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Voter Values

By now, it’s likely that you have seen the video of the MSNBC reporter being heckled at the 2009 Value Voters Summit. Fewer probably have seen the Fox News reporter get pretty much the same treatment. We’ve all had a good time making fun of the kooky wingnuts who addressed this gathering of the most conservative of the conservative in Washington D.C.

I’ve got a news flash. These people are eating our lunch on this values thing folks. They know just what their values are and we don’t. When was the last time you heard of 2,000 progressives paying a hundred bucks and traveling across the country on their own dime so they could be indoctrinated with progressive values by Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards? Sure it’s fun to take cheap shots at these crazy people, but they are going to travel back to Texas, Oregon, Nebraska, Arizona and Alabama tomorrow with a clear idea of their political philosophy and a solid support network to begin their God-given task of proselytizing to their neighbors and winning them over to the conservative cause. Progressives think it’s about politics. Conservatives believe they are in a war to save “their” country.

Democrats have nothing even remotely close to this level of infrastructure. Sure there are a few small liberal think tanks laying out policy goals and supporting legislation. The Value Summit was funded by religious/conservative organizations like the Family Research Council, The Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family. These are very large, very well funded outfits that are telling their people just what to think and just what ideas they should support. They are very focused. We have none of that. Most progressives don’t even have a concept of what true liberal and progressive values look and sound like. We give our folks lists of legislation to support, we tell them how crazy the right really is and encourage them to ignore and scoff at conservative ideals, but there is no organized progressive ideal. Conservative think tanks pass out inserts for church bulletins to encourage right thinking and networking. They repeat talking points and specific phrasing using charged words like “death“, “tax relief“, “socialism” and “family values” over and over until they sink in and becomes an unconscious reflex. We laugh at them and say “Here are the boring cost figures on a public health care option.” Progressives think that if we repeat the facts often enough, we will win conservative support. Conservatives don’t even hear facts because God (via Gary Bauer) tells them who to  listen to and how to vote.

Progressives let the christian right set the agenda and then we just respond. They say “death panels” and we spend the next two months addressing this stupid idea and playing videos of them saying it over and over. All they see is that we are saying “death panels” so there must be something to it. Until we learn not to respond in kind and to put forth a consistent view of our own philosophy, you are going to continue see more conservatives spouting lies in the media than you are going to see of rational liberals even while we maintain a majority. Will Rogers said it best, “Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.” It’s still just as true today as it was eighty years ago.

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