If you want some encouragement, I suggest you read this issue’s front page article about the good news from election night. However, despite many pro-life victories on May 21, the races we didn’t win have been on my mind the most. It has becoming increasingly clear to me that one significant reason some pro-life candidates don’t win elections is because we don’t expect to win.
I was doing yardwork on Memorial Day weekend after the election and a neighbor came by to chat. When I told him where I work, he asked me if we were the people with the “right to life” candidate signs in our yard. “Yes, that was me,” I answered, not knowing where this was going. He said something that struck me: “I voted for them, but I didn’t expect them to win.”
All of them won.
I’m thankful my neighbor decided to vote even though he didn’t think there was much point to it. The sad truth is that in my own school district, Salem-Keizer, most pro-life voters didn’t vote, despite several mail pieces, phone calls, emails, texts, and digital ads reminding them of the importance of voting. Could it be that most people write-off the importance of voting because they think their candidate can’t win?
One significant reason Oregon Right to Life PAC invested so much in winning a 5-2 pro-life majority on the Salem-Keizer School Board and every position on the Marion County Commission is this: we need to demonstrate that pro-life candidates can win. There is no excuse for anyone to think it’s pointless to vote!
We’ve had a lot of success here, but there is a huge need to share this message with advocates around the state. On election night, two pro-life candidates in different parts of the state both lost by only four votes. In fact, I ran the numbers: most, if not all, of our endorsed candidates would have won if every pro-life voter returned their ballot.
I know many people reading this faithfully vote, even when it is hard to figure out which candidates are pro-life. However, many identify with my neighbor who voted but resigned himself to losing. Setting low expectations is often a self-fulfilling prophecy and spreads to those who are less faithful voters.
I’ll finish with an encouraging example: one of our endorsed candidates, Stefani Carlson, decided she did not want to serve on the Canby School Board after it was too late to withdraw. She actually campaigned in support of one of her opponents. On election night we were all surprised that she won, defeating a two-term incumbent!
Let’s set the bar higher. We may not always win in such dramatic fashion. But if we aim high, we probably would succeed more often.