Wednesday, November 03, 2004
So with John Kerry conceding the election to Bush this morning, we’re looking at four more years of this president – not a pleasant thought.
The most frightening thing about the result are the reasons people gave for their decision. According to the AP exit polling, if you thought Iraq was the most important issue, you were very likely to vote for Kerry. Similarly, if the economy mattered most, you voted for the Democrats. However, the single most important issue in the minds of the electorate (and one that escaped the advanced polling) were moral values, which drew a massive Christian vote to counteract the increased voting from young people.
Loosely translated ‘moral values’ means are you Christian, and are you opposed to gay marriage and abortion? And 80% of the voters who said that moral values were important to them voted for Bush.
Which suggests to me that for a very large number of people in this country, the performance of a president is irrelevant so long as he or she shares your personal beliefs.
So the careful separation of church and state, and the respect and tolerance of people of all religions and none called for in the constitution are thrown over, and the Republicans become the party of the evangelicals.
Note that the issue was ‘moral values’ not morality. Assessing morality requires discernment and judgement (and you might conclude that the president is pretty suspect morally). But assessing ‘moral values’ just means establishing that the president adheres to the same unthinking prescriptive codes that you do. Easy.
And with there being almost no change in the elctoral map from last time (we’ll have to wait and see with New Mexico), the country is becoming increasingly entrenched. It reminds me a little of how things felt when Mrs Thatcher won re-election in the UK in the mid-80s – those opposed to her couldn’t understand how she could be returned to office, while she happily continued her ideologically-led destruction of many of the best parts of British society.
But her ideology was at least a political one – rampant free-marketeerism and the running down of public services. Bush’s ideology is based on religious beliefs, unemcumbered by thoughts of tolerance and pluralism. This isn’t just a shift to the right, it’s a shift away from the basis of politcal life in the US to this point – it’s always been a religious country, but it’s been governed by largely secular parties. Now that’s not the case. It is not nor it cannot come to good.
Posted by David in • Life