Late on election night, political commentator Chris Matthews of the MSNBC cable network looked at an Electoral College map, colored red for states favoring Texas Governor George W. Bush and blue for states favoring Vice President Al Gore, and compared it to a picture of the former Yugoslavia. Bush's margin was seemingly victorious in the all-important Electoral College, but Vice President Al Gore took the popular vote by more than 200,000 on election night (and more than 300,000 in subsequent weeks).
A few nights later, columnist Mike Barnicle held up a map from USA Today that detailed how the two candidates for President fared in every county of every state. Barnicle described the division as "Wal-Mart versus Martha Stewart, the pickup truck versus the Volvo, and school prayer versus gay marriage." Barnicle overplayed the question of economic class, but he and Matthews were on to something: the 2000 election embodied a profound division between Americans on basic issues of how to best help the poor, whether the government should limit access to any abortions, how to best improve both public and private schools, and how to balance environmental concerns with geopolitical anxieties (such as our reliance on imported petroleum). We are sure that evangelicals landed on both sides of this divide, especially when one survey claimed that 20 percent of self-identified Religious Right voters chose Gore.
Neither party will ever fully satisfy a Christian citizen who seeks a consistent application of biblical principles to political and moral issues (as even Christian citizens often disagree about what application those principles require). Still, the two leading candidates offered clearly diverse cultural agendas to the American public, ...1
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