If the victorious Republicans follow through on their campaign promises—for example, many promised to work toward repealing or defunding ObamaCare—election day will have been a net win for advocates of individual rights, despite the passage of some rights-violating ballot measures. Consider some of the relevant developments:
- At the national level, Republicans “claimed the majority in the Senate and built their majority in the House.” Although Republicans do not have a veto-proof majority, they now have the ability to derail Barack Obama’s agenda and to press Obama to quit blocking energy development, tax rate reductions, and more.
- Although Republicans do not have the power to repeal ObamaCare by themselves, they do have the power—and perhaps their constituents can help them find the will—to offer substantial rights-protecting reforms regarding health care and insurance.
- Some Republicans won in large part because they stopped talking about their desire to ban abortion; this is a good sign for the GOP. For example, in Colorado, Cory Gardner handily defeated incumbent Mark Udall for U.S. Senate. Although Gardner still supports some restrictions on abortion, he reversed his support for anti-abortion “personhood” measures and called for over-the-counter birth control pills (currently available only by prescription), which “personhood” legislation might have banned. (For why women have a right to seek an abortion, see “The Assault on Abortion Rights Undermines All Our Liberties.”)
- In Colorado and North Dakota, voters defeated “personhood” ballot measures by two-to-one margins. On the other hand, Tennessee voters passed an anti-abortion measure that authorizes state legislators to further restrict abortion as they see fit.
- Voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, DC, made substantial strides in reining in the immoral war on drugs by partially legalizing marijuana. Although a majority of Florida voters supported the legalization of medical marijuana, the proposal to legalize it “failed to clear 60 percent as required for constitutional amendments.”
- Voters in Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota hiked the minimum wage. That will be slim consolation for those who lose their jobs—mostly young people with few skills and little experience—because their employers can no longer afford to pay them.
Despite a few setbacks for individual rights, the election results involved a number of victories worth cheering; and, depending on whether the winning Republicans walk their talk, the results may prove to be profoundly good. Time, choices, and actions will tell. Let’s hold their feet to the fire.