By Jim Ray
Imagine an alternative version of 2016 in which Hillary Clinton is not the leading presidential candidate but is instead the mostly-forgotten wife of a failed candidate. Suppose that in “man on the street” television interviews, millennials are stumped when asked, “Who was Hillary Clinton?” And imagine that only long-in-the-tooth political junkies would know that Hillary Clinton was the one who helped derail her husband’s 1992 White House bid with an ill-advised remark deriding stay-at-home moms who baked cookies instead of pursuing professional careers.
Of course, the reality is that everyone knows of Hillary Clinton. Her husband didn’t fail, and she made her mark as First Lady for eight years, a role that elevated her position in the national spotlight, propelled her to a senate seat, then to secretary of state and now, as candidate for president for the second time. And all of it was facilitated by citizens—conservatives and Christians, primarily—who once decided to “send a message” to Washington because they were disgusted with the way things were being done … a message that backfired badly. Could it be the same thing is now happening in 2016?
First, a short history lesson: In 1992, Bill Clinton was challenging the incumbent George H.W. Bush for the White House. Many people were not happy that it had come down to those two individuals and adjudged them to be equally unpalatable. Candidate Clinton had, to put it mildly, a checkered past littered with allegations of moral failings. President Bush, on the other hand, had been elected on a simple promise: “The Congress will push me to raise taxes,” he said. “And I’ll say to them, ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’” And then Bush proceeded to raise taxes, breaking his word.
Fed up with it all, a large swath of Americans either stayed home or voted for a third party hopeful, Ross Perot. Those who voted for Perot knew he had no chance of winning, but they deemed “sending a message” to be paramount. Since Perot’s policies attracted mostly conservatives and drew support away from Bush, a vote for Perot was effectively a vote for Clinton. The final score: Clinton 43%; Bush 37%; Perot 19%.
Once in office, Bill Clinton appointed liberal stalwarts Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court, along with a slew of left-leaning federal judges who still serve today. Clinton appointees pushed through many momentous decisions that are deeply troubling to those who hold biblical views on matters such as traditional marriage and the sanctity of life.
As for Hillary Clinton, even her strongest supporters would likely agree she would not now be poised for the presidency had Bill failed to win the White House. That is not a criticism of her own achievements, but rather an acknowledgement that a viable path to the presidency only exists when certain things fall into place. Had the Clintons returned to Arkansas in defeat in 1992, Hillary Clinton would never have become a force in American politics.
Arguably, then, those who didn’t like either Bill Clinton or George Bush in 1992—and stayed home or voted for Ross Perot—created a quarter century of consequences (so far) and paved the way for a second Clinton administration.
And now, with two candidates in Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump who are each disliked by a majority of Americans, many are threatening to stay away from the polls in 2016.
Is it a sin to sit it out? There is only One who can make that determination, but what can be said with some degree of certainty that sitting out the election as a matter of strategy or to “send a message” is a dubious choice. Refusing to vote does not eliminate consequences; it creates them.
Selecting a president involves choosing among individuals who are riddled with flaws. The decision may seem particularly difficult in 2016, but this has always been the case.
In the six months between now and election day, rather than washing your hands of the American political process, why not make a commitment to pray the vote? Ask God to give you wisdom, ask Him to change hearts and minds, and to move in mighty ways. If you truly believe in the power of prayer, then wouldn’t this be an ideal time to employ it?
Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.
Pray the Vote is a nationwide movement to “encourage informed prayer” for the 2016 Presidential elections.
It is based on the belief that, when God’s people cry out to Him in earnest and heartfelt prayer, He will bless our nation in ways we cannot foresee. Our prayers open a window for God to work across our land.
Your prayers will change the world.
16 – New Jersey: Last Day to Register for Primary
17 – Kentucky Democrat primary
Montana: Last Day to Register for Primary
22 – California: Last Day to Register for Primary
South Dakota: Last Day to Register for Primary
26-30 – Libertarian Party National Convention in Orlando, Florida
5 – Puerto Rico Democrat primary – Information on registration deadline N/A
7 – California Primary
New Jersey Primary
New Mexico Primary
South Dakota Primary
14 – Washington, D.C. Primary
18 – (Week of) Republican National Convention in Cleveland
25 – (Week of) Democrat National Convention in Philadelphia
30 – Because state registration deadlines are so variable, suggest everyone be registered to vote in the General Election by this date.
3 – ELECTION DAY