It’s been less than a month since the gods decreed that because of the election results American political life henceforth must be all about something called “values.” And I gave it my best. Honest. But values won. I’m sick of talking about values, sick of pretending I have them or care more about them than I really do. Sick of bending and twisting the political causes I do care about to make them qualify as “values.” News stories about values-mongers caught with their values down used to make my day. Now the tale of Bill O’Reilly and phone sex induces barely a flicker of schadenfreude.
Why does an ideological position become sacrosanct when it gets labeled as a “value”? There are serious arguments and sincere passions on both sides of the gay-marriage debate. For some reason, the views of those who feel that marriage requires a man and a woman are considered to be a “value,” while the views of those who believe that gay relationships deserve the same legal standing as straight ones barely qualify as an opinion.
Why do you care, or care so much, whether the people running the government have good values? Wouldn’t you prefer a bit of competence, if forced to choose? For example, suppose we had a government that was capable of ensuring enough flu vaccine to go around, like the governments of every other developed country in the world. Wouldn’t that be nice? And if you could have that kind of government, would you really mind if a few more of its leaders secretly enjoyed Janet Jackson’s halftime show at the Super Bowl?