Recently, the Atlantic published a column describing the transition of part of the American voting segment from value voters to voters of nostalgia. Christians who used to vote based on a candidates position on abortion, gay rights, euthanasia, pro-family, etc., have forgotten those values and are now voting for their identity as Americans.
We have transitioned from being voters of values to voters of identity, voters who want someone to restore order to the chaos we see surrounding us.
America has lost it way! Prayer is no longer in schools, apple pie is no longer piping fresh from the oven when dad gets home from work, and gasp, football has surpassed baseball as the nations favorite sport!
We need the good ole days when FDR created the New Deal, Ike gave us the interstate system and grew government spending to do so, JFK nearly began a nuclear holocaust and Lyndon Johnson was creating the Great Society…not to mention air conditioning was a boon in the middle of the 20th century.
We long for the days when women had much lower social standing, fewer people were educated, gay rights was an oxymoron and your kid could get beat up on the play ground without consequence.
Yes! Let’s make America Great again!
As large groups of people have coalesced around a bombastic candidate in Donald Trump, they have not found unity in his morality or social views. In fact, they ignore them. Instead, people have found unity in the awesomeness of days gone by. The slogan, “Make America Great” indicates both the opinion that right now isn’t great and that in the distant past such greatness can provide a model for future greatness.
This is just as well. It’s about time we vote what we really believe: voting for values is nonsense.
The Reagan Coalition had historically long legs. But its step has finally reached its pinnacle and is now on the descent.
For nearly 30 years the Republican Party convinced voters that if they would vote Republican they would be casting their lot with a party that stands up for American Values, for Christian values.
Republicans vowed to protect unborn babies, pursue amendments to Constitutions preserving “traditional marriage,” and keep the war on drugs at a fever pitch. Republicans would conserve the America of our grandparents and parents, and in turn, would preserve an America that we would recognize as we hand it off to our children.
All of this was nonsense.
It was religious populism garnering votes as the Republican and Democratic party made indistinguishable decisions.
Both parties spent a lot of money. Both parties started wars and continued conflicts. Both parties traded in public interest for their electoral interests. Both parties spoke like Patriots while acting like bastards.
As the value voting mantra swept through our country and continued to foment political action in our churches, it continued to mean nothing while those who voted based on values felt as if they were really doing something. In fact, they did nothing but cast their lot with people who would no more change a single “value” law then undo the results of the Civil War.
Libertarian voices tried to speak out and be heard. Large constituencies of younger people, or disillusioned boomers, who tried to draw attention to economic policy or public policy were silenced because libertarian positions were too liberal.
How can you legalize marijuana?
What…you believe people should be able to do with their body parts what they want so long as it doesn’t infringe on your rights?
You don’t want prayer in schools…are you a pagan!? Of course wanting prayer in schools is the Christian thing to want!
You don’t want to outlaw abortion?! How can you even sleep at night?
These questions and more were, and are, frequently asked by values voters.
While many of us look around and have seen for decades that agreeing with George W. Bush on abortion had absolutely nothing to do with the way he governed the country, still a stubborn voting segment has thought voting by values would change something.
In similar fashion, even liberals who thought that agreeing with Bill Clinton on social policy would usher in an American utopia were sorely disappointed…and if you ask far left liberals about President Obama, they would say he, like Clinton, has pandered to the political class and not gone far enough to the Left to institute the sweeping change our country needs.
Obama ran on change and a new set of values, yet other than a token gay marriage decision by the Supreme Court, he has continued the policy of war, taxation, free trade, expansive oil discovery and government growth of his predecessor.
As with Republicans, so with Democrats: votes cast for similar values are just that, votes. Sharing a value with a candidate does not mean they will administer the country as they should.
Republicans did not outlaw euthanasia. They did not make abortion illegal. They could not stop gay marriage from becoming law. They cannot get prayer back in schools.
Sharing a professed value can make them your friend but it shouldn’t make them your candidate.
Democrats have not made good on their single payer intentions. It took President Obama two terms to finally come around and support gay marriage. The black community continues to have high crime and incarceration rates, while black youths are the single highest unemployed segment of our society, all under the first black president.
Democrats haven’t come good on their values either…why?
Because values DO NOT MATTER in politics.
This was recently illustrated when I watched John Kasich during a CNN town hall. Someone asked about his approach to appointing a Supreme Court Justice. His reply? He did not want an activist judge but neither would he let his personal opinion about gay marriage influence his decision to appoint a judge who was pro gay marriage. He said, “it’s the law of the land so we move on.”
In other words, he has his personal conviction, but in a secular politic it’s not a deal breaker because it is not the job of the state to uphold religious norms. Political life and religious life don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
As for commerce, Kasich said, “I don’t understand why we can’t trade with someone who thinks differently than us. Like the instance of the bakery and gay couple…In my opinion, its trade, sell them a cup cake and move on. If you disagree then say a prayer for them, but in my opinion it shouldn’t prevent us from the political activity of commerce.” (my rough paraphrase)
Politics and values at the operative level do not go hand in hand, which is why, the value you need to share with a candidate is not their stance on gay marriage or gay cupcakes.
The value you need to share is their principle of governance.
What animates a person’s political philosophy? How would they legislate and why?
Values come and go with time, but political principles remain.
This is why our Founding Fathers could have diverse opinions on religion, yet they were bound by a pursuit of liberty and freedom. This is why Benjamin Franklin could be an agnostic and still unite in brotherhood with George Whitfield, even giving money to his ministry. This is why Thomas Jefferson could be a Deist who did not believe any New Testament mythology, yet he shared a passion for liberty with Baptists and united with them in pursuing an American nation that would embody liberty (albeit one with its contextual limitations).
Christian values did not unite the Founders of our country. Social values did not unite our Founders either. Just ask South Carolina if they shared the same values as New York 200 years ago.
What united the country was a love for liberty, a principle. This principle does not change even as social moors and interpretations of scripture do. Either you believe in liberal republicanism or you don’t. Either you agree with John Locke or you don’t, but such is not predicated on a “value” grounded in any “moral” concern.
Thus, I am glad The Donald has entered the world of politics because he has finally disclosed what so many of us have believed for so long: value voting is nonsense.
When you cast your vote today, consider not voting for someone who shares your morality, but perhaps, someone who shares your political vision for the country.