The "Values Voters" Summit in DC last weekend brought together evangelicals and the Republicans who pander to them in an orgy of self-congratulation, determination, and worry. Speaker after speaker trumpeted how the Religious Right is still a powerful force, dammit, with Gary Bauer declaring, "I say to my reporter friends, we are only now beginning to fight. You haven't seen anything yet." I've seen how you fight, Gary, and somehow I am not afraid. They also strongly inferred that whatever Republican wins the nomination can either do as they say or by God lose the election. Didn't God say "Thou Shalt Not Threaten" somewhere?
However, I find the phrase "values voters" insulting, because I missed the actual "values" discussed. The only "values" brought up seemed to be opposition to abortion, gay marriage and terrorism. There were also mentions of banning stem-cell research, outlawing human cloning, allowing the Ten Commandments in public, praying and saying the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, bashing illegal immigrants, and backing English as the official US language. Propositions not based on values, but on fear, and how keeping America straight, Judeo-Christian and obedient is the only way out of our mess. It reminds me of an unintentionally hilarious sign I saw on a church: "You are most powerful when you are on your knees."
When I think of "values," I think of things like honesty, charity and decency, values completely lacking in the current administration, but these were not mentioned. When I think of "American values," I also think of those things that would help make the country great again. Like attention to poverty, and how the middle class is in big trouble, living paycheck to paycheck or not even in many cases. Like fixing the health care system to the point where an uninsured cancer patient doesn't lose his home.
Like controlling government waste on the war, which has already bankrupted us and destroyed the dollar to the point where a trip to Europe is out of the question for everyone except Steven Spielberg. Like taking care of the troops and making sure they're not driving a cardboard Humvee. Like not handing over wartime solutions to private contractors who operate in a lawless nether world and make 5 times what a soldier makes (as they say on ABC News, "That's your money.") Like fighting discrimination, which the Religious Right isn't interested in at all, unless it's directed at them. They reserve the right to discriminate all they want.
There was no discussion whatsoever of tolerance of other people, and I'm not talking jockstrapped revelers in the Castro, I'm talking about tolerating anyone else but Christians. No mention of Ann Coulter's desire to "perfect" Jews by turning them Christian. No mention of the gay bashing that continues unabated. No mention of illegally detaining Muslims because they're Muslims. This was a Christian event, we're a Christian nation, and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Phyllis Schafly, the Empress Dowager who stubbornly refuses to enter a home, said she would demand that any candidate support the rights of parents to keep their kids from learning about homosexuality or Islam in public school. Phyllis has a gay son, so I guess she's interested in keeping him, and anyone who wants to understand him, in the dark, poor bugger. And aside from any student of history or religion, you know who would have benefited from learning about Islam? George W. Bush. He didn't even know the difference between the Shiites and Sunnis before invading their country. For heaven's sake, I knew the difference. I saw it on the freakin' Discovery channel.
Bauer also said, "Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain. Unless the United States rediscovers the God of Abraham...we are in trouble." Listen, weasel, don't you think that there is some slight chance that we might be in trouble because our leaders have ripped the Constitution to shreds and spent all our money and lied to us and made the rest of the world hate our guts? Those "values" don't matter to a Christian?
Of course they don't consider those "values." They operate in a vacuum of fear, surfaces, and intolerance. They consider "patriotism" the blind allegiance to whatever your leaders say, unless they're Democrat. They don't consider that loving your country means loving it like an adult who may or may not even believe in God, and, in the current situation, demanding that the enormous wrongs that really endanger us be righted. I love America, I just love it like a father loves his son who deals heroin.
I guess it's a shame that the rest of us are going to be Left Behind. However, if these guys regain power, we will be.