I keep going back to George Lakoff's "Moral Politics", as I did "here"
and "here", because I believe this book provides very important insights into the psychological sources of ideology, or worldview, from which all political stances logically follow. As I stated "before", it is not a perfect book. First, it is written in a pretty dry academic style. Long lists, in my opinion, should be taken out of the main body of the text and placed into boxes in the margins. Second, it provides a snapshot of today's state of things, without providing for the historical context in which the two main ideologies arise. Third, it does not provide a comparative study, a look at other societies which is neccessary for full understanding of ours. Fourth, some parts are weak, e.g., the chapter on abortion, although factually correct, is shallow, and thus useless for any practical use in campaigning. Fifth, it is short on practical, do-it-yourself advice for the use of this knowledge for winning political fights.
Still, I think that this book should be read by every American (or read to the 45% of Americans who are functionally illiterate - how about a book on tape?), and I expect the new Lakoff's book (coming very soon) will fill the need for a how-to manual. Also, there has recently been quite a lot of activity on The Rockridge Institute website, providing (finally) some specific advice on "framing" one's political message. Go "here" to see for yourself.
Today, I want to write some musings about an aspect of his theory that I noticed when I first read the book, but never got to thinking through in much detail. The two main ideologies are compared in several different ways. There are lists of beliefs about human nature and behavior of societies: one list of conservative beliefs, one list of liberal beliefs (science has proven all conservative beliefs wrong, but that is a question for another day). There are, similarly, paralel lists of elements of the basic moral code, lists of words and phrases, etc. One thing that is mentioned concerning the conservative ideology, but is not, by definition, applicable to the liberal ideology, is the concept of Moral Order. Moral Order describes who has "moral authority" (Lakoff's term) over whom. In other words (my words), Moral Order defines who is morally superior to whom, who gives out rewards and punishments and who is supposed to be obedient, and who has power over whom. It is a hierarchy of power relations, in which white straight Protestant rich males are subservient only to God and are above all else.
The pairs of power relationsips are: God over humans; humans over non-human animals (only a liberal would use the term "non-human animal" - conservatives just say "animal") and rest of nature; men over women; adults over children, whites over other races; conservative Protestants over people of other beliefs; conservatives over liberals, Americans over foreigners, straights over gays.
In an earlier post ("here") on his Legal Fiction blog, Publius asserts that in the South there are "good" Democrats, "good" Republicans, and blatant racists who vote Republican. This is correct in a current partisan sense, but is incorrect, in my view, in a basic ideological sense (sensu Lakoff). It is the blatant racist (male chauvinist, homophobic, xenophobic, uber-nationalist) people who fully belong to the conservative core - they abide by the whole hierarchy of the Moral Order.
The "good" Republicans are people who have a more complex ideology, with a conservative core on economic issues, but an added ability to switch to the liberal ideology when (some) social issues arise, and most are really not racist. They are "independents" in a PoliSci sense, and quite liberal in ideological sense yet misguided into voting Republican (alternatively, one can think of Republican party as not being "core"conservative as the real conservatives seem to believe to be the case, with Constitution party perhaps being closer to the ideal).
Southern "good" Democrats are similarly capable of quickly switching between two core models, using the liberal value system for economic issues, and conservative system for (some) social issues (e.g, guns and hunting). The complete liberals are found more easily on the coasts than in the South, except for some liberal enclaves like Chapel Hill, NC or Ann Arbor, MI. In such liberal regions, one can also find other types of "radial deviations" from the core system, e.g., animal rightists.
History of the war between the conservative and the liberal moral systems can be delienated by looking at instances in which conservatives oppose liberal attempts to blur the lines between superior and inferior categories of Moral Order. It is essential for the conservative system that the categories remain perfectly defined, crystal clear, and absolutely self-contained. The sharp dichotomy is neccessary for the Moral Order to be sustained. The world has to be organized in binary categories: black and white, good and evil, superior and inferior. Ambiguity is anathema to core conservatives. If the world is ambiguous, who will decide who has the right to shout orders at whom? That is why they are afraid of science. That is why they rarely make good scientists (if they go into science at all): science is all about relishing in ambiguity, generating data (and interpreting them) just to completely change one's mind the next week when new data come to light. In science, there are no absolutes: all interpretations are tentative until new information comes out.
I will now attempt to go through the binary pairs and see how the liberal system attempts to fuzzy the borders and infuriate the conservatives, i.e., to turn a simple hierachy into a multi-element complex dynamic system. There are three ways to do this: a) introduce more (or eliminate one of the two) categories so the system is not binary any more, b) redefine categories so there is no clear line between them anymore, i.e, transform two discrete sets into a continuum, and c) make the two categories morally equivalent.
God Over People.
The line cannot be really blurred here, so one cannot make a continuum. After all, God is God, and people are people. Introducing additional categories also does not work. What new category? Angels? The only way this power relationship can be fuzzied is by removing moral authority from God, either by removing the "God" category completely out of the dichotomy, leaving humans alone, or making the two categories (God and Humans) morally equivalent. Replacing ferociously vengeful angry God with a listening gentle graceful God is one way. Replacing Christian God with another God is worse. Multiple gods are worse still. Eliminating God from the equation entirely is the ultimate insult and injury. Thus atheists and agnostics are worse than pagans (New Ageists, wickans etc.), who are worse than Moslems (Buddhists, Hinduists, etc.), who are worse than Jews, who are worse than non-Protestant Christians (Orthodox or Catholic), who are worse than liberal Protestant Christians. This reflect the degrees of difficulty preceived as needed to "convert" a person to "proper" Christianity. All other ways of believing are softening the moral superiority of God over people. Thus, Millenarian or Rapturist faith is the only true core conservative way to believe, and that is why they adore Bush - he is one of them, they have free entry into the White House and they write the legislation (Inquisition aka Patriot Act, Crusades aka Operation Iraqi Freedom) in the direction needed for Second Coming!
Why is it so important for core conservatives to have such a relationship with God? The Strict Father model of childrearing is supposed, through stick-and-carrot folk behaviorism and strict discipline to result in self-disciplined adults. Yet, that is exactly the opposite of what happens. Kids raised in this manner have the least self-obedience and self-discipline - they require constant presence of an external focus of moral authority. And they feel it in their bones even if they will never admit it. They have a much greater problem with "temptation" than the offspring of Nurturant Parent families. So, if a conservative is alone, or one gets so rich and powerful as to be beyond the reach of the law, only God remains as constant source of authority. Without God, conservatives believe, people would do bad stuff whenever nobody's watching. That is why they cannot conceieve that non-religious people can be "moral". For them atheism equals immorality. They do not understand that Nurturant Parent method of childraising inbues people with internal focus of moral authority, thus ability to act morally even if nobody's watching, not because of some special strength to resist temptation but because moral behavior is a natural expression of who they are, as empathy is the core liberal value (as opposed to obedience for conservatives).
Humans over non-human animals and rest of nature.
Dubya exploded frogs as a kid, didn't he? Ann Coulter said something about God telling us to rape nature (I wonder what part of nature she is raping). Animal welfare (not to mention animal rights), environmental protection, and the Endangered Species Act are not just a nuisance for profit-making industries, but also affront to the moral superiority of men over nature. This is one area where man's dominance is unchallenged. We can do whatever we want to natural world and not expect any punishment. This is a perfect outlet for our repressed sadistic tendencies caused by rough treatment by parents during childhood. Hunting is fun! Revenge is all ours!
This is also an issue of control. While most liberals I know love all animals, most conservatives I know love all animals except CATS! Why? Because cats cannot be ordered around. Cats make conservatives feel powerless and emasculated.
But what if "animals" are not a separate category? What if there is a continuum between animals and humans? Did someone say "evolution"? Anathema! Who cares about empirical data, if such data subvert such an important element of the hierarchy of moral authority, the only remaining legal way to rape and pillage!?
Americans over foreigners
Conservative system is based on individualism and competition (while liberal system is based on collectivism and cooperation). Still, conservatives cannot escape the fact that Homo sapiens is a social animal, and that many aspects of human behavior resulted from the agancy of group selection (see D.S.Wilson's books "Unto Others" and "Darwin's Cathedrals" for more details on this). In reality, conservatives have a really strong need to belong to groups, as they need a continuous presence of external focus of authority. Well-disciplined hierarchically organized groups serve that need the best, hence large conservative membership in authoritarian churches, street gangs, religious cults, militias, KKK, police and the military. The ultimate "group" is the homeland - the USA.
The goal of the group is to keep its internal cohesion and to protect itself from external threats. Internal cohesion is reached through strong law-enforcement, indoctrination via schools, churches and media, and through prevention of infiltration by "the other". Thus, our
immigration policies are atrocious, and both legal and illegal recent immigrants are treated like animals. For protection against the external threats, the Defense takes up half of our budgetary expenses. We sneer at the French, despise peoples who eat frogs or dogs, laugh at "savages"...that makes us feel superior, and that feels good if you were raised in a Strict Father family.
Most of our wars and interventions around the world are both ideological and political: getting "the boys to kick some ass", exploding some munitions so the military-industrial complex can get new orders to fill, scaring the world into fearing our might, grabbing control over natural resources (e.g.,oil) or strategically important geographical areas. But one part of the world has a very special meaning - the Middle East. There, the goal is to prepare for the Second Coming. By propping Israel to kick some Muslim ass, then converting exactly 144, 000 Jews into Christianity, we will allow ferocious Jesus to come back and slaughter all the heretics and non-believers in a horrendous exhibition of completely non-Christ-like violent sadism. That is why we are in Iraq right now, and eyeing Iran next. That is why our soldiers look at Iraqis as if they are animals - something they have authority over and can freely rape and pillage - hence Abu Ghraib.
So, how does the liberal view challenge the dichotomy between "us" and "them"? By invoking moral equivalency. For instance, conservatives go into a raging spitting fit when they hear the claim that Native Americans are really the only "real" Americans. They have an equally angry response to the claims that the US military habitually commits atrocities abroad. Their fit is even more violent if someone suggests a moral equivalence between atrocities commited by all big expansionists powers: USA, Stalin's USSR, Mao's China, Hitler's Germany etc. The ultimate insult is invocation of the UN which is a code-word for moral equivalency of ALL nations of the world, no matter what size, political ideology, economic system, or developmental level various nations posess.
In a core conservative view, USA is morally superior to the rest of the world and it cannot, by definition do anything wrong. All wars that the USA was ever involved in are just. Killing Indians was moral. Invasion of Hawaii was the right thing to do. Vietnam was a just war. Iraq is a just war. Teaching kids anything else is treason. Since public schools do have some critical angles on some aspects of American history, home-schooling and parochial schools are the only options for true conservatives. Starve and destroy public schools!
So, if the USA is superior to the rest of the world, what should US foreign policy be? There, conservatives are internally conflicted. On one hand, isolationism sounds just right. Close oursleves within the confines of our castle and leave the others alone to kill each other if they are so inclined. This argument is similar to the argument against social services: just like welfare "enables" the lazy and stupid people, so military intervention "enables" lazy and stupid nations. Why waste the money on such losing causes? Why not let the other nations pull themselves up by the bootstraps and succeed by their own efforts and self-discipline, if they are capable of doing so? On the other hand, generating new markets for American businesses to plunder sound like a worthy cause. And of course, Middle East is the key to the Second Coming. So, various conservatives take different positions: more religious millenarians care only about the Middle East, more secular conservatives care about business-minded adventures, while most in the middle ascribe to isolationism.
Men over women.
This is quite an important dichotomy for the conservative worldview. It is the Strict Father who is in charge of the family (and by extension the Strict President in charge of the nation, hence no female Presidents yet), while the mother is assuming a supportive role, following Father's childrearing prescriptions. Woman is supposed to be man's property. Her place is at home, taking care of the house and the kids, preparing meals, being there for her husband whenever he wants her in the bedroom. She is not to work outside the home, as that is a threat to the Father's authority. If she does work, she is most definitely not to earn more than He does, as that is emasculating to Him. He needs to be the breadwinner, as success in business is the true measure of one's worth, one's discipline and intelligence.
Last 200 years of history are the history of emancipation of women. First, losing the status of husband's property. Then, gaining the right to own property. Later, she gets the right to chose who she is going to marry in the first place. Later comes the right to divorce, to work outside of home, to vote, to control if and when she wants to get pregnant or to abort. Political, legal and economic equality have been almost attained by now. Each one of those was a victory hard won, against enormous opposition by threatened males, with priests decrying the End of the World, invoking imminent spread of disease, atheism, and God's wreath. The history of woman's liberation is the history of the gradual losses of the core conservative ideology over the past couple of centuries. Thus, here again, liberal worldview trumped conservative dichotomy, by invoking moral equivalence. The current fight over rights for gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex individuals will also blur the lines by turning the binary system into a continuum (read Joan Roughgarden's "Evolution's Rainbow"). Once that happens, this dichotomy will be dead. The reality that most of this has already happened explains, in part, why today's conservatives are such "sissies", i.e., sexually frustrated, and in need to compensate for the perceived loss of masculine power by projecting an agressive, even violent, macho posture (see "G.W.Bush" and his followers).
There is something missing in Lakoff's book. When he discusses the Strict Father model, he mainly writes about its effects on sons. How about daughters? What explains Coulter and Schlafly and all those women at the RNC Convention giving Bush adoring looks? How does Strict Fathering result in women who willingly subordinate themselves to their husbands? Are they taught to be like that? Are their mothers the models of behavior they internalize as they grow up? Or does the process of strict rearing of daughters result in insecurity and need to be dominated and protected by a man?
Adults over children
This, of course, is the main pillar of the Strict Father worldview. This is how Strict Fathers beget new Strict Fathers, thus propagating the ideology from one generation to the next. The ideology is not taught, but is the direct result of the process of childrearning. If it was taught, it would be relatively easy to un-teach it later in life, in college perhaps. This way, it goes much deeper. Turning a complete conservative into a complete liberal may be impossible. Perhaps one can only make some changes in some areas of life, or some derived political issues. Education may turn a racist into a non-racist, or may change some economic views, but I am not sure it is possible to change the core of one's being. Good public schools, as they get the kids at the age of five, may be able to exert some counter-influence, thus it is essential to keep schools either bad, or strict-fathering themselves, or non-existent. Home-schooling and private/parochial schools are obvious alternatives for conservatives who do not want to see their ideology undone.
The essence of Strict Father childrearing is that the world is dangerous and always will be dangerous. One needs to prepare one's children for survival in such a world. The only way to do so is to make children competitive so they can win the game of life. The conservative ideology is completely individualistic and competitive. It does not believe in trusting one's fellow men, or in the power of the community to do good for everyone. Important conservative belief is that all people are born bad (not true scientifically) and that the only way to make them good is to instill self-discipline. The way to do so is through the "stick and carrot" approach, thus quite harsh disciplining. Unfortunately, people do not work that way - this brand of folk behaviorism has been discredited by science a long time ago. People are not behavioristic machines - they often behave in unpredictable way, often against their own best interests, often driven by emotion rather than reason.
The conservative notion is that discipline in youth results in self-dicipline in adulthood. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the kids raised in the Strict Father mode are more likely to require an external locus of moral authority and, if such locus is missing, to behave quite immorally (joining gangs, drinking etc.). Only a deep belief in God can make them resist their temptations. G.W.Bush is a great example - he was an irresponsible violent drunk until he was born-again. And compare his daughters' behavior to the behavior of Kerry, Heinz and Edwards children! Abusive childrearing (which is a harsh version of Strict Fathering) is the only childrearing model that has an even worse outcome than the pure Strict Father model. Even the Neglectful model and the Permissive model do better on longitudinal studies. The Nurturant Parent model is by far the best - these kids internalize a moral code based on empathy and as adults do not require constant supervision - they posess an internal locus of moral authority, i.e., they are capable of making moral decisions by themselves.
The Strict Father model assumes absolute authority of the parents over their children. The children are not to be seen or heard until they grow up, at which time they are supposed to leave home (not to be seen or heard from again). Children do not have a voice, nobody is asking for their opinion or their feelings. If the family is the metaphor for the nation, and the President is a Strict Father, then of course the President will treat his underlings as children (giving everyone nicknames is a method to put them in their places) and will not listen to what they have to say. He makes all the decisions, and the "kids" should obediently carry out his orders. The "kids" here are not just the members of his cabinet, but also all Americans - he does not need to listen to anyone. If challenged or disobeyed, the punishment will be harsh. Is Dick Cheney playing the role of Strict Father's Wife or is he more like a priest who channels God to the Father?
As this is the key dichotomy in the conservative worldview, what societal changes can counteract it? The most important goal of conservativism is to protect conservativism. How can a liberal society undermine the intergenerational transmission of conservative ideology? The Nurturant Parent model assumes moral equivalence between adults and children, although the difference in experience and knowledge does place most decision-making into the hands of parents, with a gradual tranfer of such powers onto the children as their developmental stages allow. Fortunately, our public schools are based on the Nurturant Parent model of childrearing. The childrearing sections in bookstores are full of books that advocate Nurturant Parent model, including the bestsellers by th elikes of Dr.Spock, T.B.Brazelton, Penelope Leach etc. To find a Dobson manual, one needs to go to a Christian bookstore.
But is there another way to break the dichotomy since moral equivalence between adults and children is somewhat counterintuitive? Is there a way to turn two distinct categories into a continuum? The authority of parents over children also transfers to the society as a whole. The older is superior to the younger. 8th-graders are authority over 7th-graders, professors over students, wise old men over greenhorns, the only criterion for moral superiority being age. Perhaps segregating schoolchildren into age-cohorts (grades) habituates people into thinking in terms of age-groups and age-based hierarchical relationships.
While I try to apply Nurturant Parent model in the way I relate to my own children, I also try to transfer that to all the people I interact with in my life. Most of my students are half my age. Many appear to look up to me not just because I happen to know the subject matter better, but because of my age. I work hard to change that and to treat them as equals. In the classroom, I am doing the job of a teacher. I give lectures, grade their exams. They are doing the job of the student. They listen to lectures, ask questions and study for exams. Outside of that business relationship, I encourage them to treat me as an equal - we are all human beings. In relationships with people, it is goodness, niceness, intelligence, and intellectual curiosity that decides who has authority over whom at that particular moment, and a number of 20-year olds have earned equality with me on that basis.
I also teach adults in a continuous education program. It gets pretty awkward in the beginning of the term, as most of the students there are older than me, yet percieve classroom as a place in which the instructor has moral authority over students. Again, I try my best to keep the business relationship separate from interpersonal relationship and to encourage either moral equivalence, or hierarchy based on merit. On the other hand, I ferociously fight against people who try to assert their authority over me based entirely on age. I am pretty successful at putting them in their place.
Age-related superiority goes hand-in-hand with superiority of men over women in the conservative worldview. It is considered normal for the husband to be older than his wife. Matches were made that way for centuries, as this helps the husband maintain superiority over his wife. Even huge age-differences were quite normal for a long time. When a man kills his wife by making her pregnant a dozen times in as many years, he HAD to re-marry immediately because without a wife his home-business, be it a farm, an artisan shop or a store, cannot continue to operate. At the same time, there were no women of his age sitting around waiting to get married. The only option was for the widower to get himself a new 16-year old bride.
Today, now that women are not property any more, a large age difference is looked upon as somewhat sick. Since age confers dominance, large age-difference assumes absolute dominance. Thus questions arise among gossipers as to why he feels a need to be so dominant (what is he compensating for?), and why does she needs to be so dominated (why is she so insecure)? Nobody questions the assumption of the dominance relationship in the first place, that the marriage between the two may be a completely egalitarian affair, and that this is a very modern, liberal-minded, Nurturant Parent couple. The exception are Hollywood couples, but those are liberals anyway!The gossipers' eyebrows rise even higher if the age relationship is reversed, i.e., when she is older than he is, especially when the age difference is large (e.g., Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher). Assumptions are that there is something psychologically wrong with them, which may be the case, but the assumption that age confers dominance is never questioned. It will be interesting to see how this changes over the next few decades, as gay marriage becomes common-place, and the Nurturant Parent model becomes more widespread.
Whites over other races
This one is obvious. Other races are viewed as "foreigners", as "children", and as "animals", and treated accordingly. Supposed "sexual prowess of the Negro" is an obvious threat to the white male, who feels insecure to begin with as he has been losing his control over women for quite a while now.
Conservatives over liberals
Liberals have been influencing the evolution of the society for a long time now. Slave-ownership is not an official economic system in any country any more. Racism is condemned. American superiority is openly questioned. Warriors are not considered heroes any more. Evolution is taught in schools. Non-believers are the fastest-growing "religious" category in America. Women have faught succesfully for their independence and equality, and the gays are in the process of winning the same battle. Social programs have been enacted that "enable" the "lazy" and "stupid" people to get their hands on the money hard-earned by the best and the brightest. The state resists the influence of the church. The "proles" elect the nation's leaders instead of them being chosen by the elites only. Thus, most of the main tenets of conservativism have lost over time. The conservatives have been on the defense for quite a while now and are losing ground, domain by domain, until very little is left for them any more. They know they are losing and they are fighting like wounded beasts for their sheer survival. Preservation of conservativism is the utmost goal, and they will use any means to attain that goal. The immoral liberals have brought their demixe about and are the biggest enemies of all. Liberalism need to be destroyed if the human race is to survive. They sincerely believe it.
Straights over gays
The need for male dominance is required by the Strict Father model. Couple that with the Christian upbringing and the result is a very uneasy relationship with sexuality. Sexual behavior is one of the ways to display social dominance, rape being the extreme case of this. Why is missionary position called missionary? Man-on-top was the only position allowed by the early church, as it asserts male dominance. Thus, conservative view of sexuality is warped. It is not a loving give-and-take between equal partners, but another method of establishing and reinforcing the "man over woman" hierarchy. Why is there so much porn (and much more rape-like porn) made and counsumed per capita in the USA than in Europe? Why is there more rape here? More S&M? Does it have anything to do with the conservativism of this country? Why is macho posturing such an integral part of being a conservative? Guns, hunting, war, body-building, sports, fraternities, police....Are they compensating for something?
Gays frighten conservatives just by existing. Unlike conservatives, gays do not hide they are "girlie men". But what is even more frightening is the possibility that gays get married and that their marriages work! If gay marriages work, this shows that gender dominance is unneccessary for a functioning marriage. The last straw they hold onto will be gone. The last argument for the "woman submiting to her husband" (as the Southern Baptist Convention puts it) will be gone. Conservativism will be gone. Period. This is conservatives' Waterloo (or Alamo, or D-Day), and they have to win or die.
Rich over poor
If the world is a dangerous and highly competitive place, and only self-discipined people win the game of life, and if victory is measured in amount of dollars amassed, then the rich people are the best and most moral people in the society. By the same token, the poor are poor because their moral fiber is weak. They must be lazy or stupid or both. They do not deserve to live, let alone to get housing, education, and healthcare. Helping them in any way is "enabling" them to keep living in sloth, and preventing them from motivating themselves to work hard and pick themselves up by the bootstraps. All social programs should be eliminated as they do exactly that. Not to mention that any money given to the poor has been taken away from the best and the brightest who have earned that money through their own hard work and ingenuity and are the rightfull owners of every penny they earned. Taxes are baaaad!
Unlike the European aristocracies of old, American conservatives have no problem with people making it from rags to riches. That is much to be admired, and is the essence of the American Dream. What they do not understand is that for this to happen one needs to have a free market, social programs to help the poor, programs for helping new enterpreneurs, good public education affordable (or free) for all, and taxpayer-funded infrastructure (roads, schools, Internet, media, R&D, legal system, etc.). While they say, and probably believe, that they are free-marketers, they, in real life, do everything to subvert the free market. Once on the top (and getting there by using the taxpayer-funded infrastructure), they do whatever they can to eliminate taxes, regulation, education and social programs. They fight hard to gain and keep monopolies. As Adam Smith has warned himself, monopolies gut the free market. There is a very thin line between the monopoly-based economy and the feudalism, as it was during the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Very few very rich white men have an absolute control over everybody else (the poor, women, foreigners, slaves, non-Christians, environment) and they can do whatever they please with them.
Today's GOP is a conservative party. In its heart of hearts, it ascribes to the core conservative model. However, only a portion of its membership (or voters) is truly conservative in the core sense. Most, and the party as a whole, have been forced to moderate their views on many issues, i.e., to be able to switch between conserative and liberal codes at a moment's notice. Many aspects of conservative ideology cannot be espoused openly (political correctness), and it is sometimes difficult to discern what individual conservatives really feel about things like race, gender etc. However, give a conducive environment, a conservative party will tend to gravitate towards its core. Today, the environment is quite conducive, with the GOP in control of the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as state legislatures, governor's mantions, and local authorities around the country. Thus, the GOP follows the unchecked inertia to move towards the conservative core. In its present state, a GOP-like party would be untenable in Europe, far too right for their taste, in league with neo-Nazis. Unhidered by serious political opposition, the conservative party will naturally tend to move toward implementing the society based on their moral system. It will move toward imitating a time in the past during which the white Christian rich straight men had all the power. That time in history is now referred to as Dark Ages. If you want to see for yourself how it feels to be poor in the Dark Ages, vote for Bush. If the idea does not appeal to you, there is an alternative, called Kerry. It does not matter at all if you like him or agree with him. It is imperative, for the future of the country and the world, that the slide towards Dark Ages be stopped, by kicking the GOP out of at least some domains of power, White House and Senate first, House of Representatives and local governments later, the Supreme Court will come naturally after that, and the direction of history will get back on track again. The Enlightement will not be wasted for nothing.