I am a values voter

2011-06-14

in Economics, Politics, Rants

The term ‘values voter’ is usually linked with social conservatism in the United States – people who want to stop the scourge of gay marriage, and so on. At the same time, the phrase is a useful and concise way to describe those who care much more about moral issues than economic self-interest, when choosing which political parties or candidates to support.

I care a lot more about whether a political party supports meaningful action on climate change than I do about what promises they make about the level of taxes I will pay or transfers I will receive. Even if a party offered to cut the income tax to zero for people making exactly the amount I do, I would not vote for them if they advocated intolerable policies in areas like minority rights or free speech.

Of course, we can only choose from among the candidates and parties on offer and there is invariably a serious problem with each of them. Still, in choosing the least of the evils on offer, the main considerations concern values rather than personal welfare.

Voting for moral reasons is an act that conforms to the golden rule. It is better for everyone if people refuse to be bought off with the promise of tax cuts or special spending. When people accept such vote-winning strategies, they become commodities to be bargained over by power-broker political factions rather than engaged citizens that care about the kind of society they inhabit.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison June 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm

“My favorite part of the Bible is where Jesus gives money to the rich, tells the poor to suck it up, and asks Cesar for his birth certificate.”

Alison June 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Viz., (with respect to above quip off of Twitter circa spring 2011) the irony, in my opinion, of neoconservative values voting, is that it actually betrays highly uncharitable assumptions about the world. Policies that destroy the environment or effectively gate keep certain groups from getting social and economic justice aren’t inline many interpretations of Christian morality. But then morality is always in the eye of the beholder. It’s best to have “good” morals enshrined as rights.

It’s interesting being in New York state and seeing all the ads for and against marriage equality. Or watching battles around illegal immigration unfold… for many of the reasons you enumerate above.

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