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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-11-03 - 8:22 p.m.


Not an Aberration...an Era



This is no passing phase. This is now an era

by Jonathan Freedland
Thursday November 4, 2004
The Guardian

…Many Bush voters admitted their unhappiness on Iraq and confessed to great economic hardship - two issues which ordinarily would be enough to defeat an incumbent. But these voters backed Mr. Bush, because he reflected something they regarded as even more important: their values.

Those values can be boiled down to issues - abortion, guns, gays - but they represent a larger, cultural difference. One Republican analyst asks people four questions. Do you have a friend or relative serving in the military? Do you have any personal ties to rural America? Do you attend religious services on a weekly basis? Do you own a gun? Answer yes to most or all of those, and you are "a cultural conservative" and most likely vote Republican. Answer no, and the chances are you live on the east or west coast and vote Democrat.

In 2000 this cultural split was dead-even: 50-50 America. This time it was 51-49 America, with the conservatives in the majority.

Put plainly, the US is moving steadily and solidly to the right. That poses a problem for Democrats, who have to learn to speak to the people of those red states if they are ever to hold power again.

But it also poses a problem for America, which has somehow to house two radically diverging cultures in one nation. And it may even pose a problem for the rest of the world's peoples, as they watch the sole superpower, the indispensable nation, chart a course they fear - and barely understand.

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My thoughts: The world is not alone. Those of us in the blue states barely understand, too. Please don’t blame all Americans for this bit of stupidity. And let’s hope this will pass…that somehow we can begin to talk to each other, to try to understand the depth of the feelings of the middle of America. We’ve allowed the Republicans to hijack the word “values.” It is my opinion that our values may even be more inclusive than those espoused by the Neocons. It is not that the rest of us are without values…they are just different values.

We value human life in broader terms than fetuses and stem cells that are doomed for destruction anyway. We value the human lives that can be saved by keeping guns out of the hands of children and criminals. We value the lives of our soldiers on the ground in Iraq…and the huge numbers of Iraqi people being killed for a war that was misrepresented to us and for a cause many of us believe to be fruitless. This is even more obscene to us than the momentary baring of Janet Jackson’s breast during the Super Bowl half-time.

We value preserving the environment and preventing global warming. We value reducing our dependence on Middle East oil, hoping to retain the remaining oil for essentials such as the air travel we’ve grown to love and depend on. We value fairness and hold in disdain willful favoritism and cronyism shown Halliburton and its affiliates. We would like to see jobs created for our people here at home in industries that reflect these values. Outsourcing of jobs and immigration are issues that deserve attention. We value keeping our homeland protected – and not only by destroying other countries in order to keep the terrorists away from ours, thereby feeding their frenzy and increasing their numbers.

The violence of war festers in the soul of a country (or in this case a region) like a cancer passing to the spirit of one's children and grandchildren. And the Middle East has a much longer memory than we do…it is a much older culture. Long after we have left Iraq and Afghanistan and peace has been proclaimed, memories will live in the heart and soul of their people. Peace to the terrorists is much harder won than that for any nation.

Today Democrats and the talking heads are mulling over “What went wrong? What needs to be done to the party to reestablish itself as a leader in this country?” I only wish as much time had been spent asking those same questions about why 9/11 happened and why the terrorists hate us enough to do such a thing…to think about how we might live on this planet peacefully with our neighbors far and near. We value peace.

We value keeping some of our beautiful country pristine and free of encroachment by development, oil drilling, and even a repository for nuclear waste – not in our backyard or anyone’s backyard.

We value equal rights and equal opportunities for all of our people – black, white, Latino, Asian, Gay/ Straight, Married/ Single, Men/ Women and Children, too. We value respecting people of all religions – none more than others. I don’t believe we have a corner on “God”. If there is a God, I would imagine he would have love for all of his creations and hope for the children to play nice together.

Healing is painful and sometimes it seems the most unreachable dream, but in strength and caring, one person, one step and one hand at a time it is possible. Let there be peace on earth…and let it begin with me...and you.

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