Moral Issues Conservatives Overlook

August 21, 2008

Okay, at the end of my last entry I talked about my two upcoming blogs, and this topic wasn’t one of them. I hope you’ll follow me on a bit of a political tangent that recent events promoted.

One of the greatest accomplishments of the Republican party in recent years was tying themselves to “family values” issues. By focusing on 2 or 3 specific so-called “moral issues” they managed to get middle class (and poorer) voters to support them. The GOP has kept the same economic plan in effect in various forms since Reagan: “Trickle Down Economics.” Roughly, this is the theory that if the upper class is doing well enough, receiving sufficient tax breaks and limited restrictions on their capitalism opportunities, then they will prosper and as a result the middle class, working class (and the working poor) will benefit as well–the wealth of the top percentile will “trickle down.” This theory holds that the better off this country’s rich are, the more job opportunities the middle class will have as a result of the upper class investments and the working poor will be better off because everyone else will shop, spend and tip more. Of course this doesn’t work; anyone working in this present economy not in that top percent can attest to that.

Traditionally the working class voter has been a Democrat– the policies, tax systems and focus of the democratic party has always been much more geared towards the poor and the working class; Democrats, as a whole, have always been more conscientious of the middle class than Republicans. The success the Republican party has seen in recent years in grabbing up the votes of evangelical Christians and others seeking to vote “the moral vote” is odd in that by taking their side on a few select “moral” issues the Republicans have managed to get working class voters to vote for a party whose policies are very detrimental to their economic well-being.

Oddly enough, while focusing on just a few very specific issues such as abortion and gay marriage, conservatives have completely lost touch with the fact that almost every other major political issue is also a moral issue, many with much wider repercussions than these two pet issues. I ask that even if you are already fuming at my intro here, you will at least proceed to read a few of what I feel are much bigger moral issues that need our focus, issues that many conservatives vote against when they think they are voting “the moral vote” with the GOP.

1)Health Care: If you read my blog very regularly at all you’ll know that I’ve mentioned universal health care a few times before. Thats simply because I feel that this is the biggest single moral issue facing our country today. Every religion, every code of morals and every ethical person has to agree that taking care of the poor, sick and hungry is at the heart of an ethical belief system. With every other industrialized country now having some form of universal health care, how is it that we in America do not? On a daily basis people are left to suffer because they cannot afford insurance and therefore cannot get the treatment they need for a chance to live. Every day people suffer because their insurance won’t provide them with the medicine they need, often claiming that it is “experimental,” which really just means “expensive and not covered by your HMO.” People are left to die when doctor’s have the ability to care for them. We in America have the resources, the wealth, the talent and the opportunity to make sure that no one is denied medical treatment when they require it, that no family loses their home because they can’t pay their medical bill, even that no family has to cancel their vacation because the cost of their health insurance took a rise this year. It’s a moral issue, and it can be done effectively by our country.

2)The environment: There no longer is a debate about the existance of global warming and the damage that is being done to our environment; in fact, there never was much of a debate to begin with despite what conservative pundits have claimed. Every scientific study and every credible scientist in the world has stressed the dangers our ecological practices are causing, time and time again. It’s irresponsible and ignorant to think that doing damage to the world around us that will affect not only our own lives but the lives of generations to come is not a moral issue. The current administration has consistently repealed safeguards and environmental protection laws that may very well do irreparable harm; all to reduce “limitations” on big business so that more profits can be made for our “trickle down economy.” McCain promises more of the same. What’s worse is that one of the most important technological focuses faces the possibility of grinding to a halt under Mccain: alternative fuels and/or electronic cars. Offshore drilling is such a ruse that it’s hard to believe that so many have fallen for its promise. The numbers don’t lie–you personally and we collectively as a nation can save 3 times what offshore drilling would provide by simply keeping our trunks light, our tires fully aired and driving at an average speed of 5 mph less than we have in the past. Pundits laughed at Obama for pointing this out, but politically independant mathematicians have done the numbers and proven its truth. McCain proposes to lift the bans on offshore drilling causing further environmental harm to provide a little more oil. Does anyone think this will affect the cost at the pump? It costs money to implement and continue with such a plan. Exxon posted record breaking profits this year even with the cost per gallon up–price at the pump will come down when they decide they have to make it come down to maximize their profit. The main threat offshore drilling poses is that it takes the focus away from alternative fuels and effectively mass producing electric cars that are affordable. I’ve mentioned the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” on this blog before and recommend it again–electric plug in models that could go 300 miles a day between charges were on the road and available in California a few years ago, and even more progress has been made with much possible. We can get such vehicles mass produced and break our dependance on a substance that destroys the environment and causes wars.

3)Gun Rights- Inner city DC civilians gained the “right” to carry handguns this year. Conservatives oppose practically every restriction on private ownership of firearms. Statistics here have always been startingly, with the percentage of Americans dying each year from homicide by firearm being astronomically more than any other industrialized country. Heck, even homes that own guns for “home protection” are twice as likely to die by being shot than homes without guns. I understand that hunters and sportsmen don’t want their guns taken away from them, but can’t we come to a compromise? Does anyone hunt with a handgun? Does anyone need to own a fully automatic assault weapon?

4)Peace- The big issue. How can someone who “values the sanctity of life,” as much as pro-life (aka anti-abortion) conservative voter claim to be so militantly pro-war? I’m not naive enough to claim that war is always avoidable and never neccesary. I will make the claim that an honorable and ethical nation will do its best to avoid war as much as reasonably possible; it will strengthen diplomatic relations and do its part as a responsible member of the UN, working with all nations to ensure peace and diplomacy. An ethical nation should always avoid committing war time atrocities that it condemns in other nations, there should never be hyporcritical “you can’t but we can” moments. If an honorable nation is faced with no alternatives to war it will go forward solemnly and gracefully, attempting to accomplish the objectives and restore peace as soon as possible. Jingoistic attitudes by citizens in times of war overlooks the lives lost on both sides, by soldiers and civilians.

5)Taxes– briefly. A lot of people will tell you how bad the taxes will be if Obama is elected. Taxes in and of themselves are not bad. They can fund social programs, health care and provide opportunities to those who would otherwise do without. It takes money to create jobs and bring industry back home instead of outsourcing it overseas. Democrats are good at raising the minimum wage and creating more money for the middle class–yes, the upper class will pay more taxes, but they can also afford it and will still be quite well off.

These are moral issues, and I know that conservatives still feel gay marriage and abortion to be very important as well. To briefly touch on them, I will ask is it fair to let a political party goad you into your vote by making you focus on two specific issues that they can’t resolve even if you get them elected? I would suggest a compromise but I feel that opponents on these issues fail to find room for compromise. We liberals feel that the solution is simple, to make abortion, like Obama and Clinton have both said, “safe, legal, and rare.” We believe the solution is in education, alternatives, support, protection, guidance and prevention. We can reduce the need for abortion; outlawing it doesn’t erase it, it simply moves it to the back alleys instead of the clinics. If you don’t believe in abortion–don’t have one. Don’t judge others for decisions they make, simply worry about your own. If the conservatives would let it be finalized at this point, I think almost every liberal would be fine with outlawing abortions after the third trimester. As for gay marriage? Is it really that much of an issue? How do the values of others impede your own personal family values? All Americans deserve the same exact rights, whether you support their lifestyles or not–the same people who protested the civil rights movement have grandfathered a generation of folks who protest homosexual equality; you don’t have to accept them, you do have to allow them to live in peace with all of the rights you have. It’s coming, one day or another, it’s irrefutable.

Finally, in closing I just want to say that the reason I took such a windy detour on my blog is that I now know that all of us have to do our part to express as much of the truth as we can. This is the most important election of my lifetime. The damage to the economy, the environment, the U.S. reputation and standing in the world, human rights and constitutional rights (remember the Patriot Act which is still very much in effect) has been severe under the current administration. McCain promises four more years of the same. Can any educated, ethical and tolerant person look in the mirror and tell themselves they want to vote for four more years of that? We all have to do what’s best for the nation and best for the world.

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