Earlier, we warned readers about the innocent-sounding radical right-wing organization, Moms for Liberty. A number of states held elections on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, and the results in many contests are revealing (and, for many of us, a very hopeful sign).
Moms for Liberty raised up and supported a number of candidates in both state and local elections. According to the American Federation of Teachers (although disputed by Moms for Liberty), “candidates publicly endorsed by conservative groups … lost about 70% of their races nationally in elections this week.” Notably, many of these elections took place in red and swing states. Mother Jones reports the following:
- In five Pennsylvania districts, Moms for Liberty recommended (but did not officially endorse) candidates: five parents’ rights candidates in Central Bucks lost their seats to Democrats, as did another five in the Pennridge distinct.
- In Iowa, only one of 13 endorsed candidates won.
- Three Moms for Liberty-backed candidates appear to have lost their races in Loudoun County, Virginia.
- In North Carolina’s Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education, a Moms for Liberty-backed candidate lost to a Democrat.
- All four of the Moms for Liberty candidates in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District in Minnesota were defeated.
In related developments, the November 7 election brought about the following results:
- Voters have hurt GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin’s conservative legislative plans by flipping the House of Delegates to Democratic and holding onto Democratic control in the Senate.
- In Spotsylvania County, all four candidates were endorsed by the GOP, and they all lost to more liberal candidates.
- The school board in Loudoun County “has been beset by controversies for two years, particularly over its policies on transgender students, Democratic-endorsed candidates won or were leading in six of the nine school board races, although two Democratic incumbents lost or were trailing.”
- Voters enshrined abortion rights in their Constitution; Democrats were joined in the vote by many Republicans. (Of course, anti-abortion activists won’t give it a rest: Senate Bill 159, which would give tax credits for donations to “pregnancy resource centers,” was almost immediately brought to the Senate Finance Committee after the election.)
- Democratic Governor Andy Beshear won reelection by campaigning on abortion rights.
- Despite Beshear’s win, Kentucky remains a very red state, being the home of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, right-wing Senator Rand Paul and many conservative US House and State officials.
- Rhode Island:
- Democrat Gabe Amo, son of West African immigrants, defeated his GOP rival, Gerry Leonard, to become the first black member of Congress from Rhode Island. Amo served in the Obama and Biden White Houses and takes the seat of US Representative David Cicilline, who stepped down to become CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.
- There is another “first” in Philadelphia: Democrat Cherelle Parker becomes the first female mayor in the city’s history, having defeated Republican David Oh.
Conclusions and Next Steps
These results bode well for the health of our democracy:
- People all over the country are paying attention to the enormous issues that are facing us, and they are coming out to vote in non-presidential elections, which is encouraging for the 2024 presidential contest.
- Parents and other voters are rejecting the extremist, some might say hateful, policies promulgated by Moms for Liberty and other right-wing groups.
- Far-right activists succeeded, with Trump’s help, in getting Roe v. Wade overturned by the Supreme Court. The abortion issue is now on the ballot all over the country, one way or the other; the right-wing success on abortion may have backfired – it is now leading to many Democratic wins. While this is good news for progressives (and young citizens who have grown up with Roe), anti-abortion activists continue to push for more restrictions. We cannot be deceived: despite their rhetoric about their desire for states to make their own abortion laws, their true long-term goal is “eliminating abortion in the United States.” Anti-abortion activists have been pushing their agenda, often under the surface, for approximately 50 years, which teaches progressives an important lesson: we can never take essential rights for granted.
- Transgender rights have also become targets of right-wing activist groups throughout the country. When laws are proposed or even passed to suppress these rights, the courts are significantly overturning or otherwise thwarting them. This is a hopeful trend, but as we have become painfully aware, judges are chosen by our elected officials. We must therefore always pay close attention to those for whom we vote because of their power and influence in the judicial arena.
What we are learning from this most recent election and elections going back to 2016 (when Clinton won the popular vote but Trump won the presidency in large part because of the Electoral College) is that most voting Americans at this point support middle- to left-leaning policies, ideologies and candidates more than they support those on the extreme right. It can thus be argued that elections, ballot initiatives and court decisions are not working in the right’s favor. Therefore, their paths to victory are limited, and they must use different tactics. These include many that Americans find unsavory, if not illegal and/or unethical:
- suppressing the vote;
- making it more difficult for left-leaning voters to vote;
- creating electoral districts that unfairly disadvantage groups that tend to vote Democratic;
- spreading lies and other disinformation;
- harassing and intimidating candidates, voters and civil servants;
- and even resorting to violence.