A few observations from Tuesday’s election:
1: Same-sex marriage won in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. In Minnesota, a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was overturned; in Maine and Maryland and Washington, same-sex marriage has been flat-out approved. This is the first time in United States history that same-sex marriage has been approved by popular vote: in the past, same-sex marriage has always won either through the legislature or the courts.
2: The first openly gay United States Senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, has been elected.
3: Marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington. And medical marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts.
4: Open misogyny, rape apology, and hatred of female sexuality got trounced, as Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin, Richard “Rape Is Something That God Intended To Happen” Mourdock, Allen “We Are Not Going To Have Our Men Become Subservient” West, and Joe “Abortion Is Never Necessary to Save the Mother’s Life” Walsh… all got beat.
5: Taxpayer support for churches lost in Florida. And it lost by a big-ass margin.
6: The Republican strategy of trying to win elections by demonizing birth control, i.e. people who have sex for pleasure, went down in flames.
What does this tell me?
There are lots of conclusions to be drawn from this election: from the value of getting young people energized about politics, to the increasing racial diversity of this country and the increasing stupidity of race-baiting as a political strategy, to the fact that women, you know, vote, to the simple importance of getting the vote out. But there’s one conclusion that jumped out at me like a kangaroo last night:
In this election, secular values won big-time.
In this election — as in so many elections in the recent past — the Republican Party tried to win, in large part, through religious fear-mongering about gays and drugs and sex and abortion and women who don’t know their place. And in this election, the religious fear-mongering suffered a catastrophic fail. It wasn’t a complete victory for secular values everywhere — it’s not like the religious right lost every single election across the country — but the trend across the country showed an overwhelming rejection of the religious right.
I’m not going to credit this to the atheist movement. I don’t think atheists are an effective voting bloc — not yet. But we sure as heck could be. I think in a few years, we will be. And more to the point: The political values that are most common among atheists — support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, support for birth control and abortion, support for evidence-based drug policy, opposition to religion being intertwined with government, opposition to laws about sex being based on religion, opposition to laws in general being based on religion — are, increasingly, American values. This election was, to a great extent, a referendum on secular values versus the values of the theocratic religious right — and secular values won.
Atheists are not in opposition to American values. Atheists are on the cutting edge of them.