Our nation's recent political history is sprinkled with examples of when election outcomes hinged on a handful of votes. I recall former senator Bill Armstrong, who invested twenty-eight years of his life in public office, relating the story of his good friend Representative Lou Wyman's campaign. When Wyman ran for a Senate seat, he lost by twelve votes statewide. Other instances in which candidates squeaked through by the narrowest of margins include Averill Harriman's gubernatorial election in 1954, George McGovern's senatorial campaign in 1960, and John Warner's run for the Senate in 1978. All were decided by one vote or less per precinct.1 And don't forget the Nixon/Kennedy electoral results of 1960; when the dust had settled, the presidential prize was awarded based on an average margin of only one-half vote per precinct nationwide.
Even when elections do not appear to be closely contested, it is a moral outrage that more Christians do not take their voting responsibilities seriously. If they did, this would be a very different nation, and a better one. But for reasons beyond my comprehension, evangelicals are either too involved, too preoccupied, or too disinterested to hold our elected officials accountable and keep our democracy on track.
Because so few citizens vote, many of us are unaware that a small minority actually dominates national politics (not to mention local elections). To illustrate, let's hypothesize that the country as a whole goes to the polls at the rate of ten out of every twenty people. If evangelicals stepped up their voting involvement to thirteen out of every twenty, instead of accounting for only 20 percent of the overall vote, their proportion of the votes cast would increase to nearly 25 percent. Did you know that if most of that additional 5 percent vote had been directed to the loser in four of the presidential elections that have taken place since World War II, it would have tipped the scales in favor of the loser?2 And obviously, more is at stake than merely the influence of chief-executive policy for a four-year term--judicial appointments made by the president can directly impact our culture and our families for half a lifetime or more.
Your vote is crucial if we are to reintroduce the traditional, family-friendly values on which our nation was founded. A great member of the British Parliament, Edmund Burke, said something years ago that still resonates today: "All that is necessary for evil to prevail in the world is that good men do nothing."3 So get involved! The same Jesus who multiplied the young lad's loaves and fishes will be faithful to multiply the efforts of those of us who honor His name in the political arena.