Christian conservatives sat this election out

By Eric Seymour

It is quite obvious that this year's election results stunned just about everybody. From Republicans to news anchors to Democrats, surprise with its various emotional flavors were evident and genuine on all faces, instead of the staged camera faces we are used to seeing on television.

Furthermore, two weeks after the election, everyone is still trying to figure it out. Usually, after a mid-term election thoughts turn toward the Presidential hopefuls who will battle it out in another two years. Yet this time around we have heard little aside from the attention given the Bush brothers in Texas and Florida.

A big part of the story of Election '98 is the absence of Christian conservatives as a voting bloc. In 1994, this group was a large part of the Republican revolution. Following that election, the Christian Coalition became a very visible force in American politics. I do not believe, however, that the Coalition ever controlled the votes of Christian conservatives in a manner even close to that of labor unions over their members. While Christians have used in the past and continue to use material distributed by the Coalition as part of making decisions, their final votes are determined (like other responsible voters) by comparing their core values with what they perceive about the candidates through many different sources.

It appears that this year most candidates gave conservative Christians no solid reasons to turn out at the polls. Certainly, millions of these voters were appalled by President Clinton's behavior as our nation's most important official and his party's tacit approval of those activities. Yet, through their hesitance to address this issue, Republicans failed to harness this sentiment. A last-ditch ad campaign addressing the Clinton problem was too little, too late. As a result, that disgust translated into staying home, not Republican votes.

As we approach the 2000 elections, the GOP has a tough task ahead of them. It is the same task that faces each political party: How do you motivate your "activist base" without alienating moderate/independent voters? This year, Republicans were so frightened by criticism from Democrats and the liberal media that they shelved what should have been a key strategy until it was too late. Meanwhile, Democrats were busy motivating their activist base with every tool in their campaign arsenal.

I must say that I do not envy Republican strategists in the two years to come. Now that Democrats have adapted (at least in word) the more moderate of the ideas that drew voters to the Republican party in 1994, the GOP must show they are the party that truly embraces these ideals. While Christian conservatives may not be voting Democrat any time soon, this year's election results certainly show that they may stay home if Republicans ignore them.

Eric Seymour

Robert Schiener

Joel Corbin

Bryant Lewis

Rush Reagan