I live in the Bible Belt, and in case you haven’t noticed, wide belts are “in” now. There is a lot more Bible Belt than there used to be. But even when it was narrow, I was in it. So I hear quite often “I am with Kerry on the economic issues, but I am voting for Bush because I am with him on the moral issues.”
What is invisible here is the link between the economic issues and the moral issues:
- abortion — abortions are, always have been, and will continue to be available to women of privilege. Laws that make it difficult to obtain an abortion or stop funding affect only low-income women. Abortion choices are linked to economic issues of work, income, family, and poverty. A mother who knows that another baby — medical costs, time lost from work, child care costs, etc., would spell financial ruin for herself and her family may consider abortion because of economics. Women are nuts over children, and abortions are not recreational. There are serious and painful reasons behind a decision to terminate a pregnancy. Bush economic policy has pushed many more mothers and children into poverty, which is frequently one of those serious and painful reasons. Abortion is more likely to be curtailed by a guarantee of medical care, food, housing, and education for all children than by overturning Roe v. Wade.
- education — accountability aside, (indeed it is aside from the real issues in education and is politically useful only because it is “measurable” and “actionable”) the real issues in education are all economic. The single factor that always has a positive correlation with academic success in schools is socioeconomic status. You cannot leave children behind economically and expect them to advance academically. George W. Bush has created more families with children at the poverty and near-poverty level while providing tax cuts to the very wealthy. Lost jobs mean families without money to care for their children. Kerry promises to roll back the tax cuts for people making over $200,000.00 and expand medical insurance. When fewer children are poor, more children will do better in school. Accountability neither begins nor ends with schools.
- gay marriage — marriage is an economic issue, and the marriage partner has many economic benefits that are not available to unmarried partners. Most of these benefits are benefits to society as well, encouraging sexual partners to form secure and stable economic units. There is no benefit to society to be had in denying this level of committed caring to a large segment of the population. You can continue to believe gay marriage is immoral and against God’s law. But there is no rationale for making it against the law of the United States. We are a civil government with a legislature that is committed to seeking the common good. We are not a military state or a theocracy, and if you read history at all, you don’t want to be either one of those.
The list is a lot longer, but it is late and I have to be at work at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. You see the point.