Strong Morning Tea for Values Voters
We, the morning people, started the day with a breakfast hosted by Liberty University and Liberty Counsel, which promised to help us oldsters understand the Millennial Generation (defined here as born since 1980). Schooling us were two Millennials, Rev. Johnnie Moore, a VP and campus pastor at Liberty, and Dr. Johsua Straub, from the American Association of Christian Counselors.
Millennials, it turns out, are distrusting and disillusioned and have a “mangled” foundation of truth, based on their parents’ divorces and the cultural sewer they have grown up in, yet they’re still optimistic and passionate about trying to make a difference in the world.
The good news, say Moore and Straub, is that Millennials believe in God, are anti-abortion, and have moved away from the Democratic Party since 2008. The bad news is that many of them have fled organized religion, have little taste for partisan politics, tend to cohabit with partners before marriage, and support gay couples’ freedom to marry. The key to engaging Millennials, they say, is not with a hard political message, but with a “relational” approach. Everyone in attendance was urged to find their own “Timothy” and devote time to being a mentor.
So clearly the audience for the Friday morning session was not the turned-off-by-politics Millennials described at breakfast. Friday’s session was a parade of harsh partisan attacks on Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama,and anyone who supports their America-destroying values. The session featured Religious Right and Tea Party folk heroes like Sens. James Inhofe and Jim DeMint and Rep. Michele Bachmann, as well as potential presidential contenders Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Rep. Mike Pence. Huckabee backers handed Huck PAC stickers and signs to people on the way in, hoping to boost his showing in the presidential straw poll.
The overriding theme of the morning – other than speakers trying to out-do each other in their hatred of “Washington” and the Democratic leadership – was the impossibility of separating the anti-government message of the Tea Party from the “traditional values” message of the Religious Right. One speaker after another hammered home the message: the breakdown in family values creates dysfunctional people that have to rely on government services we can no longer afford. Sen. DeMint declared that you can’t be a true fiscal conservative if you don’t accept that our culture is founded in Judeo-Christian values.
Get used to hearing about American exceptionalism, because that’s the rhetorical glue that right-wing leaders are using to bind economic and social conservatives. America is unique because we don’t want government to take care of us, and we can only survive that way if Americans turn back to God, oppose abortion, and keep gay couples from getting married. An interminable Heritage Foundation video declared that “faith is necessary for liberty.”
And don’t even get started on gays in the military. Sen Inhofe used his time to urge people to contact their senators and oppose an upcoming defense authorization vote because it will include language repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and permitting abortion in military hospitals.
Also on display were typical cheap shots at “Washington elites,” like those who Michele Bachmann said believed that Values Voter participants should be feared because they’re people of faith, and boringly predictable jingoism like Mitt Romney’s concluding applause line that America is a force for good and we’re just not going to apologize for it. Now that’s bold. Just imagine what we’ll hear from Rick Santorum and Gary Bauer this afternoon. Not to mention Christine O’Donnell.