Thursday, May 18, 2006

Values Voters

George F. Will and I sit on opposite sides of the political spectrum, each about as far from the center as the other. We tend to agree about a third of the time, which I’m sure brings him great comfort on cold winter nights. I always read him, even though I often disagree, because his perspective is usually thought-provoking enough to make me re-examine my opinion. Not change it (though that does happen from time to time) but think about it.

Today he nailed one, the column falling into the category of “Things I Wish I had Written.”

To which I sent the following reply:

Dear Mr. Will,

Thank you for your column on values voters in today's Washington Post. I am about as liberal as you are conservative. Although I often disagree with your perspective, I appreciate the thoughtfulness that goes into its expression. Today we are in complete agreement.

I belong to no organized religion, yet work every day to live according to what most would refer to as Judeo-Christian principles. I have come to actively distrust those who, to borrow a phrase, wear their piety too much on their sleeves. I resent the implication that I am without "values" because I don't have a problem with same-sex marriage and believe that. I also believe abstinence is the most efficient method of preventing unwanted teen pregnancies, but I'm willing to accept the fact that young people aren't going to practice it in large numbers, so maybe we'd better have Plan B ready, such as teaching about condoms and other birth- and disease-control methods.

I consider tolerance to be a value, as well as the idea that a nation as wealthy as ours should not countenance the idea that any child goes hungry, or without adequate medical care. (Adults are more on their own. At some point everyone has to quit whining about their difficult childhoods. Abraham Lincoln had a difficult childhood; so did Helen Keller. Get over it.)

That doesn't make me a knee-jerk liberal. My primary objection to capital punishment is how often it's used. Some people cry out for the death penalty; DC Sniper John Muhammed is the Poster Child for Capital Punishment.

What I'm saying (not as well as you) is that values take different forms and embrace different principles with equal validity. Those who considered themselves to be "values voters" to seize the moral high ground by attempting to deny it to others lack some important values themselves.

Thank you for pointing this out so eloquently.

I’m sure this, too, will bring great comfort to him. Probably hang it right next to his framed Hillary Clinton dart board.

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