Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Values voters

Tom Krattenmaker, who lives in Portland, Ore., specializes in religion in public life and is a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors. He recently wrote an op-ed in which he said:
I am a values voter.

Given my progressive political and religious beliefs, some might find this a dubious claim — especially members of the Christian right, who with their rhetoric about “values voters” suggest that only those who share their positions on abortion and same-sex couples possess something deserving of the term “values.”

Social conservatives' skewed deployment of the “v-word” floods the public square these days. (Though it didn't help Republicans this time as it did in 2004.) President Bush, on the campaign trail, called on voters to support candidates who defend “traditional values.”

Consider two events organized this past year by leading religious right figures — the “Values Voters Summit,” held earlier this fall with a lineup of speakers that included the flame-throwing Ann Coulter, and the high-profile “War on Christians and the Values Voter” conference in March. Consider the ValuesVoters.com website operated by the conservative American Family Association, and the declaration by leading social conservative Gary Bauer that 2004 was the “year of the values voter.”

Apparently, those of us who hold different positions on the hot-button issues as framed by social conservatives — those of us who turn our attention and hearts to other imperatives such as peace-making, poverty relief, environmental preservation and tolerance — have no values. According to the rhetoric of social conservatives, progressives are the “anything goes” lot. Secularists, liberal Christians and followers of other faiths — we're the ones tearing America down with our moral weakness and hostility to the conservative Christian worldview.

Let's move past this hubris and damn-the-opponents rhetoric. We all have values. Let the majority of us who are not members of the “values voters” club continue to take back the v-word and proclaim the values that we've always acted — and voted — upon.

You can read the rest here.