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Topic: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

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    Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

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    AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: REAL MORAL VALUES

    Arianna Huffington

    They’re hot. They’re everywhere. People can’t get enough of them. I’m talking about the new conventional wisdom fodder: “moral values.” And it seems like everyone with a (D) after his or her name is suddenly seeing the moral values light.

    The problem with this tidal wave of values converts is twofold. First, it’s based on a media-generated myth about what voters cared most about this election — a myth based on a poorly worded exit poll question that tried to turn “moral values” into a concrete issue like health care or the war in Iraq, which they clearly are not.

    Even Karl Rove, the “architect” of the president’s evangelical strategy, says that security was this year’s most galvanizing issue. It far surpassed Red-state concerns that America is heading to Gay Hell in a handbasket. So, fear of gay couples saying “I do” didn’t carry George Bush back into the White House; fear of Osama saying “Take two” did.

    Let’s crunch some numbers. In the 11 states with gay-marriage ballot initiatives, Bush’s share of the popular vote increased 2.6 percent from his 2000 totals. In states with no gay-marriage initiative, he went up 2.9 percent. And as for Republicans ruling rural America, exit polls found that Bush was up 13 percent in big cities, while Kerry was down 11 percent from Al Gore’s totals. On the other hand, in towns with populations between 10,000 and 50,000, Bush went down 9 percent, while Kerry gained 10 percent over Gore. So Kerry’s problem wasn’t small-town America seeing Red over gay marriage.

    Indeed, the second problem with this newly congealed conventional wisdom is the assumption that “moral values” is code for gay marriage, partial-birth abortion and Janet Jackson’s right boob (a gland whose exposure William Safire this week called “the social, political event of the past year”).

    But, ironically, however erroneously we got to it, the moral-values debate is precisely the one Democrats need to be having right now. Because if they don’t capture the moral high ground back from the Republicans, they’ll never be able to capture the hearts and votes of Red America.

    If the Democratic Party is not about bringing focus and urgency to the creation of a more fair, just — and, yes, moral — society, it might as well cease to exist. FDR gave expression to the moral principle that should be animating Democrats when he said that “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Isn’t this the exact opposite of the immoral credo that animates Bush Republicans?

    And although it hardly got any ink compared to the passage of the gay-marriage initiatives, voters in Florida and Nevada — Red states both — approved initiatives calling for big hikes in the minimum wage. This was incontrovertibly a moral-values initiative because it’s a moral disgrace that low-wage workers who work full time are not paid enough to lift their families out of poverty. Real “values voters” know this, and there are enough of them out there that you don’t have to sell your soul to get elected.

    America’s Founding Fathers understood the connection between statecraft and soulcraft. They were not political men engaged in a spiritual enterprise. They were deeply spiritual men engaged in a political enterprise. After all, the premise that “all men are created equal” — which Lincoln called “the father of all moral principle” — is true and self-evident only in spiritual terms. We are clearly not self-evidently equal by any other criteria, including brains, looks or talent.

    The Democrats need to realize that the values debate is not about triangulating on gay marriage — it’s about passion and principles. And that’s what distinguishes an inspiring political vision from a laundry list of policies and four-point plans.

    Take Bobby Kennedy’s passionate devotion to finding solutions to the problems of “the excluded.” In 1963, when he was attorney general, he called the entire Cabinet into his office at the Justice Department, locked the door and made them stay there for four hours discussing how to best address the crisis of poverty in America. And during his run for the White House, he embarked on a tour of this country’s most impoverished areas. The resulting television pictures of hungry children in his arms shocked the conscience of the nation.

    When was the last time a politician shocked us for reasons other than being caught with his pants down or his hand in the public cookie jar?

    By bringing soul into American politics, Kennedy was able to galvanize voters in Kansas no less than in California. He didn’t retreat from a values-based campaign; he seized it.

    But Democrats can’t get to the promised land by treating moral values as just another tactic their pollsters tell them they need to pursue, as something “we” need to figure out so we can convince “them” to vote for us. That’s like an aging ’60s rocker reluctantly trying on a white three-piece suit after “Saturday Night Fever” turned disco into a national phenomenon. Stayin’ alive, indeed.

    The Democrats continue to have the numbers on their side — 1.2 million jobs lost, 36 million people living in poverty, 45 million with no health insurance — but somewhere along the way they lost the music, the conviction needed to transform data into narratives and economic issues into moral ones. They don’t need a slogan, they need an anthem — so let them sing out that “economic issues are moral values.”

    And if they are not sure how this is done, they can go back and read Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention. He spoke of “faith” and “miracles” and “the belief in things not seen” and the “awesome God” people worship in the Blue states.

    “Alongside our famous individualism,” he said, “there’s another ingredient in the American saga: a belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the South Side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. . . . It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. ‘E pluribus unum.’ Out of many, one.”

    This is perhaps the most spiritual political statement uttered this entire campaign. It should be the starting point for the rebranding of the Democratic Party. For it is only with such real “moral values,” from which spring clear political priorities, that you can counter Bush’s divisive religiosity — and win back America’s value voters.

    One word of caution to all Democratic presidential wannabes: Don’t hop on the moral-values bandwagon just so you don’t miss out on the Next Big Thing in political trends. Because therein lies more poll-tested defeat and disappointment. And haven’t we had enough of that?

  2. #2

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    Interesting article, Nick.

    Quote Originally Posted by Article
    FDR gave expression to the moral principle that should be animating Democrats when he said that “the test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Isn’t this the exact opposite of the immoral credo that animates Bush Republicans?
    The idea of holding FDR up as the epitome of Democratic moralism is extremely telling. Not only was FDR a supporter of Stalin who had several pro-Soviet propaganda films comissioned; and not only was he the one who withheld warning from our boys in Pearl Harbor to ensure that he'd have enough support to bring the country into the war, only later to turn the blame on the very generals whom he'd betrayed; but this kind of socialistic drivel being quoted from the man illustrates his digusting and repugnant appeals to emotion. Read Atlas Shrugged and you'll have a clear understanding of why you should cringe when you hear politicians talking like this.

  3. #3

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    Atlas Shrugged is a novel. Ayn Rand is interesting but not someone I agree with.

    And you're just nuts. Sorry, but I don't know how else to put it.

  4. #4

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    Re: Atlas Shrugged
    Yes, it's a novel, but it gives one of the clearest step-by-step illustrations of the process of production and the destruction thereof by government interference in the pursuit of altruism. It's like a treatise wrapped in fiction.

    Re: being nuts
    Nuts about what? That FDR betrayed our forces at Pearl Harbor? If I'm nuts for thinking that, then the History channel (who did a documentary saying the same thing) and a slew of accomplished historians are nuts as well.

  5. #5

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    Quote Originally Posted by Brady Wright
    Re: Atlas Shrugged
    Yes, it's a novel, but it gives one of the clearest step-by-step illustrations of the process of production and the destruction thereof by government interference in the pursuit of altruism. It's like a treatise wrapped in fiction.
    uh. . .ever read 1984 Brady?
    John DeBorde

    Composer of Music for Film, TV and Interactive Media

  6. #6

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    Most definitely. Great book. Why?

  7. #7

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    So, Brady....The History Channel is an accurate source of historical facts now??

    Umm.....hmm......ok.....

    If that's where you get your facts.....then you ARE nuts!

  8. #8

    Wink Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    Better than the Art Bell show, which is where alot of facts 'round these parts seem to come from.

  9. #9

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    I saw the History Channel show about Pearl Harbor and FDR: it stated that FDR was not aware of the impending attack, though he was aware of threats of war. The Japanese diplomats in DC did not inform him.

    A large number of people publically supported Stalin so long as he opposed Hitler. Western leaders, including Churchill and DeGaul, were forced to support him in the hopes he wouldn't support the party's rise. FDR and the others privately despised him.

  10. #10

    Re: Ariana Huffington on "moral values"

    Quote Originally Posted by andreas
    So, Brady....The History Channel is an accurate source of historical facts now??

    Umm.....hmm......ok.....

    If that's where you get your facts.....then you ARE nuts!
    No, I learned about this long before the History Channel finnaly did their piece. It's been known for a long time. But why do you say it like that? Are you implying the History Channel is some kind of cable equivelant to Weekly World News? Give me a break!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Johnson
    I saw the History Channel show about Pearl Harbor and FDR: it stated that FDR was not aware of the impending attack, though he was aware of threats of war. The Japanese diplomats in DC did not inform him.
    Okay, maybe that’s so, I haven’t seen the History Channel piece personally, I was told about it by a friend of mine. He told me it was in line with all the research that had been done but that you’d never hear about on the major media (because it IS biased toward the left). But since I haven’t seen it myself, I can’t argue about that. The fact remains that there is overwhelming evidence that Roosevelt did know (or at least had no excuse NOT to know) and what’s more, all of his actions are consistent with him trying to ensure that the attack was successful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jake Johnson
    A large number of people publically supported Stalin so long as he opposed Hitler. Western leaders, including Churchill and DeGaul, were forced to support him in the hopes he wouldn't support the party's rise. FDR and the others privately despised him.
    That doesn’t explain why he commissioned propaganda films that completely misrepresented things in the USSR. And how do you know he despised him?

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