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"Joel Vaughan relies on neither gossip nor guesswork in this compelling book. His is an insider's account; ten years at the Christian Coalition and an easy writing style provide the reader with a ringside seat to one of the most controversial--and consequential-periods in modern American political history." -Kellyanne Conway, President and CEO, the polling company, inc./WomanTrend
"Vaughan is still a truebeliever. But his book is no dewy-eyed paean to the Robertson enterprise. Forthose interested in a detailed and unvarnished inside view of the coalition'smeteoric rise and subsequent implosion, it is a worthwhile read." -The Virginian Pilot "No one's in abetter spot to write a history of the Christian Coalition than Joel Vaughan. .. [H]e wants readers to take lessons both from what the Coalition did right andwhat it did wrong."-Citizenmagazine
About the Author
Joel D. Vaughan is Chief of Staff for Focus on the Family, amulti-national Christian ministry. He served with the ChristianCoalition from 1989 to 1999 in positions ranging from volunteer, toDeputy National Field Director, to Special Assistant to the Presidentand Director of Administration. He has been Vice President of apolitical advertising firm, and has worked on various political campaigns. Heholds a B. A. in economics and business, and an M. A. in theology. He and his wife reside in Colorado with theirtwo children.
File Size: 1295 KB
Print Length: 242 pages
Publisher: Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers (June 16, 2009)
Joel Vaughan provides us a very readable account of the meteoric rise and deconstruction of one of the most influential policy advocacy organizations in the history of American politics. I have keenly followed politics since before voting age, but never more closely than during the Christian Coalition era. Vaughan's book has the credible ring of truth.
He affirms many things I observed, and confirms many of the things I suspected. Given his tenure with the Coalition, perhaps no one has a better vantage point to fill in the gaps to that question asked by so many, "Whatever happened to the Christian Coalition?"
His avoidance of hyped sensational gossip also lends the tone of veracity. It is not the kiss and tell characteristic of so many political insiders. Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson et al. come through much the way I've always thought of them: Reed the driven and brilliant strategist, Robertson the man of vision who has spent his life serving the spiritual and material needs of others. Both human and capable of missteps, but inordinately pounded for those missteps, which have been surprisingly few considering years under the microscope of often hostile media scrutiny. Beyond these two principals, Vaughan's account provides a glimpse inside the dynamics of a talent pool second to none.
Mr. Vaughan relates another important aspect of this period heretofore not adequately highlighted. The Coalition did something on a scale unmatched before or since, and the electorate was better for it. Anyone on either side of a given issue who availed themselves of a Coalition Voter Guide was better informed. Those voter guides bypassed the millions of campaign dollars and provided substantive analysis directly to the grassroots. Their absence leaves a vacuum filled by only candidate and media spin.
More disturbing to me than any miscalculation on behalf of Coalition staff, is Vaughan's account of the targeted, capricious and vindictive misuse of government agency power. The IRS and FEC added significantly to the perfect storm that pushed the Coalition into oblivion. He relates the inexplicable fact that the national organization was never granted tax exempt status by the IRS while several of its state affiliates were. He also chronicles the interminable investigation by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC, while searching for needles in haystacks in Chesapeake, ignored egregious violations of election laws by other organizations considered liberal in ideology.
He also confirmed my thoughts on the Coalition and Political Parties. If the Christian Coalition enjoyed a more amiable relationship with the GOP, it was more a function of the far left forcing the Democratic Party away from the party of Truman to Clinton and now Obama.
As history provides clarity to this era, I believe Vaughan's book will find its way to the required reading list of many political science classes. America was served well by the Christian Coalition, and the Coalition was served well by Joel Vaughan. Highly recommended - Enjoy!
Very informative and easy to read.The history and personalities were well described. The book was fair and not a bitter disgruntled employee tell all. The author was able to tell the story from the inside of the organization. I would have liked an index on my Kindle.
The Rise and Fall of the Christian Coalition is an informative, fast-paced tale revealing behind-the-scenes moments that changed how Christians interact with politics. Those Voter Guides you often see in churches now? Christian Coalition perfected that strategy before Focus on the Family or Family Research Council ever tried it.
Some players in the story are ambitious, some holier-than-thou, some current stars on the political scene... all very interesting. But beyond being good history, this narrative is also extremely relevant to the current political climate. From the stories you'll glean insights on church-and-state issues, effective media strategy, organizing precincts--basically, the entire political and policy process in America. Take this passage, about setting up a political event: The first thing Ralph [Reed] did was begin removing chairs from the room, saying that you want only half enough chairs in the room at first. Then, afterwards, people will remember that you had to bring in extra chairs. [The lesson:] make it easy to exceed expectations.
Whether this is a tactic that should or should not be emulated, it's the moments like these that teach us something. Joel has a keen memory for little moments that matter, whether it's reveling in election night excitement or coping with the monotony of office work. (Actually the author has painstakingly compiled 14 pages of source endnotes to back up his memories, which trumps most political insider books.) It's a rare sort of book that sees the big picture by looking at the small stuff.
Skip the "conservative" fluff on the best-seller list, order The Rise and Fall of the Christian Coalition instead. You'll learn something; I sure did.