The Magazine

What Falwell Wrought

Just the biggest voter realignment in modern history.

May 28, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 35 • By JEFFREY BELL
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The realignment of conservative Bible-believing Protestants in these years is rightly associated with such names as Ed McAteer, Paul Weyrich, and Pat Robertson. But it was Jerry Falwell's voter registration drive that had the most frankly political content. The very name of his group, which led the drive, the Moral Majority, spoke for itself in stark terms that left little room for ambiguity.

Though Falwell himself sometimes came across as eccentric in the years leading up to his death last week, his impact is still being felt in, for example, the pivotal role of "values voters" in the 2004 presidential election and the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 vote upholding a ban on partial-birth abortion. Because of Falwell and the social earthquake he helped make happen, American politics will never be the same.

Jeffrey Bell is a principal of Capital City Partners, a Washington consulting firm.