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Voting Without the Facts

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  • Ram Lau
    Voting Without the Facts By BOB HERBERT The so-called values issue, at least as it s being popularly tossed around, is overrated. Last week s election was
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2004
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      Voting Without the Facts
      By BOB HERBERT

      The so-called values issue, at least as it's being popularly tossed
      around, is overrated.

      Last week's election was extremely close and a modest shift in any
      number of factors might have changed the outcome. If the weather had
      been better in Ohio. ...If the wait to get into the voting booth
      hadn't been so ungodly long in certain Democratic precincts. ... Or
      maybe if those younger voters had actually voted. ...

      I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a
      role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the
      Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of
      Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters
      believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam
      Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the
      president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were
      found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial
      majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

      This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people
      who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

      The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair
      amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd. The report
      said, "It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely
      to have misperceptions than those who oppose him."

      I haven't heard any of the postelection commentators talk about
      ignorance and its effect on the outcome. It's all values, all the
      time. Traumatized Democrats are wringing their hands and trying to
      figure out how to appeal to voters who have arrogantly claimed the
      moral high ground and can't stop babbling about their self-
      proclaimed superiority. Potential candidates are boning up on new
      prayers and purchasing time-shares in front-row-center pews.

      A more practical approach might be for Democrats to add teach-ins to
      their outreach efforts. Anything that shrinks the ranks of the
      clueless would be helpful.

      If you don't think this values thing has gotten out of control,
      consider the lead paragraph of an op-ed article that ran in The LA.
      Times on Friday. It was written by Frank Pastore, a former major
      league pitcher who is now a host on the Christian talk-radio station
      KKLA.

      "Christians, in politics as in evangelism," said Mr. Pastore, "are
      not against people or the world. But we are against false ideas that
      hold good people captive. On Tuesday, this nation rejected
      liberalism, primarily because liberalism has been taken captive by
      the left. Since 1968, the left has taken millions captive, and we
      must help those Democrats who truly want to be free to actually
      break free of this evil ideology."

      Mr. Pastore goes on to exhort Christian conservatives to reject any
      and all voices that might urge them "to compromise with the
      vanquished." How's that for values?

      In The New York Times on Thursday, Richard Viguerie, the dean of
      conservative direct mail, declared, "Now comes the revolution." He
      said, "Liberals, many in the media and inside the Republican Party,
      are urging the president to 'unite' the country by discarding the
      allies that earned him another four years."

      Mr. Viguerie, it is clear, will stand four-square against any such
      dangerous moves toward reconciliation.

      You have to be careful when you toss the word values around. All
      values are not created equal. Some Democrats are casting covetous
      eyes on voters whose values, in many cases, are frankly repellent.
      Does it make sense for the progressive elements in our society to
      undermine their own deeply held beliefs in tolerance, fairness and
      justice in an effort to embrace those who deliberately seek to
      divide?

      What the Democratic Party needs above all is a clear message and a
      bold and compelling candidate. The message has to convince Americans
      that they would be better off following a progressive Democratic
      vision of the future. The candidate has to be a person of integrity
      capable of earning the respect and the affection of the American
      people.

      This is doable. Al Gore and John Kerry were less than sparkling
      candidates, and both came within a hair of defeating Mr. Bush.

      What the Democrats don't need is a candidate who is willing to shape
      his or her values to fit the pundits' probably incorrect analysis of
      the last election. Values that pivot on a dime were not really
      values to begin with.
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