This introduction discusses the theme of this book, which is about the sex and moral agenda of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. It argues against the claim that Bush's faith and his connection with the Christian right were key factors in the formulation of his policies towards moral issues such as abortion, homosexuality and sex education, contending that Bush's policies were also influenced by middle-ground opinion. The book explains that, as both Texas Governor and President, Bush not only grasped the different niches of median opinion, but built upon them with unparalleled skill and precision.
This chapter traces the emergence of the moral agenda as a key issue in American public opinion and in U.S. politics. It explains that moral and cultural concerns became frontline political issues from the late 1960s onwards, as a result of the sexual revolution and the loosening of established moral codes, particularly among the Woodstock generation. The chapter also highlights the role of the Christian right, which had established itself as an important constituency that could exert significant political leverage, in reshaping judicial politics, interest group activity and the character of the party system. It also investigates the variables that might account for the growing tolerance of premarital sexual relationships and homosexuality in the 1960s and 1970s, and discusses George W. Bush's electoral strategy and his handling of moral issues in his campaign.
This chapter considers the development of George W. Bush's thinking, the ways in which it has been shaped by the need to capture the votes of those with moderate attitudes and the electoral strategies that flow from this. It suggests that, while faith undoubtedly played a role in moulding Bush's public image, the character of his electoral strategy, the nature of the domestic policy initiatives pursued by the administration and the president's approach to moral and cultural issues were shaped by other processes. In particular, ‘W-ism’ was informed and structured by events and developments during the latter half of the 1990s. It was based on close reading of public opinion, particularly of those groupings and constituencies that were pivotal to election victory.
This chapter examines the views and policies of George W. Bush on the issues of same-sex marriage, AIDS and gay rights, discussing the support of gay rights campaigners to the structure and style of the Bush 2000 presidential campaign and highlighting the role of the Log Cabin Republicans in his election victory. It comments on Bush's views about the Federal Marriage Amendment. The chapter argues that Bush's endorsement of civil unions may well be representative of a developing trend, and that the momentum and pace of same-sex marriage as an issue may depend upon the courts and the process of judicial adjudication rather than on the course of popular opinion or the actions of campaigning organizations.
This chapter analyses the views of George W. Bush on the issues of sex education, contraception and abstinence, and considers how his election campaign was influenced by these issues. It suggests that the Christian right secured much from the Bush administration's sex education policy and explains that the dramatic expansion of funding for abstinence-only programmes not only fulfilled the moral agenda advanced by social conservatives, but also created an influential and vocal constituency which had a direct interest in the maintenance and development of abstinence projects. The chapter argues that the character of public opinion influenced the decision of the Bush administration to give a great deal of political ground to the Christian right on the issue of sex education.
This chapter discusses the policies of George W. Bush against indecency and obscenity. It explains the impact of the appointment of John Ashcroft as Attorney-General on these policies, and cites data indicating that the application of the law and the pursuit of the pornography industry appear to have had widespread backing that extended well beyond the ranks of the Christian right. The chapter suggests that the vigour with which the indecency issue was pursued by the administration and many Congressional Republicans, and the lack of action against obscenity, are tied together. It also discusses the administration's focus on television and radio indecency to compensate for their inability to curb obscenity in any sustained way.
This chapter focuses on the policy of the administration of George W. Bush for healthy marriage and the family. It suggests that, during the Bush administration, the issue of marriage was often discussed in the context of the same-sex marriage debate and that affirmations of the importance of marriage were usually coded calls for the prohibition of same-sex unions. The chapter discusses efforts to address and eliminate the marriage tax penalty and analyses the administration's establishment of the Healthy Marriage Initiative. It contends that the principle of promoting and strengthening marriage as an institution bolstered the administration's ties with established morality and had a particular resonance with active churchgoers, while provoking little opposition or hostility.
This chapter examines the abortion policy of the administration of George W. Bush. Though Roe v. Wade remained intact during the Bush years, Planned Parenthood continued to be taxpayer funded and pro-life campaigners made significant progress. Legislative bills that were or would have been vetoed in the previous administration were passed into effect, including the ban on partial-birth abortion and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. The chapter argues that abortion battles and the process of polarisation between pro-lifers and the pro-choice movement can, in part, be attributed to the character of the moral beliefs which surround the issue.
The politics of morality,the 2004 presidential election and the Bush legacy
This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on the sex and moral agenda of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. The result indicates that Bush's emphasis on broad moral principles helped in rallying Republican supporters, and that his approach to moral politics reaped electoral rewards. The chapter explains the role of moral issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion in mobilising electoral support and in encouraging turnout among white Protestant evangelicals. It discusses the 2004 presidential election exit polls, revealing that 22 per cent of voters saw moral values as the most important issue facing the nation, and another survey which found that 27 per cent chose moral values as the principal issue determining the way in which they voted.
This chapter considers the character of US conservatism during the 1990s and the different strands of opinion that emerged in the wake of the 1992 defeat. It also considers the factors that shaped the victorious George W. Bush campaign in 2000, and the implications of these events for the Conservative Party in Britain. Using themes drawn from the Republican governors and the Bush campaign, Duncan Smith argued that the language employed by Conservatives had to take a positive form and shift away from the expenditure cuts that welfare reform might generate. Bush's defeat in the 1992 election, therefore, led some observers to a very different conclusion to that drawn by Newt Gingrich and his co-thinkers. It showed that subsequent Republican candidates had to distance themselves from the more doctrinaire and radical forms of conservatism. The religious (or Christian) right was an important and integral component of the US conservative movement.