Pop Quiz

Which state has the lowest divorce rate?

Massachusetts, home of the Godless liberals? Or Texas, the buckle of the Bible belt?

Turns out it's Massachusetts, which has the lowest divorce rate in the US. (You can see the stats on the last page of this report)The rate in Texas is nearly one and a half times as high, as William D'Antonio gleefully points out in an editorial piece entitled, "Walking the Walk on Family Values." (link fixed!)

Antonio also points out that born again Christians have the highest divorce rate in the US.

Here's a few of the reason he cites:

People in the Northeast get married later, generally have more education and higher incomes.

Then there's this little fact--there are more Catholics in the Northeast. And Catholics are less likely to divorce.

Here's his conclusion:

For all the Bible Belt talk about family values, it is the people from Kerry's home state, along with their neighbors in the Northeast corridor, who live these values. Indeed, it is the "blue" states, led led by Massachusetts and Connecticut, that have been willing to invest more money over time to foster the reality of what it means to leave no children behind. And they have been among the nation's leaders in promoting a living wage as their goal in public employment.

The money they have invested in their future is known more popularly as taxes; these so-called liberal people see that money is their investment to help insure a compassionate, humane society.

Family values are much more likely to be found in the states mistakenly called out-of-the-mainstream liberal. By their behavior you can know them as the true conservatives. They are showing how to conserve family life through the way they live their family values.


Boston's New Curse

OK, so it's been a week since the Red Sox won the World Series, and a new curse has been born in Boston. It's been 44 year since JFK won the White House and since then, 4 candidates from Massachusetts have run for president, and all 4 lost. Teddy Kennedy lost in the 1980 primaries, Paul Tsongas (one of my all time favorites) lost in the primaries in 1992, Michael Dukakis lost in 1988, and now Kerry.

''It seems like it's sort of a culture war. It seems like the rest of the country is pretty angry at us for some reason," Michael Kelleher, 54, of Brockton, told the Boston Globe. ''I just don't get it . . . It makes me feel sort of alienated."

One Bay Stater was less civil about it.

Jessica Johnson told the Globe: "(Kerry)could have made a great president. Many Americans have nothing between their ears. Americans are fat, lazy, and stupid. I don't like this country anymore."


Framing Values

Philocrites has a great essay by Jake, a Jake, a Unitarian Universalist minister in Tennessee, on the different ways that liberal and conservatives talk about values.

Here's one of the things that struck me:

Liberals use facts and policies; conservatives use “frames.” Frames are metaphorical ways of thinking about complex matters. For example, our vast, diverse nation is sometimes spoken of in terms of “family.”

While not literally a “family,” the concept makes intuitive sense, and captures much of the complexity of our relationships to each other. Speaking in terms of frames works. Conservatives know this; liberals don’t.

Jake also points to this essay by William Saletan.

Here's a couple of his insights on how the Democrats can regain the language of values:

  • Go back to being the party of responsibility. I'm not talking about scolding people. I'm talking about rewarding them. Be the party that rewards ordinary people who do what they're supposed to do—and protects them from those who don't.

  • When a Republican president runs a TV ad accusing you of failing to protect us from wolves, you should be able to point out that he's the one who emptied our shotgun into a fox, leaving us helpless against the wolves.

  • All the issues Democrats like to run on—education, the environment, the deficit, energy independence—would be vastly more powerful if united under a single theme. Clean up your mess. Take care of your children. Pay your debts. Stand on your own two feet. It all comes down to responsibility.

Bob Graham had some similar sentiments in today's New York Times. Democrats need "to move the debate on values beyond God, guns and gays to tolerance, concern for others, love."

None of this may matter if this anonymous senior Democratic official is right:

"I do believe there is a cultural shift going on in this country," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the intraparty debate. "I think the country is becoming more conservative. I think their base is growing.''


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