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 American history which has been such a serious focus of prayer, nor one 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 four 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 this election would make them more likely to vote in the next. 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 believed 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 races legitimately, without having the election decided 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. Providentially, instead of the controversy being over a complicated statute on abortion, pornography, or religious liberties, it was over a clearly worded voting statute. Most citizens, almost in disbelief, 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 p.m. on the 7th day following the election - and results turned in past that time were to be ignored - and saw those judges rule unanimously that 5 p.m. on the 7th day really meant 5 p.m. 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 predetermined goal. One related blessing may 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 web page at www.wallbuilders.com/electoral_college.html)
C. The Rule of Law. Previously, many citizens thought the term "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 state 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 a 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 seven hours of voting time remaining. Interestingly, the media went so far in the election - and in the weeks following - that a significant legislative effort will now be made to address the problem. In fact, [Dave Barton] 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 Democratic county in Missouri are needed to secure the outcome of a close statewide election, then simply have a Democrat state judge declare that - contrary to state law - the voting polls in the largest Democratic 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 Democratic 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 to 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 is, perhaps, too much to hope that they would fulfill their promise, what a different look Hollywood entertainment could have if these individuals were to keep their word!
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.
These words certainly seem applicable to America today. There is also a word of challenge from Zechariah 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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[This article was excerpted from The WallBuilder Report/Winter 2001 Copyright 2001 by David Barton (800) 873-2845. All rights reserved (ISSN 1073-1512). Used by permission.]