Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bob Herbert: Ignorance, not "values"

Bob Herbert has long been my favorite Times Op-Ed columnist. In his Monday column, which I originally missed, Herbert makes the point that Bush supporters were simply not in touch with reality:

I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.


You have to be careful when you toss the word values around. All values are not created equal. Some Democrats are casting covetous eyes on voters whose values, in many cases, are frankly repellent. Does it make sense for the progressive elements in our society to undermine their own deeply held beliefs in tolerance, fairness and justice in an effort to embrace those who deliberately seek to divide?

My interpretation of the election results was basically the same. The victory of the Republicans was built on deception and ignorance, not on any policy stance or rhetorical device worthy of emulation. The Democratic Party should disregard calls to move to the right on social issues. Not only would this be asinine, cowardly, tactically ineffective, immoral, unprincipled, and inconsistent with the Constitution; it would also be a non sequitur: you don't cure ignorance by embracing bigotry.

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