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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Matter of Values

I'm undecided whether I believe all the hype about George W. Bush winning the election because he embodied the "American values" voters were jonesing for. In any event, syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman gets a "Right On" from me for these comments in her opinion piece this week. I am happy to populate the "Immoral Minority" with her and am glad to have her as one of our clear-thinking spokespersons.

Morality Not Exclusive to Religious Right

...We are now well on the way — with a little help from our conservative friends — to making this the central narrative of the 2004 campaign. It was the morals, stupid. It was the culture wars, dummy. It was, as Gary Bauer said cheerily, "the year of the values voter." This story line is rapidly connected to the gay marriage amendments that brought out conservatives in 11 states.

I find this absolutely maddening. Check the choices put before the exiting voters. They could pick, among other things, Iraq, the economy or moral issues. The underlying conclusion was that anyone who picked the war, say, or jobs was not voting their values.

I suspect that the people answering the exit polls also accepted the categorical divide between the pocketbook and the Bible, between economic and moral issues, between war and values. Anyone who isn't a member of the anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, fundamentalist right is categorized — or caricatured — as someone who checked her values 100 yards from the polling booth.

Well, speaking for the designated Immoral Minority, there are a whole lot of folks who believe that starting a pre-emptive war on false premises is a moral issue. There are a whole lot who believe that giving tax cuts to the rich and a deficit to the grandkids is a matter of values. There are a whole lot who put our faith, secular and sacred, in the most religiously diverse country in the world.

But the entire moral vocabulary is now a wholly owned language of the religious right.

...The blue candidates will never convert people who believe that homosexuality is a sin, or that the fertilized egg is a human being, or that evolution is a scam taught by secular humanists. But among the not-so-red voters are those who believe in legal protection for gay couples, who value a child with diabetes over a frozen embryo in a fertility clinic. They regard poverty as a moral issue and tolerance as an American value. They don't want their country racked by the fundamentalist religious wars we see across the world. And they need to hear the moral framework for these views.

Read the entire piece here -->


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