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Jewish World Review Sept. 14, 1999 /4 Tishrei, 5760

Dr. Laura

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Back candidates who share your values -- RECENTLY, George McKenna wrote an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times titled "It's Election Season; So, Quick, Hide the Opinions." Mr. McKenna, who is a political science professor at City College of New York, was lamenting the strategy followed by several past and present Republican presidential candidates of "refusing to discuss cultural issues." This was exactly what I had been thinking.

The Democrats have no fear of discussing and supporting abortion rights, including partial birth abortion, the homosexual agenda and day care. As Mr. McKenna points out, if the Republican campaign strategy of 1960, 1992 and 1996 continues in 1999 and 2000, "only one side of the cultural debate will be heard."

I get lots and lots of faxes and letters from my listeners, and the only two presidential candidates I see consistent support for are Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, because they have the courage to state their positions, their values and their intentions about social and cultural policies. These are the only two candidates people write me about who excite and hearten them and make them yearn to vote. These two men are standing up for something. They are not being careful in order to win. Some people can tolerate the heat. And Gary Bauer, at least, seems to be doing just fine, despite his clear-cut opinions, having shown better than expected in the Iowa Straw Poll this month.

But this is a two-way street. Candidates are fearful about speaking out because they do not want to alienate various vocal voting blocs. So the people who have a different point of view have to let those candidates know they are waiting for information about where they stand on the cultural issues that are going to radically alter the shape of our society in the years to come. If people don't stand up and vote for those who have the guts to tell us where they stand, we can kiss our culture goodbye.

I've heard too many candidates on television, radio, and in magazines and newspapers say they have to be cowardly (they don't actually put it that way, of course) or obfuscate the truth of their positions in order to get elected. They say once they're elected, then they can show their true colors and get good things done. But then, of course, there's re-election to think about, and not alienating all those organized special interests and big contributors.

I have had some success in rallying my listeners to get involved on one side or the other of some pressing issues. One that I care passionately about is filtering pornography on the Internet on public library computers to protect our children. Every day I get copies of newspaper stories and columns reporting on this topic, which my radio program and my listeners have elevated to the level of public discussion. The stories concern the various actions people have taken on both sides of the filtering controversy in their neighborhoods.

I'm proud of those people, because this is a nation and a government OF the people. And they are the people. You are the people.

Look around for those would-be leaders who have the courage to speak out, hold a position, back it, defend it, explain it. Look at the candidates on the Democrat side, if that's where your philosophy lies, or on the Republican side, if that's more consistent with your philosophy. And if you don't know what your philosophy is, see who is standing up for the values that you believe matter for the functioning of this country, this society and your own family. Then back that candidate vociferously.

Only a minority of the people in this free country vote. What is the matter with us? Oh, I know, we're all disgusted by the nonsense, the cowardice and the bad behavior of many politicians. But the answer is not to give up. The answer is to take our country back from them, whoever they may be. The only way to take our country back is to, in fact, back the people with the courage to stand up for values that make sense. We have to stop being so entirely focused on business and the economy. Money isn't everything. The rest of the fabric of our society is being shredded, while we're being distracted by the money.

It's our future, stupid!

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©1999, Universal Press Syndicate