Friday, May 19, 2006


Who Isn't A 'Values Voter'?

If you've been here since the beginning you know that I enjoy George Will's columns in spite of his politics and love to note the times when we agree. Yesterday's column was a doozy, a meditation on the words "values voters":
This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to . . . well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots.
I have often had this thought. When the polls came back in 2004 indicating that voters whose primary concern was "moral values" had turned out in large numbers, I despaired. But then I slowly realized that I would also fit into that group of people--and we all know it didn't make me a Republican voter.

The implication of the phrase, of course, is that religious fundamentalists bring their "superior virtue" to the ballot box with them, while the rest of us base our votes on more pragmatic concerns. That's why Democrats were frustrated at the high number of voters who said moral values drove their vote. But my moral values drove my vote, too: I think it's immoral to discriminate against a group of people based on something over which they have no control, and I think the role of government is not to tell two people who love one another that it heartily disapproves of their union. Are these not fundamental beliefs that guide my life, at least as much (and likely more than) the religious beliefs of the so-called "values voters" guide theirs?

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