Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Election 2006: Where have all the "values" gone?

Colorado Springs, Colorado, boasts of being the locale not only of defrocked pastor Ted Haggard's New Life Church, but also of James Dobson's Focus on the Family as well as the Air Force Academy where cadets and instructors intimidate their non-evangelical brethren (known as the Heathen) when they're not studying the ways of war. In short, it is a veritable Mecca of Christofascism.

So imagine my delight when I read this in the Colorado Springs Gazette

The good news is that the Ted Haggard debacle a week before the election appeared to have little impact on results.

The bad news for evangelicals who remain loyal Republicans is that their influence may wane in a party that is looking to swerve to America’s middle so that it can better compete with Democrats.

My, what a difference two years can make! After the 2004 election, the media declared—falsely, of course—that the outcome had been determined by "values voters" and that the election was all about "values." Democratic politicians were gathering in workshops to learn how they could speak to the "faith community," and Jesus was on the lips of practically everyone except maybe Ted Haggard, who had other uses for his mouth. Now we're reading that the Republicans are abandoning those same "values voters" in hopes of winning another election in their lifetime.

There has been a remarkable silence about this in the press. No big headlines asking "Where did all the 'values' go?" In fact, while the press has acknowledged that revulsion at Republican corruption played a significant role in the Democrats' wins, the voters' rejection of corruption and war is never linked in any way to "values," which is a term reserved for such matters as gay marriage and abortion. The CNN exit polls for 2006 actually maintained two categories: "importance of values issues" and "importance of corruption/ethics." What a fine distinction!

Democrats dodge a bullet

One Democratic politician who may have attended a "values" workshop was Harold Ford, Jr., candidate for Senator from Tennessee. Here he was on Fox News shortly before the election—

FORD: .... [W]e feel confident because you can feel and sense the momentum all across the state. We've been blessed to have good supporters.

FORD: What Tennesseans will get will be a Jesus-loving, gun-supporting believer that families should come first, that taxes should be lower and America should be strong.

As important as it was for Democrats to gain control of the Senate, the thought that Harold Ford might be the means was disquieting to say the least. This is one Senate seat they were better off not winning.

Of course Senator Barack Obama thought Ford was better than fried grits. And since Ford's loss, self-appointed Democratic "consultant" James Carville has urged that Ford replace Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). There was a notable lack of a groundswell.

I haven't a fact to go on, boys and girls, but I have a nose for corruption and an ear for hypocrisy and I tell you this: If Harold Ford had been elected, he was a scandal waiting to happen. Happily he was not as blessed as he thought.

A values election at last

Despite the media's refusal to use the term appropriately, the 2006 election really was about values. Jim Wallis, one of the few evangelicals who "get it," had this to say—

This was a moral values election.

Many have now commented on the significant shifts among religious voters in the midterm elections, in what Steve Waldman described as the “Smaller God Gap” between Republicans and Democrats.

Wallis quotes from a new exit poll—

According to Faith in Public Life, the poll shows that:

*Faith groups urging people to vote according to "kitchen table" moral issues had a 20-point higher national favorability rating and a 20-point lower unfavorable rating than religious groups urging people to vote according to abortion and same-sex marriage. This difference was even starker between Catholic groups.

*Iraq was considered the “moral issue that most affected your vote” by 45.8% of voters, almost 6 times as many voters as abortion, and almost 5 times as many as same-sex marriage. Iraq was the top moral issue among Catholics, born-again Christians and frequent church attendees. Poverty and economic justice topped the list of “most urgent moral problem in American culture.”

*When Catholics were asked to name the most important value guiding their vote, 67% chose “A commitment to the common good – the good of all not just the few” while 22% chose “Opposing policies such as legal abortion, gay marriage, and embryonic stem cell research.”

Related post
Moral values not as important in the election as some people think (11/12/04)


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