Thursday, May 18, 2006

Shorter George F. Will

In which Mr. Will tells the right wing that the term values voter is bunk.

An aggressively annoying new phrase in America’s political lexicon is “values voters.” It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives.

This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to… well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots.


Attempts to assign values-seriousness can get complicated: Freedom and happiness are valuable. Arguably, governmental actions that did much to increase freedom and happiness in the past half-century were state laws liberalizing divorce. These made important contributions to the emancipation of men and especially women from mistaken marriages. Perhaps the most important of these laws — it was among the most liberal and was in the most populous state — was signed by a divorced governor, Ronald Reagan. What do socially conservative values voters make of that?

What they make of it is hypocrisy on steroids. The tightie-righties all claim the moral high ground with spokesmen who are drug abusers on probation, multi-millionaire Las Vegas whales, self-loathing closet queens, immigrant-bashing immigrants, and men with more ex-wives and enough alimony payments to maintain the GNP of a small Caribbean island. The only thing they seem to truly value is keeping a grip on power by exploitation and fear.