November 3, 2004 11:23 AM

The continuing news coverage of the election gradually went from exciting and a little funny to downright sickening last night. It's not so much the Kerry loss as what seems to have happened to Congress - centrist Democrats losing against semi-evangelical right wingers.

And the thing the newsfolk kept coming back to around was "moral values". The BBC has a good article on the subject: [see link].

This election was exciting, if frustrating, from the "you've been served" primary days when Dean et al called Bush out and challenged each other surprisingly little. But the voting last night - or rather, the spin on the voting last night - fundamentally challenged my view of how this country is divided.

See, my own experience leads me to believe that most Republicans actually share my views on most everything. They just disagree on what's important and how to solve the problems we all see. I think we can't let go of social issues, the stuff the press is calling "moral values" and still be a decent people; they think we can't address social issues without individuals and business feeling safer.

But I always thought most non-extremists could agree that it was wrong to deny someone a basic civil right - marriage, for instance, based on any difference between ourselves and others. I always thought that most people were iffy about the ethical question of abortion, for instance, but understood a need to keep it legal as long as we weren't effectively protecting a woman's jurisdiction over her own body by preventing unwanted pregnancies.

I figured the things we really disagreed on were logistical - like, how to fund adequate healthcare, or what the best form of education reform must be.

But it seems that "moral values" - the things that amount to believing that one life is of greater value than another (a murderer should die, someone who isn't born yet shouldn't, a hetero couple is deserving of civil rights a gay couple isn't, etc.) - are the issues that most effectively got people out to vote on the right.

My centrist pro-choice Southern EMILY's listers lost. Most (if not all) states with referenda on gay marriage and civil unions went the path of discrimination. At least it was close in a lot of places. At least the vote was gotten out. But that makes the results that much more unsettling.

People weren't voting on the other side based on economic and defense issues. They were voting, to put it meanly and bitterly, for hate. Which means this country is surprisingly divided over social issues - things that I wish we wouldn't even legislate - not conflicting priorities. I miss the real Republicans, the ones who were embarrassed to court Southern racism in 1960 (not that I ever knew that party, but it sure sounds nice).


It's going to be a long four years.

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