By Dr. James Dobson
Voters across this nation are only a few short months away from the next general election. What an ominous time this is for our 244-year-old republic. Its future hangs in the balance. The choices we make on Nov. 3 will send this nation down one of two dramatically different paths. The wrong decision will be catastrophic.
I agree with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who said recently that the next election will be "the most important since 1860." He also warned that if we appease or ignore the violence and anarchy occurring in the streets, it might be the end of civilization as we have known it. Those are sobering words coming from a man who has stood at the pinnacle of national power.
Gingrich referred to the significance of 1860 because that was the year Abraham Lincoln was elected president. I'm sure the speaker would agree that the following election of 1864 was also critical to the future of the nation. Lincoln and his opponent, Maj. George McClellan, were in a hotly contested campaign for the White House that could have gone either way. The "War Between the States," as it was called, had been raging for three ghastly years, and the entire nation was staggered by reports from the bloody battlefield.
Lincoln was running for a second term, and he campaigned on the promise of finishing the war and preserving the Union. These were momentous times for the young nation. During the first week of January 1863, the president signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.
Democrats and their presidential candidate, Gen. McClellan, initially campaigned on a "peace platform," pledging to end the war and send soldiers home. As the election approached, McLellan talked more about negotiating to let the South establish a separate government whose cornerstone would be slavery. If McClellan had been elected, there would have been no foreseeable end to the inherent evil of buying and selling human beings and treating them like cattle. Thus, the Civil War was a struggle for the soul of America.
The summer before the election, the war was going badly for the Union. Lincoln, in fact, was convinced he was going to lose the election. He wrote the following memorandum on Aug. 23, 1864, asking his Cabinet to accept the grim prospects for his reelection. These are his words:
"This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such grounds that I cannot possibly save it afterwards."
No wonder Lincoln dealt at times with depression. Clearly, the Union was a hair's breadth away from losing the war. But then, the tide began to turn. One historian wrote, "The political landscape shifted dramatically when Gen. William T. Sherman took Atlanta in early September. This major military shift, coupled with the severe internal strife within the Democratic Party, solidified Lincoln's chance at victory."
As you know, Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans won the election of 1864 in a landslide. McClellan was defeated by more than 500,000 popular votes and 191 electoral votes. An estimated 78% of Union soldiers cast their ballots in favor of Lincoln. McClellan took just three states: Kentucky, Delaware and his home state of New Jersey. Less than two months after Lincoln's inauguration, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. He is said to have been the "last casualty" of the Civil War.
Why have I recounted our Civil War history and the election of 1864 at this time in our history? It is for two reasons. The first is to consider some striking similarities between then and now. Our nation is divided like no time since the Civil War. Lawlessness and anarchy stalk the cities as angry mobs riot, burn, loot, rob and kill innocent bystanders. Cultural monuments are being destroyed. Scores of people have been shot. Our courageous police officers are being brutally attacked by the same people they have vowed to protect. A man and his son stopped to ask for directions, and he was gunned down on the spot. A 1-year-old baby was shot in the stomach while he sat in his stroller. The child died at the hospital.
What began as a justified and lawful protest in response to George Floyd's senseless murder by a rogue police officer has morphed into violence for the sake of violence. Hatred flows in the streets, including vitriol directed at the president of the United States or anyone who dares to support him or his policies. Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religious liberty are being trampled. There is also widespread belief that violence and anarchy are being organized and funded by powerful forces that are maneuvering America toward a socialist dictatorship. There is always a kingmaker behind such lawlessness. Most disturbing is open talk of another civil war. It is troubling to even utter those words. The last time Americans faced off against each other, 600,000 soldiers died. May God forbid it from happening again.
During the revolution of the 1960s, I recall a ubiquitous bumper sticker that read, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" It was a catchy phrase that made sense to those who opposed the Vietnam War. But my reaction to it then and now is "What if they gave a war and only one side came?" That question keeps me awake at night. There are multiple millions of passive Americans out there today, many of them Christians, who are clueless about what is happening to their homeland. They are losing something precious and irreplaceable. Do they not understand that their children and those who are yet to be born will live in tyranny if we fail them on our watch? Countless young men and women have laid down their lives on battlefields around the world to protect liberty and our way of life. Now, what they purchased for us with their blood is slipping away. Disengaged people won't lift a finger to preserve this great land. They won't take even a few minutes to go to their polling places to vote. There are also thousands of pastors who won't allow voting registration tables in the lobbies of their churches. Don't they know or care that America is on the ropes? Hordes of angry anarchists are salivating over the next election, hoping to push America over a cliff. If they succeed, as Newt Gingrich said, Western civilization will never recover.
Is there anyone left who believes some things are worth dying for? Aren't there patriots out there such as Patrick Henry who said in defiance of British tyranny, "Give me liberty or give me death?" That was the spirit during his day. The Declaration of Independence closed with these words endorsed by the signers, "We pledged to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." They knew they would be hanged if they lost the war. Why did they do it? Because they loved their country enough to die for it.
How I pray for the emergence of silent, intimidated Americans who will come out of their hiding places to let their voices be heard on Election Day 2020. There must be tens of thousands of ministers in our midst who, like the Black Robe Regiment of the Revolutionary War, will strip off their clerical garb and fight valiantly for religious liberty. If these men and women of faith and conviction don't come to the rescue of their country, it is doomed.
During the Civil War, untold soldiers gave their lives to preserve the integrity of the United States of America and to end the tragedy of slavery. Here is the question of the hour: Are you and our brothers and sisters willing to carry the bloodstained banner around which our predecessors rallied? We will know the answer on Nov. 3.
That brings us to the second reason I have addressed the Civil War and the election of 1864. It is to remind us that voting matters. Each presidential campaign has been important, but some have had jaw-dropping and nation-shaping consequences. I believe we are at such a pivotal moment now. You can be certain that America will be forever changed by the political party that gets its supporters to the polls. They will win the day—and the future.
Unfortunately, the majority of Christians have a record of not showing up on Election Day. It is unbelievably sad. As many as 75% of them sit on their hands, apparently assuming that their votes don't matter. They are wrong. Voting always matters. George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 by 536 votes in a nation of 130 million registered voters. Many down-ballot contests have been won or lost by a single vote.
I plead with you to register and vote in this presidential election. I won't try to tell you who to vote for because you can figure it out for yourselves. But I will suggest how you might evaluate the situation we face. I'll close with seven critical issues that have stunning significance for the nation. Please think hard about them, and then go to the polls.
- The next generation. There is a fierce battle being waged now in the nation's classrooms for the hearts and souls of our children and grandchildren. Those of us who are passionately committed to the Judeo-Christian system of beliefs are losing our kids right before our eyes. They are being force-fed a radical curriculum that is godless, anti-American and sexually perverse. Make no mistake, the Left and secular culture are manipulating the minds of your sons and daughters every day of the year. I urge you to be extremely careful about those whom you set in power over your children. Protect them with your very lives.
- The sanctity of human life. All life is sacred and is a gift from Almighty God. But as you know, America has the blood of innocents on its hands. Since 1973, more than 60 million babies have been murdered through abortion, and countless lives have ended by euthanasia. This is the most tragic holocaust in the history of the world! Some states have even passed laws allowing wounded and suffering infants to lie alone on porcelain trays after somehow surviving unsuccessful abortions. They will die without the comfort of their mothers' breasts.
If that doesn't touch your heart, you are without compassion. I hope you will not cast a single vote for any politician who supports such wickedness.
- Marriage and family. The family is God's original building block for society. Marriage continues to serve as the foundation for every dimension of human life. Everything of value rests on it, including procreation and the care and training of children. If that ground floor is weakened or undermined, the entire superstructure of civil society will come crashing down. But listen carefully: powerful and highly funded forces, including LGBTQ and other leftist entities, are determined to destroy the family as an institution. It is already on its knees, and its future is grim. Before you vote, find out what position the candidates have taken on this issue. Then vote accordingly.
- Religious liberty. The first item listed in the Bill of Rights addresses the issue of religious liberty. All the other enumerated rights flow from that fundamental freedom. That is why it is alarming to recognize that this right to worship and honor God as we choose is under vicious attack today. The courts have done the greatest damage, but now an entire subculture is trying to bring down the Christian faith. Whether it has invaded your private world or not, it is at your front door. It was this primary concern that led to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War in 1776. We can't compromise one jot or tittle within that fundamental right. Fight for it with every ounce of your strength and determination. Don't let the government close the doors of your church or tell you when you can sing praises to the Lord Almighty. Government has a devious agenda, and it is dangerous. Be ready to go to the mat in defense of what you believe. And let this passion influence how you cast your ballot in November. Here I stand. Will you join me?
- Capitalism v. socialism. It is difficult to believe that for the first time in American history, our nation appears to be thinking about trading our democratic way of life for the tyranny of socialism. I can hardly catch my breath. Could we really consider abandoning the beloved system of government that was designed to be of the people, by the people and for the people? Is it true that up to 40% of Millennials and others are prepared to surrender their liberties in exchange for the absolute authority of the state? Democracy and capitalism have made ours the most powerful and successful nation in the history of the world. Are we really considering scuttling the system that has served us for 244 years in exchange for what some people call "free stuff?" I pray not! But that option awaits you in the polling booth.
- The judicial system. Given recent rulings, we know that judicial overreach has almost ruined this great nation. Justices and judges are constitutionally charged to interpret the law, not make law. But again and again, they have overstepped their authority and brought us atrocities such as abortion on demand, same-sex marriage and the so-called "separation of church and state," which doesn't appear in the Constitution. Most recently, the Supreme Court handed down one of its most egregious rulings since Roe v. Wade. It is the case of Bostock v. Clayton County. This decision was not based on constitutional law but on the whims of six justices. It created a new legal definition of sex out of thin air. Lawyers tell us that this ruling will affect every dimension of culture and haunt the nation as long as it endures. Please don't vote for politicians who will expand, rather than limit, the power of judiciary.
- The nation of Israel. Scripture tells that those who bless Israel will be blessed (Gen. 12:3). Our prayer is that the next chief executive officer of the U.S. will continue to promote and cultivate a vibrant bond of friendship with the nation of Israel, which is our only ally in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism and all forms of racial discrimination are inherently evil, and we condemn them categorically. We are a nation that is dedicated to "freedom and justice for all" (The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance).
I could list dozens of other issues that should be considered as we vote on Nov. 3. I will end with this final statement from Abraham Lincoln. He said: "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have."
Let us come boldly before the throne of grace and ask God for His mercy on America.
James C. Dobson, Ph.D
Founder and President
James Dobson Family Institute
P.S. This just came to my attention. Would you like to see where America may be headed if it abandons the sanctity of human life? New Zealand recently passed legislation that allows abortion up to the moment of birth, for any reason. That means a baby can be killed for sex-selection purposes or for the presence of disabilities, such as a cleft palate, Down syndrome or yes, being born alive after a botched abortion.
Do you shudder at those grotesque words? Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had promised, if elected, not to allow any kind of deadly discrimination, but she broke her word. We can anticipate something similar happening in America if anti-life factions prevail.
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