Morality and politics

The attempt to impose moral values upon political decisions has reach its apogee, and nadir during the Bush administration. But it has long been the case that one group claims to have the high moral ground and is therefore justified in telling the rest of us how to live and love. It is time to stop.

Of course the classic morality legislation failure was Prohibition, but attempts to enforce religious, philosophical and lifestyle mores has found its way into nearly every aspect of legislation. Our tax code is heavily laden with “moral” decisions, from special tax benefits to married persons to the imposition of higher taxes on the wealthy than on the poor. The criminal code is essentially a “code of moral conduct” by which those with power have decided for the rest of us what they will tolerate.

All of this, however, flies in the face of our nation’s foundations – among which are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The imposition of “moral values” is most obvious in the efforts of the religious extremists amongst us but it is not at all limited to them. From the right we have governmental policies that prohibit reproductive planning and condom distribution as a way of stemming the spread of AIDS so that their favorite “abstinence only” programs can be crammed down the throat of the world.

This campaign’s most obvious current expression is the right wing’s opposition to marriage between people of the same gender on the grounds that it would “offend God.”
The attempt to impose what one side sees as “moral values” always is divisive, counterproductive and unsuccessful. The behavior that is objected to may be suppressed, but usually finds expression in another way.

The “war on drugs” is a prime example of laws aimed at eradicating drug usage have instead given rise to one of the largest industries in the world, the criminal drug empire.

Way back in the 19th century our Supreme Court approved legislation that was founded upon one definition of “morality” or another as being within the scope of our Constitution. That was one of the most unfortunate decisions ever made.

Legislation should never be based upon a “moral” basis. It should be based solely upon a need found in the welfare of the people that is within the powers granted by the Constitution. For example, laws against murder and other such crimes need no basis in morality for there is a far more practical basis – the right of people to life.

If we removed any power of the government to legislate morality, we would see a drastic cutback in the power of a few to dictate the lives of the many. Almost all laws respecting sexual activity – prostitution, pornography, sodomy, etc. would disappear. Those laws that remain would have to find a justification in some other factual basis, and most would fail the test.

The debate over gay marriage would simply disappear. The issue of reproductive rights and abortion would likewise recede from the high-pitched fervor they have received for several decades, fatefully tainting the political process along the way.

Politicians, of course, clearly have no ground upon which to stand as moral authorities. Over the years we have seen that the emperor has no clothes – often quite literally – as to moral high ground. Likewise, those who proclaim with greatest energy the need for “moral values” have found to be among the grossest violators of those same values.

So what is this really all about, this press for “morality?” Power, guilt and hatred for the human condition. People who want to control the behavior of others simply need to quit. Work on yourself. Let me work on me. As a matter of fact, I think I am doing quite well and from what I can tell, better than many of those who preach the loudest.

Get the government out of morality altogether. All of it. No war on sex, or any of its attributes and consequences. No war on drugs. No more efforts to shape the world to fit your “message from God” or whatever you base your views upon. I am happy that you have been given a guideline for behavior, but since it was given to you
I conclude it was meant for you, not me.

I am quite content to live by “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” as a way to live life. I am not always able to live to that standard, but I try very hard. I recommend it to you, but would not think it appropriate to impose it upon you.

So keep your morality to yourself. Please. I am busy enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


  1. justanothercoverup

    I agree, it is changing, slowly but surely; However, as you mentioned, there are still two carrier groups in the Middle-east – not to mention the compliment of support ships and minesweepers from the US and UK. To hold all of these vessels and crews “on the ready” in the Persian Gulf has to be expensive, and there has to be ( or should be) a solid military reason for their deployment(s). Keep in mind these deployments are US and UK forces combined, so whatever is going on has the tacit approval of the British government. (And Israel of course…)

    How many Americans are aware of the changes Bush has made to the Marital Law Doctrine via “administrative” changes? Even more important than that question is “why” such significant changes, and do those changes have anything to do with the “internment camps” that are being built in Alaska and in various locations throughout the United States by FEMA? Who are they for, and what is the reason for their construction at this juncture in our history?

    I hope that change comes about fast enough to head-off the catastrophe which awaits us if Bush somehow pulls-off a false-flag attack – and if there is an incident in an extremely crowded international waterway, I’m hoping that Congress will be able to control the war mongers long enough for our intelligence corps to delve into the situation and figure out if it was an unprovoked attack with malice, an accidental launch – or one that was planned and meant to escalate the hostilities into a full-scale war.

    With the Bush administration’s record of deception and downright lies, they should never be trusted or allowed to begin hostilities with ANY nation without Congressional approval – and even then, there will be no guarantee that the “Decider” and his cabal of Neo-conservatives and fundamentalist Christians haven’t again betrayed the people of America.


  2. Razor

    The Plan for a New American Century was written by neocons who many now sit in positions of power. The plan to invade the middle east, to greatly build up military hardware, and to instill greater control over americans only needed an event like a new pearl harbor to win support of the people. Well folks, they provided that event on 911 and as planned proceeded to do all those evil things they outlined.

    The media is the major player in enabling this silent takeover of America by keeping the sheeple in the dark about what has actually been going on. What is happening to America right now has been done before in history, Germany was the last example of the takeover through misinformation designed to fool the populace.

  3. justanothercoverup

    I’ve been concerned that we have two carrier groups plus all of the other support ships in the Middle-east, and now we find out the USS Nimitz Strike Group entered the Persian Gulf on Wednesday. Even though the Nimitz was scheduled to relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Pentagon refuses to state when the Eisenhower will return home. This is the largest naval presence in the Gulf since the beginning of the Irag War. Why now? LINK

    It seems to me that everything is in place for an attack against Iran – even though President Bush has stated he would rather settle the Iranian situation via diplomacy rather than force (sic). I am no Iran fan, and while I do believe there are serious issues with Tehran that eventually have to be addressed – the mere idea or thought of Bush attempting to bumble our country through another war seems like a far greater threat to America than Al Quada.

  4. jasonr

    I’d love to see the best of chb comments in one place maybe on cd and offer it for a small fee i just read the disc mojo review and think the software would be prefect to make the CD

  5. Sandy Price

    With my commentaries off the site, I thank you for keeping up the spirit of individal freedoms. I’m about to stop fighting for these freedoms as people are offended by my doing so. But I learned about these freedoms when I was 10 years old and it lifted my spirit as an American as we were fighting WW2. The “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is what our soldiers fought for so when they came home they could live as total equals, no matter what color, what God or with whom they slept.

    Why is it such a hard sell at this time? I’m so pleased with your commentary.

  6. Benoist

    I certainly agree with regard to the imposition of religious beliefs by self-righteous pinheads like George Bush, but MORALS? Even in the ancient world, laws stemmed from morality, and were made in order to thwart “immoral” behavior – even in Rome, where the gods were neutral on such questions.

    All political issues are moral issues at the core. Is it moral to force girls pregnant from rape to give birth? I say no; the Christian Right says yes, and for religious reasons.

    Is it moral to allow millions of uninsured children to have no choice but an ER waiting room for their health care? I say hell no, but Conservatives say we are entitled to the fruits of our labors, and not a penny more.

    Even basic tenets of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are, contra your assertion, moral doctrines. You can’t – and shouldn’t – bar government from dealing with moral questions. The good of the society – a moral value in itself – is one thing, but when government seeks to impose majority religious doctrines on the society, we have to stand up for separation of church and state.

    Don’t confuse religion with morality. They are not related, and are often polar opposites.


  7. Sandy Price

    Thank you for your concern. I closed up my website and will take the summer off. My addiction to CHB will not allow me to ignore these wonderful writers. I feel like an old friend to Phil Hoskins and will always read his commentaries.

  8. Rob Kezelis

    Phil’s words ring true.

    I suppose it was only time until morality became a topic of discussion. For too long the Religious Reich has told us that they were the deciders – the SOLE deciders of what was moral and what was not. Few dared to stand up the them, to their idiotic positions and their lame, painful, often damaging edicts.

    But when a key member of their national leaders, Ted Haggard, turns out to be a fraud, when the heads of other “proper” religious and social organizations all say one thing, instruct their followers to do what they say (but not what they do), and when their hand-picked head of the abstinence program for the entire USA are liars, at some point, those strong, moral, necessary rules must bear examination.

    Phil’s analysis is spot on. Thank you.

  9. Steve Horn

    Hitler claimed the moral high ground as he sought to exterminate the Jews. Mugabe claims the moral high ground as Zimbabwe goes from being the bread basket of southern Africa to a festering wound filled with starving people. Stalin claimed the moral highground as he sent intellectuals to the Gulag.

    George finds himself in quite suitable company, in my opinion, from an historical perspective.

    Sic semper tyrannis ….



  10. justanothercoverup

    If I was asked this question 20 years ago, the answer would have been yes; the Separation of Church and State has been recognized by the Supreme Court for as long as I can remember – but it seems that has changed, and it came like a thief in the night… When I saw the news the court had banned a type of late-term abortion, I wasn’t surprised in the least – but what I learned later shocked me to the core!

    I believe that everyone has understood Roe vs Wade would be challenged; in fact, it’s a certainty in light of the recent appointments made by the Bush administration. President Bush has stacked the Supreme Court with conservative Justices – which is legal as far as the President’s power of political appointments are concerned; what wasn’t common-knowledge among the people was that the five (s) Justices who were in the majority on this decision are all male, and they were all Catholics!

    Think about that for a moment; all five of the Justices were male Catholics… Does anyone see something wrong with this picture? What happened to a “fair and impartial” Supreme Court? With the Catholic Churches’ well-known stand on abortion, how fair and impartial is it to allow a majority of Justices on the Supreme Court to be Catholics?
    (I’m also disgusted that all five Justices were men; I take serious issue with men deciding the future of women. This IS NOT the Middle-east.)

    Place yourself in the seat of each individual Justice – and decide what you would do. First, let’s “assume” that all five are really devout Catholics. I hate that “assume” word, however, in this case since all five are US Supreme Court Justices it would be fair to believe that they are honest Catholics, whose character is beyond reproach – and not hypocrites who would defy the only power most people are loyal to above and beyond their loyalty to this country, and that is their respective God. In these days of upheaval and the religious-right attempting to dictate morality, “God” and “Country” are no longer synonymous with liberty and the protections of our freedoms.

    How would you vote on the issue of abortion? Would you attempt to uphold the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights- or would you vote the Churches’ policy on the abortion issues to prevent your soul from eternally frying in Hell? If I believed in Catholicism, what would I do? Our time here on earth is limited – but an eternity in Hell?
    It seems like a “slam-dunk” to me (sic), but seriously, having five Catholics on the Supreme Court doesn’t seem fair and impartial to me, nor to anyone else have I talked with – including Catholics! Bush couldn’t have done any better if he had moved the Court into the Vatican on the abortion issue – and frankly, I believe that having five (s) Catholic Justices that are a majority is probably unconstitutional.

    Just for the fun of it, let’s say that it is unconstitutional… Now what? Where would an individual or group that opposed this obvious religious majority go to file a cause of action? Would it be an oxymoron to expect “Justice” on this issue from a Supreme Court that is no longer fair, balanced, and unbiased?

    Does anyone know how to spell Theocracy?

  11. Sandy Price

    We can only hope the separation of church and state can be returned to the laws of America. It is never to late to correct the wrongs of these foolish Justices. It was planned that way and may come back to hurt the GOP in 2008. I have written about the prohibitions that the Conservatives have been working for since Bush 43 was elected and for the first time in my life I will have to work for the Democrats in all categories. They leave me no choice.

    Good Post!!!

  12. justanothercoverup

    Thanks! I noticed that your last sentence stated:

    “They Leave me no choice.”

    No , they don’t, and neither should it be a “choice” to any other patriotic American. Unfortunately, because of misrepresentation(s) and propaganda spewed on a daily basis by the MSM – people are having to make a choice, and without any real comprehension of how serious the situation actually is!

    The people that peruse these forums (and many others) who write, read, and participate regularly have an excellent picture of how much of a disaster the Bush administration is – and exactly “what” it will take to rid the Republic of these traitors. Fast-forward to the average American, the majority of the voters – and those that work two and three jobs to make ends meet; most have little time for news, and rely on the MSM and word of mouth for their view of the nation – and that “view” grossly understates and mitigates each and every scandal that has made it into the public eye.

    This is a fight between the Conservatives, Neo-cons, Liberal/Independents, and religious fundamentalists – and even though the battle lines are somewhat clear to you and I – the general population has yet to become fully aware of what has happened to their country – and the the future of their children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, the populace usually doesn’t awaken until suffering and misery set-in, or in the case of the Iraq war – brings death and sorrow to their own households. They are held in check by a complicit MSM – either through cowardice or direct support from their corporate masters.

    We should all be given a “choice” – and one of our main goals should be to somehow force the MSM back into the habit of actually being “newsworthy” – which would help to polarize the rest of the country. This is an issue that should be screamed from every roof-top, and until the nightly news decides that impeachment rallies are at least as newsworthy as illegal immigrant rallies, or a DC Madame – I fear we’re in for one hell of a fight.


  13. Sandy Price

    I have a very close friend who is a political commentator who has defended Bush since 9/11. Not any more! He read a book about how the war in Iraq started and how it is now unable to be stopped. He has turned to a true Anti-Bush person and it has taken a lot of stress off of our friendship. He was horrified when I walked away from Bush 41 and couldn’t understand what was wrong with the One World Order.

    He is a religious Jew and likes the thought that God is protecting America. I will not fight him on that silly idea but I have never thought Bush was on any of God’s list and has put us all in a terrible state of jeopardy.

    I cannot see why the Democrats are not promoting the Impeachment of President Bush. He more than qualifies for the basis of what Impeachment means. We waited too long for this action and if we aren’t very careful we may see Bush drop a big on Iran and end it all for America and Israel. I fear that the commitment to do this is not within the Democratic Party. I cannot figure out where this will lead. We must get our own survival tools together just in case the people go crazy. I’m worried that I might go crazy too!