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Republicans misjudged the new morality

Marketplace Staff Nov 8, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Katrina vanden Heuvel from The Nation magazine sees the GOP loss differrently [from Steve Moore].

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: In the presidential election two years ago, 2 in 10 voters picked “moral values” as the most important issue in deciding their vote.

Political spin doctors, the media, and the GOP quickly concluded that these moral values signaled opposition to abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research. They wildly misjudged America’s moral values.

What the phrase “moral values” really means to Americans, this election shows, is support for economic justice. Americans have turned against a war that is costing us $4 billion a week and diverting money desperately needed here at home.

Americans back a raise in the minimum wage. States where those initiatives passed include Barry Goldwater country where trade unions, churches and faith-based community groups formed potent coalitions for change.

Why? Well, around America’s kitchen-tables, people aren’t celebrating vast Wall Street bonuses. They’re grappling with working harder than ever to keep up, and they’re anxious about ravaged pensions and mounting personal debt.

A majority of Americans want us all to have affordable healthcare and clean energy alternatives. All this while a Republican-controlled Congress has done no housecleaning of its own. Instead, Congress has spent recklessly, giving itself raises nine times to about $165,000 a year while keeping the minimum wage down to a shameful $5.15 an hour.

What a difference two years can make.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor of The Nation.

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