Sept. 12 was a “Super Tuesday” with primary elections in nine states. Even those races that turned on seemingly local issues revealed some patterns and trends emerging among voters. They are searching for candidates with the courage and independence to stand and fight the dominant Republican right and its disastrous policies of war and repression. Voters are choosing these candidates not merely as a matter of political conviction but also because they believe they have the best chance of winning Nov. 7. They are especially enthusiastic in rallying behind candidates who effectively link the $400 billion squandered in Iraq to the lack of health care, the fiscal starving of public education, and the crisis of our crumbling infrastructure symbolized by the levees of New Orleans.

Take New Hampshire. Voters bucked the Democratic machine and chose Carol Shea-Porter as their candidate for U.S. Congress from the Granite State. An opponent of the war in Iraq, she decided to run after working as a volunteer in New Orleans and finding the people abandoned by Bush, Cheney & Co.

Or take Donna Edwards, a young African American woman who nearly unseated eight-term incumbent Albert Wynn in Maryland’s 4th CD. Wynn, who is also African American, voted for the Iraq war resolution and for Bush’s outrageous bankruptcy bill. Edwards called Wynn “the Lieberman of Maryland.” The big vote she piled up showed that voters were listening.

Keith Ellison’s primary victory in Minneapolis means that it’s likely he will be the first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress and the first African American elected to Congress from the state of Minnesota. Ellison is compared to the late Sen. Paul Wellstone for his courage in standing against the ultra-right. Among other things, he calls for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

This trend bodes well for the general election, Nov. 7. For the most part, voters used their ballots Sept. 12 to send the message that it is time to change direction. It is time to elect a House and Senate that is responsive to the people, not the rich and greedy.