Dr. James Dobson, a long-time champion for moral clarity and truth in our culture, has passed up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead our nation out of the death grip of the two-party system – choosing instead to join those pushing the politics of fear by claiming Americans with a biblical worldview have just one responsible choice on Nov. 4, and that’s to vote for Sen. John McCain.

Just think about what Dobson could have accomplished for our nation had he stood strong and affirmed the dead-on assessment he made of McCain several months ago.

I greatly respect Dr. Dobson and the decades of leadership and ministry he has provided to countless Americans, and I certainly respect his prerogative to change his mind. At the same time, however, I am grieved that, for whatever reason, he chose to fall into line with other evangelical leaders and support the weakest Republican nominee in memory.

It was back in February that Dobson had many Americans cheering by showing strong moral leadership and drawing a line in the sand regarding McCain.

“I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative and, in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are,” Dobson said. “He has at times sounded more like a member of the other party.”

Dobson said he was unhappy the GOP “seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, who voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings, who opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, who has little regard for freedom of speech, who organized the gang of 14 to preserve filibusters and who has a legendary temper and who often uses foul and obscene language.”

Saying he would sit out the November election if McCain were the nominee, Dobson asserted: “Should John McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime.”

Unfortunately, Dr. Dobson now sings from a different song sheet. His half-hour radio show on Monday consisted of him reading his monthly newsletter to Focus on the Family supporters, pleading with them to vote for the man he had so deftly dismissed just a few months earlier.

Has McCain’s record changed? Has his history of caving on issues of life, freedom of speech and immigration changed? Of course not. The only thing that has changed is McCain has become the official GOP nominee, and Dr. Dobson has bought into the belief that every Republican nominee must be supported – no matter his policies – because to do otherwise would doom the United States with a Democratic president.

Dobson’s letter, available online, explains why he has changed his mind about supporting McCain. None of his reasons holds water.

First, Dobson points out that at the Saddleback Forum in August, McCain gave “encouraging answers” to questions about abortion. Somehow, Dr. Dobson is convinced that if a politician says what you want to hear, he deserves your support. Rather, shouldn’t Dobson, a man who has been such a valiant culture warrior in years past, know that you must look at a politician’s record and not his rhetoric?

In telling Rick Warren at Saddleback that a baby deserves human rights at conception, McCain was blatantly contradicting his record of support for stem-cell research, a record Dobson himself astutely mentioned in slamming the Arizona senator back in February. Instead of returning to what he knows about McCain’s shaky “pro-life” record, Dobson enthusiastically touts an obviously insincere answer by McCain as reason No. 1 to support him.

Secondly, Dr. Dobson points out that this year’s Republican platform is “the strongest pro-life platform in the history of the party.” Wonderful – but the man the party nominated to execute that platform is anything but the most pro-life nominee in the history of the party. Despite the fact McCain’s campaign “approved” the platform, there is nothing that binds him to actually ascribe to it as president – especially if he were not to run for re-election in 2012. Surely Dr. Dobson knows, again, that a candidate’s record is much more indicative of future action than is a platform that will gather dust at RNC headquarters for the next four years.

Next, Dobson cites McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Like so many other pro-life Christians, Dobson has allowed Palin’s likeability and spunk to blind him to the reality that a vice president follows, not leads – it is John McCain’s policies that would dominate his administration.

Dobson’s fourth reason to back McCain probably should have been his first: to keep Sen. Barack Obama out of the White House. Just like conservatives are wont to do, Dobson is playing defense, urging a vote for an unworthy candidate to prevent someone even worse from taking the helm. My question for him is: How poor must a Republican candidate be before you will stand on principle and reject him? A 30 on a scale of 1 to 100? Or perhaps 20, or 10? If a pattern is set to embrace every Republican who manages to secure the party’s nomination, Dr. Dobson, you have reduced a very real and dangerous war of worldviews to a cynical, political exercise meant simply to slow the moral fall of our nation, rather than reverse it.

Imagine what could have occurred had Dr. Dobson stayed with his February assessment of Sen. McCain and urged his followers to support a different man for president – whether a third-party nominee or a write-in candidate – one who was faithful to the principles of the Constitution, the Bible and our Founding Fathers. Single-handedly, James Dobson, with his immeasurable influence, could have shaken this presidential election to its core and done great service to our closed electoral process.

Could his man have won? Probably not, but it would have:

  • signaled the beginning of the end of the two-party system in American politics;
  • shown the Republican Party that pro-family, pro-liberty voters are not an automatic constituency to take for granted every four years;
  • given those same voters the joy of supporting and working for a candidate who actually reflects their values with sincerity and strength; and
  • allowed God in his sovereignty to intervene and bless the efforts of millions of faithful Christians and other Americans, who stood on principle instead of fear, by placing that Dobson-endorsed candidate in the White House. Stranger things have happened (see: the Bible).

Near the end of Dobson’s letter, he defends his change of heart, writing: “No candidate is perfect, whether in this election or any other. Please don’t make your decision lightly.”

I agree with both statements. He’s right that no candidate is perfect, but again, how imperfect must one be to receive the deserved opposition of pro-family voters? And yes, Americans must not make their choice for president lightly, which is why Christians should reject Dobson’s plea and actually vote their values.

As one WND e-mail to the editor asked recently: In years to come, when you discuss with your grandchildren how you voted in the 2008 presidential election, will you be able to say proudly that you stood on principle and truth?

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