Follow up to: Taking Out “God” is Equality, Not Atheism
Recently, former Republican presidential primary candidate Rick Santorum (of Spreading Santorum fame) gave a speech at the Values Voter Summit. He said a lot of things, such as “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side”, which sounds really funny out of context.
But — and here’s where I get tripped up — Santorum also said:
The conservative movement will always be – and that’s why we founded Patriot Voices – the basic premise of America and American values will always be sustained through two institutions, the church and the family. (Applause.)
And so economic conservatism – libertarian types can say, oh, well, we don’t want to talk about the social issues. Without the church and the family, there is no conservative movement. There is no basic values in America in force, and there is no future for our country.
The blatant assumption being, of course, that “values” are only socially conservative values — being against abortion, against gay marriage, against welfare, against separation of church and state, etc. But obviously this isn’t the only notion of “value”, or the only social issues that matter. The conservative movement isn’t the only movement.
And that’s what I’m looking for when I vote. I want the Presidential candidate who is most likely to move America toward my values. I’m a values voter.
However, my values are utilitarian. I want the President who will make the most people in our country as better off as they can. And I see this values question as not one of grandstanding, speculation, or emotions in search of facts. Rather, I see these values connecting emotion and fact and spurring our President to do the research needed to see what kind of difference can be made. What are the costs and benefits of each different kind of abortion? What do we get from separating church and state, or tying them together?
My well educated best guess is that we should be concerned about — in no particular order — racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, classism, ageism, neurotypicalism, animal welfare, the welfare of the developing world, environmental issues, and political issues (health care, crime, drug laws, etc.).
Overall, we should identify which issues are the most pressing; most likely to affect the welfare of people or animals in the most drastic ways; and identify and support solutions to them. But I don’t have all the answers for what should be done, except for using an approach of careful empiricism and skepticism.
I’m a values voter who wants to figure out how to make the world a better place, and I want my President to share my concern for improving global welfare (and not just that of the US or just the human species). But I also want my President to share the same concern for data and the humility that social solutions are just as confusing, hard, and counter-intuitive as economic ones. (I’m confident that anyone who thinks they have obvious answers for what our country should do is probably wrong.)
But we had a great turnout and a great audience across this country to encourage people of faith, people whose values align with the founding principles of our country, the founding values of our country [...] So it is our job in this election, it is our job, to go out and make a difference. It is our job to go out and talk to fellow believers. And I don’t mean Christians. I mean fellow believers in the American creed, fellow believers in those basic principles that built our country.
This quote from Santorum in the same speech is something that really pisses me off — obviously our founding values were not explicitly religious, and definitely not Christian. America is not — and has never been — a Christian nation, no more than it’s been a “White nation” or a “Heterosexual nation”.
But I agree that it’s our job in this election to go out and make a difference, like Santorum said. Except instead of gathering sanctimonious socially conservative Christians, we should gather our fellow believers in the American creed — those who want to fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people, created equal.
If people are created equal as the Declaration of Independence says, we should treat them equally. And what better way to ensure equal treatment than to pursue the collective welfare in a careful and considerate way? What better way to values vote than to prove to everyone that values, ethics, and morality don’t have to be about social conservatism, or even religion?
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