Guest Commentary

Don't believe that 'morality' gave Bush re-election--it was just the opposite

It started when I went to my car on my lunch break the day after the election and turned on the radio--just in time to hear some rabid woman from Heartland, U.S.A., insist that separation of church and state is not part of our country's constitution.

Really. Well, the way things are going, she may soon be right. This talk show was on NPR (for Christ's sake!), and the theme was how "moral values" had been the key to the election.

The next day, the local fishwrap carried a huge picture above the fold of a beaming Bush, glassy-eyed Stepford wife at his side, the two of them looking as if they were standing in a shaft of Heavenly Light. The banner headline pushed the same senseless tripe: that "moral values" had carried the day.

Well, gag me with a papal scepter. Moral values had about as much to do with this election as "great taste" has to do with selling "lite beer."

Never mind, for the moment, that the Bush Mafia achieved its incumbency by cheating every which way four years ago. (Check out the October Vanity Fair for a recapitulation of what happened in Florida in 2000, and how things were demonstrably worse going into this election.) And never mind that evidence is already accumulating that the Bush Mafia rigged the game again. After all, why wouldn't they? Last time, they got away with it. Anyone who believes they didn't cheat again this time is a fool, ignorant, or a willfully ignorant fool.

A Florida congressional candidate has turned over evidence to the FBI he claims will show the vote was hacked there. Check out for tales of poll tapes headed for the shredder in Volusia County, Fla. A single machine in a single precinct in Ohio gave 4,000 extra votes to Bush.

Can anyone say "paper trail'?

But, for the sake of argument, let's take the pundits at their word and assume that some sort of mass morality overtook the electorate and produced this year's result. What does that morality look like?

Start with Arizona. What is the moral value of a proposition that was a lie on its face, mean-spirited in its motivation, generated and promoted by racists and right-wing Republican wackos for the sole purpose of demonizing brown-skinned immigrants from south of the border? I'd say zero.

What is the moral value in a war that is a lie on its face, has resulted in the death and maiming of thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, for the sole purpose of controlling the world's No. 1 strategic resource to ensure billions in corporate profits? I'd say zero.

What is the moral value in denying the freedom and liberty (two of Bush's favorite words) of consenting adults to marry whom they choose, just because their partners happen to be the same gender? Yeah. Zero.

And what exactly is the moral value of a "War on Terror" that terrorizes significant numbers of our own population and vast swaths of the rest of the world, simply based on their religious beliefs and ethnic heritage? Fill in the blank.

It would be possible to fill this newspaper with such moral equations, add them all up, and still arrive at zero.

I would argue that this election--apart from the cheating, which in my view renders all sociopolitical questions moot--was about three things: fear, ignorance and religion. White male Christians may have decided this election (especially the ones who rigged those results in Ohio and Florida), but it had nothing to do with morality.

Before the election, I got an e-mail from a friend who was very concerned that I was going to throw away my vote on a third party candidate. She alerted me to a Web site where Nader voters in swing states could go to trade votes with Kerry voters in non-swing states. I told her I wasn't planning to vote for Nader, but even if I were, I would no sooner trade my vote with a lonely liberal in Utah than I would trade my girlfriend with a desperate sheepherder in New Zealand.

But, on that premise, how about we exchange one white male Christian for every civilian killed in Iraq or Afghanistan (or wherever is next) by our anti-Muslim jihad?

Hmmm. On second thought, scratch that. It sounds too much like war, and there's enough of that going around. Besides, it has the moral equivalency of zero.

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