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Winter 2003
David Barton - 01/2003
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The November Elections

The dust has now settled from the November elections. Were the results favorable for pro-faith and pro-family voters?

One simple way of determining whether the newly elected members (or any candidate) will support or oppose traditional Biblical values is to examine his or her position on three issues: (1) unborn life — is life unique and does it come from God, and is the purpose of government to protect innocent life?; (2) homosexuality and traditional marriage — is there a God-given moral law with absolute rights and wrongs still relevant today? Is traditional marriage a God-ordained, society-strengthening institution?; (3) public religious expressions — should faith be compartmentalized from public life or should it be integrated throughout all arenas of life and living?

If an office-seeker does not recognize God as the author of life, as the originator of the moral law, and as an indispensable daily influence on a society, then that person probably will undermine rather than strengthen traditional moral and religious values. Measuring by these three criteria, the November election was a great victory for voters whose worldview is Biblically-based and God-honoring!

Some National Results
Of the ten new US Senators, eight are solidly pro-life (80%), as are 35 of the 54 new House members (65%). In fact, candidates endorsed by National Right to Life achieved victories in 64 of 82 races (78%).

Why were so many pro-life, pro-faith leaders elected? There were two reasons. First, overall voter turnout for this election increased to 39.3% of the voting population, reversing the falling trend of recent midterm elections. (Voter turnout fell in 22 States, but it rose in the 28 States with highly contested races.) Second, Christians returned to the polls in large numbers in key States.

Exit polling revealed that among voters of faith in these races, the life issue was a major influence. For example, in high-profile races in which a pro-life candidate faced a pro-abortion candidate, 41% of voters said that abortion affected their vote; of that group, 55% voted pro-life while 39% voted pro-abortion. This means that in these elections, 23% of the total vote was cast in support of life whereas only 16% was cast in support of abortion, thus resulting in a 7 point advantage for pro-life candidates.

Further evidence of the impact of faith voters was especially visible in several Senate races. For example, of the 34% of Missouri voters who identified themselves as “evangelical” or “born again,” 59% voted for pro-life candidate Jim Talent and only 38% voted for pro-abortion incumbent Sen. Jean Carnahan. In Minnesota, of the 19% of voters identified as “evangelicals,” 70% voted for pro-life candidate Norm Coleman and only 24% voted for pro-abortion candidate Walter Mondale. In Georgia, of the 44% self-identified as evangelicals, 56% voted for pro-life candidate Saxby Chambliss and only 40% voted for incumbent Sen. Max Cleland. And in Colorado, where incumbent pro-life Sen. Wayne Allard retained the seat that many predicted he would lose to pro-abortion challenger Tom Strickland, the conservative religious voting was 85% to 12% in Allard’s favor.

As author and columnist Marvin Olasky accurately noted, “Liberals are likely to become very angry as they analyze the election returns and see that the oft-reviled ’religious right’ has made another comeback. . . . The funeral for conservative Christian involvement in American politics is still a long way off. Millions of Bible-oriented voters did not listen to separatists who advised giving up on politics.”

Instead, these “Bible-oriented voters” apparently listened to leaders such as national talk show hostess Janet Parshall, who ran a steady diet of Christian get-out-the-vote programs; noted Christian leader Dr. Bill Bright, who sent a letter to 10,000 pastors declaring that it was a sin if they did not vote; Christian networks such as Salem Broadcasting, Bott Media, and American Family Radio, that actively urged Christian participation in the election; Dr. James Dobson and Chuck Colson, who ran programs urging Christians to go to the polls; and numerous other evangelical leaders who sounded the same call. Additionally, scores of Catholic priests and bishops were extremely active in urging their parishioners to vote pro-life and to support candidates on the basis of their moral rather than economic stands.

The effect of increased voting by people of faith was in evidence not only in key US Senate races but in House races as well. For example, in Minnesota, pro-life incumbent Mark Kennedy (who in his last election squeezed out a razor-thin victory of less than 500 votes) was re-elected this year with a whopping margin of over 64,000 votes; and pro-life challenger John Kline unseated pro-abortion incumbent Rep. Bill Luther. (Similar results were evident in other States.)

On the other side of the life issue, 18 of the 19 candidates endorsed by the pro-abortion group NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League) were defeated. And Emily’s List (a political action committee supporting only pro-abortion women) lost 16 of its 21 races.

Republicans v. Democrats
Republicans undeniably benefited from the increased Christian and pro-life voter turnout. This is not surprising since — with very few exceptions — Republicans protect and advocate for life (and traditional moral and religious values) while — with very few exceptions — Democrats lobby for abortion (and against traditional moral and religious values). To illustrate this fact, the House Pro-Life Caucus reports that 31 of the 33 new Republican members of the US House are pro-life (94%) while only 4 of the 21 new Democrat members are pro-life (19%). In fact, over recent years several pro-life Democrats have become so uncomfortable with their party’s rigid pro-abortion stance that they have switched parties (e.g., newly elected Senator Norm Coleman (MN) and the Co-Chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ), are both former Democrats).

According to a June 2002 Gallup poll, only 25 percent of Americans agree with the Democratic Party’s platform stance that abortion should be available on demand. Therefore, the Democrat Senate’s refusal even to consider the most reasonable and popularly-supported limitations on abortion (such as a ban on partial-birth abortions or prohibiting the transportation of minor girls across State lines for secret abortions without their parents’ knowledge) coalesced millions of voters against them.

In fact, so much did Republicans benefit from pro-life voters that not only did Republicans increase their margin in the House (normally the President’s party loses a dozen seats in the House during a midterm election) but Republicans also gained control of the Senate -- the first time both of these events have occurred in a midterm election since 1913, and the first time since 1862 that the President’s party regained total congressional control at the first midterm election.

Some State Results
The election victories for pro-life, pro-family, and pro-faith candidates also occurred at the State level. For example:

Of the 275 candidates endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan, 232 were elected (84%). The result is a pro-life majority in the Michigan House and Senate as well as its US congressional delegation.

Of the candidates endorsed by the Tennessee Right to Life, 75% were elected. Pro-lifers lost only one State Senate race and made significant gains in the State House, resulting in a 22-11 pro-life advantage in the State Senate and a 51-27 advantage in the State House.

West Virginia
Of the 108 candidates endorsed by West Virginia Right to Life, 88 were elected (82%). In fact, several pro-abortion incumbent legislators lost to pro-life challengers in both the State House and Senate; and of the 17 Senators elected, 16 were pro-life.

New Hampshire
Not only did the State elect pro-life US Senator John Sununu but it also elected a pro-life Governor; and 8 of the 10 State Senate candidates endorsed by the State Right to Life were victorious in their elections (a ninth endorsee lost by only 74 votes).

Four African-Americans ran for statewide positions in Texas; three ran as Republicans on a strong pro-faith and pro-family platform, and one as a Democrat, supporting pro-abortion and pro-homosexual positions. The one Democrat candidate lost, but the three pro-family candidates were elected, apparently making Texas the first State in America’s history to have three African-Americans serving at the same time in statewide offices, much less three African-American Republicans. (There are similar examples in other States.)

State Referendums
Not only did voters strongly support pro-family candidates but they also soundly defeated a number of anti-family statewide referendums. For example, Nevada overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriages; and Arizona, Ohio, and Nevada overwhelmingly rejected measures liberalizing marijuana use.

US Congressional Leadership
Only days after the November elections, the new freshmen in both the House and Senate joined with their more senior colleagues to choose from among their respective parties those whom they believed would best represent their values and lead their agendas. Senate Republicans chose Sen. Bill Frist (TN) and Senate Democrats chose Sen. Tom Daschle (SD); House Republicans chose Rep. Tom Delay (TX) and House Democrats chose Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA). The contrast between these latter two leaders -- especially on pro-life and pro-family issues -- speaks volumes.

Tom Delay is known for his outspoken leadership in defense of faith and traditional morality and was one of the two sponsors of the historic Congressional Day of Prayer that occurred in the Capitol Rotunda shortly after 9/11 (the first such gathering since 1774). Delay is also very active in congressional Bible studies and has a 100% rating from the National Right to Life, with similarly high ratings from other Christian and pro-family organizations. Chosen by a majority of his Republican peers, Delay represents the mainstream of House Republicans and now becomes their public face.

On the other hand, Nancy Pelosi is a San Francisco liberal who has voted in favor of same-sex marriages, in favor of partial birth abortions, against posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings, etc. She has earned a 0% rating from the National Right to Life, with similarly low ratings from other Christian and pro-family organizations. Chosen by a majority of her Democrat peers, she represents the mainstream of House Democrats and now becomes their public face.

The “Lame Duck” Congress
Much important work was left unfinished by the Senate when it adjourned for the November election; Congress therefore reconvened in an unusual “lame duck” session following the election. That lame-duck Congress was composed of the same members as before the election, despite the fact that several of them had been defeated in the election. (The new members could not officially take office until after January 3rd, as stipulated by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.) The primary focus of this session was to have been the Homeland Security Act and terrorism insurance coverage, mainly involving the Senate. (Recall from the Fall 2000 WallBuilder Report that the House had passed dozens of bills that the Senate refused to act upon, including the Homeland Security Act.) In a surprise move, however, the Senate showed that it had heard the voice of voters in the election and confirmed to the federal Courts of Appeals two of President Bush’s judicial nominees whom it had previously refused to consider, Mike McConnell and Dennis Shedd.

One important action did occur on the House side in the lame duck session. During the regular Congress, a badly needed bankruptcy reform bill had become stalled when the House refused to act on it because of an amendment (introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer, NY, and passed by Senate Democrats) stipulating that peaceful pro-life protesters could never be forgiven from a debt if they went bankrupt. Significantly, debt forgiveness apparently was available for former drug dealers, child molesters, etc., but not for peaceful pro-life protesters. (It seems Sen. Schumer and the Senate Democrats place pro-lifers a rung below drug dealers and child molesters!) The House successfully stripped this provision from the bankruptcy reform bill and promptly passed it, but the Senate then refused to reconsider the bill, so it did not became law.

Future Congressional Agenda
With a new Congress, what can be anticipated during this upcoming two-year session? Congress definitely must focus on its constitutional business. Art. 1, Sec. 8 of the Constitution stipulates that Congress must address economic spending and taxing issues (these usually require about 90% of the congressional schedule), but the last Senate passed only 3 of a required 13 economic appropriation bills. Therefore, this current Congress not only must finish the neglected work of the previous Congress but it must also prepare appropriations for the coming biennium as well.

In addition to this required economic action, Senate Republican leaders have indicated that much of the additional agenda planned for this session will be to address many of the bills that the House passed but Senate Democrats refused to act upon last session. (The House in this session will need to re-pass all of the bills that died in the last session; this is expected to occur.) Observers believe that the Senate therefore will address at least five major pro-life bills, including:

  • A ban on partial-birth abortions;
  • A ban on human and embryonic cloning;
  • The Unborn Victims of Violence Act (giving legal status to an unborn child hurt or killed during the commission of a federal crime);
  • The Child Custody Protection Act (making it a crime to transport minors out of state for abortions to evade parental consent or notification laws); and
  • The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (providing protection for hospitals and health-care workers who refuse to participate in abortions).

Additional action items for the Senate likely will include confirmation of “strict constructionist” judges; allowing religious groups to compete in administering federally-funded social programs such as soup kitchens, juvenile programs, rehabilitation for drug addicts and alcoholics; an increase in abstinence-funding and fatherhood programs in the welfare reform bill; and other pro-family measures.

Last session, the House proved its willingness to pass these issues, but will the new Senate now pass them? Perhaps, but possibly not, because under Senate rules, a bill can be filibustered (killed) by a single Senator unless there are 60 votes to override that Senator. Since Republicans have only 51 votes in the Senate, all they can do is guarantee that these pro-family bills will at least receive a hearing and be scheduled for a vote. If these bills do not actually come to a vote after being passed out of committee, it will be because the Democrats filibustered the bills against the majority’s wishes. In fact, even though confirmations of the President’s judicial nominees are now expected to move forward, the Democrats still can filibuster these nominees — and any potential Supreme Court nominee (should such a vacancy occur). Nonetheless, because people of faith returned to the polls last November, the prospect for the passage of pro-family bills is now brighter than it has been in ten years.

(To view an Adobe pdf version of this newsletter, including pictures, click here.)

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