Presidential Election 2000 was unique in a number of ways: it was the closest
presidential election in America’s history; it was more than a month after the
election before a winner was determined; and the outcome rested in the hands of the judiciary rather than just those of the voters–all firsts.
Because of these unprecedented occurrences, Election 2000 was described by
reporters with phrases ranging from “roller coaster” to “confusing” to “fictitious.” However, Election 2000 represented much more than just an opportunity for colorful rhetoric; it also represented what was apparently the most prayed-for presidential election in American history.
For example, Dr. Bill Bright called the nation to 40 days of fasting and prayer; Pastor Dutch Sheets from Colorado Springs activated thousands of churches for 21 days of fasting and prayer; Dr. Jim and Shirley Dobson contacted 144,000 churches and pastors, urging them to set aside the Sunday before the election as a day of prayer and fasting; and a number of Catholic dioceses across the nation held prayer and fasting vigils. Many others issued similar calls not just for prayer but for prayer and fasting. I know of no other election in America history which has been such a serious focus of prayer or which has seen such widespread involvement of God’s people seeking His intervention in the election and His righteousness in the nation.
Just as I believe that these concurrent calls for prayer were Divinely orchestrated, I also believe that God placed the willingness in the hearts of
His people to respond to these calls. Therefore, believing that God was seeking
to work in this election on behalf of His people, I also believe that those
prayers were still being answered in the month following the election. In fact,
I believe that some words from the Founding Fathers–even though uttered two
centuries ago–accurately describe what we have witnessed in recent days. During
the American Revolution, Commander-in-Chief George Washington declared:
The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this that he must be
worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not
gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.
And Benjamin Franklin, during the Constitutional Convention, wisely observed:
I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing
proofs I see of this truth–that God governs in the affairs of men. . . . We had
daily prayer for the Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they
were graciously answered. All of us . . . must have observed frequent instances
of a superintending Providence in our favor.
Over recent weeks, I believe that we have indeed “observed frequent
instances of superintending Providence in our favor” and that “the
hand of Providence has been conspicuous in all this.” As evidence, consider
some of the blessings that have materialized because the election did not end on
election night, as many might have wished:
1.Continuing Prayer This was perhaps the first election when prayer
did not stop after election night as it normally does; rather, focused and
intense prayer continued literally for weeks following the election. In fact,
each day’s news reports seemed to provide further incentives to seek God’s
continued intervention. When was the last time the nation–or so many
Christians–prayed seriously for the country immediately after an election?
2. The Importance of One Vote Confirmed Never again will individuals
need to question whether a vote really matters. Not only was Florida extremely
close but so was new Mexico (at one point, the two candidates were separated by
only 4 votes statewide), Iowa, Wisconsin, and several other States.
Interestingly, overall voter participation rose in this election (e.g., nearly
75% turnout in Maryland, 70% in Florida and California, etc.), and in a Fox News
Poll taken three weeks after the election (12/1/2000), 78% said that what had
happened in the election would make them more likely to vote next election.
Christian voter turnout also escalated, and Christians now seem to have a
renewed perspective on the importance of their vote as well as a new
understanding of the necessity of their civic stewardship.
3. Election Fraud Although election fraud has been a too frequent
occurrence in many recent elections, few Americans have taken it seriously. They
have naively believe that such fraud happens only in Cuba, or Russia, or some
other third world nation, but certainly not in America. Now, however, because of
the prolonged election coverage, the public has learned of individuals who
admitted to voting up to five times in the election; of some counties that
actually had more votes cast than they had registered voters in the county; of
individuals who collected absentee and early voting ballots for seniors in rest
homes and cast votes for those seniors without the seniors ever knowing; etc.
Consequently, Americans now believe that election fraud can occur–something
they still would not have believed had this contest ended on election night. It
was only because of the prolonged election results that many of the “hidden
things of darkness” have now been “brought to light” (I Corinthians 4:5) and publicized. As a result, many States are now moving to tighten their voting procedures so that candidates will either win or lose their race legitimately without having the election decided by election fraudulently.
4. Judicial Activism For years, citizens have seemed to dismiss claims
of judicial activism as nothing more than the rantings and ravings of
individuals overly obsessed with a particular issue. Now, however, the nation
has seen a very understandable illustration of judicial activism, and,
providentially, instead of the controversy being over a complicated statute on
abortion, pornography, or religious liberties, instead it was over a
clearly-worded voting statue. Most citizens, almost unbelieving, watched judges
take a law explicitly declaring that all election vote tallies must be turned in
to the Secretary of State’s office by 5 pm on the 7th day following the
election, and that results turned in past that time were to be ignored, and saw
those judges rule unanimously that 5 pm on the 7th day really meant 5 pm on the
19th day; and that the word “ignored” really meant just the opposite–that the Secretary of State must consider all results, even those that did not comply with the law. Citizens are beginning to understand what we have been explaining for years: that judicial activism is nothing more than judges rewriting law to match their own wishes–that judicial activism is simply judges determining the result they want and then defining words as necessary in order to achieve their pre-determined goal. One related blessing may well result from this fiasco: since Bush was the victim of that judicial activism, he may well be vigorously motivated to prevent any potential judicial activists from receiving appointments to any federal bench during his presidency.
5. A Renewed Interest in the Constitution Too many Americans for too
long have thought that the Constitution was a dusty old document with little
application to daily life in modern America. They now have a different view. At
least three items in the Constitution have become subjects of public interest as
a result of this extended election:
A. The Separation of Powers. Citizens are now curious about the
separation of powers and are beginning to realize why the framers of the
Constitution placed the law-making and policy-making powers in the hands of the
legislature and not in the hands of the judges. In fact, the Constitution’s
two-century-old sagacious reasons for placing such powers in the hands of the
legislature still seem to make sense today.
B. The Electoral College. Many citizens had no idea what the electoral
college is, how it works, or the protections it provides for States and
communities–or that this two-century-old device is still very relevant today.
Citizens are now seeking to know how the electoral college works and how it is
possible to lose the popular vote and still win the presidency–and why this is
sometimes a preferable outcome. In fact, anyone who has seen the
county-by-county map showing the counties won by each candidate can understand
the fairness in this particular election of winning the presidency without
winning the popular vote. (A copy of this county map and a complete report on the operation and importance of the electoral college appears on our website)
C. The Rule of Law. Previously, many citizens thought the term
“the rule of law” was nothing more than noble but unnecessary
rhetoric–after all, our society is a society of laws and those laws apply
equally to all individuals, or so they thought. Citizens now know better, for
they watched as States and federal laws, and provisions in the State and federal
Constitutions, were ignored by Gore and by judges who personally wished to see a
different result. In fact, two weeks after the election, one foreign
correspondent reported in his country’s media:
[W]hat we have been witnessing in America these past two weeks is something
only smidgen less than an attempted legal coup. I say “legal” coup
because the law can sometimes be selectively used to circumvent the law. And I
say “coup” because what has been going on is an attempt to snatch
victory from the twice-declared winner in a manner that violates almost every
principle of common sense, constitutional law, and due process.
6. The Need for Restraint and Accountability in the Media Never was
the abuse of power by the media more evident than it was in this election, where
the media called the election in Florida while Florida polls were still
open–and while some States still had 7 hours of voting time remaining.
Interestingly, the media went so far in the election–and in the weeks
following–that a significant legislative effort now will be made to address the
problem. In fact, I was just on Capitol Hill and spoke with a number of
Congressmen currently drafting bills to make the media more responsible while
still preserving the First Amendment’s guarantee for freedom of the press.
7. The End Justifies the Means Most Americans embrace the restraints
of basic morality and conscience and practice the rules of decency. They
mistakenly believe that others do also. They tend to believe the best in others
and expect the best from their leaders; therefore, they often reject accusations
to the contrary as nothing more than negative campaigning. Yet, this election
has proved that there actually are many for whom the end justifies the
means–that is, anything can be “right” to those individuals if it
helps produce the “right” outcome. Consequently, if many in the
military must temporarily lose their right to vote so that the right outcome may
occur in the election, so be it. And if more votes from a heavily Democrat
county in Missouri are needed to seeing the outcome of close statewide election
sin that State, then simply have a Democrat State judge declare that–contrary
to the State law the voting polls in the largest Democrat county in the State
will remain open for an additional four hours while the voting sites in
Republican counties across the State must close at the time specified by State
law–four hours earlier than that Democrat county. Such behavior, made manifest
only because the election was prolonged, has opened the eyes of many decent
Americans. Interestingly, even many decent Democrats have now turned against
their own political party. In fact, an editorial in the Sunday Times of London,
written nearly three weeks after the election, commented on this, confirming
what many prominent Democrats in America had also voiced:
[Gore] is a man who will do anything to win: trash the Constitution, get his
lawyers to peddle falsehoods in court, change counting rules in midstream, gerry-rig
recounts favour him. . . . He is a coldly ambitious man who is prepared to . . .
destroy his party’s slow march back to the centre of American politics. . . . We
should all be praying that he doesn’t make it to the White House. But the people
who should be praying hardest are those Democrats who still have faith in the
party and reverence for their country.
8. A Clean-Up of the Hollywood Entertainment Industry Although this
potential benefit appears to be more facetious than serious, it is based on two
facts: (1) many decent citizens are very concerned about liberal Hollywood and
its influence on the culture, and (2) many of the most strident extremists in
Hollywood promised to leave the country if Gore lost the election. While it
perhaps is too much to hope that they would fulfill their promise, what a
different look Hollywood entertainment could have it these individuals were to
keep their word!
Conclusion There will be lasting positive effects in America from this
election that would not have been possible had the election ended on election
night. I believe that what we have witnessed is reminiscent of what God told the
prophet Habakkuk thousands of years ago: “Look and watch, and be utterly
amazed. I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even
if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5). These words certainly seem applicable to
There is also a word of challenge from Zecharaiah 10:1, which admonishes,
“Pray for rain in time of rain.” In the agricultural world, prayer is
offered for rain when there is a drought; but when the rain finally begins to
fall, thanksgiving ensues and the fervent prayer often stops–thus reinviting
the drought. A prudent response teaches us that when it begins to rain, we
should continue to pray for rain so that there will be steady, ongoing,
continuing cycles of rain. This lesson should be applied to the political arena
as well. There was much prayer before the election, and there have been many
answered prayers as a result. However, now that a positive change is occurring,
this is not the time to stop praying; rather, now is the time to pray even
more–to “pray for rain in time of rain.”
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