With such a narrow margin of victory for conservatives in the 2016 election, Christian public policy advocates have some advice: fulfill your civic responsibility and vote Biblical values in this year’s election.
The road to the White House in November will largely be determined by voters in more than a dozen battleground states where political leanings are divided by the thinnest of margins.
In 2016, perennial swing states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania totaled nearly 80,000 more votes for Donald Trump than for Hillary Clinton—effectively securing the Electoral College victory for the Republican.
With 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency, the total of 46 electoral votes in those three states remain crucial for a presidential path to victory. But nearly a dozen other states are expected to weigh heavily in 2020.
Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin all appear to be up for grabs in 2020, with Georgia and Texas seeming increasingly uncertain.
Voters will also decide the makeup of the current Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, as all 435 seats are up for election. And in the Republican-led Senate, 35 seats are on the line—23 of which are held by the GOP.
While much is at stake in November, the decisions voters make then will have implications for generations, say the heads of two evangelical public policy organizations.
“If we swing back to the left in this election, I’m afraid that by the time the next presidential election rolls around in four years, that battle will have been lost and we will increasingly look like secular Europe,” says American Values President Gary Bauer. “And in my view, that’s when America ceases to be the shining city on a hill that our founders envisioned.”
Pointing to highly competitive U.S. Senate races in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Maine and North Carolina, Bauer says whichever political party controls the Senate will fundamentally shape the Supreme Court for decades.
“The loss of three Republican senators—with no gains anywhere else—would mean that even if the president is re-elected, there would not be enough senators to, in most cases, get other conservative judges on the court, so that makes it all very pivotal,” Bauer told Decision. “People need to realize that when they’re voting for members of the Senate, they really are voting about what kind of Supreme Court they want.”
Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest conservative public policy women’s organization, told Decision that Trump’s appointments and subsequent Senate confirmation of more than 170 constitutionalist judges in the circuit and appellate courts represents a fundamental shift in jurisprudence.
“That’s essential because the vast majority of cases never make it to the Supreme Court, but they have to be handled at the circuit and appeals court level,” Nance says.
Trump appointed two pro-life justices to the Supreme Court during his first term; a second Trump term could include additional appointments to the high court.
“We are within reach of overturning Roe v. Wade,” says Nance, while noting Trump’s denial of $60 million in taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood—the largest abortion provider in the nation. “We have within reach, completely getting the government out of the abortion business.”
Planned Parenthood still receives about $500 million in taxpayer funds, but the cut in Title X funding was a step in that direction. And now faith-based women’s health care clinics can compete for the same taxpayer funds, Nance says.
In the House of Representatives, where 218 seats are needed for a majority, Nance says her organization will coordinate voter registration drives in battleground or swing states as well as in numerous congressional districts across Texas, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana and Virginia where some incumbents aren’t seeking re-election.
“There is much at stake for women, our privacy and safety and opportunity,” Nance says. “There’s much at stake for Christians, for pastors, for churches and for our foreign policy if this president loses.”
Nance says that while 30 million “women of faith” voted for Trump in 2016, about that same number of church-attending, evangelical and Catholic women did not.
For Christians to abdicate their civic and Biblical responsibility to vote because “politics is dirty,” Nance says, is a mistake. “When you pick this president, you are not choosing a pastor or a husband, you are picking a bodyguard,” she says. “He’s not a Sunday school teacher, but he likes Sunday school teachers.”
“Government is one of three institutions that God gave us in order to protect the weak from the strong,” Nance continues. “It’s God-ordained. The family, the church and government are the three-legged stool of any strong, civil society. We have a responsibility as Christians to try to create the best leadership for our children and our families.”
Citing President Trump’s pro-life stance, defense of religious liberty and support of Israel, Nance and Bauer agree that faith-based voters risk losing unprecedented gains if Trump’s re-election bid fails.
“How can a Christian who cares about these issues not vote for him or any other candidate for House or Senate who is advocating for these things, particularly when other candidates will almost certainly favor abortion all nine months of the pregnancy and would severely restrict religious liberty?” Bauer contends.
When electing political candidates, voters should focus on policies over personality, say Bauer and Nance. And to that end, both say educating voters on the role of religion in public life is essential.
Nance says her organization has launched Young Women for America chapters on 40 college campuses around the country to provide a Biblical perspective on key issues of the day, including science, U.S. history and constitutional principles. “We’re losing our kids when they go to college,” Nance says. “We’ve got to do more.”
Bauer, who was appointed by Trump in 2018 to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says Christians should not have to abandon their beliefs and forfeit their religious liberty as citizens or at work “in order to comply with some law or regulation that the Left has passed.”
“No society is built on neutrality,” Bauer says. “Somebody’s values end up prevailing, and it’s important in a country like ours that our Judeo-Christian values be the values that prevail.”