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Presidential Politics


It is an election year. The incumbent president, a Republican, is up for reelection. He didn't win a majority of the popular vote in his first term and the prospects for his reelection to "four more years" looks dim in August. The nation is sharply divided over war. Many believe the United States is an aggressor in an unjust war that is costing far too much money and consuming too many young soldier's lives. The military is stalemated in enemy territory with no apparent hope of establishing law and order, much less attaining complete military victory. The administration has framed the war issue in several ways:


a war to protect vital economic interests,

a war in retaliation for a direct attack on the U.S., and

a war to liberate other peoples.


No matter how the war is spun, it seems few have the will to see it through to its conclusion. The initial euphoria and support of the people when the war began has long since been lost.


On a personal level, the President is lampooned as an imbecilic, awkward man lacking the finer faculties to be chief executive of a great nation. His economic policies are criticized. His domestic policies to deal with the war stretch many person's interpretation of sound constitutional limits on the federal government and the Executive Branch in particular. His foreign policy is criticized because he has alienated European powers in their efforts to mediate a peaceful resolution to the war. All in all the President is not a popular man, even within his own party.


The President's opponent is a popular military hero from the northeast. This man loves the military and is respected by many of its veterans. His ability to lead the military and use it effectively, however, has been called into question. His service record is spotty and criticized by the President's staunch supporters. His loyalty to the United States has even been challenged. This man, who once led U.S. troops in battle, is now the candidate of the "peace at all costs" party. In a classic flip-flop from his party's liberal wing, he tells the American people that he is against the enemy and believes he could handle the war more skillfully than the President. This man stands a very good chance of victory in November as he leads in many polls. It seems nothing but a miracle will save the current President's job.


Who was that president? Abraham Lincoln. His challenger? Major General George B. McClellan of New Jersey, former commander of the Union army. The year is 1864 and it is an election year. Although McClellan appeared to have the upper hand, President Lincoln went on to defeat his challenger after significant Union military victories at Atlanta and in the Shenandoah Valley.


What fate awaits George W. Bush in 2004? Whether you agree with the outcome of the Civil War or not, or even if you're not a fan of Abraham Lincoln, just remember that sometimes the right decision isn't always discerned immediately. Great leadership is having a vision and pursuing it even when all around you doubt and fall away. It was true of the Founding Father's at Philadelphia, Washington at Valley Forge, Lincoln in the Civil War, Churchill and Roosevelt in World War II. When all looks hopeless and lost, that may just be the time to place your bet against the popular wisdom of the masses. God's providential history has a way of vindicating the righteous and just causes.


For that we can be most thankful!


Steve Braun

August 13, 2004





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