Wednesday, November 03, 2004

So, the watchword of the day is "values." As in.....


It wasn't the war or the economy that killed us. It was the notion of "values".

Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation, yet Kerry was bad because he had "Massachusetts values" or other such nonesense.

We need to retake the language. We need to reframe the notion of "value".

That's why Obama's speech below is so brilliant. He speaks of God in a way that not just fails to offend this atheist, but inspires me. It's faith used for the purpose of living a good life, rather than faith wielded as a weapon against a whole class of people.

The wedges: gays, abortion, and guns.

Democrats have abandoned guns as an issue, and over the next three or four cycles it will prove an increasingly ineffective wedge. The NRA won. Good for them.

That leaves the two "faith based" wedges -- gays and abortion. And with great skill, the Republicans have equated those two issues with the word "value".

That's going to have to change.


I've got an article on called "It's the God. Stupid?"

It starts:

was at this thinky conference on the Northern California coast, in a resort hotel with endless views, overpriced drinks, and at least four weddings a day. On the last morning I was sipping coffee and bantering about the election with two guys I’d known for about 36 hours. We veered into Bush-bashing, the political equivalent of a sugar rush—a brief euphoria, followed by a crash.

Then one of them surprised me.

“I’m a Republican,” he said.

I said, “Oh.”

And, as if to explain his place in our small circle, he began speaking quickly. “But Bush makes me so mad. The way he’s taken over my country, the way he’s taken my flag, the way he’s taken…”

“…my Party,” I ventured.

“…my God,” he said.

My God. He’d put word to what I’d been feeling, but couldn’t express. Say you live in this country, a nation blessed by both prosperity and beauty. And say that you like the fact that you live in a pluralistic nation, where there are people of many faiths and some of none. And say, last of all, that you believe in God. What then? Where do you fit in the political debates? What if like this gentleman, you believe deeply and passionately in God but also believe, just as passionately, that your nation’s leadership is hijacking the faith you hold dear? I suspect that many Americans—of Christian and other faiths--feel the way he does. On the one hand, they’re confronted with an Administration that claims to have a red telephone to the Almighty. On the other hand…. Oh, wait: there is no other hand, because President Bush’s opponents—Democrats, liberals, and dissenting Republicans--have failed to give language to the spiritual component of our leadership crisis.

And here's the thing. I'd rather leave God out of government. I'd rather we each find our own way. But that's just not realistic. I've been hearing for years about how people want God back in the schools, God back in the law, God back in public life. And it's one thing to make a counter-argument, an argument that the best way to have a moral state is to leave religion out of things. But that, too, can have a moral component--the idea that public secularism enables private worship is powerful. Instead, most of the left has failed to make a distinction between private and public morality, and to articulate how we navigate this life.

Maybe politicians shouldn't have to bear that burden. But right now, one man--George W. Bush--is taking on the mantle of moral judge, with little opposition.


At 6:37 PM, Blogger grapecranberry said...

I think America as a country is too young to understand what happens when government and religion embrace: They use each other. Look at the Catholic church and Italy centuries ago. Some people think it's great that Bush supposedly is influenced by the church, but eventually it works the other way around, too. You don't want the church telling the government what to do, and you don't want the government telling your church what to do. Crap, we need new leadership.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger mike said...

When you say the phrase "taken over", you indicate your lack of tolerance. You might not like or accept another point of view or policy,but, it is really an indication of maturity and tolerance to understand that there are other view points around that are legitimate, even if you don't like them.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Jomo said...

The left needs to develop a faith-analysis that moves the political debate from Old Testament "fire and brimstone" wedge issues to the "social gospel" of the New Testament. I think Kerry hit on this in one of the debates (which one?) when he talked about faith without works. The DNC should put up a basic T-chart, for every issue, that has Christian principles on one side and the Republican legislative agenda on the other. Quit the kvetching about belief and expose the hypocrisy.

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Eric D said...

Great point. But how do we do this effectively? I don't think people who voted for Bush trust the DNC or Republicans enough to believe them even if what they say rings true.


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