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It's Time for a Cease-fire in the U.S. Moral Civil War During the 2012 Presidential Election

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The 20th century political reformer, John W. Gardner, best known as the founder of the lobby Common Cause and Secretary of HEW under President Johnson, once wrote that "America's greatness has been the greatness of a free people who shared certain moral commitments. Freedom without moral commitment is aimless and promptly self-destructive."

These "shared moral commitments" are epitomized by a cast iron assurances of equality and freedom for all Americans; a sacred protection against intrusion and censorship from the state in the personal lives and beliefs of its citizens; inalienable guarantees of the freedom of the press and an individual's free speech; the sacred right of Americans to bear arms and the forbidding of warrantless entry into their homes; safeguards to practice their religion beliefs without exclusivity and a fear of retribution from the state or other sects; and a belief in an American dream of individual accomplishment that allows any citizen to improve his or her social and financial standing, to realize personal fulfillment and to have their children live even better lives than those of generations before them.

Much of these moral commitments were premised in our Founding Fathers' religious faith and upbringing. They balanced their endorsement of principles of republicanism with their personal religious code of ethics-all the while specifically mandating the separation of the dictates and power of religious institutions, which dominated the governance of royal theocracies in 18th century Europe, from the management of our new democratic government.

Today, rather than experiencing that unique, healthy balance between individual freedom and shared moral principles as in past eras, Americans are instead divided by derisive social conflict, starkly contrasting statist liberal mandates promoting social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and birth control against the imposition of moral dictates by powerful religious minorities to control our personal behavior solely in puritanical religious terms with no concern for individual beliefs and personal freedom.

What is also alarming is that these "moral" hostilities are so provocative that such dialogue is going to supersede the average voter's immediate well placed concern for the economy and national security and obstruct a proper vetting of the final GOP candidate and President Obama and his administration's record during his first term in office.

Regrettably, the past few days of destructive moral rhetoric coming from self promoting, right wing political pundits like Rush Limbaugh, religious leaders like Franklin Graham, and political candidates like Rick Santorum -- and the supercharged reaction from the equally vitriol President Obama and the left wing in response -- has done nothing but inflame the rhetoric to even more dangerous levels.

I don't know about you, but I am really worn from this circular morality shoot out which further splits an already too distracted and divided nation.

What is also alarming is that these "moral" hostilities are so provocative that such dialogue is going to supersede the average voter's immediate well placed concern for the economy and national security and obstruct a proper vetting of the final GOP candidate and President Obama and his administration's record during his first term in office.

A nation in economic crisis, we can't afford that right now.

While it may be good for radio ratings, raising church attendance, and energizing both a leftist Democratic base and attracting evangelical voters for a primary victory, Americans need a breather from the distraction of self-destructive social politics.

With "El Rushbo" apologizing this weekend for his "slut" comment about birth control advocate Sandra Fluke, maybe he should also declare a unilateral cease fire in the U.S. Social Civil War from his Palm Beach fortress at this point too.

For the rest of the campaign, Limbaugh and his moral warriors should focus more on the obscene price of a gallon of gas rather than reducing otherwise valid criticisms of Obama administration social mandates to iniquitous MTV gutter language that in itself was once deemed immoral and had no place in serious discussions of moral issues.

What America really needs this election is an unifying moral commitment from not only the candidates, but the social warriors too, to just tone it down and make the rhetoric civil again when debating social issues -- it would be a step in the right direction to making this country great again.

Join Steven Kurlander's blog Kurly's Kommentary and read his columns in the Sun Sentinel and Florida Voices. Email him at kurly@stevenkurlander.com.

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