The war of words regarding "values" will continue for months and years ahead as crackpots, pundits, and serious thinkers ponder the 2004 election.
The Bush victory was not a mandate for "Jesusland" and America is far more complex than "Red" vs. "Blue".
The word integrity is used so often that it has been stripped of its original power. Integrity is linked with integration. Integration is a state in which all the parts of a system work together. Sometimes words like "synergy" or "synchronicity" are used as comparisons.
Over time the term integrity has come to mean wholeness of character, a union of motive and action, word and deed that deems an individual to be trustworthy and deserving of respect.
I want to bring these two concepts together and suggest that both conservatives and liberals have much to consider if they are going to be individuals and/or movements with integrity.
Integrity means that the head, heart and hands are united in pursuit of good that goes beyond immediate hedonism or political advantage.
My liberal friends, if you want to claim integrity, you must...
Realize that people are complex creatures and most of them believe in God and moral absolutes, even if they do not always practice what they preach.
The resources you want to allocate to social programs come from hard-working people who merit an accounting for how they are spent. The fact that a large percentage of welfare dollars support middle-class, college-educated government officials grates on the nerves of business leaders.
Understand that America will never be fully loved or trusted by nations and groups that simultaneously envy, hate and seek to undermine her role in the world. Decisions can not be based on the self-interests of nations that despise us!
Recognize that most people are uncomfortable with abortion-as-birth-control and homosexual relationships that want to be called marriages. This is not intolerance and homophobia; it is part of the transcendent morality that goes back 3000 years.
OK, time for conservatives to...
Stop gloating and continuing in the self-deception that 2004 is a mandate to turn to the right on all issues.
Articulate a compassionate conservativism that offers opportunity for the poor to get the help they need to become self-reliant instead of being condescended to by government plutocrats or media demagogues.
Craft policies that allow for less-than-perfect world while recognizing permanent values. Allowing state-by-state civil unions is one such step. Allowing abortion to save the mother's physical life is another.
Get real about the immigration and security challenges we face and work with the other side to solve the "illegals" problem. Are you willing to accept short-term sacrifice of profits from illegal labor in order to establish the rule of law and new worker's visas?
Stop the budgetary chaos and REALLY curb spending, including overbloated defense programs.
There is more both sides need to think about, but integrity does not come pre-packaged and microwavable...it is carefully pursued and has to simmer for a long time. But the flavor of the final product is worth the time!