In politics, success and failure are usually measured in terms of how many seats a party has won in the last election. If it has won a lot, it is successful. If it hasn’t won many – or hasn’t won any at all – then it must be a failure. That’s the way we generally view things in politics.
But how does a political party that didn’t win any seats, hasn’t ever won any seats and doesn’t seem likely to win any seats in the near future, define success?
Well, it can look at some different numbers and view them in as positive a light as possible. In this past election, the Christian Heritage Party officially became Canada’s sixth-largest party, surpassing the vote totals of nine others. It even doubled its nearest rival, the seventh-place Progressive Canadians.
But any numbers-oriented measure of success is still going to look pretty dismal for the CHP. It may have run more than 40 candidates this past time around, but that pales in comparison to the more than 250 ridings that didn’t have a CHP candidate. It may have gotten 28,279 votes, but that amounts to only 0.2 per cent of the national vote. And it may have finished sixth, but only the top four parties won seats.
So, it doesn’t matter much which numbers are selected or how they’re looked at. If that’s what we use to measure political success, then the CHP must be a failure.
But if we succumb to this numbers obsession, things will start to seem bad no matter where we look – even Christians in the Conservative party will have reason to despair. That party may have won the election, but it took only 124 of 308 seats. And of those 124 MPs, less than half – The Interim found only 60 – are either pro-life or somewhat pro-life. And some of the new Tory MPs are staunch gay “marriage” supporters. Though few in number, these Conservatives seem to tip the balance in Parliament towards favouring gay “marriage,” making it very unlikely anything will be done to restore traditional marriage.
If we start obsessing about numbers and totals and sums, then Christians, no matter which party they support, are going to be confronted with failure.
Fortunately, as Christians, we know that true success is measured a far different way. As CHP leader Ron Gray noted in his election reflections, “It is God who raises up and puts down governments” – the results are in his hands. Though it may be unpleasant – and ego deflating – we have to realize that these things are too big for us and are beyond our control. We have no choice but to trust God with the results.
What we can control is whether or not we will let our Christian light shine in the political realm. This realm is no different from any other – here, too, we are supposed to point people to God through our words and deeds. That is our calling in all of life. And we can measure our success by whether or not we are obedient to God’s call.
So using this measure of success, was the CHP successful in this past election? Did it let its light shine?
After contacting a half-dozen candidates it seems the CHP was successful beyond almost anyone’s expectations. Its vote totals were not impressive, but the number of people it reached with its clear Christian political positions was astounding. Some campaigns garnered donations in the tens of thousands of dollars and used the money to buy radio ads, newspaper ads or to get brochures delivered throughout ridings. Other candidates took advantage of numerous speaking opportunities – the candidate in Niagara West-Glanbrook, Dave Bylsma, gave 11 speeches. He also had enough volunteers (more than 40) to organize some door-knocking and reached 800 houses this way. In York-Simcoe, Vicki Gunn ran radio ads. In the B.C. riding of Cariboo-Prince George, Chris Kempling got his message out via interviews on TV, the radio, and the newspapers. In Alberta, John Wierenga managed to get a brochure out to most of the incredibly large Yellowhead riding (more than 300 kilometres wide). Across the country, the message they put out was clear and it was heard.
In 2006, the CHP was successful. God be praised.
Jon Dykstra is editor of Reformed Perspective, where this article originally appeared in February 2006. Reprinted with permission.