If we couldn’t trust the exit polls to determine who would win the U.S. presidential election, why should we believe its post-election analysis? On Election Day, exit polls had liberal journalists in newsrooms all over the world positively giddy. Senator Kerry was projected to win easily. After he lost, the downcast media elite at least took comfort in the fact that, according to exit polls, it was the right-wing, homophobic Christians in the heartland of America that tilted the scales in favor of the incumbent.
Suddenly, America was ultra-religious—a “conservative” nation. It scared thousands of paranoid liberals enough to even consider the prospect of immigrating to Canada. Bloggers circulated maps of North America around the Internet with the West Coast and the Northeast shaded blue, along with Canada—collectively calling it “The United States of Canada.” Middle America, in red, was labeled “Jesusland.” New Yorkers and San Franciscans took offense at Middle America’s self-righteous disdain for the lifestyle and culture promoted on both coasts. The New York Times quoted one New Yorker as saying, “I’m saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country—the heartland. This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country—in the heartland.”
All this fuss because of a biased elite media and one question, asked by one pollster, which found that 22 percent of Americans based their vote on “moral values” more than any other single issue. This issue superseded the six other choices on the survey: economy and jobs, terrorism, Iraq, health care, taxes and education. But as Charles Krauthammer noted in his November 12 column, comparing the broad category of moral values with something like health care skewed the findings of the survey. “Moral values encompass abortion, gay marriage, Hollywood’s influence, the general coarsening of the culture and, for some, the morality of preemptive war. The way to logically pit this class of issues against the others would be to pit it against other classes: ‘war issues’ or ‘foreign policy issues’ (Iraq plus terrorism) and ‘economic issues’ (jobs, taxes, health care, etc.),” Krauthammer wrote.
“If you pit group against group, the moral values class comes in dead last: war issues at 34 percent, economic issues variously described at 33 percent and moral values at 22 percent—i.e., they are at least a third less salient than the others” (emphasis mine throughout).
Additionally, exit polls also found that in an open-ended questionnaire (without multiple choices), only 14 percent said “moral values” mattered most in their vote. The moral minority dwindles yet further!
As an aside to the reporting on this election, it is interesting to consider how short the memory is for elite journalists. In 1992, President Bush’s father lost his bid for re-election precisely because he pandered to the religious right, judging by how that election was reported. It was Patrick Buchanan’s “culture war” speech in Houston at the Republican National Convention that supposedly sealed the elder Bush’s fate. Buchanan’s hard-line rhetoric terrified the moderate “swing” voters, we were told. Americans weren’t interested in upholding a high standard of moral conduct.
Now, 12 years later, America is so conservative it’s scary. And how do we know this? Because 14 percent of voters surveyed said “moral values” mattered most when deciding how to vote for president. That’s the conventional wisdom now disseminating from the secularist media. America is too conservative—its moral code being driven by radical religious fundamentalists.
The media’s knee-jerk reaction to Middle America’s so-called religious extremism is more a reflection of the animosity it has for President Bush, a man who has made no secret of his faith and how it affects his decision-making. It may be true that the president’s private beliefs have encouraged more vocal support from religious circles (something, again, that makes the media uncomfortable), but that doesn’t mean we are in the midst of a moral revival. In truth, our moral values have been in sharp decline for decades. An avalanche of evidence supports this fact—going back at least 12 years.
In several polls taken during the mid-1990s, the majority of Americans said they were “very concerned” about the sex, violence and profanity on television and in movies. In 1995, a USA Today/cnn/Gallup poll interviewed more than 65,000tv viewers. It found that 96 percent of television viewers were very concerned or somewhat concerned about sex on tv. The percentage concerned about violence was even higher. In other words, in 1995, all were nearly unanimous in their agreement that television had too much sex and violence. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said the entertainment industry should make a serious effort to reduce sex and violence in movies, music and tv. Sixty-eight percent said that if the industry would do that, it would significantly improve the moral climate in America.
Of course, the entertainment industry would never do that. And the reason is that no matter how valueless their content is, Americans will still tune in. In the average American household, the television is on approximately seven hours per day. Many American children spend more time with a television set before age 6 than they will spend with their fathers during their entire lifetime.
The November 9 issue of Family Circle noted similar findings regarding Americans’ views and habits in television viewing. According to its survey, 81 percent of adults “think that reality tv shows pander to our worst nature.” Yet, the same survey found that 56 percent of adults with children under 18 say they almost always watch reality tv. Again, 71 percent of adults worry about what shows like Extreme Makeover and The Swan will teach young people about how to judge human worth. Yet, even with these concerns, 52 percent of women polled would like to have a makeover.
Notice the trend here? Judging by what we say about moral values, it would appear that Americans are quite concerned—but only in a passive sense. Only a minority of us actually exhibit the willpower to change our behavior.
Added to that, our very definition of morality today is relative. It means different things to different people. But this much is true across the board: As society’s standards lower, everyone’s definition of right and wrong continues to be watered down. This is highlighted by a Pew research study conducted in the summer of 2003 which found that “an increasing number of Americans are able to accept such social changes as homosexuality and changing women’s roles while maintaining traditional religious and social values.”
Religion has done nothing to slow our long-term decline in morality—at least judging by the way God defines morality. As Victor Davis Hanson put it in the National Review Online, “Most Americans—in the movies they watch, the tv shows they view, the radio they hear, the abortions they receive, the sexual practices they choose, and the fashion and entertainment they enjoy—do not feel they are straight-jacketed by a Christian fundamentalist society” (November 12).
The Cultural Agenda
Last month in the Trumpet, we pointed out that the traditional family values platform was all but forgotten in this year’s political campaign—even on the “conservative” side. We pointed to the Republican National Convention as one example of that. Four speakers from that convention support gay rights. Two of them are pro-abortion. One previously admitted to sexual harassment. Two were involved in messy, high-profile divorces.
It’s no wonder Republicans decided to shelve the traditional values platform. Fred Barnes, of the Weekly Standard, noticed that the Republicans “barely mentioned” the values campaign in the lead-up to the election.
The media didn’t either—until the day after the election, when they shamelessly amplified the myth that Middle America was far too conservative and religious. Anything to make their secular agenda seem moderate and balanced.
But as Frank Rich correctly noted in the New York Times, “Everything about the election results—and about American culture itself—confirms an inescapable reality: John Kerry’s defeat notwithstanding, it’s blue America, not red, that is inexorably winning the culture war, and by a landslide. …
“Excess and vulgarity, as always, enjoy a vast, bipartisan constituency, and in a democracy no political party will ever stamp them out. If anyone is laughing all the way to the bank this election year, it must be the undisputed king of the red cultural elite, Rupert Murdoch. Fox News is a rising profit center within his News Corp., and each red-state dollar that it makes can be plowed back into the rest of Fox’s very blue entertainment portfolio” (November 13).
Murdoch fancies himself as a radical conservative, but you’d never guess that after viewing an episode of Fox’s Trading Spouses. Murdoch’s News Corporation also owns Direct tv, which delivers soft- and hardcore porn into millions of homes across North America. abc News estimates that pornography on Direct tv pulls in $500 million per year for Mr. Murdoch.
Other media conglomerates also rake in big bucks from porn. Time Warner’s public relations director Mark Harrod insists that its decision to offer its 11 million cable customers porn is driven by consumers. Time Warner also owns hbo and Cinemax, which together have nearly 39 million subscribers. It also pulls in close to $3 billion annually from Warner Brother’s Pictures. Time Warner’s ceo is a man by the name of Richard Parsons, a registered Republican.
Viacom is one of the largest global media empires, with a financial stake in movie production and distribution, cable tv, radio, the Internet and book publishing. It owns Blockbuster, Paramount Pictures, the cbs network and numerous cable stations, like mtv, vh1, bet and Showtime. Its Infinity Broadcasting plays shock-jock Howard Stern on 27 radio stations every weekday morning, drawing an estimated weekly audience of 8 to 10 million. Viacom’s ceo, Sumner Redstone, endorsed President Bush for re-election.
General Electric owns Universal Pictures’ movie and television studios and the nbc television network. Its ceo, Jeffrey Immelt, contributed to President Bush’s campaign.
It is these corporate giants, Frank Rich wrote in his column, “not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the American cultural agenda.”
A Losing Battle
A few weeks after President Clinton’s impeachment trial in early 1999, Paul Weyrich, head of the conservative Free Congress Foundation in Washington, made a startling suggestion to his peers. He wrote, “I no longer believe that there is a moral majority. I do not believe that a majority of Americans actually share our values.” Otherwise, he said, President Clinton would have been driven out of office.
Weyrich then spoke in broader terms: “The culture we are living in becomes an ever wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics. … I don’t have all the answers or even all the questions. But I know that what we have been doing for 30 years hasn’t worked, that while we have been fighting and winning in politics, our culture has decayed into something approaching barbarism.”
No Republican victory will ever resurrect our nationwide moral collapse. To believe that is out of touchwith reality! The “blue states” have already won the cultural battle, notwithstanding the media’s shameless attempt to cram the secular agenda even further down our throats. That’s why conservatives ignored the moral values platform this past election cycle.
To see how devastating our cultural collapse has been, one need only look at the central issues to the present moral debate. Do homosexuals have the legal right to get married? Do women have the legal right to murder their partially born babies? Can scientists legally kill embryonic life in order to extract stem cells?
These are the issues now up for debate? That in itself shows how far we’ve slid into the pit of cultural depravity.