September 11 impacted not only our decadent belief that our way of life was self-perpetuating and secure, but it also crystallized differences in what we want from our leaders. That is really what this last election was about. There was little talk this time around about marital infidelities, or drug use, or other personal indiscretions. This election was about the big issues. It was about deciding what price we are willing to pay for national security. It was about whether we were scared to admit that the war in Iraq may have flowed from faulty intelligence. It was about whether we should turn our back on this historic opportunity to make the world safer and to transform the Middle East into something other than an incubator for anti-Western sentiment.
On a deeper level, it was about how we, as Americans, process information. Would we chose as our leader someone whose sense of the world was relative, or would we opt for someone whose most important decisions were informed by church and custom? Do we embrace a party that has swung so far in its dedication to the separation between church and state that many of its domestic decisions seem imbued with anti-religious prejudice? Or do we see ourselves reflected back in a party that treats abortion and gay marriage as categorical moral issues? These differences speak to the fundamentally different ways that we understand and interpret the world around us.
The majority of the country answered these questions by electing President Bush. On many levels this may be read as an endorsement of moral values. The proposed gay marriage amendment failed in all eleven states that proposed the initiative. That was not an accident. It was the people sharing their voice on what they consider a moral imperative. The gay marriage issue was representative of an election that galvanized a broad swath of the country?republican and democrat?around what they deemed a series of moral imperatives: unwavering views on abortion, same sex unions, and the role of religion in our public life. Time honored values carried the day.