Guest Author - Tracey-Kay Caldwell
Every Democrat should read Jimmy Carter’s book, Our Endangered Values. Many Democrats have surrendered faith-based voters to the Republican Party. Jimmy Carter’s book illustrates a new way to talk to these faith-based voters. He illustrates how the fundamentalist policies of the current administration are incompatible with the prophetic mandates of all faiths “to do justice, love mercy, protect and care for widows and orphans, and exemplify God’s compassion for the poor and victimized.”
He draws clear connections between the fundamentalist's attempts to force their moral values on the American people by trying to block access to abortion, while at the same time cutting social programs that would be necessary to care for the child that they would force the woman to have. He shows how during his administration he worked to make abortion unnecessary, by increasing access to sex education and birth control and putting into place programs that would make it possible for the woman to be able to afford to keep the child she is carrying. He points out that those who believe in the sanctity of life, to the point that they feel they must work to block a woman’s access to abortion, usually don’t extend that same respect for sanctity of life when it comes to the death penalty. They have no problem ending lives of human beings after birth. He juxtaposes the religious rights attempts to block homosexual marriage with the rising divorce rate of many fundamentalists, even thought the bible prohibits both. He suggests that a constitutional amendment that would be consistent with biblical teaching might be “Adultery and divorce are condemned, and marriage is defined as a legal and spiritual union between a man and a woman until they are parted by death.” Thereby banning both divorce and same-sex unions. He then goes on to conclude that it may be best to leave the constitution alone. He says we should let “governments define and protect the rights of citizens, including those of “civil unions”, and letting church congregations define "holy matrimony”.”
His discussions on how the political landscape has changed since his term in office are alarming. That, “Massive sums of money are being injected into the political process, with unprecedented influence of special interests within the increasingly secretive deliberations of government.” That the current policies are designed to allow extremely rich citizens to accumulate and retain wealth while neglecting the neediest in our society. “The new economic philosophy in Washington is that, a rising tide raises all yachts.” That our country, which used to be a beacon, holding others to the highest standards of human rights is now debating the use of torture. That our role as the world’s peacekeeper has been abandoned in exchange for the role of invading countries that may someday become a danger to us. We have chosen to exercise military might over diplomacy.
Jimmy Carter recognizes that “these trends pose a threat to many of our nation’s historic customs and moral commitments.” Democrats embracing the language and arguments of Jimmy Carter could engage faith-based voters in meaningful dialog that might persuade them that their moral obligation is to change the leaders that have lead us down this path.