A rotten President's re-election considered, Pt. II
I had some more thoughts from this morning, but since I slept in late ('til 6:30, woo-hoo!) I didn't have time to write them.
Mark Danner thinks that the re-election of President Bush had little to do with a sudden swelling of enthusiasm for Jesus the Gay Basher, and I tend to agree with him at this point. However, there is little doubt that many of the scaredy-cat voters who want Daddy with a shotgun to protect them have co-mingled the War Against Terrorism with "moral values". A big, fat quote (emphasis mine):
The Iraq war was not only irrevocably part of the war on terror – who could think, gazing at the car bombs and beheadings every night on television, that they were any different? – it had become a leading part of the ideological response to the threat of terror: a first step in the expansion of the holy cause of freedom. As Reagan had dared to go beyond staunch anticommunism and imagine a world after communism's collapse, so Bush looked beyond the present chaotic world of terror to see a blessed land of freedom. ("In this election, my opponent has spent a lot of time talking about a day that is gone. I'm talking about the day that is coming.") It was a striking vision, clear and absolutely simple to understand. And it linked, firmly and directly, the so-called "moral values" of justice, fairness, and the Almighty to the cause of national security, and specifically to the war on terror that the Bush people kept relentlessly at the campaign's heart. "Terror," "Iraq," and "moral values," supposedly separate "important issues," had been seamlessly joined.
I agree with him there, but there's more going on and it (yes again) makes me reflect on George Lakoff's theories about conservatives being "strict fathers" and liberals being "nuturing parents". I agree with him in the way the language is used, but for the conservative side, the metaphor has grown beyond a linguistic one and is being made much more emotionally resonant. Which is to say that Bush voters have willingly been infantilized with Bush as Big Daddy so that they can be protected. And that's where the notion that "moral values" are predominantly about how Sex is Bad comes into play.
There are two primary views of what sex is for most people. There is the story we tell children, which is roughly, "When a man and a woman love each other very much they get together and make a baby." It's the story I was told and I'm sure most people got some variation on it.
Transitioning to adulthood is about a lot of things. Gaining independence. Taking pride in yourself. Taking on responsibilities. One of the big things that changes is your view of sexuality. Most people transition from this childish view to a larger view of sexuality that is complex, where sex can be "about" a lot more than a man + a woman = a baby. In fact, it's rarely about making babies at all. And it's not necessarily "about" love. Nor is it strictly a man/woman thing, even for straight people. I dare say expanding your ideas about sex is as critical a part of being mature as is learning to take responsibility and gaining independent, especially considering how the subject dominates the thoughts of those who are making the transistion from child to adult.
The terrorists are scary, no doubt about it, and it's appealing to return to a cocoon of childish dependence and protection. But infantilizing people is apparently a whole package thing. There's decreasing independence. (The Patriot Act.) There's removing responsibilities. (Fight them over there so as to not fight them here. Go shopping. The FCC will raise your children for you.) And there's the sort of rule setting that most people expect of a strict father when it comes to sex, which is to say that anything but procreative sex is seen as too complicated and perverse.
I think that might explain why people who don't abide by the Christian right's intolerance are still letting themselves vote for a man who is cooperating with the fundies. They have been lulled into childish acquiesence. Okay, well Dad's rules are strict but if you live under Dad's roof, you have to play by Dad's rules.