The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Thursday, November 10, 2022

It’s Thursday, November 10th, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

The Red Wave That Did Not Happen: What Caused the Taming of the Projected Republican Tsunami?

Well, the big story is what didn’t happen. The red wave didn’t happen, a massive tsunami of Republican elected officials winning in elections coast to coast that did not happen, and this leads to a series of very important questions that all thinking Christians should keep in mind. Number one, was it ever about to happen? This is where we have to go back to a comment I made on The Briefing repeatedly in the lead up to the election, and that is this, there is a game played and the game has to do with expectations and prognostications and predictions. It is to the advantage of the media that there be understood to be a loosening of the race, a tightening of the race, a loosening of the race, a tightening of the race.

It is because there is an advantage for the media in there being a great deal of expectation that something big just might happen, but then it’s also a game played out by political strategists and that can play both ways. For example, you had someone like Kathy Hochul who is the incumbent governor of New York, a liberal candidate, a well-established Democrat who inherited the office after the resignation of former Governor Andrew Cuomo and scandal. Kathy Hochul tried to present herself as being from the beginning an underdog, but she never was an underdog in the state of New York, which is so heavily democratic that it is one of the bluest states in the union, but the media played along and the media fueled the expectation, but as it turned out, the democratic candidate coasted to a relatively easy victory in the governor’s race there in New York, but as you’re looking at this, you recognize it can play the other way as well.

You can have the expectations game played by campaigns in order to say, “Look, we really are surging. We are just about to close this gap,” and even on the eve of the election, people who have plenty of polling data indicated that they’re going to lose and lose big, they still continue to say with a smile as they look into the camera, “We’re absolutely confident of victory.” And, this can lead to all kinds of misperceptions, which is why we just have to remember over and over again, there is no election until you have the numbers and until the numbers are settled, well, you’re just looking at a political game, but it’s a game with grave consequences, and that’s why we pay so much attention to it. But, it’s also a game of expectations so subtle that sometimes those who are making the arguments that turn out not to be true are absolutely convinced they are about to be true.

And so as you look at the days leading up to the November eight election here in the United States just this week, it is interesting that on both sides of the partisan divide, both Republicans and Democrats thought that what was about to happen was a big red wave. You had President Biden who after all is the political leader of the Democratic Party as the incumbent president. You had him beginning to lower expectations on the eve of the election, expectations for his own party. You also had people on the other side beginning to speak with such confidence that Republicans were certain that the only big question was how big the red wave would be, but as it turned out, by early in the evening on election night, it was pretty clear that there was no wave to be seen. Now that doesn’t mean that there will not be major political change in the United States as a result of this election.

Actually, there will be, and even today we can point to a couple of dimensions of how we have to understand why this election is so consequential, but it is also true that as we are speaking right now, we simply don’t know answers to at least the most pressing question when it comes to the future of Congress, and we are unlikely to know the answer about control of the Senate now for a matter of weeks, and that became pretty official yesterday when the Secretary of State of the state of Georgia indicated that there would have to be a runoff election for the United States Senate seat currently held by Senator Raphael Warnock and contested by Republican nominee, former football star Herschel Walker, and so that runoff election will not be held until December the 6th, and as you know, that doesn’t mean that we will have the results even on December the 6th.

That is frustrating, but that’s the way it is right now. I discussed why that frustration is rather dangerous as we discussed the election on the briefing yesterday. So, where do things stand right now in terms of who’s going to control the House of Representatives and who’s going to control the majority in the Senate? Well, let’s start with the Senate because that’s what we’ve already discussed. There is no answer to that question right now. The magic number is 48 Democrats and 48 Republicans. Now, of course that adds up to 96, that leaves four seats and that includes the seat in Alaska, and ranked choice voting there means that it might take a bit of time before we know how that election turns out. We’ll be talking more about that and the entire issue of ranked choice voting in the future, but we’re going to have to wait on Alaska. Add that to our wait for the state of Georgia.

And, that leaves Nevada and Arizona. And as of last night, there simply was no way to know exactly who was going to win the race in Arizona, certainly in final terms. And as you’re looking at Nevada, again, who knows? And, the lead has gone back and forth in some of these races so often that it amounts to something like a game of political ping pong until someone eventually wins. So right now in the Senate, it’s unsatisfying to say, but we are looking at 48-48. Now remember, over the course of the last two years, it has been a Senate divided 50-50 with the Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris as the deciding vote when there is a split vote in the Senate, that is to say a 50-50 vote. It is the vice president who has settled the tie. The future of the Senate is incredibly important because as the upper chamber, it also has the power to confirm or not to confirm presidential appointments that require such confirmation, and that’s a massive power.

The control of the Senate is a huge issue for that and for many other reasons, but what about the future of the House of Representatives? Well, there it does look like Republicans may well claim a majority. As of the numbers available yesterday, we’re looking at 182 democratic seats rather confirmed and 206 Republican seats, but 218 are needed for a majority in the House of Representatives. Now, it should be clear by now that the Republicans are much closer to assembling that majority than our Democrats, but when you look at the map, an awful lot of the districts still to report are in areas that tend to be more blue. And so, I’m going to frustrate you again. We do not yet know who will control the House majority, but it is at least likely at this point that it will be the Republican party and that the next speaker of the House will also of course be a Republican.

But, that is not absolutely certain yet. In terms of other elections around the country, there will be a lot to report, but the biggest news at the state level when it comes to a gubernatorial election comes from the state of Florida where incumbent Governor Ron DeSantis won reelection and won by such a large margin that he really has reshaped the political map in one of the nation’s most populous states. Florida’s political map has just been redrawn with Governor DeSantis drawing majorities even from democratic strongholds such as the county known as Palm Beach County. Remember Hanging Chads in the 2000 presidential election? Remember how that county was described as being generally democratic? Well, they just sent a very clear signal with a majority of votes in the governor’s race going to the incumbent Republican, who isn’t just a Republican, but is a very well-identified, very outspoken conservative Republican.

You had similar voting patterns change even south of Palm Beach County in Dade County, and we’re looking here at what’s going to be a very necessary reconsideration of the rules of politics starting in the state of Florida. Something else we need to note is that presidential politics are always behind this, and before we turn to the pressing issue of abortion, let’s just think about the presidential politics for a minute. So just a few things to be said, number one, it might be that the biggest loser in presidential politics on Tuesday night was former President Donald Trump. And the reason for that is this, many of the candidates that he had championed, particularly for the United States Senate, did not do well. And furthermore, it is clear that many of them were repudiated because of their own personalities, their own character, their own inadequacies as major candidates for statewide election.

Now, one of the president’s designated senatorial candidates did win and he won rather importantly and convincingly on Tuesday, and that was J.D. Vance winning the Senate seat in Ohio and keeping it in Republican hands, but the big thing to understand is that when you’re looking at the calculation of who produces the candidates, who supports the candidates, who has selected the candidates, and then do the candidates win, it was not a good night for the 45th President of the United States. Another one of the issues that clearly came up with former President Trump is that on the stump, he seemed to talk more about himself in many cases than about the Republican candidates he was supposedly supporting. Furthermore, for the second time in a senatorial election cycle, he basically threw the entire race into consternation by making it about himself. That just leads to another consideration, which is that if you are looking at a political realignment in the United States, it can’t happen around a person.

It can only happen around a party. A person simply can’t stay in office and a person does not make a long term political argument that can be translated into policy, that requires a party. And in this case, the candidates put forward as Republicans by President Trump just didn’t fare all that well. Most importantly, you look to the race there in Pennsylvania, that was crucial because you had a Republican seat that was then an open seat because of the retirement of the Republican incumbent, and thus when someone like the democratic candidate, John Fetterman, who frankly is one of the least predictably successful candidates in modern senatorial history when he wins as he won. Remember, there was the expectation that we wouldn’t have the results in the Pennsylvania Senate race for a matter of days, but the race was not all that close, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, who had been anointed by President Trump to run for that role, he didn’t end up doing all that well.

But, presidential politics works in another way as well because as you are looking at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he not only won reelection commandingly by almost 20 points in terms of a statewide election, and in that defeating a former governor of the state who was the democratic nominee, by the way, that democratic nominee had in a previous political life been a Republican governor of the state of Florida, a story unto itself. The fact is that Governor DeSantis won so big that he is likely to claim an incredible momentum as he unquestionably is headed towards the 2024 Republican presidential race. He, of course, is not a declared candidate, and at least a part of the news was that former President Trump indicated that he was intending to announce. He teased it, but unquestionably is talking about announcing his candidacy for 2024. We are likely to see a very interesting dynamic within the Republican party.

I think at this point that becomes sufficiently clear, but another odd presidential dimension happened in terms of Tuesday’s election, and that was what was almost completely unexpected, and that was the strengthening of the hand of the incumbent President of the United States Joe Biden in his own party with an eye towards the 2024 democratic presidential nomination. It has been abundantly reported in the press that a majority of Democrats indicate in polls they do not want the incumbent president to run for reelection. If he were to be reelected, he would be 83 years old at the end of his second term. Furthermore, it is clear that even as President Biden has moved progressively to the left, sometimes leaping to the left in order to keep up with the left wing of his party, the wing that is very much in control among the Democrats, it’s clear that the left wing still does not look at Joe Biden as an ally, but rather as a compromise.

And, they see themselves as so ascendent they would rather not have the compromise, but oddly enough, right now Joe Biden’s in a position to say back to his party, “Look, under my presidency, in my first term, the midterm election was far more successful than the first term of President Barack Obama,” for whom Joe Biden had served as vice president. Now, that might not be a clincher argument, but it’s not an irrelevant argument. So, it’s just interesting to look at all this and recognize presidential politics was not on the ballot as voters went to the polls on Tuesday or voted in some other means by mail-in ballot or absentee ballot, but the reality is, oh yes, it was there.

Presidential politics is always there, not only in a presidential election year, but in the mid-year elections, which set up the great big contest for the presidential nominations coming two years later.

Part II

An Abject Tragedy and Unmitigated Moral Failure: Citizens in Several States Vote Overwhelmingly in Support of Abortion Rights

But, the big issue last night for evangelicals is likely to be the issue of abortion, and on the abortion front, Tuesday represented in abject tragedy, largely coast to coast, but most importantly in the three states that were considering pro-abortion measures confronted by voters. So, in the states of California and Michigan and Vermont, voters overwhelmingly supported measures to either alter the Constitution or by other means to make very clear and absolute support for abortion rights. And in all three of those cases, you are looking at radical statements in support of rather unrestricted and unbounded abortion rights, and the fact that those measures were not even close in terms of the balloting tells us a great deal about where we stand in the battle for the sanctity of unborn life in the United States of America. And, it is a reminder of the fact that the win at the Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision reversing Roe v. Wade was not the end of the struggle, it was only the end of the first chapter in the struggle.

More difficult chapters are still to come, and it’s not just that those three radical pro-abortion measures did win, and we’re talking about amendments to the Constitution, that’s something that is not easily reversed. It’s not just that, it is also that in the state of Kentucky, what is known as Amendment 2, a pro-life amendment that was clean and short and concise and easy to understand, and a measure that went to voters in the state of Kentucky, which is overwhelmingly a pro-life state, it failed, and again, it didn’t really fail by a close vote, we are talking about an absolute moral breakdown and tragedy because there is no way to explain what took place in Kentucky just as in a similar but not identical way, we had a grave setback for the pro-life movement in Kansas shortly after the Dobbs decision was handed down.

It does underline the challenge we face and the fact that it is a monumental challenge to convince Americans not only to define human life in terms that are pro-life and recognize the sanctity and dignity of every single human life, regardless of whether or not it is in or out of the womb, it must also be the recognition that if we do not put protections for the unborn into law, then we really do not mean what we say. And so, what we’re looking at here devastatingly for the pro-life cause is the fact that an awful lot of Americans who identify as pro-life either don’t mean it or don’t want to establish any kind of policy or law that will actually cause any kind of controversy or lead to any hard situations, and that is absolutely ridiculous, that is a moral surrender. There is no possible abortion law that would limit abortion in any way that would not produce hard cases, but just understand what we’re looking at here.

You have hard cases on the one hand, and you have the destruction of millions of human lives in the womb. On the other hand, there is no way to do anything with great moral significance without risking very hard situations. The reality is that the Christian moral tradition has understood that from the start. In a fallen world, there is no position that can be morally significant that doesn’t come with difficulties and complications, just consider the moral reality of war. If a nation attacks another nation, that nation that is attacked has the right to fight back to defend itself. This is Christian moral reasoning known as Christian just war theory, and that means that the attacked party, the attacked nation, has the right to fight back and to defend itself. But in so doing, there is no endeavor among human beings that is more morally complicated and fraught with risk than war.

You’re talking about the use of violence and deadly violence. Is it justified? Well, of course, at times it is not only justified, it is absolutely necessary. Is it morally complex and are there hard questions to ask? Absolutely, but not asking and answering those questions, trying to avoid those questions, that can only be accomplished by absolute surrender, but there’s even more to it than that when you consider the press coverage. For example, Politico ran a headline story, “A predicted red wave crashed into a wall of abortion rights on Tuesday.” The Guardian, a liberal newspaper published in London, ran a headline, “American voters just sent a crystal clear message. They believe in abortion rights.” headlined, “Women remembered to vote on abortion.” The most restrained of these major headlines was found in the Wall Street Journal, “Abortion rights supporters prevail in midterm ballot measures.” Well, they did prevail.

And, when you look at California and Michigan and Vermont, you are looking at three states that are now likely to serve as examples for other states trying to say, “We’re going to defend or we’re going to assert abortion rights in such a way in our constitution that will be just as pro-abortion or just as favorable to abortion rights as California, the nation’s most populist state, and as Michigan a swing state, and as Vermont, a very socially liberal state in the American Northeast.” That is to say, you’re going to see similar efforts elsewhere, and here’s where we need to understand that those constitutional amendments, they’re not tantamount to so-called codification of Roe v. Wade.

They don’t return us to where we were before the Dobbs decision in this past June by the Supreme Court. No, those measures are far more radical, and as you look at several of these constitutional amendments, it does not at all become clear how you can now defend parental notification rights or any number of other restrictions on abortion or policies surrounding abortion.

The language in California and Michigan and in particular in Vermont is so pro-abortion that it’s hard to imagine how any restriction can be put in place in Vermont without an automatic court challenge. It is an unmitigated moral disaster, and we as evangelical Christians need to say that out loud and understand that is exactly what has happened. Undoubtedly in coming days, the picture will be clarified as we think about the 2022 elections, but it is unlikely that the picture is going to be brightened in any significant way, certainly on the question of abortion.

And I hope Christians seeking to understand all things by a biblical worldview, understand that a society that can’t get the sanctity of human life right is unlikely to be able to hold anything else right for long.

Part III

History Is Often Much Closer Than We Think — An Obituary of the (Thought to Be) Last Child of an Enslaved Person Reminds Us of That Fact

But finally, as we’re thinking about the burdens of history, I turn to another obituary, this one the obituary of a man named Daniel Smith who died in recent weeks at the age of 90.

The headline in his obituary in the New York Times is absolutely stunning. The headline describes him as thought to be the last child of an enslaved person. He died just a matter of weeks ago. The obituary begins with these words, “Daniel Smith, who was believed to be the last surviving child of an enslaved person and who over along and eventful life witnessed firsthand many of the central moments of the African American experience, died October the 19th in Washington. He was 90 years old.” Now understand this, “Mr. Smith’s father, Abram Smith, was born into slavery during the Civil War in Virginia and was 70 when his much younger wife Clara gave birth to Daniel in 1932. While it is impossible to know for certain whether Daniel Smith was the last living child of an enslaved person, historians who have studied his generation say they do not know of any others.” It’s very easy for us to think that something like the American Civil War or something like slavery in the United States is simply impossibly distant from us, and yet, here’s an obituary that reminds us that just isn’t so.

A man died just a matter of days ago in Washington DC, whose father was a slave. It turns out that Mr. Smith had been deeply involved in the civil rights movement and was actually present at many of the pivotal turning points in that movement, especially in the last half of the 20th century. He had also worked for the federal government during the Johnson Administration working for the Office of Economic Opportunity. It’s also very interesting that he had served as a volunteer usher at the Washington National Cathedral for a number of years. He eventually became head usher and as head usher, he showed three presidents, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush and their families to their seats. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be one of those historical references just with deep meaning, the son of a slave engaging three presidents of the United States more than a century after the US Civil War.

But, that then reminds me just to bring up one of my favorite facets of American history right now, and that is that living at this moment in the state of Virginia is a grandson of President John Tyler. Now, John Tyler was the 10th president of the United States. He served in office from 1841 to 1845, and one of his grandsons still lives today. Until recently, it had been two grandsons, Harrison Ruffin Tyler lives in Virginia, the grandson of the 10th President of the United States. Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States, and it’s a very similar story. It’s about John Tyler losing his first wife to death and later in life marrying a much younger woman and having a second family, and the son of that second family also had two families after losing his first wife to death. He married a much younger woman, and much later in life he had sons, and until recently, two of those sons were still living, their grandfather having been the 10th president of the United States.

It’s good for Christians to remember that history can often seem far, far from us and very distant when actually it’s not so distant at all.

I’ll simply close with the words to that venerable and beloved hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” remember one verse states this, “Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away. They fly forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day.”

It’s good sometimes for us as Christians to remember it is our responsibility not to forget.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

Tonight at 9:00 PM, I’m going to be moderating a conversation by World Opinions on the meaning of the 2022 elections. I’m going to be joined by Allie Beth Stuckey, by Hunter Baker, Erick Erickson, and Andrew Walker. We’re going to have an invigorating conversation and we would like to invite you to join us. You can do so simply by going to the website,, that’s Again, tonight, 9:00 Eastern Time. You can find information about this in my Twitter feed as well.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me using the contact form. Follow regular updates on Twitter at @albertmohler.

Subscribe via email for daily Briefings and more (unsubscribe at any time).