U.S. conservative leaders reacted to Tuesday’s election results by noting that although Americans elected Barack Obama as the next president, they also agreed with conservative values on same-sex marriage.
In a phone conference on Wednesday morning, President of Let Freedom Ring Colin Hanna summarized the election by describing what it was not. “The election was not a landslide, the election was not a realignment election, and the election was not an ideological election.”
“It was not an ideological election because the winner campaigned entirely on an argument of new politics, a different kind of rhetoric, a moving away from left versus right, red versus blue, conservative versus liberal. So clearly the reception of the American people of a bi-partisan, non-partisan approach was a major factor in Obama’s success.”
No one could observe this and conclude that it was also an ideological election, Hanna remarked.
Ken Blackwell, the vice chairman of the 2008 RNC Platform Committee, agreed with Hanna’s observation, saying, “What I found interesting was California and Florida where Barack won overwhelmingly and where our issue won convincingly.”
Referring to the California Proposition 8 and the Florida Proposition 2, Blackwell clarified, “It’s important that some folks understand that we don’t put these issues on the ballot because they are wedge issues or issues to use as political tools. We really put them on the ballot because we think it’s important to get public policy that reflects the desires of the body politic.”
Connie Mackey of the Family Research Council Action also stressed that Americans had not changed their values. “Of the 134 races that we did endorse, we only lost 16. And four are undecided right now.” “We don’t just endorse somebody with just an ‘R’ next to their name. They have to be using our issues as they campaign and they have to be devoted to our issues when they’re up on the Hill.”
Mackey believes that this success rate shows that “the social issues and the culture of the country still matters.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, described Obama’s election as a success for the civil rights movement before pointing out that the battle to protect the unborn from abortion is also a human and civil rights battle.
Although, she sees the election results as a political setback, Dannenfelser argued that, “The pro-life movement is just as strong as it ever was and this is not a repudiation in any way of the issues that we are lobbying on in the pro-life movement.”
CNA asked Dannenfelser what she believed was behind the failure of the South Dakota initiative to limit significantly abortion, given the strength of the pro-life movement.
“You do have to reach people where they are, and it could have been a miscalculation of where the consensus is in the state. But also, it could be that the consensus was overwhelmed by being far out spent, which we are every single time in these propositions,” she told CNA.
Shifting back to the general election, Dannenfelser said the biggest question that president-elect Obama will have to answer is whether he will go forward with his promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act or whether he will try to find common ground with pro-life advocates.
The SBA List president summed up any losses suffered by conservatives as due to economic conditions and not because of conservative principles. “We lost on a different battleground. We lost on an economic playing field, not on the merits of the pro-life issue,” she emphasized.