November 21, 2004

Watch the new "value party" in action

After basking in the glorious afterglow of election night, the Republican Party has some choices to make. Will it (quite literally) see the light and put every page of the Bible into statutory form? Or will it somehow maintain its appeal to independent and swing voters by holding God's will at bay?

Ground zero in the war for values appears to be the great state of Indiana. Now, as anybody who has spent any time in Indiana can tell you, decades of morally upright Republican leadership has brought record employment, an easing of racial tensions, low taxes, and strong schools. Actually not so much any of those things, but Indiana, unlike, say, New York, remains safe from terrorism. In any case, in the developing clash of civilizations, Indiana's moral compass will be held by Representative John Hostettler, a Republican faithfully representing the interests of Indiana's Eighth Congressional District.

Fresh off a stirring victory over the notoriously liberal Jon Jennings, Hostettler is doing anything but standing still. Hostettler, nicknamed "the snake," continues to push his Marriage Protection Act (HR 3313) through Congress in order to prevent "federal courts from imposing homosexual marriages on Indiana and the rest of the country." He also received the Christian Statesman of the Year Award from the world-renowned Coral Ridge Ministries. Coral Ridge has been a major legislative player of late through its Center for Christian Statesmanship, but also maintains a lucrative book business through such illustrious volumes as Refuting Evolution 2 (we can only presume that volume 1 was a hit) and Satan Celebrates? (an exposition on the true moral character of Halloween). In a statement issued to the Ministries accepting his award, Hostettler concluded, "I believe that civil government is ordained by God…"

Ordained, perhaps, but certainly not administered. That is clear from Hostettler's next major commitment—renaming Indiana's most infamous and ungodly roadway. According to the Hoosier Gazette, Hostettler "has been convinced by local religious groups" to introduce legislation that renames Interstate 69 to some other "more moral sounding number." The problem is that the highway is likely to be extended into Mexico. International commerce could be hurt if morally sound truckers, shippers, and merchants refuse to put their goods on such a heathen strip of tar.

But the problem is also a personal one. As Hostettler put it, "Every time I have been out in the public with an ‘I-69' button on my lapel, teenagers point and snicker at it. I have had many ask me if they can have my button."

For his part, Hostettler says, "It is time to change the name of the highway. It is the moral thing to do." It would also be a matter of linguistic convenience, though. Hostettler, Tom Delay, and others have been members of what is called the I-69 Congressional Caucus. That's just creepy sounding. It would also render useless all those soon-to-be-made bumper stickers like, "I 69'd from Indiana to Mexico."

With all the recent talk about a divided America, Hostettler's crusade is sure to raise some eyebrows. After all, who will rise to defend the venerable old 69?