The Bush/Gay Marriage Myth

David Brooks runs the exit poll numbers in The New York Times and finds that gay marriage was not the defining issue of this election. In fact, evangelicals weren’t any larger a voting bloc in this election than they were in the last as a percentage of the electorate. Yes, more evangelicals voted, but turnout was up among all groups. As Brooks notes, hitting it right on the head:

He won because 53 percent of voters approved of his performance as president. Fifty-eight percent of them trust Bush to fight terrorism. They had roughly equal confidence in Bush and Kerry to handle the economy. Most approved of the decision to go to war in Iraq. Most see it as part of the war on terror.

The fact is that if you think we are safer now, you probably voted for Bush. If you think we are less safe, you probably voted for Kerry. That’s policy, not fundamentalism. The upsurge in voters was an upsurge of people with conservative policy views, whether they are religious or not.

The red and blue maps that have been popping up in the papers again this week are certainly striking, but they conceal as much as they reveal. I’ve spent the past four years traveling to 36 states and writing millions of words trying to understand this values divide, and I can tell you there is no one explanation. It’s ridiculous to say, as some liberals have this week, that we are perpetually refighting the Scopes trial, with the metro forces of enlightenment and reason arrayed against the retro forces of dogma and reaction.

In the first place, there is an immense diversity of opinion within regions, towns and families. Second, the values divide is a complex layering of conflicting views about faith, leadership, individualism, American exceptionalism, suburbia, Wal-Mart, decorum, economic opportunity, natural law, manliness, bourgeois virtues and a zillion other issues.

But the same insularity that caused many liberals to lose touch with the rest of the country now causes them to simplify, misunderstand and condescend to the people who voted for Bush. If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?

And that’s the question at hand: for all the talk about how open-minded the left is, the incredibly petty and bitter reaction to Bush’s reelection has belied any such notions. For example, look at the post from The Daily Kos:

Marching order #1, therefore, is this: No matter whom you talk to outside our circles, begin to perpetuate the (false, exaggerated) notion that George Bush’s victory was built not merely on values issues, but gay marriage specifically. If you feel a need to broaden it slightly, try depicting the GOP as a majority party synonymous with gay-haters, warmongers and country-clubbers. Because I, for one, am tired of hearing whiny complaints from conservatives that, not only do I not have values, but that I fail to properly respect the values of people who are all too happy to buy into, no less perpetuate, inaccurate caricatures of the 54+ million Americans who voted Tuesday for John Kerry.

So, the poster of this piece wants to see that it’s an inaccurate characture that liberals don’t have strong moral values, in order to do that they’re going to spread a blatant lie. The irony in that statement couldn’t be any more clear.

Liberals, here’s why you lost: because in the marketplace of ideas your products don’t see. Statism doesn’t work. Government programs don’t create wealth, they diminish it. International institutions that pay lip service to justice then make deals with tyrants are worthless. A media that is willing to peddle lies to get a candidate out of office is unbefitting of a democracy. A resume is not a replacement for having a position on the most critical issue of our time. Petulance is not the same as policy.

So long as the left wallows in their own self-superiority, they will lose again as they did in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004. For all the supposed intellectualism of the liberal elites, the fact that they can’t even grasp the reason why they lost speaks volumes.

6 thoughts on “The Bush/Gay Marriage Myth

  1. I think the direction of American culture was more the issue of the election. It seems as Republicans are linked to American business, Democrats, in cozying up to every available obsequious celebrity yearning for a altruism fix, have become synonymous with a pop culture that spouts sexual vulgarity and profanity. (I refer you to John Kerry’s “This is the heart and soul of America” comment in New York). According to Paul Begala (I know, I can’t believe we agree either), Americans feel helpless against the market forces of this culture, so they took their frustration out and voiced their feelings at the voting booth. With moral values playing an important role, this vein of analysis seems valid.

  2. You can bet many of the “security moms” and other hopelessly naive moderates that were won over by Bush/Cheney’s apocalyptic forecasts of mushroom clouds and attacking wolves are now equally nervous to find out they’ve aligned themselves with a group that hates gays, wishes to take discard abortion rights even if she is raped or if her life is in danger, and who wishes to instill Christian theocracy where evangelical churches control government. Furthermore, the Religious Right who comprise more than 50% of Bush voters must be equally wary to hear that rather than pursuing their agenda of intolerance and discrimination, his priorities include a flat tax and privatization of Social Security (wasn’t it just last week when Bush said he would NEVER proceed with this and accused the Dems of fear-mongering when they said he would?).

    The GOP is in a position where they have to put up or shut up on a lot of different issues, with abortion at the top of the list. The elephants double-edged sword here is that it’s political suicide for them to overturn Roe v. Wade. Not only would it ignite a civil war, it would also take the GOP’s primary wedge issue off the table and would put the brakes on $6 an hour Wal-Mart clerks across the country aligning themselves with the party of the wealthy elite. On the other hand, Bush has said that he has no intention of overturning Roe v. Wade and his first Supreme Court Justice candidate is a moderate unlikely to rock the boat. Just like when Clinton signed NAFTA and shafted his organized labor base, Bush’s failure to deliver for religious bigots, particularly on criminalization of abortion, will result in evangelicals staying home. With unrestrained power comes expectations. If those expectations are not met, there’ll be hell to pay at the polls no matter how hapless the competition is.

  3. And more leftist cant from Mark… and these people wonder why they’re losing?

    When you have a party that treats anyone who openly expresses their faith and means it as an “extremist” you’ve already alienated a good half of the country. The President has come out in favor of civil unions, which is supported by a majority of the electorate including many people who voted for the President based on moral issues.

    The fact is that the Democrats not only do not understand Middle America, they’re openly hostile to it. The Democrats are headed for a prolonged period in the political wilderness until they stop throwing around words like “theocracy” and “extremist” to describe a majority of the electorate. It is the left that has embraced religious bigotry – just that their religion is a mishmash of secular humanism and watered-down Marxist claptrap.

    If people like Mark stopped engaging in the crudest of stereotypes and started trying to understand the American people, they’d see how far out of the mainstream they’ve become.

  4. Mark’s rant is very discouraging, and also quite contradictory. In the beginning he seems to imply the GOP wants a theocracy, then later on he says that the religious right voters will be sad because Bush is not going to push their social issues as hard as he will push other issues (the flat tax). Which one is it Mark?

    Maybe it doesn’t matter, I am used to contradictions from democrats.

  5. Mark’s definition of “bigot”:

    Anyone who disagrees with Mark or the left.

    The election’s over, Mark. You can put down the cocktail.

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