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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

The Incumbent Protection Act of 2010

It's hard not to revel in Schadenfreude when a politician whose policies you don't much like gets hoisted on his own petard. Such was the struggle against sinful glee we all had when Dr. Kieschnick got the majority of his incumbent protecting restructuring plan through the Synod only to be summarily defeated by Fr. Harrison. The sad spectacle of the president emeritus trying for a Nixonian comeback a few weeks ago was, well, sad.

The nominees for Synod President 2013 are out, and as many have been speculating, under the new three-man race rules, only one challenger is allowed to rise to the top. No more dark horses, possible voting bloc splits, etc. It's all nice and clean: the incumbent, the incumbent's 1st VP, and one challenger pushed by the opposition. Yet under the Incumbent Protection Act of 2010, the challenger is even more hampered than under the old system. In years past the challenger had around 1200 delegates to contact – a group of people with no previous existence. He and the incumbent would be reaching out to this group in the same way – mailings, and in these latter days, videos, emails, etc.

But now things have changed. There are ten times the delegates and the incumbent gets face time with them at district conventions for the year preceding the election. The challenger will never get to give a speech to all the delegates of any one district, let alone the dozens of such speeches the incumbent has given. How can this gap ever be closed?  Amazing things can be done with technology these days, but nothing beats pressing the flesh in politics, ecclesiastical or otherwise. The cost of direct mailing has increased by an order of magnitude.

DayStar did the smart thing, the only thing, under this new system: they suggested that folks of their persuasion nominate a DP from a big and diverse district who stands roughly in the middle of the road that is Missouri. He is probably not DayStar’s ideal candidate, but what can you do? The idea is that in our 53-47 Synod you only need to flip a small number of votes. The floor for each side's support is 47ish percent. How to flip those few other needed votes your way? On the issues? That's tricky. How do you know - especially in the new voting system - what the issues really are? We have ten times the electors now. Do you know what they think? Do you know how many of them will vote? Uncharted waters.

So you pick a DP from a big district and hope that some of the non-theological delegates from this big district who might have gravitated toward the incumbent will instead vote for the hometown kid. It might just be enough....

Will it work? And what will Dr. Maier's strategy be? Well, that assumes that he really wants to be a candidate. He may well just be doing his Synodical duty and letting his name stand to fill out the three spots. He may not want to lift a finger in any sort of campaign. If he does, it’s hard to imagine that he would follow Dr. K's lead and try to make hay out of Newtown.  Why not play it safe with standard MO boilerplate and maybe win it by running up the score in Michigan? But again, he may do nothing more than answer the official questions asked of him for the Synodical publications. DayStar will say what they want to say and spend what they want to spend without him, be assured. (And will JesusFirst reappear?)

Our prediction: President Harrison wins handily and we all see the proof that the Incumbent Protection Act of 2010 was very, very well designed by Team Kieschnick.

The Editors