The moral of the story

David Limbaugh

11/12/2004 12:00:00 AM - David Limbaugh

Maybe liberals have declared a temporary cease-fire in their attacks against the Iraq war during our assault on Fallujah, or maybe the internals of the exit polls are unnerving them, but they're on the warpath on the "morals" issue.

Since the (admittedly dubious) exit polls showed that moral issues were among the most important to voters and that the GOP effectively "owns" these issues, Democrats are all in a huff. What an injustice that the people just don't get it: that liberals, who spend 90 percent of their time moralizing against conservatives and casting them as uncompassionate trolls, are the ones rightfully entitled to the morals mandate.

We're supposed to ignore that liberals routinely take target practice on Christians, mocking them at will, painting them as intolerant bigots and, well, simpletons. Why shouldn't liberals be able to deride Christians and, at the same time, decry the injustice of not winning their votes?

In my last column I noted that liberals seem to think that the appeal of moral issues, like so many others, has to do with candidates "talking the talk" and properly packaging the issues.

To the contrary, the voters can usually detect counterfeit peddlers of faith and morality. For candidates to resonate in this area they have to do more than talk. They must show they truly believe in what they're selling. But it's more than that. In the end, it ultimately turns on what they're selling.

For presidential candidates to garner the conservative Christian vote -- which is the block of voters we're mostly talking about here -- they can't get too far by just promoting any issue and wrapping it in the language of morality.

The Washington Times reports that Rev. Robert Edgar, "general secretary of the liberal-leaning National Council of Churches," said, "We need to work really hard at reclaiming some language. The religious right has successfully gotten out there shaping personal piety issues -- civil unions, abortion -- as almost the total content of ?moral values.' And yet you can't read the Old Testament without knowing God was concerned about the environment, war and peace, poverty. God doesn't want 45 million Americans without health care."

See what I mean? The Left Reverend thinks it's just a matter of reclaiming some language. Conservatives don't claim that same-sex marriage and abortion are the only moral issues. And I wish liberals would quit superciliously asserting that only they care about the environment, war and peace, poverty, and health care.

Conservatives just have a different approach to these issues. They abhor war, but believe it is sometimes necessary and morally justified. They believe their approach to poverty is actually more compassionate because it is more effective. And it is largely liberals who reduced market forces in health care, which led to much of the escalation in cost. And liberal darling Bill Clinton, after feverishly campaigning to solve the forty million uninsured problem, didn't put a dent in it.

But there are larger issues here, which are cogently articulated by an unknown e-mail correspondent, and my theologian friend, Frank Turek.

My correspondent argued that "liberals cannot conceive of morals in the sense conservatives do, because this would require acknowledging a God who has set standards for thought and behavior, and then striving to meet those standards (which, of course, we can't, thus our need for a Savior). The god of the liberals is the state, which is why they must see morals in terms of how the state or the workplace treats the person, while allowing the next generation of workers to be aborted away." (Note: You have to admit this is at least true of the secular liberals.)

Frank said, essentially, that Democrats can't understand why they lost on moral issues when they are the champions of the downtrodden and social justice. "Democrats don't understand what the New Testament declares is the main purpose of government. According to Romans 13:4, governments are instituted by God to punish wrongdoers -- to protect their citizens from evil. ? Democrats have it exactly backwards. They are more apt to want to 'understand' the terrorists, while they lobby the government to do what the church should be doing -- helping the poor."

Frank added, "Democrats will never be able to gain the moral high ground if they fail to take positions congruent with the 'weightier matters of the law' (Matt. 23:23). What could be weightier than protecting innocent life? The right to life is the right to all other rights. Yet it's the Democrats who think social programs are weightier moral matters than the right to life. Again, they have it backwards. ? Until the Democrats correct their inverted moral hierarchy and put the right to life at the top, all their other pleas for social justice will ring hollow."

Amen.