Moral values did not win, fear and prejudice did
So what is a “moral value?” Prior to the election, the professional politicians agreed that the election would turn on terrorism, the war in Iraq and the economy.The term “moral value” didn’t make its appearance until election night on CBS, when their pollsters surprised the professionals by identifying moral values as the No. 1 concern of voters with an opinion. Within hours, moral values was on the lips of every 20/20 hindsighter. The people’s interest in moral values was either offered up as proof that the Republicans were, in fact, more attuned to the nation’s moral pulse, that the Democrats had to do a better job in the next election of proving themselves as moral if not more moral than the Republicans, or more proof that ignorant Midwesterners were out of touch with the tolerant values of better educated Hollywood.Voters have traditionally decided between candidates based on self-interest, national interest or party affiliation.In this past election, anyone who had an interest in brokerage companies voted for the president, who wants to make it possible for individuals to place portions of their Social Security in stocks and bonds, a huge windfall for Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch.
A lot of voters cast their ballots on the national interest; they believed the president was the man to lead them in wartime or believed that anybody but the president was the man to lead them in wartime. Party affiliation, however, is still the most influential. Folks derive their party affiliation from parents, years of habit, lack of choice with only two national parties and, basically, intellectual laziness.The party affiliation of the parents gives a lot of people an excuse to vote one way or the other without having to really think about what it is or who it is they support. The president won the election, in part, because the Republicans were more successful in getting out the vote, getting voters to the polls who would vote for him. But even the Republican Party did not expect the large turnout by voters who would cast their votes not for something, but against something.
In many ways, the success of the pro-Israel lobby may be to blame for the Democrats losing the election.That lobby is collectively the most influential political organ in Washington, raising vast sums of money for candidates who support Israel unblinkingly and, in the off-election years, making the case for Americans to support Israel as the shining light of the Middle East.Increasingly, the government of Israel has made it harder and harder for America’s pro-Israel lobby to keep that light shining, so that lobby has turned to tearing down the Arab world, a task made easier by 9/11. Midwesterners may be ignorant, but not in a stupid way; they’re ignorant because most Ohioans have never met an Israeli, much less a Syrian, so they rely on the media and word of mouth to decide who to support, and who to fear. The pro-Israel lobby and 9/11 have made it politically correct for Ohioans to believe they should fear Moslems, despite the fact that there are more Moslems (eight million) in the U.S. than Jews (five million), and that Islam is much more in tune with Christianity than the Jewish faith.
The lobby has made it politically fashionable to fear the unknown, in this case, those raghead Moslems, but has also encouraged those same Ohioans to vote ignorance and fear of other people they don’t know, like a poor, single mother who doesn’t want another child, or a same- sex couple that wants legal recognition of their commitment to each other.Ignorance and fear are not moral values, certainly not the moral values of either the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount.The values voted in this election are anything but moral, and an insult to thinking believers in the Bible, the Torah or the Koran. The Democrats didn’t lose the election or the Republicans win the election on the moral values of love and faith, but on the immoral values of fear and prejudice.Marc Carlisle writes a Thursday column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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