I ran across this piece called Republican Responsibility by J.D. Crouch from 1994 and was struck by the similarities to the 2004 election…
1994 was not just a simplistic vote for “change”–the word the White House spin doctors have tried to apply to the Democratâ€™s disaster–but a vote for change in a certain direction. The American people want government smaller, they want to depend on their own initiative and rekindle in all citizens a sense of individual responsibility, and they understand that big government has become a destructive force to the social, economic and political cohesion of society.
2004 has been spun as a simplistic vote for values but just as the vote for change in 1994 was a vote for a certain type of change, the 2004 vote was a vote for a certain type of values and contrary to the continuing characterization of Bush voters as a bunch of gay-bashing Neanderthals the values had little if anything to do with gays.
I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘values voter’, my number one issue was tax relief, but if asked, I would have ranked values as important. Specifically, this last election was about the value of integrity. Taking principled stands in the face of opposition, leading instead of simply following the polls – those are important values.
Family values were also important. That isn’t code for gay bashing either. Family values mean improving education. When public education and federal mandates are failing family values means returning choice to families and control to local school boards. Family values means ending the marriage penalty and tax relief generally as the best way to help working families get ahead – or just stop falling behind.
The election was about community values. Community values isn’t a code phrase for arresting people for things they say online. It’s about making decisions at the local level, the level closest to the lives they touch. It’s about saying that what happens in Vegas is free to stay in Vegas and those who want it are free to live or visit there. Mostly it’s about saying that the reason we have 50 separate states and those states all have dozens or even hundreds of counties is that this is a diverse nation and we don’t all have to think or live alike.
But most importantly, Liberty is a value. With Islamofascist extremists wanting women in burkas, art work and ancient artifacts destroyed and music banned just for starters, a vision of a free and secure America in a world of growing freedom was perhaps the single most important statement of values in 2004.
Let’s hope the values voters come out in force again in 2006 and 2008.