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Whose God Will It Be?
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Although it's been more than a month, I'm still as angry as I was on Nov. 2.
And I'm sure to stay angry -- and unforgiving. I know I'll be scorned in polite society as an elitist, sore loser, bigot or worse, but I will not pretend to be tolerant of those who re-elected George W. Bush. I will not pretend to tolerate the "values" that caused them to vote for one of the very worst presidents in history. I will not "reach out" to them. I will not excuse their ignorance and gullibility or their attempts to force their beliefs on me and others.

Pollsters tell us that many Bush voters were swayed most by the president's "moral values." It's hard to believe that anyone would consider it moral to invade another country, grant huge tax cuts to the wealthy, slash funding for education and vital social programs, and drive the budget deficit sky high, and to do so on the basis of utterly false premises -- lies, to put it plainly. But Bush's supporters apparently weren't aware of those disastrous actions or believed, in any case, that whatever Bush did had to be moral because of his posture as a man of "faith" who was acting in accord with the tenets of their god.

Many supporters claimed, in fact, that Bush had been chosen by God to lead us. And not all of them were ranting Bible Belt preachers, either. Remember at the Republican National Convention when Gov. George Pataki of New York introduced Bush as "one of those men God and fate somehow lead to the fore in times of challenge"?

Conventional wisdom says Democrats will have to cultivate those voters of "faith" if they are to win back the White House --and I suppose they will have to do that. As Democratic Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana said, "Running against the Republicans and God at the same time is almost an impossible task."

But count me out. I'm not prepared to make common political cause with people whose actions are guided mainly -- if not solely -- by their irrational belief in Scripture and a mythical being, people who rank religion ahead of science, faith ahead of fact, ignorant people who say those who disagree with them are sinners. I prefer rationality.

Of course there are many religious Democrats. But though they also prattle on publicly about God and related matters, despite the supposed constitutional separation of church and state, most have truly moral values that even I, a full-blown atheist, can enthusiastically embrace.

They believe, the best of them, that they have a moral obligation to fight poverty rather than cut the taxes of the wealthy at the expense of the poor and needy and most other ordinary citizens. They do not believe it morally acceptable to wage preemptive warfare, to cause the deaths of thousands for political advantage, to engage in empire-building and subject the United States to worldwide enmity. They believe it immoral to lie to win support rather than try to persuade with facts. They want to preserve the environment, not turn it over to corporate profit-lusters to despoil it for gain. They believe in social justice.

Yes, Democrats cite God as an important inspiration, but their god is a much kinder, more just god than the Deity that President Bush and his backers claim as their guide in waging what they portray as a battle of good vs. evil. The danger is that in seeking support of the religious voters who backed Bush, Democratic policy makers will blur the progressive vision that has guided them since the 1930s, when President Franklin Roosevelt brought to Washington the New Deal concept of government as primarily the helpmate of ordinary citizens.

The Democrats, in short, must not abandon their values but must work to convince more voters that theirs are genuinely moral values and that those voiced by George Bush and his fellow Republicans stem merely from crass political opportunism.

Although I'm psychologically unable to join in such "reaching out" to people who helped foist another four years of George Bush on us and the rest of the world, I sincerely hope there are many, many others who will join in to help save us from further Bush-style government after he finally leaves office.

In the meantime, I certainly will give whatever support I can --and so should you -- to beat back what are certain to be hard-fought attempts by the election winners to enact the reactionary agenda that generated many Bush votes.

You can be certain there'll be a push for constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriages and abortions, guaranteeing that the phrase "under God" remains in the Pledge of Allegiance, allowing prayer in public schools, even one banning flag burning. Also expect heavy pressure for the appointment of judges who support those positions and for moves in the now even more heavily Republican Congress to allow churches to become more politically active without losing their tax-exempt status, to help fund religious schools by granting vouchers to students' parents and to block courts from considering challenges to government expressions of religious belief.

It's nothing less than what those flush with victory cite as the first steps toward making ours a religion-based society. That seems unlikely, but when God's on your side, who knows what can happen.

Copyright 2004 Dick Meister