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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Who Isn't A 'Values Voter'?
An aggressively annoying new phrase in America's political lexicon is "values voters." It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives.

This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to . . . well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots.
I think column kind of rambled, like he wasn't sure where to go with it, but I think George Will makes a valid point here. Where I would have taken it would have been towards the claim that "You can't legislate morality." You don't hear it as much as you used to, and I hope that's becaue people have realized that it's patently false: all legislation is legslating morality.

Anytime you make a judgement about what the right thing to do is, you're making a value judgement, deciding what is moral. When you do it through legislation, you're legislating morality. When you vote to go to war, you're saying that war is morally just. When you vote to cut taxes, you're saying it's more moral to let people keep theiur money than for the government to take it. When you spend money on a welfare program, you're saying it's moral to help the poor. When you vote against any of those proposals, you're stating your disagreement with those proposals, even if it's limited to a specific disagreement about the means or methods without disagreeing with the broader principle.

The phrase "values voters" should be retired in favor of something like "traditional values voters." All people have values; the disagreement is about which values to enact through the political process.

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