Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 5, 2006

DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF 'MORAL' IS....If you ask Americans if they support gay marriage, a slim majority will say they don't (in fact, a new ABC News poll will be released in a couple of hours saying just that). But the far more important question is where this issue ranks on the nation's moral radar. Despite the hype, culture-war issues lack the salience of other moral controversies.

* Asked to name the most serious moral crisis in America today, 28% of Americans cite "kids not raised with the right values"; followed by 22% saying "corruption in government/business"; 17% saying "greed and materialism" or "people too focused on themselves"; and only 3% citing "abortion and homosexuality."

* On addressing poverty: 68% of voters strongly agree that "government should uphold the basic decency and dignity of all and take greater steps to help the poor and disadvantaged in America" (89% total agree).

Ron Brownstein noted, in response to these results, that "the moral issues people worried about most in their daily lives were very different from the ones dominating political debate."

Quite right. Polls that simply show preferences are interesting, but it's the intensity of the belief that matters most. Americans may say they support an anti-gay constitutional amendment, but asked to name genuine moral crises that affect their families, people are far more worried with "kids nowadays" and the culture of corruption. This is not just true of secularists -- among those who attend religious services most often, just 6% picked abortion and homosexuality.

The response to the question about poverty was also important, not just in demonstrating Americans' concern for the disadvantaged, but in expanding the definition of what a moral issue actually is. Too often in our political discourse, issues that are characterized as "moral" or related to "values" are necessarily connected to conservatives. This is nonsense. If abortion and gay rights are moral issues, so are poverty, the environment, and health care.

As George Will, of all people, put it, "The phrase 'values voters,' which has become ubiquitous, subtracts from social comity by suggesting that one group has cornered the market on moral seriousness." As polls like this one help show, they haven't.

Steve Benen 2:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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Comments

It gives one a bit of hope to see that some Christians really do follow the teachings of Jesus.

Hallelujah!

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 5, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

28% of Americans cite "kids not raised with the right values"

No doubt, some of that 28% meant homosexuality and abortion, and some meant something completely different. What a worthless poll answer!

On addressing poverty: 68% of voters strongly agree that "government should uphold the basic decency and dignity of all and take greater steps to help the poor and disadvantaged in America" (89% total agree).

Handouts are not dignity. The best thing we can do for the poor is create the opportunities to succeed, and to do that, we need to open up the labor market. A good first step would be reforming the minimum wage. Some people can't provide labor worth minimum wage, and the law as it stands prices them out of the labor market. Why is it better to make nothing than to make something? Similiarly, social security prevents people from saving for their own retirement, making them dependent on the government to give them back their own money.

The American people recognize that the nanny state takes away dignity from us all, and wants it to stop.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 5, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

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Thank You

Posted by: www.victorkamber.com on June 5, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest moral issue for most conservatives is:

Too many evul libruls who love france and want to force decent white law-abiding americans to pay taxes for welfare for black lesbian welfare crack ho's.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 5, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

The best thing we can do for the poor is...

give them a computer with an Internet connection and let them live in their parents basement.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 5, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Asked to name the most serious moral crisis in America today, 28% of Americans cite "kids not raised with the right values"; followed by 22% saying "corruption in government/business"; 17% saying "greed and materialism" or "people too focused on themselves"; and only 3% citing "abortion and homosexuality."

Ask them if they approve of aborting homosexuals and watch their heads explode....

Posted by: Stefan on June 5, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

* On addressing poverty: 68% of voters strongly agree that "government should uphold the basic decency and dignity of all and take greater steps to help the poor and disadvantaged in America" (89% total agree).

Apparently, according to the Republicans, that means that 68% of Americans are out of the mainstream far left wing elitist Communists.

Posted by: Stefan on June 5, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Ask them if they approve of aborting homosexuals and watch their heads explode.... Posted by: Stefan

It will be tough to top that one today, Stefan.

Posted by: JeffII on June 5, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"It" (whatever "it" is) does indeed depend on the meaning of the word "moral".

In my observation, most of the time the word "moral" as used in actual discourse means nothing at all. It is just a noise word, used either to convey an impression of importance without actually saying why one thinks something is important, or to cover the fact that one does not wish to actually discuss the likely outcomes of some action, the likely impacts of those outcomes on actual living beings, or the specific values that are likely to be realized or negated by those outcomes.

Consider the phrase "moral values". Why not just "values"?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 5, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

The weaker the GOP the more the pandering to the far right.

The more the pandering to the far right, the more moderate Republican defect to the Democrats.

The Dems should take this opportunity to portray Dobson for who he is -- a repugnant, intolerant gasbag. Marry Bush to Dobson like they married Dukakis to Willie Horton.

The GOP will try to counter by portraying the Dems as too liberal for the moderates. Dems should say that decisions about marriage are a personal lifestyle choice, the limits to which should be decided state-by-state, not through federal government meddling.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 5, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Despite the hype, culture-war issues lack the salience of other moral controversies.

But they raise funds -- for both sides -- and as such, it's easier than actually thinking about actual, honest-to-goodness, economic issues.

Posted by: Vincent on June 5, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it better to make nothing than to make something?

If that "something" isn't enough to live on, then what's the point?

How much dignity does a person have after a 10 hour day of work, having to then beg for food and sleep in an ally because the pay wasn't enough?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 5, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

... and only 3% citing "abortion and homosexuality."

Is this where we get the phrase: "as queer as a $3 bill"?

Posted by: American Hawk on June 5, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

Do you follow the teachings of Christ re: poverty, the environment, and health care? How about the death penalty?

A better question is: does the GOP and their current crop of "leaders" in DC and around the country? Please cite sources backing up any positive assertions.

Posted by: Edo on June 5, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Confusing a % sign with a $ sign? Careful your freudian slip is showing.

Posted by: jcricket on June 5, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK
Ask them if they approve of aborting homosexuals and watch their heads explode....

Yes if they plan to vote Democrat.
No otherwise.

(Welcome to the basement of the log cabin Pard! And don't worry, mommy washes my sheets once a week.)

Posted by: American Hawk on June 5, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Most Christians have always cared about poverty, but there are few leaders or politicians who come out gunning on the issue of poverty. That's what Jim Wallis has been trying to say for years--and what only John Edwards seems to recognize. Show a face of a starving child and a picture of homosexuals holding hands and I guarantee that most Christians would rather put effort into helping the starving child than the gay couple.

This is common sense and it's bizarre that progressives find this shocking. Of course, progressives seem more interested in the NSA than poverty these days so I can understand how something so blatantly obvious is being overlooked. The war upsets a lot of christians as well.

Posted by: gq on June 5, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

In the 2004 election, Republicans contributed to the Nader campaign in many states, as a means of dissipating the Democratic vote. Perhaps Democrats should consider similar assistance to the right wing moral causes. It could create some opportunities for wooing moderate Republicans.

Posted by: CT on June 5, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Democrats should consider similar assistance to the right wing moral causes

i hereby urge everyone to go help their local Constitution Party get out the (radical theocratic) vote !

Posted by: cleek on June 5, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't approve of aborting homosexuals, but they'd better be careful if the "gay gene" is ever discovered. Posted by: Cheney

So, asshole, does that mean you hate your daughter? Ponder the opportunity for her to have an "accident."

Posted by: JeffII on June 5, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

"The American people recognize that the nanny state takes away dignity from us all, and wants it to stop."

A wonderfully felicitous sentence.
Spoken with all the moral authority of a wingnut.

Suggestion: Go easy on American Hawk folks.
It really may be "Dubya" typing away in his bunker at Crawford.

Posted by: Cruel troll killer on June 5, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Show a face of a starving child and a picture of homosexuals holding hands and I guarantee that most Christians would rather put effort into helping the starving child than the gay couple.

The gay couple doesn't need any effort. Just equal rights. It takes effort to abridge a person's rights.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 5, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

This is the latest example of the pure politics of trying to maintain power. I'm pretty sure Bush and all these guys really could give a rat's ass about gay marriage one way or the other.

However, the "gay marriage debate" is a perfect issue for defining "what team" you root for. Its like the Yankees/Red Sox or something. The current Republican power structure knows that substantively, there is a gap between their total support and what their platform actually is.

The only way to win is to convince 50+% of voters that all Democrats are communist gayboys whose greates ambition is to infultrate the Boy Scouts.

The gay marriage issue is primarily helpful, not for its substance, but for its value in labeling the other side.

Posted by: hank on June 5, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Morals - people should be more concerned with themselves and their own family rather than worrying about what everybody else is doing. Live and let live. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. We should help the less fotunate by giving them what the need AND showing them how to get it on their own. One without the other doesn't work.

Posted by: Maria on June 5, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII:

No - what part of "I don't approve of aborting homosexuals" or anyone for that matter - don't you understand? I don't know any pro-lifer who would be fine with abortions of homosexuals.Posted by: Cheney

A bit out of character there, Dick as Cheney is neither pro-life nor anti-gay.

Posted by: JeffII on June 5, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Dick as Cheney is neither pro-life nor anti-gay

but he's still a soulless black shadow of a human. like a big doughy Gollum.

Posted by: cleek on June 5, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

cleek:

"A big doughy Gollum." ROTFL !

The Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man with a Darth Vader helmet!

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on June 5, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

[Pardon moi, while I interrupt your political kvetching.]

Ogged of the WM/PA guest posting stint has de cancers which might possibly be sorta fatal.

In his honor, as he directed, I offer the following insult: Ogged is a big, big dork.

THEREFORE, we [YES! YOU THERE! *SMACK*] all want to pull together to send the groovy 60's love vibe his way and otherwise root for him to live because life just wouldn't the same if we couldn't make fun of him. He's so funny when he's dodging rotten tomatoes.

ash
['That is all. Please to resume the political kvetching now.']

Posted by: ash on June 5, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I do - want to start reviewing all the Scripture on poverty, the environment, and health care?
Posted by: Cheney on June 5, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Who's scripture?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 5, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this kind of a problem for the Democrats? After the election, a lot of Democrats (e.g., Thomas Friedman, Mark Klein) commented how abortion on demand and gay marriage were bedrock moral principles that Democratic party couldn't compromise on and remain true to its soul. If most Americans don't care about your bedrock moral principles, how can you win elections?

Posted by: cal on June 5, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

However, the "gay marriage debate" is a perfect issue for defining "what team" you root for. It's like the Yankees/Red Sox or something.

But what if you hate both the Yankees and Red Sox? (Go Nationals.)

Posted by: Vincent on June 5, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney;
If it's not from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, then it's not "the teachings of Christ".

Everthing else is words written by other people. The four Gospels were the only books written by people who ever MET Jesus.

No, Paul does not count. Paul was a Phairasee mole, who intentionally perverted Christ's teachings in order to destroy the Christ cult. It backfired, but the Council of Nicea should have rejected Paul's writings.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 5, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK
In my observation, most of the time the word "moral" as used in actual discourse means nothing at all.

That's actually true of "values", as well, most of the time, at least in discussing politics. Especially when its used as if it described some specific preference, as in the phrase "values voters".

All voters are voting based on values, what makes the difference is which values.

"Moral", as you note, adds nothing useful to "values", either, in these cases.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 5, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'll consider America to be a Christian nation when there is an overwhelming grassroots movement to ban usury (charging of interest for loans).

Until then, they're just poseurs.

Notice how all the hot-button Christianist issues have to do with sex. They don't make a big deal out of other Scriptural commandments like eating shrimp.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 5, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK
If it's not from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, then it's not "the teachings of Christ".

Everthing else is words written by other people. The four Gospels were the only books written by people who ever MET Jesus.

Its not particularly likely that any of them were written by people who met Jesus; and, even if they were, its pretty well accepted that Acts and Luke have the same provenance, so if we accept the traditional authorship for the Gospels, then its still unlikely they are only parts of the Bible written by anyone who met Jesus.

And if we are going to accept traditional authorship, then the letters of Peter would also be on the list of things written by someone who met Jesus.

But, even so, whether they met Christ or not, the authors of the Gospels were not Christ (or, at least, didn't claim to be), so I'd have to say that the Gospels are also "words written by someone else", and likely considerably later than the Pauline corpus and further removed in time and memory from the events of Christ's life, if not actually more distant in personal contacts.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 5, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK
Notice how all the hot-button Christianist issues have to do with sex.

Certainly not the end-of-life issues. Control may be a valid universal theme of the Christian Right's political crusades, but sex is merely a frequent subject.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 5, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney, taxation (specifically the estate tax) is the only thing preventing a cadre of a relatively few Herods from controlling our entire Kingdom. It's the elite, not the government, that is working to keep resources out of the hands of the poor. And how does the bankruptcy bill square with the Jubilee? Take the blinders off, bud.

Posted by: Dan-O on June 5, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

It's unclear what you mean as you seem to conflate "scriptures" with "the teachings of Christ."

You DO know, of course, that Leviticus is not a "teaching of Christ."

As to poverty, the environment and the death penalty, I think my behavior comports quite well with Jesus' teachings. As to "health care" I'm not so sure. What the heck are you referring to.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 5, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Cal Gal,

You've given away all of your wealth to the poor, have you?

Hypocrite.

Posted by: DFraser on June 5, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hypocrite

i forget... which party is it that's running on an "We're The Most Religioustest Evah" platform ?

Posted by: cleek on June 5, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew 19:24. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Posted by: Observer on June 5, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

So, Charlie, er I mean Cheney, are we to understand from the scriptures you cited that it's okay to fuck the poor over here on Earth as they will get theirs in heaven, or is that just the assumption you people go to sleep on?

Posted by: JeffII on June 5, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: All voters are voting based on values, what makes the difference is which values.

More generally, all volitional action is to realize value.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 5, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII, what are you doing for the poor, fuckwad?

Posted by: Jason on June 5, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"You've given away all of your wealth to the poor, have you?

Hypocrite.

Posted by: DFraser"

You can't give away what you don't have.

Idiot assumer.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 5, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Cal Gal,
What's your annual income?

Posted by: DFraser on June 5, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

What's your annual income?

You first, Don.

Posted by: DH Griffin on June 5, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

JeffII, what are you doing for the poor, fuckwad?
Posted by: Jason

For starters, I never vote Republican. But more importantly, unlike the holier-than-thou Rethugs, I don't claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus or God or even Neil Young, thereby sanctifying all the really shitty things the "compassionate conservatives" has dumped on the less fortunate in the U.S. over the last 20-30 years.

Posted by: JeffII on June 5, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you for confirming that you're doing jack shit for the poor.

Posted by: Jason on June 5, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

DH Griffin, is your name Cal Gal?

Posted by: DFraser on June 5, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

About 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. About 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day.

Cal Gal almost certainly spends more just on entertainment or other luxuries than half the global population has to spend on food, clothing, shelter and the other necessities of life combined.

"Christian" my ass.

Posted by: Observer on June 5, 2006 at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK

The moral crisis in Bush's marriage: Bush's secret bisexual Affair exposed !

Folks, The woman who can confirm this story is now running for Gov. of NV. here: mcconnellforgovernor.com for Leola McConnell. Yes, SHE WAS THERE. As an eye witness! Randi Rhodes broke this today on her Air America Show. With the debate on the massively hypocritical 'Marriage Amendment' to our Constitution, we need this more widely known! Cheers, VJ, ga. The sordid details: [http://bushssecretlifein84.tripod.com/]

This was with the then Mayor of Knoxville, TN., Victor Ashe, now the Amb. to Poland. It pays to know some Bushs intimately!!

Posted by: VJ on June 5, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

I do my Christian work through the Democratic party every election, and through good works and charity the other days. Cheney-Charlie's verses do square with the Democratic agenda of ameliorating suffering, poverty and disease. We can do more--but only after the GOP is beaten once and for all. It is a shame that they have deceived so many Christians--but if you are Republican, you are no more than a notional Christian. Forget about telling others how to live and lead by example.

Posted by: Sparko on June 5, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I do my Christian work through the Democratic party every election ... if you are Republican, you are no more than a notional Christian.

Yeah, that's right - Jesus is a Democrat. Not a Green, mind you. And definitely not a Commie.

Welcome to the flip side of the Religious Right.

Posted by: Jason on June 5, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK


"Dick Cheney can't keep his rifle, his story, or his daughter straight."

- bill maher

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 6, 2006 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Jason: the flip side of the religious right is kindness, compassion and tolerance. Kind of a nice place to be I think.

Posted by: Sparko on June 6, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

"Ron Brownstein noted, in response to these results, that "the moral issues people worried about most in their daily lives were very different from the ones dominating political debate.""

Yet, Brownstein and the rest of the mainstream media continue to cover the political debate.

Posted by: brewmn on June 6, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

One last thought on which New Testament "author" knew whom.

The one author who would have known Jesus was James.
James, the brother of our Lord, might also be the author of Hebrews.

The earliest documents in the Testament are the Epistles.
The Gospels were written down later.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 6, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

"greed and materialism" or "people too focused on themselves"

Perfect descriptions of the American conservative and the GOP leadership!

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 6, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to win is to convince 50+% of voters that all Democrats are communist gayboys whose greates ambition is to infultrate the Boy Scouts.

That won't take much convincing, especially if you read this blog enough.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 6, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jason: the flip side of the religious right is kindness, compassion and tolerance.

No, the flip side of the religious right is the religious left, which is equally guilty of wrapping its politics in the cloak of its religion. Apparently, hundreds of years of religious wars weren't enough to convince either of you of the wisdom of separating church and state.

Posted by: Jason on June 6, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Jason: a man cannot separate his ethics from his politics. Your religion is condescension and selfishness. I think we have a government that represents you pretty well. They pretend to be a lot of things too. My love of the Christian philosophy works well with my Democratic principles. I no more wish to foist my beliefs on you as than I would want your epic cynicism foisted upon me. The point is doing the most we can to help as many people as possible through a sometimes frightening lifetime. Whatever peaceful philosophy helps us achieve this end is okay by me. But false equivalencies such as you propound are not worthy of debate and speak more to a tortured soul who blames others for his condition. I am Christian existentialist. The world is my church. Others believe differently and some seek to harm others. I oppose the latter.

Posted by: Sparko on June 7, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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