Talking about Moral Values
Nope. Not us. Not after listening to the spin-arama and navel-gazing since the election about what divides Americans. And values are private, arent they?
But wait; what were hearing seems to be about more than politics. Shouldnt we be able to talk about our values principles and behaviors that guide our lives without sinking into a political ruckus?
Our approach is to talk about what unites us in Chesapeake Country, not what divides us.
First, some footnotes. The 2004 vote is being called the values election because of what people whod just voted told pollsters.
In CNNs survey, 22 percent of Americans responded moral values when presented with a list of important issues. They rated moral values slightly ahead of the economy, terrorism and the Iraq war.
But when the L.A. Times and others who sponsored surveys presented a longer list of issues, moral values declined to a less remarkable 15 percent or so.
In other words, its possible that in the never-ending search for themes, our brethren in the news media and their pollsters might be slightly exaggerating what happened last week.
But well give them the benefit of the doubt. Because we think theres something there, which is why we consulted an acquaintance, John Kenneth White, who wrote the book The Values Divide: American Politics and Culture in Transition.
If you know a persons lifestyle, you have a pretty good indication of whom they are going to vote for. Whether they go to church regularly. Whether theyre married or single. Whether they have children living at home. Whether they go to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts, you can predict which candidate they support, said White, a professor at Catholic University in D.C.
At Bay Weekly, we like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Which gets us to the issue of what unites us, not what divides us.
In Chesapeake Country, were united by geography; by family values; by spiritual values; by a rich culture. Notably, were also united by Chesapeake Bay: its geography; its culture; its beauty; its where we play and where we hope working people continue to be able to earn their livelihoods.
But its not enough just to say the Bay brings us together.
The clear, cold realities of this election aftermath war, tax cuts and a pro-industry bent mean that there will be less money for the Chesapeake and less commitment to conservation. Environmental Protection Agency officials have already declared a mandate for continuing policies that roll back existing protections.
Thats not sour grapes. Thats the way it is; the people have spoken, and now we must live with the choices weve made.
Which brings us back to values. Values amount to more than how many times you park your back side in a pew. Values
are made up of what you believe, not just what you think. Values are more than programs and policies; values are our roots connections.
This is what the losing side last week didnt understand. They could cite policies till the cows come home. But they didnt know how to speak the language of values.
This election taught us that for now, if you cant or wont tell people what you believe and why you believe it, you stand to lose. In the uncertain times ahead in Chesapeake Country, that strikes us as a risk not worth taking.