I’ve been thinking about what to post today. Tomorrow is Election Day. What could I say that would prepare folks for tomorrow, to encourage them to get out and vote.
Instead, I bring you this editorial from the Investor’s Business Daily. Food for thought.
Here’s a well-kept secret: Americans are in overwhelming agreement on social issues. Here’s a not-so-well-kept secret. Many in the media and politics have absolutely no idea.We are told that in America today, partisanship has never been so bad, that it threatens our nation’s unity. At the same time, we’ve been told we should keep our faith, our values and our morality to ourselves, and that our public spaces, traditions and celebrations must remain devoid of God and Christianity.Now there’s proof that the truth is actually quite different. That proof is in the form of a new book being released on Nov. 2 by Doubleday. In “Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street and the Media,” the leader of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, shows how recent polling conclusively reveals that the culture wars are being won by those with traditional values.Those of us who believe in God, have successful marriages, oppose abortions in most instances, want less government than more, think the government and media are part of the problem, and are supportive of religion in the public square are not a minority.We’re not just a majority either. We are part of the quiet consensus at work in this country — if only those in the media and Washington, D.C., were paying attention.The truth is that Americans are a people guided and sustained by morality and faith, and want those values reflected both in their institutions and political leadership.The idea that we are a nation divided is a convenient myth for the merchants of division. For them — the politicians and pundits alike who would tear down this country’s traditional values — the goal is reshaping the nation according to their own ideology, not the values of the American people. They have convinced many in this country that political correctness is the norm, when it’s actually the opinion of a very few Americans.The media don’t seem to get it. As we read report after report about our polarized nation, the fact is that the true divide in American life is a divide between the vast majority of Americans and a political and cultural elite who no longer share the same moral or cultural outlook as the people to whom they report.Moral ConsensusWhat America needs is the ability to move forward based on areas of profound moral consensus, not the special interests or top-down government solutions.Americans agree that the country is not simply in the midst of a financial crisis, but a moral one as well. According to the data cited by Anderson, nearly three-quarters of Americans feel the moral compass of the country is pointing in the wrong direction. In the same breath, more than 80% of Americans agree that politicians are moving the country in the wrong direction.The news media scarcely fared better, with nearly seven in 10 Americans saying the media are a negative influence on the moral fabric of the country. Also morally harmful, according to most Americans, is the entertainment industry.Americans are having a crisis of confidence in our institutions, and it’s about something far beyond our wallets.The mainstream media outlets tell us that traditional values are found only among a “backward” fringe element. Actually, such values are more likely yours, those of your neighbor and of your community. They’re just not shared by the media or Washington elites.Consider the following specifics from Anderson’s book:We hear about a nearly 50-50 split on abortion. But in fact, when asked not whether they are pro-life or pro-choice but at what point of pregnancy abortion should be allowed, Americans are clear. About 80% would limit abortion to the first three months at most. Well over half would limit it to rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. Young people and women are even more likely to respond this way.We also hear that same-sex marriage has divided us 50-50. Put another option on the table — civil unions — and support for same-sex marriage plummets to a third.And to believe the media you would think the whole country was clamoring to remove all religious symbolism from the public square. Not so. By three to one — 75% to 25% — Americans are more concerned about the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom than they are interested in scrubbing every government building or school of religious symbolism.Americans — Anderson points out — overwhelmingly want less government, don’t think the government can fix the economy and think executives ought to take the personal and moral responsibility necessary to fix things.According to the research, Americans most trust volunteers and charities — the sorts of civic institutions Alexis de Tocqueville lauded as fundamental to American democracy and culture. And by more than 3-to-1 over any other answer, we think a return to traditional values is the best path to fixing our country’s problems.Come November, it seems likely that the quiet consensus will be heard loud and clear. The anti-incumbent sentiment around the nation is about more than economic issues. Sure, “it’s the economy, stupid” — but even on economic issues, there is a moral component that people want to see accounted for.It’s also about right and wrong, and a sense that common-sense values no longer matter in Washington, D.C. It is the conviction that personal responsibility and not government regulation is the answer to our fiscal crisis.It is the sense that traditional values, not a radically secular political correctness, are the unifying principles of American life that will heal the divisions in our society. It is the fact that these truths have been forgotten and ignored in Washington that has led to this anti-incumbent revolution.Without ConsentThere is a huge consensus, and part of it is — as the book points out — that we don’t think our politicians are ruling with the consent of the governed. One could say we want representative democracy, not oligarchy.The new blood that the wave of anti-incumbent sentiment seems likely to send to Washington will thrive if it learns this simple lesson: the American people want leaders with traditional moral values. We don’t trust the current generation of politicians. Few of us adhere to the doctrine of political correctness.The next generation of elected officials can succeed if they take Anderson’s advice and begin governing with this consensus in mind. If those about to be elected can do that, a consensus might well say that Nov. 2 brought exactly the sort of change we can believe in — and that would be good for all of us.• Jones served as grass-roots director for Sen. Sam Brownback’s 2008 presidential campaign. He works today as a human rights advocate and film producer.