Guest Post by Daniel Spigelmyer
The Republican Party is the party of moralists. This message is transmitted through the airwaves, through television screens, and over the internet. The general populace cannot escape the Republican claim to be the epitome of morality. With a coming election, issues such as moral values once again take center stage. In previous elections, Republicans in the upper echelons of the party realized that morality is an excellent mobilizing force. The party simply had to find a way to harness that power and use it advantageously. Considering the slight Republican majority in Congress and the Republican President who narrowly won the last two elections, it is probably safe to say that they have found which methods work best to appear moral. Just how moral are the members of this party though?
Morality is really nothing more than a pretext for the Republican Party to implement its political agenda. Although some people may argue that all political parties simply strive to further their own political agendas, none have done so with such deceptive and surprisingly successful means as the Republican Party with its stance on moral values. Americans, a people desirous of good morals, prize their integrity and will do anything to preserve their image throughout the world. After recognizing this trait in Americans, Republicans had a deadly weapon, which they found surprisingly easy to wield.
Calling the moral values issue a pretext requires that there be some hidden purpose behind the name. That purpose is twofold: to discriminate against gays and the poor. Ever since politicians noticed the value of currying favor with the gay subculture, Republicans have either been unable to do so or not wished to do so, depending on the political mood and issue at hand. Now, with the moral values propaganda and the sanctity of marriage crusade, the Republicans are seemingly striving to alienate any possible wellspring of votes from this group within American society. Furthermore, the Republican Party is predominately a stronghold of wealthy men with families stemming from the aristocratic and repressive south. Supercilious attitudes amongst the generations have engendered great disdain for people who are less fortunate—the poor. People who do not have significant wealth do no deserve to maintain some form of respect and should therefore be denied the ability to improve their lot in life, or so believes the Republican Party. What better way to cripple financial and social progress than through failing to raise the minimum wage? For that matter, why not grant the rich huge tax cuts to ensure that there remains an insurmountable gap between the rich and the poor? In the eyes of the Republican Party, these were the necessary steps taken to ensure that they remained the elite as well as that “moral values are preserved.”
This issue comes to light once again because it is an election year. It is of utmost importance that the electorate pays attention to the issues at hand. The voters must be aware of the furtive agendas of every candidate so that they can cast an educated vote. This election is especially important to Pennsylvanians because a hotly-contested Senate seat is in question as well as the governorship. Both races have brought moral values to light, more than once, but the Senatorial race seems to be focusing on them more so than the gubernatorial. Incumbent Senator Rick Santorum (R) constantly brings up the issue of moral values in discussions about the expected winner, Bob Casey, Jr. (D). Senator Santorum, however, does not exemplify the most upright moral values. While Casey campaigns through focusing on the issues, Senator Santorum finds it necessary to throw constant obloquies at his opponent, and on several occasions these accusations have proven to be blatant lies. Does it require true honesty and integrity to manufacture a lie and broadcast it throughout the commonwealth? Pennsylvanians will have to be the judges of that question. In addition to the race for the Senate seat, the race for the governor’s office has focused some of its attention onto moral values—although not per se. Republican candidate Lynn Swann has numerous times announced that he would not favor raising the state minimum wage and that he would reduce the size of the government in order to lower taxes (although the rich would see the most benefits from lowered taxes). Neither present governor Ed Rendell (D) nor Swann have state equivocally that these are issues of morality, but in other, even nationwide elections, these issues of minimum wage and tax cuts have been implicated into the moral values campaign and therefore could be seen as such in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race.
Republicans have found an “issue” that is volatile simply because of the American people’s desire to be honest and overall good people. Through framing themselves as the party of moralist, the Republicans have in turn portrayed their opposition as debauched and morally unsound. The question that begs to be asked is if the Republicans are trying to imply that the Democrats do not possess any good morals. Perhaps in the new age of Republicanism, passing judgment on one’s neighbor is a good moral value.
Daniel Spigelmyer is a gay teenager who lives in predominately conservative Snyder County in central Pennsylvania. He is a senior at Midd-West High School and writes occasionally in the school newspaper on assignment from the advisor about topics “that students [his] age should care about.”