I was about to respond to a post on David Schraub's blog The Debate Link, but I'm tired of writing all my good posts on other people's blogs. David is a self proclaimed Left-Centrist who does a pretty good job presenting rational left arguments.
In his blog, David says:
All of this, I think, only reaffirms my point though. The "moral values" issues probably have the least substantive discussion of any major campaign issue. You never see a real debate about gay marriage or abortion.
David is right. There really isn't a substantive discussion about these issues. Both sides draw their lines, quote their sound bites and try to get as many people on their side as possible.
This is because I believe that America is in the midst of a moral/legal cognitive dissonance
on "values issues".
What do I mean?
I mean, there are moral issues in this country where what is accepted as normal and lawful does not match professed moral beliefs.
Let me explain...
There are many on the right who believe that marriage should be restricted to one man and one woman. A reasonable and traditional expectation. But the cold hard truth in America is, marriage has lost all meaning as an institution except as means for distributing property. My friends on the right will get fired up to pass laws prohibiting gay marriage, but are lackluster (legally speaking) about adultery, divorce, or cohabitation. I mean, if marriage is such a big deal that it must be "protected", then why not protect it from these things that also cause it to lose meaning.
This can also be illustrated through bigamy and polygamy. It is perfectly legal (and more or less socially acceptable) for a guy to sleep with three women, keep houses for them, have children with them, share property with them. BUT, if he marries more than one of them... THEN it becomes illegal.
The left has been adamant about protecting a "woman's right to choose". But at the same time, people are charged with murder, if they kill an unborn fetus. That is... unless they are a doctor... performing an abortion. If a woman is on her way to the clinic to abort her child and the fetus is shot on the trip over, is it murder? Legally speaking, it is. Why isn't the left working to make sure that anytime a fetus is killed, that it is legal?
I once had a blind date with a woman who told me that she was propositioned by an upper level executive. He offered to set her up with an apartment, monthly allowance, a car, all just for a few "visits" a month. Is that legal? I think something like that would be difficult to prosecute as prostitution. I mean, how is that different from a woman who moves in with a man?
What about women who use sex or the promise of sex to receive gifts?
A woman can be paid to have sex on camera. Is that prostitution? (in a legal sense)
Until both the left and the right come to terms with these moral/legal questions themselves, it is going to be exceedingly difficult for us to come to terms with them as a nation.