Tuesday’s Democratic tsunami represented a sweeping repudiation of the Republican Party. Some of the party’s ideas and policy priorities, on the other hand, fared much better.
Conservative ballot initiatives that weren’t burdened by the letter "R" won voter approval across the country, some in landslides, even in states that supported Barack Obama for president — which proves that an electorate supposedly clamoring for "change" isn’t buying everything the Democrats are selling.
The most closely watched ballot question was California’s Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. California voters overwhelmingly supported a same-sex marriage prohibition in 2000. But five months ago the California Supreme Court made gay marriage legal, and about 18,000 gay couples responded by taking vows to gain state recognition of their unions. With an estimated 2 million to 3 million absentee ballots remaining to be counted, Proposition 8 appeared a lock for passage with 52 percent in favor.
According to Associated Press exit polls, seven in 10 blacks — who voted in record numbers to support Sen. Obama — supported Proposition 8.
The Republican issue also appeared on ballots in Arizona and Florida as constitutional amendments, and voters in those states also supported banning gay marriage. Arkansas voters, meanwhile, backed an initiative that prevents unmarried couples — including gays — from adopting children or becoming foster parents. Sen. Obama carried Florida, while Sen. John McCain won Arkansas and his home state of Arizona.
This newspaper has long opposed state restrictions on marriage. We don’t believe government should have any role in recognizing or regulating relationships. But Tuesday’s votes mean 30 states, Nevada among them, now prohibit same-sex marriage. That hyperliberal California has joined the list is a clear indicator that defenders of traditional, heterosexual marriage are the mainstream, despite the efforts of some of their critics to paint them as fringe lunatics.
The dismantling of "affirmative action," another issue long labeled Republican red meat by the intelligentsia, was put before Colorado and Nebraska voters.
The enthusiastic election of Sen. Obama as the nation’s first black president is proof that racial and ethnic minorities enjoy unlimited possibilities in this country. Certainly, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t lose in this year’s elections because they are women. "Preferences" in government business and in admissions to public universities are nothing more than reverse discrimination, designed to deny opportunity to the deserving and to benefit the less-deserving.
As of late Wednesday, Colorado’s Amendment 46, which would prohibit race- and gender-based favoritism, was too close to call. Nebraska voters easily approved a ban on government affirmative action programs, with 58 percent in favor. Opposition to such programs is grounded in a sense of fairness, not racism.
Finally, Republican calls to utilize all of the country’s energy resources to keep power affordable might not have won a lot of favor in the presidential and congressional races, but they won some support at the bottom of ballots. Of the "green" energy and environmental initiatives that appeared on ballots from California to Missouri, only one prevailed.
California voters turned back two clean-energy propositions that sought to increase production through regulation and subsidization. Colorado voters supported Sen. Obama and environmentalist Senate candidate Mark Udall, yet rejected a measure to pay for clean energy and conservation programs by increasing taxes on the oil and gas industries. Only Missouri voters supported gradually increasing that state’s renewable energy mandates.
What does this all mean? The country is not ready to move as far left as President-elect Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would like to take it. And Republicans need to find some new, more principled blood to stand up and champion some old ideas.