Is it OK for Creigh Deeds to call himself "conservative"? Why not?
I think by now if you've been reading this blog you know how fascinated I am by the nuances and subtleties in political messages, especially in campaign ads. Right now, Creigh Deeds, Democratic candidate for attorney general, has my attention. His fairly ubiquitous TV spot is very interesting for what it says and does not say. First off, it makes the point that he supports the death penalty, of course, as any AG candidate surely must in Virginia. But it also is a subtle hint that he stands apart from Tim Kaine on this issue. The second striking thing is that it never once mentions he is a Democrat and goes so far as to have a sheriff say: "Creigh Deeds, an attorney general with conservative values to keep you safe."
I wonder how this sits with people. Does it offend uppercase-C conservatives for a Democrat to say that Deeds has conservative (lowercase-c) values? Does it put off Democrats to hear one of their candidates use that phrase? It's part of a larger discussion that I wish would start in this country. This business of "Liberal values" and "Conservative values" (in the political context) is bull, perpetuated by the Anne Coulters and Michael Moores of the world who would have us believe that one's politics come with a predetermined set of values that do not intersect with those of the other political persuasion. I just think this is nonsense. There are good values and bad values. There are uppercase-L liberals with conservative values (think: the family who bans TV, toy guns, and violent video games) and there are uppercase-C conservatives with liberal values (think: the kid from the prominent family whose permissive parents let him do and have everything). And there are people throughout the spectrum of political thought who believe in God, put their families first and love their country.
You wonder if Deeds is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of voters who aren't paying close attention. Why not identify yourself as a Democrat and say you have conservative values? Have we really gotten to a point where people simply don't buy it? If so, we are more divided than I thought.