When words like "huge" or "massive" don't seem big enough to describe the scale of the conservative victories of the midterm election of 2010, the pundits reach for words like "tsunami" and "hurricane." Everybody knows that the sweeping victories -- including the largest House turnover in seventy years and an expected six-seat pickup in the Senate -- portend massive, perhaps seismic, changes, but who can say exactly at this point what those changes will look like or what they will mean politically and legislatively in the long run?
The presumptive new House Speaker, Ohio Rep. John Boehner, promised, "Change course we will," as he acknowledged the voters' mandate to reduce the size of government, cut the deficit, and repeal ObamaCare. He said, "The American people spoke, and I think it is pretty clear that the Obama-Pelosi agenda is being rejected by the American people." Only die-hard ideologues in the legacy media deny that the voters gave the Obama/Pelosi/Reid big-government agenda a resounding "repudiation."
Over and over again, voters told reporters as they stood in voting lines that they wanted to see change. With Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) remaining head of the Senate and President Obama retaining veto power, sweeping change will not be possible, and many are predicting two years of nonstop acrimony -- what's new about that? -- and gridlock, a good thing in the eyes of many who view the government as too big, too activist, and too intrusive. But voters sent a clear message that Election 2010 had better mean significant change of direction and substantive changes on the issues or there will be more House (and Senate) cleaning in 2012.
In my interviews on the day after the election, reporters insisted on an "oust the incumbents" narrative about the election results. Many conservative incumbents were safe, however, and many leftists lost their bids for reelection -- think Democratic Sens. Russell Feingold in Wisconsin and Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas.
We heard little about the "social conservative" issues, and the general consensus was that they were irrelevant in the 2010 election. However, the pro-life victories were outstanding. It was an especially good night for the Susan B. Anthony List -- fourteen pro-abortion candidates were defeated -- and a great victory for Americans United for Life, with the defeat of eleven of their twelve targeted pro-abortion candidates. My own organization, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, noted six new pro-life women in Congress whom we endorsed -- Martha Roby (Alabama-2), Sandy Adams (Florida-24), Vicky Hartzler (Missouri-4), Renee Ellmers (N.C.-2), Kristi Noem (S.D.), and Diane Black (Tennessee-8). Four male candidates whom we endorsed defeated pro-abortion candidates -- Cory Gardner (Colorao-4), Adam Kinzinger (Illinois-11), Dr. Joe Heck (Nevada-3), and Mike Kelly (Pennsylvania-3). Finally, three of the men whom CWALAC endorsed for the Senate won -- Rand Paul, John Boozman, and Marco Rubio.
Various groups contributed to the GOP victory: Independents voted for the new crop of conservatives 55 percent to 39 percent; 48 percent of women voted GOP, a dramatic increase over 2008; self-identified evangelicals (at roughly 30 percent of all voters) voted 78 percent for the GOP. The major group that did not contribute to this election was the youth vote that was so crucial in 2008. Young people stayed away from the polls; their absence was a factor in the outcome.
Sen. Reid, who, according to analysts, won because the unions sent multiple busloads of voters to the polls to ensure his victory, doesn't seem to understand the extent of the public repudiation of his radical agenda. The president was, as has become typical, condescending and arrogant in his after-the-election press conference. He doesn't get it. He talked about the public's expectations and said that they overwhelmingly want the government to "work harder, move forward and make progress." The president's only concession was to assert that his administration was "in a hurry" to make the changes mandated in 2008 and thus didn't also "change the process" of government. He argued against the idea that people rejected his agenda; after all, he said, "people don't carry around a fixed ideology" -- an astounding perspective that, perhaps, explains his administration's governance.
As analyses are made public, we will see how much the major media understands; their portrayal of the Tea Party was destroyed by voters. Frank Luntz's polls revealed that voters viewed Tea Party members as more mainstream than Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
In summary, the election was about more than fiscal issues. Yes, the deficit must be addressed, and conservatives are at the forefront of the outcry against the unconscionable out-of-control spending, horrendous debt, and a record-breaking, mountainous deficit. Many of those fiscal conservatives are also conservative evangelicals who are strongly pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family. They compose more than half of the Tea Party, and they voted to see change in the moral and spiritual direction of America. Those voters -- many of them among CWA's grassroots membership of over half a million Americans -- are determined to hold the newly-elected Members of Congress accountable for taking the nation in a new direction toward great fiscal stability, as well as for upholding moral standards that will, once again, make America a strong nation, under God. The meaning of this election boils down to a remark made in 1824 by Andrew Jackson: "No people ever lost their liberties unless they themselves first became corrupt ... The people are the safeguards of their own liberties, and I rely wholly on them to guard themselves."
Let the record show that in 2010, the people of this great and exceptional nation voted for American liberty, freedom, and for those who will protect our nation. Let those elected to safeguard our liberties understand that they were given a sacred trust, and we will hold them accountable, for we understand, as John C. Calhoun said, that liberty is harder to preserve than to obtain.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., author of Children at Risk (Transaction, 2010), is Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, Concerned Women for America's think-tank.