Janice Shaw Crouse

Senator Hillary Clinton’s 10-point victory in the Pennsylvania primary reminds us that there are two Americas, even within each political party. The former First Lady won the primary on votes from senior women, blue-collar workers, regular churchgoers and the more conservative (compared to Senator Obama) small town voters. This party split is nothing new; it is a microcosm of the bigger picture. We’re all familiar with the red-state/blue-state metaphor illustrating America’s divided electorate with the red states more conservative and the blue ones more liberal.

While the image is an accurate reflection of the voting chasm today, the problem is a bit more complicated than a single gulf between the two major political parties. Recent comments on the campaign trail for the 2008 presidential election point to the red/blue differences that are readily apparent in the great divide between city and countryside — between middle America and urban America, between America’s heartland and its inner cities, as well as between college town America and small town America. The biggest gulf, though, is between the elites and church-attending rural and small town Americans.

At root, the red/blue differences are spiritual in nature.

In other words, the great gulf separating Americans into two camps is a matter of beliefs, values and attitudes. The bottom line is that there really is a culture war going on between two competing ideological perspectives. Some folks are tired of hearing about it, but heartland values and urban values are in conflict at very basic levels of beliefs and attitudes on essential policy decisions — from healthcare to gun control, from the environment to abortion, from federally-funded child care to marriage amendments.

It’s hard enough for people with heartland and urban ideologies to co-exist; when candidates embracing such disparate points of view are competing for votes in a closely contested election, close listening and discernment are especially important.

Liberals and so-called “progressives” are tired of seeing candidates with conservative and faith-based values win elections. They have been forced to come to grips with the reality of voting demographics: the decisive voting bloc these days is conservative and churchgoing believers.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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