Saturday, February 18, 2012

Family Values?

Republicans love to talk about "family values."  "Talk" is the operative word.  You never hear the end of it, how our culture is so permissive, how anti-Christian we are becoming, and how celebrities on film and television are promoting promiscuity and violence.  Watching the Super Bowl, you get flipped off by MIA or get flashed by Janet Jackson.  Watch the Grammy's and you see Nicki Minaj mocking Catholicism.  Listen to rap and you get to hear some misogynistic filth.

None of this is new.  Back in the 90's, we had the debate about unwed mothers with Dan Quayle.  In the 70's, Richard Nixon talked about his moral Silent Majority.  Each generation of Republican contender just has to parrot some language about decency, morality, and stopping the filth, and the Christians hop on board.  But have the Republicans actually done anything to make morality better?  Can they?  Ronald Reagan played that game.  The results of his presidency included dramatic cuts to health and safety regulations that led to sickness, injury, and death to thousands of people.  His reduction of welfare programs and food stamp assistance led to hungry children just at the time he was busy breaking unions so those same parents didn't have jobs with benefits anymore.  He did nothing to end abortion.  Like many other things, he seemed to forget about that one.  What he didn't forget about included funding repressive regimes and death squads in Central America, bombing various small countries, and tripling the budget deficit.  He funded the groups who murdered Jesuit priests and nuns who taught compassion for the poor.

George W. Bush was even worse.  When things were looking tough for his re-election campaign, he suddenly found it convenient to make the argument that the gay lobby was going to take over if he weren't re-elected.  It was going to be a perpetual drag show, gay-pride parade if he weren't re-elected.  After all, they did have Ellen and RuPaul.  Of course it worked.  Bush won handily.  Abortion?  Well, once again nothing was done about that.  During his presidency, the conservativism won over the compassion part.  Inequality skyrocketed, the housing and financial bubbles led to economic collapse, and the middle class was left with their life's savings (in their home values) eradicated.  With high unemployment, the economy in a mess, and hundreds of thousands of mostly working class soldiers sent to Afghanistan and Iraq, I am unsure what is so pro-family values about that?

If you care about children and families, don't send soldiers off to war unless there is a damn good reason.  Searching for non-existent weapons of mass destruction is not one of them.

Now that it is election time, we are beginning to hear the same old tired chorus from the Republicans.  Newt Gingrich has a hard time trying to sell family values because of his own, wretchedly adulterous past.  Leaving a wife when she gets cancer for another woman is a rough sell.  The most vicious and self-righteous of the bunch is Rick Santorum.  His zone of compassion only extends to the unborn.  If you happen to be born gay, sick, or poor, then his philosophy is "fuck you," you need tough love, which means going back in the closet, no governmental assistance for health care regardless of whether you are a sick child or not, and if you have a heart disease and don't have health insurance, then too bad for you.  Also, his "family values" include, as he mentions, "bombing Iran tomorrow."  So little Persian children, aka "collateral damage" also aren't part of his family values agenda.

It seems convenient that the Republicans are all up in arms about whether or not Catholic employers have the right to deny free contraceptive coverage within their health insurance benefit packages.  Never mind the family values of those employees who aren't Catholic.  Never mind the family values of making it affordable for people to plan the size of their families as to properly feed and clothe the children they already have.  Never mind the providing of contraception for other health reasons, such as to balance out imbalanced hormones or to prevent birth when a serious genetic or inherited disease might result.  Apparently these things don't count as "family values."  And if the Catholic bishops want to have a hissy fit of moral indignation, where was that same indignation when their flock was being molested and raped by their own priests and they chose to cover up the scandal to save money on lawsuits?  Unfortunately their moral authority has become very dubious given their behavior.  Even more telling is their lack of outrage over the horrific Iraq war, which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi's and thousands of American soldiers.

Regarding the filth in the mainstream media, this shouldn't be surprising.  Filth sells.  It is pure capitalism and greed that leads to outrageous behavior by greedy stars.  Why do you think Howard Stern and his shock jock comrades have huge ratings?  People love their filth.  The same goes for television and movies.  The more shocking, the more our Puritanical culture reacts, and the more is sold.  It is unregulated capitalism that the Republicans favor which leads to this behavior.  Parroting the values of decency while working to deregulate large corporations responsible for the filth doesn't solve anything.  It makes the problem worse.

Actions speak louder than words.  If you claim to be for family values but you promote economic programs that destroy the family for the benefit of large corporations, such as eliminating child labor laws, the right to collectively bargain to receive a living wage, food stamp programs, health care programs for the poor, preventing the dumping of cancer causing toxic waste into streams and rivers where children drink, and the like, then you are a hypocrite.

Actions speak louder than words.  Let's not forget it.

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