When I ran for the U.S. Senate against Barack Obama I did my best to speak the truth. I knew when I accepted the invitation of the Illinois Republicans that I stood little or no chance of victory. With few exceptions, everyone I consulted advised against it. Most thought it political suicide. But the facts convinced me that Obama is a dangerous left-wing extremist. When confronted with the proven depravity of his moral views, my faith and conscience convicted me as well. After years of telling audiences that we had to stand for right and truth no matter what the cost, I felt that the Lord would hold me accountable if I refused to walk the talk. Sometimes we are not called to victory, but to witness for truth, as Jesus did, even unto death.
So when I campaigned in Illinois I let no false ambition; no kind of blandishment or intimidation; and no whispers of political gain or loss distract me from speaking the truth. I talked about Obama’s extremist support for abortion (including his unconscionable willingness to tolerate infanticide in Illinois hospitals); I described him as a hard line socialist, pointing out his uncompromising commitment to central government control of health care and education; I pointed to the contradiction between his professed support for traditional marriage and his consistent promotion of the homosexual agenda. I remember talking to people, including Republican leaders, and others who have built little empires and big reputations as leaders of the so-called “Christian right”, (what I call more appropriately the moral conservatives). Time and again I heard in response feckless mumblings about how moderate he seemed in his speech at the Democratic convention. Time and again I felt the implication that I was somehow exaggerating, imprudently “demonizing the opposition.” They did little or nothing. And when the pro-abortion elements of the Illinois Republican Party openly went on the offensive against my refusal to back down from my stand for moral principle and real conservatism, in silence and inaction these leaders complied with their politically ruthless intention.
Meanwhile I and my family encountered from the Obama forces the ugliest indignities I have ever experienced in politics: Parades in which Obama’s marshaled minions shouted curses and epithets almost every step of the way; and forums in which they rudely launched expletives with gestures just short of physical violence. At one such forum the environment they created was so ugly that my wife was visibly shaken, and my daughter in tears. Even on Election Day, when we went to the polling place to vote, a man there created a disturbance. He shouted insults. He acted in a physically threatening way. Nothing was done to stop him, and the pandering Illinois media breathed hardly a word about it in their so-called news coverage.
In all of this there was a hard edged disdain for decent civility that reminded me of the murderous invective Lenin launched against those who opposed the communist agenda. But it all took place behind a media fabricated façade of false hope and moderateness, like the propaganda screen behind which the totalitarians of the twentieth century hid their perpetration of atrocity.
Having felt the cutting edge of this reality, on election night I refused to engage in the nice ritual usually associated with the resolution of our political contests in America. Obama’s people treated politics as war. But in war only gutless servility congratulates a ruthless opponent on the victory he has gained without civility. Mine was to be sure, a silent protest but loud enough to have some so-called leaders, supposedly on my side, losing no opportunity to “apologize” for my behavior.
Since 2004 I have walked in the political wilderness. This walk is not without its burdens, but I am heartened when I remember whose footsteps I find there: those of people like Reagan and Winston Churchill who in their dedication to right refused to let ambition triumph over truth. Assaulted, ridiculed, caricatured, ignored, at times reduced to a small and almost covert band of like-minded adherents, they kept their faith. They witnessed the rising power of the evils they warned against. They witnessed the policies of appeasement, retreat and surrender practiced by unprincipled leaders in the face of those evils. They witnessed the day when hard experience finally forced those who had all but forgotten their existence to turn and make a stand against wickedness triumphant over freedom.
I have an ominous feeling about the years ahead. With Obama, we have crossed the line that separates civil politics from civil war disguised as politics. Occupying the White House is a man known for his support and association with people (like leftist Kenyan politician Raila Amollo Odinga) for whom that line appears never to have existed. I predict that American politics as we have known it is gone. And unless we Americans wake up, more than civil politics will end up dead. For there are other footsteps in this wilderness, left by leaders who opposed the Communists when they took over Eastern European countries in the late 1940s, or Asian countries in the fifties, or African countries in the sixties, or South American and South African countries in the eighties, and so on. Mostly we do not know their names, nor can we mark the spot where their lives were overtaken because their compatriots did not wake up in time. But, with the Psalmist, I will fear no evil, for here, as everywhere, I see the footprints of the one who conquered death itself. Wherever they lead, there is life renewed.