Thursday, November 08, 2007


Voting on “values”

The excellent John Hockenberry is back on public radio with a program called Your Billion Dollar President. A summary of what the program is about can be found on its home page:

By the time the last chad drops on November 4, 2008, the cost of electing the next president will exceed a billion dollars. Yep. One billion dollars. Is this what democracy costs? Your Billion Dollar President will be crunching the numbers with you over the next few months on public radio and on this website.

The first episode, “Reaching Voters”, aired on Tuesday, and looked at different groups of voters, asking the question, “Who will elect the next president?”

In this segment, John talks with two evangelical Christians, describing themselves as “values voters” — “values” being code for “reactionary fundamentalist ethics”. One of them is Paula, from Laurel, MD, and this excerpt is from about 2:25 into the audio clip:

John: Is it important to win, this time around?

Paula: Oh, everything is at stake. If the Republicans don’t win, I foresee a completely different country in ten years. One that’s really highly taxed. One that the Islamo-fascists will have taken over. There won’t be much marriage, the family will have fallen apart. So many things will go wrong in our country, I think, if the Republicans don’t win.

The mind boggles, but perhaps it shouldn’t. Many people reject the idea of taxes, without asking themselves where the money will come from for the programs and services they clamour for... and, for that matter, for the war their current president is waging, for which he’s asking Congress for hundreds of billions of dollars, and always coming back for more.

The “Islamo-fascist” comment is echoed in Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Mr Giuliani, when Mr Robertson says, “To me, the overriding issue before the American people is the defense of our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists.” The idea that such a faction will “take over” if the Democrats win is ludicrous, of course, but the credulity of some voters shouldn’t be surprising.

It’s Paula’s last claim that I find truly on the lunatic fringe. That one is completely out there, truly insane-nutjob babbling that’s just beyond comprehension. Come now: does any sane person really believe that if Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama, John Edwards or Bill Richardson should win the presidential election, the United States would become, in ten years, a marriage-free Islamic theocracy with a crumbled family structure?

Or maybe I’m missing the point of John Hockenberry’s show: maybe it’s just satire, and these aren’t real people, they’re caricatures. Boy, will I feel stupid when someone points that out to me.


Maggie said...

I'm pretty sure that Islam supports marriage. I think Paula should take comfort in that... in fact, if the Islamo-fascists take over the country, I think she'll find the place quite homey, with many of her "values" enforced by stoning.

Anonymous said...

These people are for real. I suggest you see Jesus Camp (out on DVD for a while now), an excellent documentary on evangelical children's camps. The scariest part I have come to comprehend to date is their wish to respond to the Islamic fundamentalist threat with their own fundamentalism. (OK, the home schooling science bit was maybe a little scarier as recent surveys show that more and higher education seems to mellow out this brainwashing)
- Lidija S.