Advice from a Preacher to a Political Party: Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Make Convictions Clear

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
August 27, 2020

One week after the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention has been the big political news this week. The pandemic sidelined the usual pomp and spectacle that happens every four years in the American electoral cycle, and both parties had to forego their respective political mega-meetings. In a normal election cycle, the respective national conventions served as a major pep rally that gave each party a tremendous media platform that catapulted both Republicans and Democrats into the final weeks of the campaign.

Both parties expect that after their convention, their candidates will receive a bump in the polls. That reality is debatable now, given the circumstances surrounding this particular election cycle that lives under the shadow of a global pandemic. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that these conventions usually draw three different audiences. First and foremost are party loyalists, who will plunge themselves into their party’s convention, digesting every speech with anticipation and excitement. The second audience are political junkies across the political spectrum. This group of people feast on the rhetoric and spectacle of these conventions out of sheer interest in American politics.

The third audience, however, is the most interesting, which is the leadership of the opposing party. Leading Republicans watched every minute of the Democratic National Convention—and make no mistake, Democrats are doing the same thing right now for the Republican National Convention. Each party does so for their own opposition research and to find fuel for their political engines in the final weeks leading up to the election.

For each convention, the parties do their best to line up a set of speeches that effectively communicates the conflicting visions they have for the country—and this is especially the case during the pandemic. Usually, the speakers would be delivering their remarks before thousands of people that energize the excitement of the messages being delivered. Both Democrats and Republicans are doing all they can in the absence of the normalcy of a nominating convention to capture the attention of Americans.

But there is something glaringly absent from the Republican National Convention.

They have failed to adopt a party platform in 2020. This is not only a glaring omission, but a tragic mistake. The party’s leadership has made a massive miscalculation.

Indeed, they have turned away from that crucial responsibility to make clear in black and white, for all the nation to see, the massive ideological differences between their party and the Democrats. The party platforms provide enormous visual aid in demonstrating just how far the respective parties have diverged from one another on crucial issues.

To be fair, the 2016 Republican Party platform will be in place, unamended for the present election. That said, 2016 is not 2020. In just four years, the chasm between the two parties has expanded exponentially. Making that clear in text would have served the party well, and would have put conviction on the line for all to see, both now and in future generations.

The Republic Party needed to double down on its commitment to the sanctity of human life and all policy issues relating to abortion. A clearer statement on the party’s defense of the Hyde Amendment is essential in this election year. The platform needed to solidify its commitment on a conservative judiciary at all levels of the federal court system. Moreover, the Republican Party platform should have articulated a steadfast conviction for religious liberty. The Democratic Party continues to lurch towards an abolition of the freedom of the conscience—to the first liberty enumerated in the American Constitution.

It is at this critical juncture that more clarity is needed, not less.

Instead, the Republican National Convention revolves more around personality than policy. That might have some political advantages, but it also comes with a horrifying reality. Yes, President Donald Trump has demonstrated his commitment to the sanctity of life, to religious freedom, and to the appointment of conservative judges on the nation’s highest courts. There is, however, no adequate assurance that the Republican Party will hold fast to those issues over time. A political party, by definition, adopts whatever strategy that will ensure that it retains power. Conviction will often dissipate over crucial issues where there is lack of clarity, and the Republican Party has weakened the defense of its own policies by its decision to release no new party platform this year.

The 2016 commitments still stand – and they remain public and clear. The Democratic Party has embraced the most radical pro-abortion position, rejecting any restriction on abortion whatsoever. The Democratic Party demands an end to the Hyde Amendment, which protects the American taxpayer from being coerced to pay for abortion through Medicaid funding. Democrats in states like New York have approved what amounts to legal infanticide. The national party now calls for the same policy.

The same pattern holds on the issue of religious liberty. When it comes to the inevitable collision between Religious liberty and the newly-constructed sexual liberties, the Democratic Party made clear in their platform that religious liberty will have to take the back seat. The Democratic Party’s nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, did not hesitate to tell the Little Sisters of the Poor that, if elected, he would put them right back in the position where they stood under the Obama administration’s contraception mandate.

Throughout the week, the Republican National Convention has sent the right messages on defending life and protecting liberty. On both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, powerful words were spoken in defense of the dignity and sanctity of human life, including life in the womb. It was brave and honorable for the RNC to put those testimonies and assertions of human dignity out before the watching world. I can only hope that those words were heard and will be heeded.

The 2016 Republican Party platform remains in place, with all its commitments. It stands in stark and undeniable contrast to the platform of the Democratic Party in 2016 and the even more radical platform of 2020. An opportunity was missed, however, to put a 2020 Republican platform before the American people.

I am preacher giving advice to politicians: Don’t ever miss an opportunity to fly the colors boldly, with conviction, and with unmistakable clarity. The stakes could not be higher.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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