A New Way to do Politics
“If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” ~ Matthew 18: 15-17 ESV
Two days before the 2010 November Election, my husband, Brian, and I were invited to spend the day traveling with Congressman Mike Pence throughout Southern Indiana. Congressman Pence, favored to win his own—very safe—district, had chartered a bus to travel up and down the state to support other GOP candidates. Conservatives and TEA partiers joined him, along with other GOP voters on the bus, as we traveled from town to town throughout Southern Indiana. We held rallies in each town to campaign for other conservative candidates. We sensed the election climate in 2010 differed vastly from what we faced in 2008. We could feel the shift and energy in Hoosier voters. The atmosphere on the bus felt both positive and energizing. We had the time of our lives that day!
I will never forget our experiences, nor the insights I gained on that bus. When we set out that morning, Congressmen Pence called us together before leaving to pray and ask for God’s protection for the people on the trip. As we traveled, Mike showed us kindness and spent time with each person on the bus who gave up that day to campaign with him. At one point, Brian and I sat right behind Mike and one of his staff members. I don’t remember what issue he spoke about, but we overheard him say, “We are going to do this in a way that honors God, even if it sets us back.”
I sat there with my mouth open. My husband (who only recently came to have any interest in politics) leaned over to me and said, “Wow, that guy is the real deal.”
Mike’s words were exactly what I wanted to hear, and they made me respect him even more than I already did. Too often I had seen politicians shift their stances away from their core principles in order to advance their own careers or bend to pressure from their party and change their stances to get more campaign dollars. Mike’s words helped me understand he wasn’t a man who would compromise his core principles just to advance his own political career. He gave me a new insight that day—we could dare to hope for the political state of our country. The relief of knowing at least a few men in Washington represented Hoosiers with integrity overwhelmed us.
I began to think about the dissatisfaction conservatives had with Senator Lugar. Greg Fettig and I called TEA party leaders together and began to develop plans on how we could unseat the Senator. Since I wanted to travel this road wisely, I decided I needed to discuss our situation with Congressman Pence and ask for his wisdom. I knew he understood the political process better than I did. He lived and breathed it every day. I also knew Mike had integrity. We had just witnessed his Christian character in action. I knew I needed his counsel on our impending task.
As the bus rumbled along the highway toward one of the numerous towns we visited, I leaned toward him from the row behind and asked him if we could spend a couple of minutes together. He immediately said, “Of course, step into my office!” as he motioned to the now empty seat next to him.
We sat together for next hour. I told him of our dissatisfaction, our concerns, and our upcoming plans, as well as the country’s desperate need to elect a conservative to our senate seat. Finally, I asked him what he thought we should do. After listening intently, he didn’t skip a beat or even think twice about what he said. I’ll never forget his response.
“Monica, you probably won’t like what I am about to say, but I have to ask you a question,” he said, looking me directly in the eyes. “What does the Good Book say you should do about this?”
I knew exactly what he was referring to. “The Bible says we are to go directly to the person first,” I replied.
“That is exactly what it says,” he added, nodding. “That is what I think you should do.” He then asked if I would sit down with Mr. Lugar and air our grievances before we acted on our developing plans. He added he would be willing to help set this up, if we would let him. I could see Mike wanted to make sure we handled it according to Biblical principles. This would give Senator Lugar a chance to share his side of the disagreement before we made any plans. I agreed, knowing I would not feel content with the result if I did not reach out to the one I disagreed with, as scripture told us to do.
I’ll never forget that conversation. Not only did it give me guidance for the task we were about to tackle, but it showed me how we should handle politics and life in general. Mike completely changed the way I do politics. Can you imagine if all of our politicians handled life this way? It would change the world.
Our founding fathers acted in a similar fashion two-hundred years ago, as they finally broke away from English rule. First they brought their grievances to the attention of their British king and parliament. Only after reaching a final impasse, when British troops moved to disarm parts of the colonies, did they finally issue their Declaration of Independence.