Why 2008 did not go to the “moral majority”

I was listening to an interview on Catholic radio this morning from a very insightful guy (sorry, I didn’t catch his name). He was talking about how if we frame the conversation correctly, a lot more people agree with Catholic positions than we think. By the way of example, he mentioned how, while about 50% of people are pro-choice and vote that way, when you ask them detailed questions on what they’d like to limit abortion to, most of them favor policies that could only be the case if Roe v. Wade is thrown out. Yet those same people will protect Roe v. Wade. About this, I completely agree. Getting the information out there and framing the conversation in a positive light can do wonders for political clout and progress.

But where he went amazingly wrong was when the host asked him about why so many people voted for politicians who held moral positions they didn’t back in 2008 and there he went tremendously wrong.

He tried to pin it to the above issues of awareness and conversation framing. He couldn’t be more wrong.

The reality is that 2008 was all about both the ineffectiveness of the Bush administration to deliver on their stated goals and going into areas that made people concerned. Bush claimed to be all about fiscal responsibility… he didn’t act like it. Bush claimed to be about moral rectitude… but it doesn’t help when you’re torturing people, and continuing the loss of life in two very unpopular wars that one wonders while we’re there in the first place.

There’s a reason all Obama had to do was say the word “Change” repeatedly for 10 months to win the election. It’s also the same reason that Obama has been somewhat surprised by the lack of positive reception to his actions. The reality is his campaign was so tepid about laying out his agenda (they didn’t have to do more), that lots of people voted for him less because of the actual agenda but more because he didn’t reflect the problems that the Bush administration was doing. Once the rubber started hitting the road, it wasn’t exactly what people thought.

The other side of the same coin is that people don’t want to talk morals in down economic times. People have a hard time getting worked up about embryonic stem cell research when they’re out of work. At that point they just want things changed so they can get back to work.

But make no mistake, the 2008 election wasn’t about a rejection of the moral principles that Republicans used to stand for. And part of framing the conversation for the future, is to not tie those moral issues to one party, so that when that party messes everything else up, the moral issues don’t take a beating with the economic ones.

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