Family Values and the “Free Market”

In yesterday’s post, I outlined some of the inconsistencies Newt Gingrich has shown on the campaign trail  – how he got very touchy-feely with moms yet his platform of ideas does not line up to be that family friendly.  The most glaring inconsistency is – once again – about values. Gingrich is all about unfettered capitalism, exhausting resources for short term gain, and upholding what he considers to be traditional American, God fearing family values. So why is he espousing liberal values in front of an audience that was shown to support Obama? Ok, that’s got an obvious answer – because he wants to be the one they support. Their survey basically showed that moms have more liberal belief systems than the social conservatives (all but Ron Paul) in the Republican race.

Luntz starts off his analysis stating simple facts about the survey, but then showed his bias by backpedaling a bit in order to tow the Republican line. In this clip, he speaks with a CafeMom correspondent about the survey that CafeMom did. First he states the facts pretty plainly, moms are feeling very negative about the American dream, their daily struggle, and political parties, but at about 2:40 he begins putting words in these surveyed moms’ mouths when talking about what moms want from politicians:

They need to address the issues, not from an ideological standpoint, but much more from a day-to-day, quality-of-life standpoint.  How can you help moms achieve their goals from the moment they wake up in the morning ’til the moment they go to sleep at night? Now [moms are] not asking for bigger government – that’s not what they’re saying. What they’re saying is understand, empathize, and at least get out of their way and don’t make it more difficult for me.

Luntz goes on:

They need to show [the moms] that they hear the challenges and they have solutions to it, whether it’s helping them feel more secure in their jobs, whether it’s providing more money at the end of the week, whether it’s helping them save, helping them start a business…or even just getting out of the way so they can do it themselves.

Luntz does a sloppy job of quoting, citing survey results, and interjecting his opinion in this interview. You can’t really be sure when he is paraphrasing on the moms’ behalf and when he inserting his own opinion, though he does call attention to actual quotes from moms. Rest assured, if an actual mom had an actual quote that fit his agenda, he would be using it and trying to push it to the spotlight of attention. In the above quotes he takes the leap in outlining what moms are not asking for – a negative catch phrase that Republicans love to use – “bigger government”. To an establishment Republican, that term is synonymous with Democrats – this is a dog whistle. He wants it to seem like moms reject Democratic ideas when there is no question or response that indicates that. He goes on to state that moms want understanding and empathy – nurturing values that are planks of the Democratic party. Then he throws in “get out of their way and don’t make it more difficult”, as if moms actually responded with those words – again, if they did he would’ve quoted it. He is dog whistling again – throwing out a tagline of the Republican party as if the moms put it out there.

In the second quote above, Frank is summarizing the survey and stating what moms have said that they want from a candidate. Look at the laundry list, job security, more money per week, saving (which also amounts to more money) – what does a Republican have to offer for those day-to-day, week-to-week struggles and fears? The “free market” (a.k.a. capitalism). There’s only one problem, the “free market” does not have a human component. It is about money, money, and money. “Free markets” are not sympathetic when you must miss work due to a child’s illness, there are other workers to replace you. “Free markets” don’t care if your 40 hour work week has turned into a 60 hour work week and you no longer have any daylight hours (or energy) to spend with your family – that’s called “productivity”. “Free markets” aren’t giving out pay raises to allow for some breathing room in a family budget – are you kidding, in this job market? This is the progressive qualm with the so-called “free market”; there is no room for humanity to be human. The trajectory for the quality of life of a worker at this time goes nowhere but down.

Luntz suggests the idea that moms may like help starting a business. I’m sure that is true of some moms, but let’s be realistic: if you can’t find a job, live in fear of losing a job, and have zero or low wages, would you really be in a great position to learn what it takes and have the resources to run a successful business? Without these hindrances – or children that need rearing/child care that needs paying – starting a small business is risky enough. The rate of successful, thriving businesses compared to the number of startups is bleak for the long term. Security definitely does not spring to mind when thinking of risking the well-being of the whole family on an entrepreneurial venture ( a craps game is closer to my mental imagery).

Luntz knows, at least in this instance, that empathy is key to this demographic. It almost seems like he is trying to co-opt the term for himself/his clients even though it is not a traditionally top conservative value – it is the top progressive value. He wants folks to vote conservative though the survey shows their values are liberal. Indeed the bigger problem for Luntz – and the Republican party – is that two of the main factions of their party, social conservatives and “free market” advocates, are not very compatible when you get down to the real world application of those values. Once again, the credibility goes back to a trust issue – just like in interpersonal relationships.  Can moms really trust an unrestrained, subsidized corporation to take care of their families and neighborhoods? Is profit-seeking the same as caring for family values?  When the used car dealer tells you it’s a fine piece of equipment just moments before the fender falls off, you take your business elsewhere. Luntz knows this and relies on our short term memories, then plays a shell game with our futures. Gingrich can talk a sympathetic game, but it is inconsistent with the Republican capitalist platform – the core of his platform.  It will be interesting to see if empathy continues to come up on the campaign trail and how Republicans handle these inconsistencies. Maybe corporations will start eschewing profits to worry about our kids’ future – just kidding, I wanted to end with a chuckle.

As an aside, you may wonder why I continually put “free markets” in quotes throughout my post; the latest buzzword is “enterprise”  (perhaps that was a suggestion of Luntz’s as well, it does sound better). “Free markets” use the contested concept of “freedom” and, as the joke goes, freedom is more free for some than others. I’ll do a future post all about the misnomer of “free markets” or enterprise, or whatever the term of the season is for capitalism in our corporate society. Keep checking back in, with CivilTongue – and your own values.

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2 thoughts on “Family Values and the “Free Market”

  1. deb says:

    I am thoroughly surprised these days that we don’t hear more women in the news that are just flabbergasted, upset, or at least wanting to have civil discussions about their rights being infringed upon.. For instance, Santorum suggested the other day that if you get raped and happen to get pregnant, you should just learn to make lemonade out of lemons. With all of the talk about values, where are the women? It was not long ago we had no rights and now many of these so called “family values” candidates want to work to take many of them away? I am just flabbergasted, upset etc.. that we don’t see more of this in the press. Twisting the words of these moms is just more of what we have to expect I suppose?

    • Amy Meier says:

      Good point. The lack of women as anything but props should be embarrassing to the Republican run up to the election. My only guess is that since authority is the ruling value and tradition comes in a close second, folks from that party are kinda ok with women taking a backseat, submissive, window dressing sort of role. That is my understanding. I’m sure there would be some women to take exception to that, but like you, I don’t hear them – at least not conservative women. As “out there” as Michele Bachmann is for many of us, I thought the handling of her candidacy – by her own party – was less than respectful. Republicans are comfortable with regressing and yes, I think they would be ok with taking away the hard earned liberties of many Americans. They are the party of winner takes all, survival of the fittest, and “a woman knowing her place”. If they are not the party that represents values and ideas like that, I’d like to hear from someone who disagrees.

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