As we look over the country and the returns from Tuesday, we see a pattern of moral schizophrenia. Take Colorado, for example. I regret to report that voters there defeated a proposal that seemed like a small restriction -- just requiring a twenty-four- hour waiting period before abortions could be performed.
But in Maine, an initiative that would have legalized physician-assisted suicide was defeated, fifty-one to forty-nine. A victory for Christians, but a narrow one.
In Oregon, a measure prohibiting public school instruction that promotes homosexual behavior was defeated by the voters. Yet, in Nebraska and Nevada, measures banning same-sex marriage were passed by the voters. Good news. And in Vermont, many legislators who voted for homosexual unions last July -- the statute that made Vermont first in the country -- were tossed out of office. And Republicans committed to opposing the new law made major gains in both branches of the legislature -- even taking control of the lower house.
On school choice issues, moral conservatives took a beating. California and Michigan defeated proposals to establish school vouchers. And in Washington state, an effort to establish charter schools was defeated -- a huge blow to parental choice and a victory for the teachers' lobby.
In Colorado and Nevada, voters passed laws allowing use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. And even voters in South Carolina, South Dakota, Colorado, and Virginia -- conservative states -- passed measures in favor of legalized gambling. On a happier note, seventeen of twenty-two pro-life candidates supported by the Susan B. Anthony List won their races.
In state after state, there was no real pattern. Voters rejected limitations on their personal and sexual freedoms but voted repeatedly for restraints on government.
On a personal note, I must say I was saddened by the loss of John Ashcroft, a senator from Missouri, who earned a place in the history books by being beaten by a dead man. John is an old friend who was a valiant defender of traditional values in the Senate.
Two others: Jim Talent, a bright young congressman and evangelical from Missouri, was narrowly edged out running for governor. And, Congressman David MacIntosh, a key Christian conservative, failed in his bid to be governor of Indiana. I hope, in time, however, these men will be back.
On the plus side of the ledger, however, the new senator from Nevada, John Ensign, is a very committed believer who was, before he went to Congress, chairman of Prison Fellowship's ministry in Nevada. Most evangelicals in Congress, in fact, were reelected.
What does this tell us? That politics is, as the old expression goes, all local. Should we doubt that as we watch the leader of the free world being chosen in a few precincts in Florida? Clearly, the election returns tell us that the culture war is going to be won or lost on the ground -- with battles in Maine, or Oregon, or Alabama. One election, one block, one neighborhood at a time. Christians, stay at your posts.