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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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2004-11-06 - 9:43 a.m.

What Grown-Ups Do...

What I said a couple of days ago,Ellen Goodman said so much better in her op-ed piece in today's Washington Post when she remembered when her father had lost a close election (He got up the next day and put on his shirt, tie and jacket and went back to work - what grown-ups do!):

Winning Back Values Voters

Ellen Goodman

…Well, speaking for the designated "immoral minority," there are a whole lot of folks who believe that starting a preemptive war on false premises is a moral issue. There are a whole lot of people who believe that giving tax cuts to the rich and a deficit to the grandkids is a matter of values. There are a whole lot who put our faith, secular and sacred, in the most religiously diverse country in the world.But the entire moral vocabulary is now a wholly owned language of the religious right.

I know, I promised no recriminations. But if this is a cultural war, the Democrats came to it verbally unarmed. There was no larger moral framework for the war; just the promise to fight it better and smarter. The environment never made it onto the screen as central to the progressive "culture of life." Kerry voted for abortion rights but framed his support weakly. He sided with opponents of gay marriage, who opposed him anyway.

The economic language of "two Americas" that John Edwards had used was dropped like a hot liberal potato. The cultural reality of "two Americas" helped keep Bush in office.

It's not a news bulletin that progressives are often tongue-tied in talking about values. Thomas Frank went home to ask "What's the matter with Kansas?" and came back with a book explaining how economic populism had been replaced by cultural populism. George Lakoff's "Moral Politics" has become a handbook for progressives who need to understand the worldviews of right and left, the connecting threads of family and morality, and to reframe the debate on shared terms.

The blue candidates will never convert people who believe that homosexuality is a sin, or that the fertilized egg is a human being, or that evolution is a scam taught by secular humanists. But among the not-so-red voters are those who believe in legal protection for gay couples, who value a child with diabetes over a frozen embryo in a fertility clinic. They regard poverty as a moral issue and tolerance as an American value. They don't want their country racked by the fundamentalist religious wars we see across the world. And they need to hear the moral framework for these views.

So this is the time for the losers to go back to basics, to restate their views into a basic simple, straightforward language of values and morals. It's the time to parse what we believe in. Especially right and wrong. It's time to get up and start all over again. Because that's what grownups do.

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