I have had the privilege to be involved in the political process since 1976, when I was first involved in the general election campaign as a college student. Since then, I have participated in Republican Party leadership in three counties in Iowa and one in Minnesota. Through all of this, I have been, and remain, a Christian conservative voter. I landed in the Republican Party because it most closely identified with my beliefs and values many years ago, and I am still involved in it because it continues to be the party that most closely identifies with my beliefs to this day.
The preamble to the Republican Party of Iowa1 follows my beliefs and values closely. We are a Constitutional Republic and we have a well-thought-out and successful constitution that has served us well for many generations past and hopefully for many generations to come.
We should be able to expect all elected officials to follow the rule of law laid out by that constitution. It is very discouraging to watch the current state of our federal government, where many laws are disregarded and changed without the constitutional process of legislative changes. It was never the intent of our founding fathers that the judicial branch would have the ability to write new law nor for the executive branch to make laws by executive orders. We have set a very bad precedent and, by our own foolishness, have given too much power to the executive branch of our government. There will come a time when the left will be as dismayed as the right is now.
I also think we should expect our government to be fiscally responsible with the limited resources available to them, just as we need to be fiscally responsible with the limited resources of our own families. While I believe that we ought to properly finance our government with the needed resources to provide for the essential services of our government for the safety and protection of our citizens, we have long ago crossed into a different role where our current government is a conduit of taking from a shrinking group of folks to redistribute to another expanding majority with the promise of more free stuff. Listen to the chorus of promises of free healthcare, free college, free food, free utilities, free housing, and more. The politics of envy and coveting is discouraging to watch, and the current state of financial affairs has been a huge disappointment with the recent doubling of our national debt in a few short years.
As a conservative I believe that I can make better decisions on how my resources are used to benefit myself and my family. I believe that I, and not the government, am able to best determine how to educate and train my children. It is to my benefit to be able to keep more of my own resources and rely less on the government. It is discouraging to see people that actually believe that the government is a better steward of their own resources and efforts than they are.
Instead, I think that the individual should be responsible for their own success and failures. Of course there are bad things that happen to people through no fault of their own, and we as a society need to help people in unfortunate situations. One of the most important life lessons I have learned, and hopefully my family has learned, is that bad things occur and mistakes happen, but the measure of our true character is how we respond to those trials.
Taking responsibility and making corrective action to change the situation is part of being a responsible citizen. Therefore, the success of any government should be in how it helps citizens be responsible for their own lives. The government should seek the reduction of the number of citizens in dependency, not the expansion of dependency. However, right now we are observing the opposite of that: doubling the number of people needing food stamps in a few short years and having record numbers of households moving into poverty these past few years.
We are also experiencing a record number of workers whose participation is not present in the work force, with around 95 million adult aged workers who don’t have and aren’t looking for jobs.2 The sadness of this statistic is that the vast majority of these 95 million are receiving significant government subsidies and payments. Are we truly doing what is best if we place millions of individuals into states of ongoing dependency?
Capitalism and free markets have done more good in lifting populations out of poverty than any governmental intervention. As I observe the most poverty stricken countries in the world, there are several consistent themes that seem obvious. They are typically controlled by a heavy-handed government, lack many of our constitutional freedoms, and do not allow free capitalistic markets to flourish.
As Americans, we should encourage an economic environment where businesses can flourish. This will lead to the expansion of jobs and economic activity, and is preferable to implementing excessive regulatory rules, increasing forced costs, and confiscating assets that have been earned by a person’s own efforts.
I would like to see this freedom at work in the operation of government as well. Passing major legislation that has a profound impact on society should be done with broad bipartisan support such as was received by nearly every other society-changing legislation in the past (Social Security, Medicare, Equal Rights, etc.). Passing legislation without any debate and without reading or understanding the intent of the bill shows a level of arrogance that does not reflect well on our country.
Finally, there cannot be an issue more important from a Christian perspective than the sanctity and preciousness of our unborn children. We have a society where the support for unrestricted abortion is accepted by more and more individuals, including (very sadly) some in the Christian community. Our society has become increasingly callous so that the dismembering and selling of body parts of babies seems to not even offend some people.
Despite all of my concerns expressed here, I am always optimistic that our country can be salvaged from where we are. We must return to many of the founding principles of our country if we are to be successful. I think the Republican Party gives us the best chance to do this. I’m a Republican because that party gives me the most optimism about the future of our country.
Return to iAt throughout this week to read more on Christians’ engagement in politics. If you live near Sioux Center, Iowa, also consider attending the Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics on October 29-31, 2015.
“As Republicans we uphold the principles of individual responsibility and liberty, adherence to traditional moral standards, a strong national defense, a free enterprise system, respect for the sanctity of human life, and freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof. We believe in retaining the original intent of our Constitution. We believe high moral character is a necessity for public servants. The highest standard of character should be embodied in both private and public life. We encourage the proliferation of these principles and their passage to future generations.” ↩
Included in this number are college students, stay-at-home moms, disabled individuals, early retirees and several other categories. ↩
Mark, you mention that you are a Christian conservative, but other than the comments about abortion, you do not give any reasons why the Republican values line up with your Christian faith. How do you make sense of the strong narrative of justice for the poor, generosity to the stranger and alien and redistribution of wealth so that all have enough that permeate both the Old and New Testament? Similarly, where in scripture do you find support for your emphasis on the individual being responsible for his or her own successes and failures? How does your faith inform your positions on these things?
Thank you for asking those questions. I was a little disappointed to see that the first two articles had references to Jesus and/or scripture, but this one did not. I have really appreciated reading the entire series though, as I like to know the “why” behind why people think what they think.
Regarding the abortion issue: my concern about this one issue is that I fear it is used only in order to get votes. If I remember correctly, there was a period of 4-6 years in the 2000s where Republicans had control of the Presidency, House, and Senate. If the abortion issue is so important, why wasn’t it a top priority and something done about it then? Along those same lines, if we took that one issue out, then how would people who only vote because of that one issue actually vote then?
I also agree with the previous replies.
I feel like a huge problem in politics today, especially on the Right, is that the Republican party principles are projected as synonymous with Christian ideals and that the Scripture references aren’t necessary “just because.” I have had many friends cling to their right to bear arms like it was written in the Ten Commandments. The assumption that America is, or was at any point, a Christian nation is not only crippling to America, but it is crippling to the Church. Jesus did not come to lay out the groundwork for the American Dream. He came for the weak, for the poor, and for the sick. It is disappointing to hear capitalism preached next to the Gospel on Republican pulpits. It’s not a bad thing to like capitalism or be a conservative, but we need a reset on what truly Christian political principles are. Do not let the political party you claim shape your own Gospel.
Thanks Mark for your comments. Jennifer repeats the false narrative that the Democrats care more for the poor. The facts are that conservatives contribute 4 dollars to charity for every 1 dollar that liberals give. Reference the Documentary “America”. If liberals really care about the poor, why do they love abortion? Answer, votes and power. Why did Joe Biden give 30 dollars to charity a few years ago? He says “he does not make enough to contribute”! Why did Obama give 3% and Gore .3% of their income? They believe in power to take it from others but not give of themselves. That is the true heart of the Democrats. They want people like Jennifer to think they care, like Hillary, but they truly DO NOT. Actions speak louder than words.
Actually, I was not defending Democrats, I was asking for a scriptural justification for the positions that Mark claims he supports because he is a Christian. I didn’t see it in his piece and I’m genuinely interested in how Christians who support a Republican platform fit this in with a biblical worldview.
Thanks Mark for this great “common sense” article which is backed up by historical happenings.
I too am a Christian conservative voter who values the idea of a constitutional republic. Unfortunately I see that it has been turned into a corporatist oligarchy run by banks that are “Too Big to Fail.” How does this comport with any value for a “free market?”
I agree that since Ronald Reagan the executive branch has taken too much power for itself in the decision to wage war and commit American soldiers to conflict zones. This has led us to becoming more of an empire that acts unilaterally while seeking monsters to fight abroad. We now run multiple military missions per day in hundreds of countries per year. We are also more of a police state at home that spies illegally on its own citizens. This is unacceptable to me, on conservative principles, not to mention the price tag.
I agree that the Supreme Court has legislated from the bench to create the immoral legal fiction of “corporate personhood” and first amendment rights for corporations. I agree the runaway military budget and endless warfaring has resulted in an enormous amount of wasteful spending that is impoverishing the country.
As a Conservative I do not agree, however, with your highly Libertarian economic theory where scarcity and a daily struggle to meet basic needs (food, shelter, etc.) must be a consistent feature of modern life, apparently because it teaches self-reliance and discourages freeloaders. I believe it is possible to promote a reasonable level of independence and creative, dynamic entrepreneurialism if we have a free market that supports small business and a moderate social democracy that makes sure the needy and indigent do not have to live like animals even if they are irresponsible. Educational opportunity, realistic immigration policy, racial justice, and fair taxation are other important issues today I wish Republicans would seriously address — as real Conservatives.