Both liberal and conservative analysts have spilled barrels of ink focusing on the Republican edge among “values” voters as the key to the results of the election. This analysis seems to me extraordinarily misleading in several respects, but most of all in its vocabulary.
Alone in the world, the United States is founded on the “self-evident truths” that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that government is instituted among men to secure these rights. These rights exist under what the Declaration of Indepence — the first of the founding laws of the United States — refers to as the laws of nature and Nature’s God.
The founders of the United States never spoke of “values”; the concept was foreign to their political discourse. The concept of “values” derives from the thought of the German intellectual Max Weber. Weber maintained that the fundamental distinction of social science was that between “facts” and “values.” Regarding “values” — the deeply held beliefs that shaped the lives of citizens — social science could render no judgment.
“Values” are by definition relative. They have no objective status or connection to a commonly shared nature. The supplanting of nature and self-evident truths by “values” is more or less the great project of modern liberalism, whose home is in the Democratic Party. It is but a short distance from the orthodoxy of “values” to the related dogmas of “multiculturalism” and “diversity” that permeate liberal thought. In this sense the Democratic Party is the party of “values.”
On the other hand, the Republican Party has its roots in the founders’ thought. Recall, for example, that in its first platform the Republican Party condemned slavery and polygamy together as “the twin relics of barbarism.” Can anyone today explain why? Or how “homosexual marriage,” for example, should be viewed in light of such an explanation?
Among the founders, sodomy was universally condemned as a crime against nature. It was illegal in each of the thirteen states existing at the time the Constitution was ratified and the Bill of Rights was adopted. In Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia, it was a crime punishable by death. When Jefferson wrote an amendment to the criminal code lessening the penalty for sodomy, he nevertheless classed it as a crime with rape, polygamy, and incest.
Today the Supreme Court declares that homosexual sodomy constitutes “a form of liberty of the person in both its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.” Missing in the Court’s grandiloquence is any recognition of the laws of nature and nature’s God on which our true rights depend.
Although President Bush justly seized on the undemocratic usurpation incident to the Court’s decision to condemn it, neither he nor any other conservative spokesman has suggested the underlying difficulties with the Court’s decision on the merits. Has the Republican Party too become “the party of values”? If so, it has forsaken its birthright for a mess of pottage.
Losing Democratic senatorial candidate Brad Carson seems to me to have observed the phenomena at work here more thoughtfully than the pundits in the press and broadcast media. Consider his New Republic column “Vote righteously!”
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