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The Future of the Christian Right

Like a cold front, you could feel the defeat coming; and you did not need Dan Rather or George Gallup to prepare you. You knew it in your bones as you listened to the sound bites on the evening news: Clinton saying nothing and saying it well; Dole saying nothing and saying it poorly. It was a campaign of style rather than substance, and Bill Clinton was by far the better stylist.

In the absence of genuine issues, interest in the presidential race plummeted. According to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate, President Clinton attracted the second lowest percentage of eligible voters since the election of John Quincy Adams. Despite an increase of seven million eligible voters over the last four years, the turnout declined in every state in the Union. As a matter of fact, in eight states, more people voted in senatorial and gubernatorial races than in the presidential race. So should we condemn Bob Dole for not attracting enough voters to avoid a decisive defeat? Should we blame him for failing to beat a scandal-ridden incumbent whom almost 60 percent of the people deemed untrustworthy?

No, it wasn't really Dole's fault. True, he had no message, certainly not one that appealed to the bulk of born-again Christians, who comprised fully 29 percent of the electorate. But the pro-family movement did not insist on a message. The movement's most visible leaders gave Dole a free pass on the major social...

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