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On the morning shows I heard someone mention that the Republican candidates for President were off speaking to the “Value Voters”.  By that I assumed they were off speaking to the Family Research Council. FRC values used to be referred to as “Family Values” which means stuff like heterosexual marriage, anti-choice positions and attending services on Sunday.  But now it is just “Value” as if the word value means all of these things, rather than meaning that heterosexual marriage, anti-choice positions and attending services on Sunday comprise a particular set of some values. Even the word “values” has morphed into the word “value”, which construes a more pointed and limited meaning. 

Properly defined, values are individual judgments of merit or worth of someone or something based on personal belief and opinion. And if this is the case, it seems that we should all be deemed “Value Voters”. because we are all constantly making judgments regarding all sorts of things. So then, why shouldn’t we be called “Value Voters” as well?  Well! We all know that it is because the Right has captured the market on provocative “feelings” language. And, as we all know that it was Ronald Reagan, who used this tool so effectively.  In fact, he used it so well that people didn’t care whether or not they shared his particular values, but because of his authenticity and, genuineness in communicating these values, they connected with him, they came to trust him, and the foothold gained by the right has been enormous. 

At the FRC, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stole the show with an onsite straw poll showing him walking away with over 51% of the vote. Second placer Romney trailed with 10.40%.  CBN David Brody describes Huckabee’s speech as follows:

Finally, he came with a very straightforward purpose. He told the crowd that he’s one of them. He is a value voter. The crowd gave him standing ovation after standing ovation.

The speech was part policy, part tent revival. He was in full Pastor mode throwing out the Bible references left and right. The people I talked to afterwards were very impressed.

TheoCon values were the theme of his show-stealing diatribe:

“Sometimes we talk about why we’re importing so many people in our workforce,” the former Arkansas governor said. “It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973.”

Huckabee also spoke adamantly of the need for conservative lawmakers to show no compromise on fighting for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage between a man and a woman. “I’m very tired of hearing people who are unwilling to change the constitution, but seem more than willing to change the holy word of God as it relates to the definition of marriage,” he said.

Could it be that the TheoCons have found their man?

George Lakoff of the Rockridge Institute believes that values are more important that issues in carrying elections. He claims that for too long Progressives have been ineffective in communicating their values, which include freedom, equality, human dignity and tolerance.  He and his team pick up the gauntlet and give us a framework in which to define progressive values and the methods to celebrate those values and make them work for us. In light of the frenzy  of the Republican candidates in wooing the FRC, I suspect that polls indicate we will be needing them.  I will be posting sections of Lakoff’s writings later this week.