The kind of election we had in 2000 taught us many lessons. One is that it is time now to start working on the elections of 2002.
While the Presidency was the central concern of this past election, the composition of the US Senate should be a key concern of the next one. One-third of the Senators are up for re-election, and this will involved Senate races in Colorado, Montana, Delaware, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Maine, Idaho, New Mexico, Illinois, Wyoming, Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Kansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Oregon, New Hampshire, Alaska, Tennessee, New Jersey, South Carolina, Virginia, and Minnesota.
For the passage of laws that favor the right to life, and for the appointment of Supreme Court Justices who see the justice of our cause, the President cannot act alone. The Senate must vote in a pro-life direction. That will happen only if we vote in a pro-life direction when we elect our Senators.
Several steps need to be taken, starting today:
a) Pro-life candidates who have a likelihood of victory should be encouraged to run, and if there are none in a particular race, they should be sought and found now.
b) Voters should be informed now of the opportunities they will have to shape the composition of the Senate. Even if a Senate race is not happening in our state, we can influence people in other states.
c) People need education on the central importance of the right to life as an election issue. Whether the candidates themselves emphasize the issue or not, the voters need to know where the candidates stand on this "fundamental human rights issue" (US bishops, Resolution on Abortion, 1989). If candidates have not expressed themselves on the issue, they should be asked both privately and publicly.
d) Pro-life activists should not tire in speaking, teaching, and writing about the political responsibilities we have. There is time now to prepare new materials in anticipation of the elections of 2002, if we start right away.
e) Clergy should preach fearlessly about the political responsibilities of believers, and highlight what the bishops have said about the central importance of the right to life in evaluating candidates. The document Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics (1998) remains a key guide in this area.
f) Fervent prayer should be offered, publicly and privately, for all who hold or seek public office.
A commitment to the right to life is not identical to a commitment to any particular political party. No party perfectly embodies the Gospel, nor is our loyalty to party supposed to be stronger to our loyalty to our moral convictions. Candidates of any party can be pro-life. Throughout the changes that occur from candidate to candidate, election to election, and year to year, our message is always the same: No government has the authority to allow the destruction of innocent human life, and we have the solemn responsibility to choose leaders who recognize that.