Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Beware the Values Voter

John Nichols of The Nation warns us to not swallow the snake with the snake oil on the matter of "moral values". He points out that we can compete for the religious vote, but unless we accept the viewpoints that hold Jim Crow to be an acceptable social arangement, we will never win Alabama. Every state of the Confederacy which fought to preserve slavery voted for Bush. We have to consider sharpening our game to capture the Presidency and Congress without the South, as Kerry had hoped to do, and very nearly did.

We certainly came close to unseating an incumbent President in war time, despite the now widely touted 'values gap'. Consider that among those citing jobs, the economy, or Iraq as their top concerns, Kerry won by margins of 3 to 4 to 1. Figures like that illustrate the brittleness of the GOP coalition. They have a single leg to stand on, undermine that foundation, and the they will fall.

So must we sharpen our language and rhetoric concerning values and morals? Absolutely. Should we modify or downplay some the positions on which Right Wingers are apparently scoring points from, such as gay marriage and unions, abortion, and stem cell research? No. We have to make our moral and ethical issues framing them more compelling. We should not, and cannot retreat on civil and human rights to accomodate backwards looking religious dogma in a vain attempt to win elections by become a pale immitation of the Theopublicans.

Rather we need to make our ecomonic security agenda more compelling on an ethical level, rather than a laundry list of programs and plans. We need to compete strongly and uncompromisingly for the moral high-ground on those issues on which the GOP is running on and winning. We Democrats tend to approach these hot-button wedge issues with trepidation and appeals aimed mainly at civil rights arguements, when we don't simply try to avoid the issue. We need to take them on as moral and religious issues, and win that arguement. We can and we must engage in that dialog. If we do, then we can pull some of those 'Values Voters' back into the Democratic column.


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