What Is Morality?
My previous two entries went on at length about the immorality inherent in continuing to support amoral politicians, particularly Obama and the Democrats, who implement immoral policies. Both entries, which followed up on Rusty’s post shortly before he was banned for it, made certain site leaders very upset. That’s because they are moral relativists who see nothing wrong with what right-wing government does, only in who is doing the things it does. Things that were wrong when Bush, Cheney, and the Republicans did them are now perfectly acceptable now that it’s Democrats doing the exact same things — or worse.
Be it in our everyday lives or in politics, we render moral judgments all the time. Especially in politics, those who win elections — whether legitimately or through theft — do so largely on the basis of having a clearly stated and well defined platform of issues, which are based on a set of moral beliefs. Those beliefs may be right or wrong, honest or dishonest, but they are based on moral beliefs nonetheless.
But what exactly is morality? Different cultures have different notions of what is right and wrong, so we’re told, and we must respect those notions even if we disagree with them. I will certainly grant you, dear reader, that fundamental truth. But even taking this into account, when studying notions of right and wrong across cultures, one typically finds common elements: Don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t rape, don’t murder, and so forth. Each culture has its own method for dealing with people who violate these basic tenants of right and wrong, and we call them laws. The application of those laws can be consistent or inconsistent, but they do exist, and they have their basis in basic moral beliefs.
Likewise, in politics, positions on issues that affect real people in the real world are based on a set of moral beliefs. One can argue the complexity of those beliefs, but one cannot honestly argue against their existence. Again, this makes certain persons uncomfortable to the point of anger, and they lash out as though personally wounded. it is considered taboo to question a person’s stated political beliefs even when he or she publicly shows clear inconsistencies between what is said and what is actually done. We are, as liberals or progressives or socialists, told to keep an open mind, to not judge others. Moral absolutism is bad, or so we’re told.
Why it’s bad is rarely explained, if ever. The truth is that we’re told not to judge because if we were to judge others on the contrast between their words and actions, we would realize the futility of continuing to associate ourselves with those persons. When one is running a political gatekeeper blog designed to thwart left-wing activism independent of the Demcorats, such as FDL and Daily Kos, this has certain frightening implications for those site owners. If we realize we’re being taken for a ride, we might stop giving our hard-earned pennies to keep the gatekeepers in business.
But that’s an entry for another day. Here I want to point out the flaw in demanding that no moral judgment be made regarding support of Barry Obama. As I’ve said, we’re told it’s not polite to force others to take a moral stand. So here’s an experiment. I’ll pick a political hot-button issue. Let’s make it abortion. You may be for or against its continued legality. On what do you base your position?
You might base it on religious beliefs.
You might base it on considerations of access to adequate prenatal care.
You might base it on economic factors.
You might base it on social factors, such as the disproportionate number of impoverished people having the procedure.
You might base it on the lack, real or perceived, of an adequate foster care and home-placement system in America.
There are other factors, I’m sure, but let’s say that based on these and other considerations, you’ve made a decision as to whether or not to support legal abortion.
Congratulations: You’ve taken a moral stand.
No no no, you do NOT get to roll back on it, not simply because you’re averse to having a moral code ascribed to you. People can and do change their minds based on changing attitudes and new information. It’s normal, done all the time, nothing wrong with that. It’s why Dennis Kucinich went from being initially opposed to legal abortion to being in favor of it. He seems to have had a genuine change of heart on the issue. What he didn’t do was change his position simply because he was afraid of having someone accuse him of basing his beliefs on a set of morals.
So what’s the big deal about saying that it is immoral to support Obama and the Democrats after all they’ve done to betray Americans’ interests over the last thirty-odd years? Why is it so horrendously wrong to chastise those who continually complain about Obama, yet are not only unwilling to challenge him but actively defend him from those of us who would see him challenged in a primary election next year?
Politics is all about morality. Each of us has his or her own definition of what is right and what is wrong, but we all share common basic beliefs instilled in us by the societies in which we dwell. When we fail to live up to our stated morals, we weaken our own movement, and in the process hand our enemies a crucial victory.