Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Values Voters" - Just Another Brand

Today, George Will asks, "Who Isn't A 'Values Voter'?" He complains,
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.
It's the marketing of a brand George, like being a "K-Mart Shopper". It's actually pretty good marketing - It let's an unthinking, bigoted voter feel better than you: "I hate gays, so I will be a 'values voter' by voting for a constitutional amendment which bans government benefits for same-sex couples, and sneer at everybody else as having no values."
It is odd that some conservatives are eager to promote the semantic vanity of the phrase "values voters." And it is odder still that the media are cooperating with those conservatives
The former is not odd - it's good marketing. The latter? Well, I'm sure somebody will find a way to hold it up as proof of "liberal media bias"....

Will, who is preternaturally incapable of even mildly criticizing the political right without attacking the political left, deliberately confuses a politician's appeal to a voter's values with the politician's making an appeal to "values voters".
Hillary Clinton, speaking recently at the annual U.S. Chamber of Commerce convention, scolded "kids," by which she evidently meant young adults, for thinking "work is a four-letter word." She was said to be courting values voters.
She was said by whom to be courting "values voters"? By George Will? Here's how a self-appointed spokesman for "values voters" regards Hillary Clinton:
Hillary Clinton suggested that Democrats go to church for a time to learn the language. Who is stupid now? (Although they might benefit from spending some time in church.)

Do liberals really think that by being able to quote a bit of scripture or to understand Liturgy they are going to be able to win over the values voters? I guess she really thinks we are stupid beyond belief.
How about the bloviations of David Limbaugh?
I'll not address the curious context of Hillary's particular biblical references, as others have covered that subject well. But I will say that when certain famed liberal politicians, like Hillary and John Kerry, invoke Scripture, it seems transparently incongruous.

It's as if they're saying, "Look at me, Middle America, I am bilingual, too: I can talk Scripture as fluently as I can speak English, and I can interweave religion and politics as seamlessly as Roy Moore. So vote for me, Bible-thumpers."
Limbaugh is speaking directly to those who proudly wear the "values voter" brand.

Yes, George, if you presuppose that people who vote based upon their personal values are "values voters", your rhetorical question can be answered "Nobody!" But as you know, the people who have worked so hard to advance the "values voters" brand have something completely different in mind.


  1. Off topic but I thought it was important... In typical MI GOP fashion, Saul Anuzis has attacked the Governor's personal efforts to bring jobs to Michigan. Michigan is getting hit hard by Bush tax and trade policies and is suffering from over a decade of Republican leadership. If you haven't seen it, the Governor started a 'jobs diary' on her website to let people keep track of her hard work to bring jobs back home. Of course, Saul Anuzis immediately launched an attack on her without the facts to back it up. Check it out and respond:

  2. a) You're wrong, it's not important.

    b) I haven't been in MI much in the past ten years, but I was under the impression that much of the economic problems the state was suffering were related to the horrible failures in leadership of both management and labor in the auto industry. Did I miss a renaissance under Democratic leadership?

    c) How is the whole "values voter” brand name appeal to the unthinking any different than the whole “red state blue state” paradigm? (Or any other “brand” name in politics, after all just how “progressive” is it to push for policies that are close to a century old?) The person who formulated the term was pushing it as a means for the Democratic Party to win an election and pretty clearly “loaded” his descriptions of the two types of states.


  3. "Progressive" is a close substitute brand name for "liberal", as that particular political label has been turned into a slur by the right.

  4. Although I'm guessing that it is a lot easier to turn some political labels into smears than it is others. Otherwise, why haven't the "liberals" done the same thing with the conservatives?

    Why is it that only one side of the political spectrum seems to have any luck doing that?



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