Sunday, November 07, 2004

who owns the "values" question?

Something doesn't quite make sense here.

It starts with the exit polls.

Rough chronology:

The exit polls are quickly determined to be unreliable about the most important question: whether Kerry was winning. I think it's safe for people to assume, then, that the polls were unreliable about other questions, such as the "moral values" one.

"Moral values" or "traditional values" or some cognate becomes the press watchword, this despite the fact that the election itself called the exit polls into question.

Bill Bennett writes his triumphal essay claiming this election was more about values (he says "virtues"; I assume some philopbloggers would disagree with his usage) than about the war. Avalanche of meta-commentary ensues.

Many conservative bloggers take up the cry: "A referendum on values!" Other conservatives, taken aback, disagree. It's about the war.

But get this:

Many liberal bloggers are now taking up the "referendum on values" cry. Why? Because they see the phrase "moral values" as shorthand for self-righteous religious piety, impending theocracy, etc. There may be some truth to the liberal claim; certainly, there are plenty of staunchly religious conservatives who would love to see the earthly representatives of the Christian God in positions of political power. As a religious liberal, I stand firmly against such conservatism. It's the 21st century, and scriptural literalism (the signature trait of all the major forms of religious fundamentalism everywhere) has no place, I think, in modern society. But at the same time, I don't see the country as barreling heedlessly toward a society that is basically the Taliban writ large. Get a grip, folks, and look at the problem before you label it.

Neither the left nor the right has the proper take on The Great 2004 Values Question.

As you examine the issues, start with the fact that the election debunked the exit polls. This entire debate is founded on nothing solid.


No comments: