In an unusual reversal of... the usual state of affairs, The New Republic has a point. What makes it truly unusual is that they make their point despite completely misunderstanding their subject.
Liberals have no idea what a values voter is. Not that that stops them from "explaining" values to each other, but it's kind of like having a deaf person explain Mozart to a hearing person. I, for one, derive a lot of entertainment out of liberals efforts to understand.
The point of this article by Jeffrey Friedman is that denigrating values voters as redneck, closed-minded, hypocrites is counter productive for the left because it "may alienate values voters."
Uh... ya think?
Friedman begins by recounting a recent NYT piece:
The New Republic
The New York Times recently made the alleged hypocrisy of red-state voters front-page news. A Bill Carter piece, which ran under the sneering headline "Many Who Voted for 'Values' Still Like their Television Sin," observed that ABC's show "Desperate Housewives" ranks high in the Nielsen ratings in many red states. Carter described the puzzle this way: "[I]f it is true that the public's electoral choices are a cry for more morally driven programming, the network executives ask, why are so many people, even in the markets surrounding the Bush bastions Atlanta and Salt Lake City, watching a sex-drenched television drama?" Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment, provided Carter with an answer: Values voters are hypocrites. "We say one thing and do another," Reilly told Carter. "People compartmentalize about their lives and their entertainment choices."
Around and around they go, about how they ought to view the values voters, or deal with the values voters, without having a clue about what a "values" voter is. They draw themselves a picture of values voters as trailer-dwelling prudes who rail against sex in the media, yet secretly watch trash TV. I'm sure there are individuals to whom this sketch applies, but to use it as a statistical model for 13 million people (22 percent of the 60 million Bush voters who claimed they voted for reasons of "value"), borders on delusional.
Despite a complete lack of understanding about values voters, Friedman does make a point about liberals claims of value voter hypocrisy.
But the Nielsen ratings for "Desperate Housewives" reveal hypocrisy only if we incorrectly assume that everyone in red states voted; that everyone who voted in those states cast their ballots for Bush; and that all Bush voters were values voters. Consider the Salt Lake City market, where, Carter points out, "Bush rolled up 72.6 percent of the vote," even though "Desperate Housewives" is fourth in the Nielsen ratings. Only 53 percent of the adult population of Utah voted, so the 72.6 percent of voters who backed Bush actually constitute 38 percent of all adult Utah residents. (For the sake of simplicity, I'm leaving aside residents of other states who are in the Salt Lake City television market.) We don't know how many of these Bush voters were values voters--but even if we assume generously that all of them were, we still can't conclude that they are hypocrites. "Desperate Housewives" has been garnering about 20 million viewers nationwide, roughly 9 percent of the adult population. Let's assume that the proportion of viewers is the same in the Salt Lake City market--even though the program's fourth-place showing in Salt Lake is lower than the show's national average. Isn't it possible, even likely, that the 38 percent of Utah adults who might have voted for Bush based on values, and the 9 percent of Utah adults who watch "Desperate Housewives," are, by and large, different people?
Excellent point, eh?
Even so, liberals are still clueless about values voters, and intent on belittling them. Their only worry is that it might backfire on them.
But put aside those details and assume that red-state voters really are hypocrites. Even if true, it is still a lousy line of argument for liberals to indulge.
Rather than attacking the specific policies promoted by values voters--policies that can, and should, be fought on their merits--the charge of hypocrisy attacks the voters themselves... Liberals may alienate values voters by calling them hypocrites.
Ignoring, for the moment, the fact that what really alienates values voters is liberalism, let's just thank TNR for pointing out the fact that the left accusing the right of hypocrisy, is... hypocritical.
Let's also thank them for encouraging the left to continue to pursue, with even more vigor, the same liberal policies, and pet projects, that have alienated values voters in ever greater numbers over the last 40 years.