20 November, 2004

Why Howard Dean is wrong

There's a certain group of people who proclaim loudly that Hate is not a family value. They use this rallying cry against people like me who prize traditional family values. I consider that a good thing, because they're right: hate isn't a family value, and in the heat of a discussion where my values are being attacked, it's sometimes hard not to get lathered up into a frenzy. Indifference isn't a family value either, but that's another argument for another time.

What I'm most curious about is the amount of vitriol spewing from these very same people. Nearly three weeks after the election, the anti-Bush crowd is still calling people who voted for Bush

  • morons
  • fascists
  • sympathizers of slavery
  • religious crazies
Here's a nice link here, from a local "independent" newspaper. (It only publishes one point of view.) Add to that all the fulminations I've found online and heard at the office. Finally: I don't watch Fox News often (yellow journalism for the modern age), but Hannity & Colmes last night had a liberal talk show host who compared Bush's rise to power with Hitler's. Alan Colmes had the decency to say that he wanted no part of that.

I am proud not to be among the 51% of the electorate who voted for Bush. However, I know a number of them. None of them is a moron, a fascist, a sympathizer of slavery, or a religious crazy.

One of them is my mother. It's true that as a child and a teenager, I thought my mom was a fascist sympathizer of slavery, the way she oppressed me religiously into hard labor around the house instead of letting me watch television. However, I was never dumb enough to believe she was a moron.

Watching this explosion of anger on the left, it's clear that the extremes of election rhetoric were truly heart-felt. Because of this, I'd like to turn a moment to Howard Dean.

Howard Dean was pretty much the only leading Democrat who recognized that cultural values are helping to defeat the Democrats at a time when you'd think they should be winning. (Two words: Abu Ghraib, the biggest reason I didn't vote for Bush.) Here's the quote I'm thinking of,
[W]hy can't we talk about jobs, health care and education, which is what we all have in common, instead of allowing the Republicans to consistently divide us by talking about guns, God, gays, abortion and all this controversial social stuff that we're not going to come to an agreement on?
This statement betrays several colossal errors.

First, abortion is important for a huge number of people. It's not the Republicans who divided us on this, our different values divide us. These values are well-described by the labels pro-choice and pro-life. Someone who is pro-choice values the woman's freedom to choose abortion more than the life of the child within her. Someone who is pro-life values that child's life more than the woman's freedom to choose abortion. These are not trivial matters.

Second, the Democratic party has made it clear that they will do everything they can to impose their new morality on America: sometimes through legislation (assault-weapons ban), sometimes through the judiciary (abortion "rights"). When your side takes the initiative on such divisive issues, it's disingenuous to claim the other side is dividing the country.

Finally, if we want to talk about dividing the country, try on this quote from Howard Dean himself:
The most interesting theory [about the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks] that I've heard so far, which is nothing more than a theory, I can't—think it can't be proved, is that [President Bush] was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now, who knows what the situation is.
Eh, what? "It can't be proved"?!? How about just saying "it's not true"?!? If that isn't a divisive statement, I don't know what is. That one appalling statement prompted me to send money to Joe Lieberman's campaign.

With national candidates unapologetically making rhetoric like this, it doesn't surprise me that the anti-Bush crowd is still erupting in apoplectic fits of fury: they really believe this nonsense. They think it's an established fact that Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction; they think Michael Moore's strange concoction of the Carlyle Group and Saudi business interests really do explain the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; they really do believe that the Patriot Act is an example of creeping theocratic fascism. These purported facts have been contradicted by liberal speakers (see here, here), but when a "fact" gets out into the public consciousness, it's hard to undo the damage.

No wonder they think voters are morons, fascists, and religious nuts.

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