The ultimate reason Warren cancelled a rerun of his McCain-Obama forum of 2008 is nobody is buying his way of doing politics. Being nice and just sharing with each other is not the nature of politics. Warren hoped to leave behind the days of Evangelical cage match political wrangling and ended putting on a show no one wanted to come to – not because no one is nice but because nice is no more the nature of political wrangling than it is in football.
The newer Evangelicals have supposedly learned their lesson after the days of hardball political wrangling and stepped away from the Jerry Falwells, James Dobsons, Pat Robertsons, et al. They have wanted to make sure that the church is not co-opted by any political party nor wastes its moral muscle on the politics of the kingdoms of this world.
What has been found out is that this trajectory simply buys into political utility by the political classes. Neither Obama nor McCain went to the Warren’s 2008 forum because they wanted to be nicer. They went because it was politically useful. And now it is not politically useful. So they do not go.
Warren was as duped as supposedly Jerry Falwell was and ended up becoming more irrelevant than Jerry Falwell. There is a Darwinian quality to the politics of governmental power. No one is going to change that dynamic. And the church should not waste its time doing so. In fact, many have accused Warren of simply giving cover to Obama’s image making. There is too much truth there to just ignore.
Our system of government invites the fierce competition of ideas. The reform of manners is not the essential contribution of the church in the political sphere. It must produce an enlightened citizenry able to be engaged in intellectual combat and the proper use of power. The quieter it is on the battlefield the worse off we are for it. I am for more cannon and more noise.
The newer Evangelicals will learn that the choice is between co-option and active engagement. Unfortunately, by the time they learn it a lot of ground will have been lost.