Putting the story right

America’s mid-term elections were a referendum on the values embodied in founding texts.
Sheila Liaugminas | Nov 9 2010 | comment  


The 2010 midterm elections in the United States were an overwhelming victory for fans of limited government, individual liberties, states’ rights, and traditional moral values. The media narrative told us that the economy and jobs drove and determined this election, but it was much more profound a referendum than that.

It was, in the first place, a big victory for pro-life candidates, whose stand on the issue may have been decisive in many close races. Four female pro-life state governors were elected and the current Senate gained its first pro-life woman, Kelly Ayotte.

The election campaign had been notable for the number of women pro-life candidates, including Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, who ran for Senate from California. Though Fiorina did not win her election, she made it a close and tough race with an entrenched liberal incumbent. The Susan B. Anthony List went head-to-head with the Emily’s List political action organization – the former with a mission of supporting pro-life women for elective office and the latter to back pro-abortion women candidates – and this time around, SBA won the contest.

"This shift in numbers from pro-abortion to pro-life women is historic and no accident," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. "It is a corrective moment for the women's movement which must either drop abortion out of its center or risk dropping off the face of the earth.

The pro-life movement includes men, and this year’s star candidate was Florida’s Marco Rubio. He was as excruciating to the Democrats as he was exhilarating to the Republicans, and that, thanks to Tea Party support. The son of Cuban exiles, Rubio belongs to the demographic the Democrats thought they owned. Winning the race for the Senate as a Republican, however, does not mean he is owned by that party either. As he said in his “victory speech”, the election results are a “second chance” for Republicans “to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago.” A man of solid integrity, he becomes the new candidate of hope and change. In the Republican Party.

The American story

But what is it that the Republicans have a second chance to be?

In the two days after the elections, I had some encounters that provided some clues. In an Acton Institute event, one of the panelists poignantly said that, time and again, he had encountered Tea Party activists carrying copies of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and they were familiar with these texts. In fact, they had become “people of the text”, reading the Federalist Papers and tracing their concept of human dignity to Sacred Scripture. They were seizing the founding narrative and restoring it to its proper place in American politics, he observed.

I submit that the election was also about another document, the Manhattan Declaration. On the day after the election, I had the opportunity to guest-host a three-hour radio show and in a lineup of great and knowledgeable guests was Princeton Professor Robert George, one of the Declaration’s drafters. The three key principles of the declaration, sanctity of life, defense of traditional marriage, and protection of conscience rights were all upheld in the elections, said George, who is worth quoting at length:

It is a mistake to read [election] results as economic considerations in the wake of Obama’s efforts to take over health care and other sectors of the economy,” he said. “They certainly played a role. But when you look at the platform of those who were elected and those who were defeated, you will see that the social issues were very much in play. The public got to choose between who respected them and who didn’t. And in an enormous number of cases, they chose the ones who did.

It’s also very important not only to look at what happened at the federal level, but also to the states. There were very important victories for life and marriage in the governorships. There were some tremendous victories in the state legislatures for life and marriage. New Hampshire [which elected pro-life Kelly Ayotte], won a veto-proof majority in their state legislature and it may be possible to restore the tradition definition of marriage…

The most important fact on marriage and its future is that when this issue has been put to the people 31 times, in all 31 times the people have resoundingly affirmed the traditional definition. It’s not inevitable that it will be overturned, at all. Judges will step out of line and advance an agenda and impose their view on the states. But three of those judges were on the ballot who did that in Iowa, and they were all thrown out by the voters.


Conservatives have seized control of the narrative as best they can. It’s a new day in America. But quickly and purposely, the new representatives are moving to acknowledge the mandate they received from people of the text, and promise stewardship over its values.

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy Award winning journalist. She blogs on American politics at SheilaReports, MercatorNet.com

This article is published by Sheila Liaugminas and MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

comments powered by Disqus
Follow MercatorNet
MercatorNet RSS feed
subscribe to newsletter
Sections and Blogs
Family Edge
Sheila Reports
Reading Matters
Demography Is Destiny
From the Editor
contact us
our ideals
our People
our contributors
Mercator who?
partner sites
audited accounts
advice for writers
privacy policy
New Media Foundation
Level 1, Unit 7,
11 Lord Street,
Botany Australia 2019

+61 2 8005 8605
skype: mercatornet

© New Media Foundation