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However, what Sandy does not get is that those voting for "morality" are not just followers of Jerry Falwell. It is normal, regular, rational human beings who do not comport with a world where Hollywood stars are considered the norm, where personal responsibility is scoffed at, where achievement is penalized, where America is blamed first, etc. It is a whole host of perceived values, many having nothing to do with religion.

Don't be silly. Hollywood stars are just human beings, like everyone else, but with a lot of money they earned in a different way from the way Bill Gates earned it. They make a product, they sell it. They're the ultimate capitalists, and their capital is their looks and/or (in rare instances) talent.

Democrats don't scoff at personal responsibiity. They scoff at those who claim that in a capitalist society all that is necessary for survival is personal responsibility. Like "absolute morality" that is an irrational thing to believe.

Democrats don't want to penalize achievement. Where they differ from Republicans is that they don't want to penalize failure, either -- at least not so greatly that those who can't manage to make a lot of money can still have access to health care without having to wait for their kid to get so sick they can get seen in an emergency ward. We tend not to believe that the children of parents who don't earn a lot of money ought to have access to the same quality of education as the children of parents who do make a lot of money, and that holding children "personally responsible" for their poverty does very little to actually improve our society. We suggest that requiring the wealthy to pay higher taxes than the poor is simply requiring good citizenship of those who have most profited from the advantages the society has provided them.

Democrats don't blame America first. Rather, we praise America when it does good things and blame it when it does bad things. We differ from Republicans in this in that Republicans pretend to believe that America only does good things, and that supporting United Fruit, for example, by arming terrorist thugs in Central America who used our training and money and weapons to rape nuns and disappear entire villages was really good because it was a way to fight communism. It never occurs to Republicans, it seems, that there is often a way to achieve a good end without resorting to evil means. The Republicans go right to the evil means, it seems to me, without ever trying the non-evil means first, just in case they don't need to kill lots of people to get their way. Sorta like Iraq.

No. We on the left have some pretty powerful moral positions, as well. Ours are properly identified by the relative degree of sophistication exhibited in their construction. We tend not to think in sound-bites, which, admittedly, is a distinct disadvantage in a society which gets its morality from people like Rush Limbaugh.

See, we think it's immoral to refuse to ever blame America, even when it's wrong. Ours is a moral position, too. We think it's immoral to reward those whose wealth is such that they could buy Argentina, even at the retail price and to penalize people who empty bedpans by telling them that they're not working hard enough to deserve health care and a roof over their heads. We tend to be of the opinion that people like Ken Lay should take a bit more personal responsibility when he steals the pensions out from under his workers or Rush Limbaugh when he's caught with his hand in the pharmaceutical cookie-jar, and that it's immoral to hold the poor to one standard of personal responsibility and the rich to an entirely different standard (including, moreover, actually requiring CEO's to justify their gazillion-dollar salaries by showing an actual, honest-to-goodness profit not acquired solely by laying off half of their workers just before year-end reports come due.)

We Democrats tend to regard the smug and self-righteous appeal made by Republicans to "values" and "morality" as a bunch of dishonest and hypocritcal con-artistry designed to prestidigitate votes out of the credulous.

And we're right.

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