seat ofrnretiring fellow-Republican Alan Simpson, who was a liberal onrnthe key social issues. These changes are substantial and translaterninto a significant shift in the balance of power.rnDespite the growing belief among liberal Democrats thatrnthey would be able to recapture control of the I louse, the Rc-rnAPRIL 1997/25rnrnrn