Sadly, I had to miss this year’s edition of the Religious Right’s “family values” festival — the Values Voters Summit here in Washington.  I was engaging in my own celebration of family values by participating in my son’s wedding out in California.  Now that was a great event.

I’ve been reading many accounts of the Summit and saw a bit of it on C-SPAN.  Last year, the big news was that “pro-family” Sarah Palin had just been nominated as the Republican vice presidential candidate.  She didn’t show up then, but she was busy campaigning elsewhere.  Palin didn’t show up this year either, but unless she doesn’t realize the election is over, she must have decided that she had better places to be even now.  

However, not to forego the Right’s newly found feminism, two of this year’s most awaited speakers were women.  De-crowned Miss California-USA Carrie Prejean showed up to explain how her whole beauty pageant history was some kind of divine plan.  Apparently, God got in touch with blogger Perez Hilton to convince him to ask her the same-sex marriage question that she claims lost her the Miss USA title. Not to worry, though. She noted she will be getting a “bigger crown” later, presumably in heaven.

The big banquet speaker and recipient of the Family Research Council’s highest award was Phyllis Schlafly, the Illinois lawyer widely “credited” with derailing the Equal Rights Amendment.  As I recall, during the last 35 years or so, Phyllis has only been correct about one issue: opposition to the convening of an new Constitutional Convention.  Look, some people are never right (and some of the readers of this blog would put me in that category).

For all the general talk about “values” and “family” and lately what are termed “real womens’ rights,” the Religious Right is as off-base now as it was at its inception in the 1970s.  For all the moaning about whether there are death panels or abortion coverage in the Obama health plan, the truth is that the Right is against health care reform of any meaningful kind.  

If you guys, Jay, didn’t have those two hot button issues to discuss, you’d be complaining about something else. Since “undocumented workers” are not covered by the Obama plan, the Right is now issuing warnings that the Obama Administration has plans to get “illegals” made legal residents sooner with the yet unintroduced immigration reform bill, so that these folks will then be entitled to health care.  

And if it wasn’t that, then you’d be griping about “undue regulation” of the insurance industry or unfunded mandates or the Tenth Amendment.  It will never stop.  Somehow you are missing the forest for the trees — and the shrubs and the blades of grass.  Many families in America could use help.  Many of them need medical help.  As almost everybody’s grandmother used to say: “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” 

Those grandmothers had it right. 

Indeed, they also represented some other values.  It was these women — and their daughters and now their grandchildren — who are doing most of the family health care and long-term care.  They left jobs to care for their parents and their spouse’s parents, and they didn’t even get a tax credit for doing it. They went without checkups so that the “breadwinner” could spend more on his health needs.  And they nurtured him in the time of his declining health, usually three years before they died.

Women today still suffer most from the health care crisis that is real and not imagined.  Too bad women leaders and role models of several generations on the Right don’t understand that and get on with the job of working for real reform.  

Carrie and Phyllis, are you listening?  

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