While I think that conservatives are wrong, I lay some of the blame for their stereotyping ways at the feet of other progressives, especially those Party faithful, who seem loath to fight conservatives on moral grounds and who cede matters of faith to conservatives. And liberals can charge "gerrymandering" all they want; until they develop an agenda that connects with voters hungry for value-based ideas, they only have themselves to blame for losing one more national election this year.
Now comes a study in The American Prospect that confirms my beliefs about Democrats and values. That study finds massive demographic shifts away from the traditional Democratic base with the shift from industrial to information-based society. As a result, Americans are more locked into a "survivalist" mentality of "every-man-for-himself" with little hope of finding solidarity in neighborhoods or public institutions. Republicans have been not only savvy in addressing the fear that results from social isolationism and anomie, but have advanced policies that sustain a social Darwinist society of all-against-all. Thus the cycle: generate moral relativism on a broad scale; appeal to local moral institutions like churches to step into the breach, which seems more like a jump into a nihilist gorge. Voters respond just enough to keep Republicans in control.
Democrats have had plenty of opportunities to break that cycle by focusing on values, but they choose to focus on economic issues, which have lost their appeal because voters in "red states" sense the erosion of a moral core because of the dog-eat-dog world:
People in states like Massachusetts, for example, which has very high per capita incomes and the lowest divorce rate in the country, are relatively unconcerned about gay marriage, while those in Southern states with much higher poverty, divorce, and single-parenthood rates feel the family to be threatened because family life is, in fact, much less stable in their communities ....For progressives, this is not simply a matter of parroting Republican talking points in order to get just enough plurality to put you on top. It is about fielding candidates who are embedded in communities of value and who can honestly appeal to values that inform their progressive agenda. If the Democrats do not do this, they will be ceding territory to Republicans, most of whom are comfortable pushing an agenda that sells survivalism in a life they maintain as nasty, mean, brutish, and short.
American voters have taken shelter under the various wings of conservative traditionalism because there has been no one on the Democratic side in recent years to defend traditional, sensible middle-class values against the onslaught of the new nihilistic, macho, libertarian* lawlessness unleashed by an economy that pits every man against his fellows [emphasis mine].
*I highlight "libertarian," because that is the latest fashionable term that conservatives misuse to wed ideals of individual initiative in a sometimes unjust world with government policies that sustain and often increase unfair conditions just to see who will survive and who will not. I think libertarianism is misused by conservatives in so far as it is self-serving. Rarely do they apply their social Darwinist views to influence their "right to free speech" or their "right to own fire arms." But if they were consistent in their views, they would argue that only those strong enough to speak or to get a gun by superior means are worthy of free speech and owning firearms.