- What was my impression of the election coming from New York City?
- What do I think is the impact of this election?
- What do you think we ought to be praying about?
Impressions from New York City
The noise that erupted outside my 4th floor apartment at 11PM after the California polls closed told me that this was an historic moment. Something happened in California, and I could hear people celebrating on 1st Ave in NYC! Senator Obama had become President-Elect Obama.
Now, you should know that Jesus is my president: my personal hope and my agent of change.
I serve Him in New York City, the capital of a so-called ‘blue state’, which last voted for a Republican in a Presidential election in Reagan’s landslide of 1984. Many of the new, young voters in this election were not yet born in 1984, and care little for the ‘Reagan Revolution’. The students I know at New York University predominantly voted for Barack Obama. That is true of many Christian students too. Young voters here were generally excited about Obama and ‘change’, and it is worth saying that in their minds, it is not fashionable to say that you voted for McCain!
I know some conservatives – of all ages – who felt very ‘small’ here in New York City. This is very different, perhaps opposite, to my wife’s home state of Georgia.
The interesting shift from my perspective is the movement of the younger (predominantly white) evangelicals away from the views of their parents and pastors. The older voices tended to run on specific moral issues (like abortion), on protecting the fabric of society (traditional family values) and on a specific economic platform (Small Government etc). The younger voices – many of whom would agree with their parents on the personal moral issues – are concerned also about social and ethical issues: was America unjust in going to war? Do we as a society care for the needy and the poor? Is our society marked by inappropriate triumphalism?
Impact of this election:
An African American winning the White House is monumental in and of itself. We woke our 4-year-old son up to witness Obama’s acceptance speech. I woke him not because of any political persuasion (which I won't say here), but because of the symbolic nature of the moment. I wanted him to remember this moment in history.
The impact is hard to tell at this stage. One of the things that people regularly note is that Obama is relatively unknown – he is young, and voters were basically informed by his short voting record and what he said on the campaign trail. I spoke to one young man about this who said: ‘Yes, I know, but I took a risk and voted Obama anyway.’
Obama has moved closer to the center during the campaign, as Clinton did in 1992. Obama’s Presidential campaign was more centrist than his more left-wing Senate voting record. So what will happen on his watch remains to be seen. But obviously the Republicans and the media will watch his administration closely.
One of the big concerns that conservatives have is the appointment of what they call ‘activist judges’ – judges who they say ‘impose ideology’, rather than simply interpret the law.
Matters for Prayer:
Do our prayers change from one President to another? Aren’t we always meant to pray for ‘all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.’ (1 Tim 2:2). I will be praying that President-Elect Obama will govern wisely and justly.
That having been said, the three big things that come to mind are: First, that more people would know that Jesus is the Messiah who gives Hope and Change, as opposed to any American President. Second, that the Middle East finds peace, and does not descend into further chaos. And third, that many in America continue to fight for the rights of the unborn.
At times, the language of change and the desire for hope sounded like the foundation for a gospel message, albeit without Jesus’ name being on the ballot. The campaigns at times sounded like they were going to bring peace on earth – something promised only in Jesus. My biggest prayer is that those who hope in a president would hope instead in Jesus.
Did I misread the moment?