The Common Good

Jim Wallis: A Defeat for the Religious Right and the Secular Left

Jim WallisIn this election, both the Religious Right and the secular Left were defeated, and the voice of the moral center was heard. A significant number of candidates elected are social conservatives on issues of life and family, economic populists, and committed to a new direction in Iraq. This is the way forward: a grand new alliance between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, one that can end partisan gridlock and involves working together for real solutions to pressing problems.

It is clear from the election results that moderate, and some conservative, Christians - especially evangelicals and Catholics - want a moral agenda that is broader than only abortion and same-sex marriage. Various exit polls showed a shift of 6% to 16% fewer evangelicals and Catholics supporting Republican candidates than in 2004. Poverty, the war in Iraq, strengthening families, and protecting the environment are all moral values. And many Americans this year voted all of their values.

One of the central issues in this election was the continuing violence and death in Iraq. As of today, 2,836 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died in this disastrous war. The people have now spoken, and there is a mandate to change the course of U.S. policy in Iraq. The president acknowledged this yesterday with his announcement of the resignation of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and his recognition that the country needs a fresh perspective in the Defense Department. We believe that the first order of business for the new Congress and the administration must be determining alternatives to the current disastrous course.

Voters also recognized that while the economy is in good shape for some, there are still too many being left out, especially working families. It is significant that in all six states where an initiative to raise the minimum wage was on the ballot, it passed, in most cases by overwhelming margins. Congress and the administration must now pass a federal minimum wage increase that will benefit all working people in America.

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