South Carolina Senator Tim Scott surprised many—including some of his campaign staff—on Sunday Night when he told Trey Gowdy with Fox News that he was dropping out of the race for president. Struggles in the polls and with generating new donors made it unlikely that the senator would be able to qualify for the next Republican debate, so Sunday’s news was seen by most as an eventuality.
Still, Scott began the race with one of the most substantial war chests in the primary and ended September with $14 million remaining, a figure he recently claimed was “the most money of any candidate running for president other than Donald Trump.” The hope was that his reserves would allow him to continue after others were forced to drop out, giving him the chance to make up ground in a narrower field. However, the combination of relatively poor debate performances and fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley emerging as the chief rival to both Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis left Scott without a clear path to improvement.
So now he returns his focus to the Senate and takes his message of positivity and hope with him. That message has been somewhat lacking among the other candidates in the election, but, as one of Scott’s supporters lamented, such optimism is “not where the Republican base is right now.”
To be honest, though, it’s not where most of the country seems to be either.
A recent poll showed that 63 percent of Americans are very or somewhat pessimistic about “the moral and ethical standards in our country” while only 12 percent said they had “quite a lot” of confidence in the nation’s future.
In short, if Tim Scott’s message of positivity failed to resonate with voters, it is likely because there’s simply not much to be positive about in the views of most Americans.
But, as lamentable as that perception may be, there are far worse fates for a country than a disenchanted populace.
Are you proud to be an American?
While we should not embrace negativity to the point that we can no longer see the good in the world around us, Chris Anderson was correct in writing of America’s shifting views on national pride that we have moved past the days when “being proud of America was treated as a prerequisite for being patriotic.”
To be sure, there is much in this country of which we cannot be proud. Upticks in abortion, the continued rejection of biblical morality, and the rampant animosity on both sides of the political aisle are real problems. Moreover, the state of the economy, the threat of proxy wars pulling the country deeper into the fray, and a host of other national problems weigh heavily on many Americans as well.
And while I would still argue that the good outweighs the bad when it comes to assessing America’s present and future, that will not always be the case if we ignore the very real issues we face.
So how should we proceed?
Consider your true citizenship
First, we must embrace the fact that, as Christians, we are called to be citizens of heaven before we’re citizens of America or any other nation. In our increasingly politicized culture, maintaining that distinction can be a difficult, though essential, proposition.
As Justin Giboney noted, “Our ideological tribes come with articles of faith. The least we can do is take the time to understand which of those conflict with Christian principles. If you think ideological conservatism or progressivism is biblically sound then you’re sadly mistaken.”
At Denison Forum, we often say we’re a nonpartisan ministry. I’ve heard from enough readers to know that stance can prove irritating at times, but we take that approach because we genuinely feel it is more in keeping with God’s call for us as individual Christians and as a ministry. The reason is that there is not one single political party that aligns itself with the totality of God’s word, and there never will be.
That perspective is important because it can grant us the necessary degrees of separation to take a more objective look at the country, judging it in light of God’s word rather than through a more political lens.
“Ask what you can do for your country”
Second, we need to do our part to make the nation better. Taking responsibility for our role in the state of the country is essential because it helps us avoid the temptation of simply blaming all that’s wrong on someone else.
And, to be sure, each of us can make a difference.
Ultimately, the way you treat others and the degree to which each day of your life draws the people around you closer to the Lord will have a far greater impact on the trajectory of this nation than anything you can do in a ballot box or political forum. Voting is still important, but no politician can fix what seems broken in our country (and that’s always been the case).
Holing up and trying to wait out the storm as the culture implodes around us is not a biblical option, no matter how appealing it may seem at times (Matthew 5:13–16). Doing so implies that we believe God has either given up on our nation and its people or he is incapable of making a difference.
While there are times in Scripture when the Lord turns a people or country over to face judgment, it is never without the hope of redemption, and Jesus came to make that redemption available to everyone.
So regardless of how you feel about the trajectory of the nation or who seems to hold the most blame for its faults, remember that (this side of eternity) it’s always too soon to give up on God making a difference. And he wants to use you to help.
Will you let him?