A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The moral values issue. . .

. . .was the first explanation offered up for the election results, and both ends of the political spectrum embraced it with enthusiasm. The left was rather quick to pick up on that note, as it's a sure-fire motivator for a base in desperate need of a cause to get them out of bed everyday. The right seized on it as an affirmation of everything we've been saying since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981.

The truth, however, is somewhere in the middle -- and we all know that, deep in our hearts. It's reassuring to think that the whole nation has finally come to the realize that, in fact, I was right all along, and that the only reason the vote came out differently in the past is that I didn't do a good enough job of "educating" people to the facts. But, the truth of the matter is, the only thing that was really different about this election in comparison to those of the past is that more people who agree with me on the greatest number of issues decided to vote.

I have no illusions that America suddenly woke up one day and said to itself, "You know...that CabanaBoy is right. I think he should run for President." What I think is more likely the case is that the election was more or less a stirring of America's natural, ingrained conservatism. It was essentially an expression of Americanism, pure and simple -- a reaction of the vast middle to pressures being put upon it by the fringes. In this case, the most subversive fringe element happened to be Michael Moore and his gaggle of tragically radical cohorts, and middle America solidly rebuked it.

But, this doesn't strike me as an ideological conservatism. It's a cultural conservatism that doesn't fit the caricature of it that is often presented by our coastal culture mavens. At the same time, I don't think it's the mobilization of evangelical Christians that Bill Bennett and James Dobson believe it to be, either. I think it's far more likely that it was the reawakening of America as an identity -- one that was being assaulted by very unserious people taking themselves seriously.

No, middle America doesn't relish the fact that "the world hates us". We may not lose sleep over it, but we don't like it one bit. That's because we realize that the world that hates us does so based on a lot of false assumptions that have perpetuated by high profile left wing activists, from Michael Moore to Jimmy Carter to the Dixie Chicks. That hasn't always been the case, and politics is influenced as much by what the public doesn't know as what it does.

And, we haven't always known what these people were saying on their trips abroad. It wasn't until the explosion of the internet that it was possible to get these speeches and statements in front of the eyes of middle America through blogs and bulletin boards. So, up until recently, activists and celebrities have been free to embrace, and even exploit, anti-Americanism abroad to their own benefit without fear that it would get back to the folks in the states. You know -- the "dumb" folks who line up to vote for George W. Bush against their own self-interests, who wave the flag at the drop of a hat, who send their sons and daughters off to die in the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

And, maybe, it's not just the Bible-thumping, hellfire-and-brimstone Christian who thinks gay marriage is a bad idea. It could be that middle America has seen the negative consequences of the sexual revolution, and doesn't want to raise its children in a world that it has no way of explaining to them, or guiding them through, because things changed too quickly to keep up. How do you teach your child to be tolerant of something that was considered anathema when you were their age?

And maybe you didn't have to think that the war in Iraq was going perfectly in order to bring yourself to vote for the President. It could be that people have access to enough information now that they don't feel the need need to hear the President's appraisal of his own performance in order to come to their conclusions. It could be that the voting population is savvy enough now to know that politicians have nothing to gain by conceding a single point to the opposition in the middle of a presidential campaign. And, of course, it could be that the average American understands that, even if the progress seems halting at times, it is still progress. Or, it could be that the public felt that its intelligence had finally been sufficiently insulted by the stream of propaganda that began the day after September 11 with Michael Moore dividing America into two groups -- those who didn't deserve to be killed, and George W. Bush supporters.

Between 9/12/2001 and 11/2/2004, we saw celebrity after celebrity proclaim that the war in Iraq was a horrible injustice. We read the words of the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines as she, while in England, voiced her sense of shame for our President. A laughably inept propaganda piece attempting to blame the Bush administration's environmental policy for some cataclysmic weather disturbance that could conceivably happen at some point in a very uncertain future. The French made a bestseller out of a book which purported to expose the attack on the Pentagon as a hoax, staged by the US government in order to justify higher military spending. Michael Moore won prestigeous film awards for a movie which portrayed the President of the United States as an aloof, bumbling oaf bent on the destruction of American civil liberties for the benefit of unimaginably rich Saudis. Gay couples applied for marriage licenses in Massachusetts and they were granted, touching off a legal battle with immense social consequences the entire nation, most of which is decidedly more conservative than the Bay State. You don't have to be a die-hard Bush partisan, or even particularly conservative to find all of this troublesome.

You don't have to even go to church, let alone be a fundamentalist in order to be concerned about our nation's moral values, either, when they're so obviously in need of examination. It wasn't just the people driving back and forth to church who were in terror when the Beltway sniper was still on the loose, and it's not just pro-life activits who see something extra malevolent in the Laci Peterson case. Middle America didn't need a whole lot of nudging from pamphleteers in church parking lots to come to the conclusion that there is something morally wrong, and that they didn't agree with the liberals' proposed solution -- and it's far from certain that they ever offered one.

So, it's not so much a question of whether "Moral Values" was a driving force behind the President's victory. I'd say it surely was. But, the definition of "Moral Values" has been left to people on both ends of the spectrum, who both use it to their advantage. To the civil libertarian left, the words conjure up images of a stern monsignor heaping guilt and shame upon them from behind the Cross for their urges and desires, legislating what is acceptable behavior by decree. To the fundamentalist Christian right, "Moral Values" heralds the reawakening of Christianity in its God-given land.

I think the truth of the matter is that the election was decided by people who saw the moral condition of the country, factored their beliefs into a big mix, with the economy and the war, and their children's future, and saw a gaping hole in what the Democrats had to offer. After all, Michael Moore and his band of misfits said nothing about these things, and since they served as the biggest mouthpieces for the DNC, it's hard to fault the public for "not getting their message" on morals. There wasn't one to get.

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