For those who don’t recall the tale, Gideon was a general who was ordered to attack a large army (the Midianites and Amalekites). Now when he gathered an army, he got told it was too big (by God). So he winnowed it, then winnowed again, finally getting it down to 300. By implication, these were the “true” soldiers of Israel. He then proceeded to slaughter an army almost 500 times his size.
Now, the story of Gideon is the key reason many true believers don’t care about numbers. What they believe is that if the believers are true enough, God will balance the difference.
Enter politics, and the zealots that seem to have taken over the Republican party. We’ve entered a zealotry cycle. From here on in we’ll see True Believers get Their nominees selected as candidates. A few will win, but most will be soundly defeated as not only the other side but people who aren’t zealot and who used to be Republicans go the other way. The reaction will be to purge the party of the untrue. Obviously that’ll push even more Republicans into the ‘other’ camp, giving them even greater numbers, and giving the gideonites even greater losses.
Eventually the cycles end. It happens when either non-zealots take back control, or when non-zealots form a new party between the zealots and their old foes, and the zealots purge so long they become, well, pretty much a loud but insignificant fringe.
In 2010, Republicans will pick up some seats – not enough by any stretch to take over, but they’ll gain some seats. This will convince the zealots God is on their side. The 2012 candidates — congressional and presidential — will almost all be zealot approved nominees.
They’ll get their asses handed to them.
And for at least two more cycles after that you’ll see the cycle in play: purge for greater purity, lose, rant at how the loss was because they weren’t pure enough, repeat.
Honestly, it’s not going to be pretty. The zealots won’t keep it all within their own party. They’ll blame EVERYbody. Violence is likely, with the only question being how much and how cohesive. (Ironically, the greater and more cohesive, the sooner they’ll be made marginal. At a certain point they’re an armed rebellion and the US military will get involved. For a LOT of reasons I hope not, but I have no doubt they’d lose.)
There are situations in which Gideon’s principles are right – that a small group can count on something more to overcome the larger group. But when it is PURELY a matter of counting heads, the larger group wins.
And that’s democracy. Purely about counting heads. God isn’t going to assist voter fraud.