It can be a real challenge to find feel-good news these days. Our newsfeeds and television screens provide a steady stream of distressing headlines: a global climate catastrophe, devastating wars and humanitarian crises raging abroad, gun violence and a white Christian nationalist culture war at home.
In the midst of all that strife, this week’s election results were a welcome relief.
Voters across the country issued a resounding rebuke to Moms For Liberty, the racist and homophobic hate group perhaps best known for inciting moral panic at school board meetings. The group was unable to replicate its electoral success of 2022, with a majority of their 130 endorsed school board candidates being annihilated at the polls. In Minnesota, Kansas, North Carolina, and Washington, every single Board Member For Bigotry was defeated. They didn’t fare much better in Iowa, Virginia, Ohio, or New Jersey.
Of course, extremists are not so easily defeated. Facts don’t dissuade them, nor does the unpopularity of their opinions dismay them. Moms For Liberty has already, unsurprisingly warned they’re “just getting started” and intend to “work harder [to] figure out how to invest in our candidates.” We’d be wise not to underestimate them. They did have a few wins this week and have, in just two years, helped elect 365 extremists to public school boards.
Still, Tuesday’s results are a clear indication that American voters aren’t buying the manufactured outrage they’re peddling. As our new Communications Director, Melina Cohen, wrote to you last week, “It is an enduring truth that most Americans choose public schools and oppose the diversion of public dollars to fund private and parochial schools.”
Public schools weren’t the only big winners on Election Day. A constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights won by double digits in Ohio, nullifying the state’s previous six-week ban. On the heels of a similar ballot initiative in Kansas last year, it’s clear that reproductive rights are not only a winning issue for progressives but a galvanizing one for voters across party lines and of all genders, races, and ages. In Virginia, too, pro-choice candidates took control of the General Assembly, effectively blocking Governor Youngkin’s proposed 15-week abortion ban.
There’s a lot to celebrate this week, but we must be sure not to let our contentment turn to complacency. Though its candidates struggled at the ballot box this week, Christian nationalism is still an imminent and increasing threat. A couple weeks ago, Donald Trump told a throng of supporters, “If you don’t like our religion…then we don’t want you in our country,” and Mayor Eric Adams said, “I am mayor because God gave me the authority to be mayor.” During his closing statement at Wednesday’s presidential debate, Senator Tim Scott said we should “stop kneeling in protest and start kneeling in prayer.”
So while a year is a long time, it’s time we must use wisely. There’s too much at stake in the 2024 election to disregard these dangerous promises and the data we have (including, apparently, a real threat of political violence). The policy team at American Atheists is already hard at work, preparing for an onslaught of legislation from Alliance Defending Freedom and other Project Blitz-aligned bill mills. In the coming months, we will need you to take action in your community to fight against the unrelenting assaults against reproductive rights, public schools, and the separation of church and state.
I know you care deeply about these issues. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Set up a monthly donation of $5, $10, or more today to support our policy and advocacy work.
Because if we want more good news, we’re going to have to make it ourselves. Tuesday was a step in the right direction, but in order to sustain that momentum — to ensure it’s more than a fleeting, feel-good mirage — we have to continue organizing, advocating, educating, and voting like our rights depend on it (and they do). I hope you’ll join us.
American Atheists is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization that relies on the support of members like you. Contributions are tax-deductible. Our Federal Tax ID Number is 74-2466507 and our Combined Federal Campaign number is 52217.
225 Cristiani Street
Cranford, NJ 07016