“Ever since 22 percent of the country’s voters said on Nov. 2 that they cared most about “moral values,” opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies…”
The mainstream press, itself in love with the “moral values” story line and traumatized by the visual exaggerations of the red-blue map, is too cowed to challenge the likes of the American Family Association. So are politicians of both parties. It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent.)
So, the moral majority, which never was to begin with, has been steadily shrinking for almost a decade now. It makes sense that the Religious Right have seized this moment to make as much noise as possible. It covers up the fact that the noise they are making is not being terribly well-received – by anyone outside of the American media, which is not exactly known for being on the cutting edge of cultural trends.
Look, in my little lifetime I’ve experienced Eisenhower Republicanism, Kennedy Progressivism, Nixon Paranoia, Reagan Regressivism, Clinton Democratic government and now BushII, with his Radical Rightism. The trend in the culture has been pretty steadily toward more tolerance, with the occasional blip. What the numbers say to me, at least in part, on the “moral values” issue, is that the government and the media (which operates as the government’s lap dog anymore,) are both completely out of touch with reality. Americans are not more rigid and more religious than in the past. Americans are pretty much as they’ve always been – more open-minded than most will give them credit for.