American Values ist eine über Spenden finanzierte Non-Profit-Organisation, die sich dem Schutz und der Bewahrung der "uramerikanischen Werte" - Leben, Ehe, Familie, Glaube und Freiheit - widmet. Diese Ziele sieht man u.a. durch entsprechende Passagen der Unabhängigkeitserklärung legitimiert. Hauptaufgabe des Think Tanks ist die Pflege konservativen Gedankenguts sowie dessen Akzeptanz bei den amerikanischen Bürgern und Politikern durch Pressekampagnen und Lobbyarbeit zu fördern.
Leitfigur und Vorsitzender von American Values ist Gary L. Bauer, der jahrelang in der Administration Reagans tätig war. Er gründete die Organisation nach seiner Bewerbung als republikanischer Kandidat bei den amerikanischen Präsidentschaftswahlen von 2000. Bauer ist bekennender Baptist, tritt öffentlich für christlich-evangelikale Werte ein und veröffentlichte mehrere Bücher zu diesem Thema.
(vorbereitet von Simone Grellmann)
Is there disagreement about what American values actually are and should be?
GB: There is an liberal organization here in Washington called “People for the American Way”. They probably would agree with me only about what direction the sun rises in and sets in. I think the names of these organizations … you probably should not put too much importance on them. Because the names are all just ways of trying to attract citizens to your banner to take a closer look at you. I am promoting a certain set of conservative ideas that I think are more in tune with the values of the country. But I certainly recognize that my liberal opponents would feel just as strongly that their liberal ideas are more consistent with the country’s ideas.
Could you name the values that your group stands for?
GB: Individual responsibility; the idea in the American Declaration of Independence that liberty is actually a gift from God, that it is not something that comes to us from a President or a majority vote on the Supreme Court, that it is a birth right that man was meant to have to be fully part of God’s creation. And then we have a number of positions on more specific “hot button issues”. Whether it’s the sanctity of life or defence of the normal definition of marriage or issues like that.
You’ve talked about a moral decline in contemporary America. Has that decline occurred in public policy, primarily, or also in private life?
GB: Well, I think I would argue that there has been a decline in moral values both among America’s elites, our governing elites and our cultural elites, but also inevitably a decline in moral values among the general public, too, to the extent that they are influenced by the culture and by what government does. So, for example - and I think that is true for all of the Western democracies - things that would be fairly un-dramatic for you all to see or experience or notice, just 30 years ago in America would have been considered very avant-garde and radical. Today, you know you can see all variety of things on American public and cable television. And there’s very little really regard for the things Americans would have been deeply concerned about just a few decades ago. And the result of all that is what we refer to as a “coarsening of our culture”. An emphasis on violence and too much emphasis on sexuality. And thus, you know, it makes it harder and harder for families to raise kids with a particular set of values.
Do you think that the definition of “American values” should change with immigration?
GB: The country is demographically different then it was 25, 35, 45 years ago. But it still is one of the most religious nations of any of the Western democracies - even with the large immigration right now of Hispanics in the United States. They tend to be Catholic and fairly religious. There is still a tremendous difference between ourselves and generally the trend in Europe, where I think not only have things become more secular, but there is a higher discomfort level with public displays of religiosity or with political figures being very overt or very obvious about their personal faith.
What do you think about public figures invoking religion?
GB: A public figure, an elected official has to look at each circumstance and make a judgement about what is going to be acceptable given what kind of ceremony he is involved in, what kind of event he is speaking at. If you look at American political leadership over the course of our history it wasn’t unusual at all for American presidents and other public figures to be very clear about their own religiosity and also to base their appeal to the American people on religious ideas.
What would be an example of a line that a public figure should not cross?
GB: Well, certainly it would backfire, I think, tremendously if a President said in any kind of public event: I am a Christian and you Americans ought to follow Jesus Christ, because that is the only answer. That would certainly violate all the rules of pluralism and so forth. And certainly it would be inappropriate and a violation of our Constitution for our government in any way to mandate how it is that we as Americans can worship, or make it harder or easier to attend one particular church than attend another.
What sort of legislation do you imagine would be most helpful in creating a better society?
GB: We feel very strongly that one of the challenges that Western civilization faces is the breakdown of the family. And we have got many children being raised in homes without either a mother or a father. We think generally that’s a negative thing, that it creates more social problems and that children need mothers and fathers. So we want to support social policies that will make it more likely for families to stay together.
Do you think there’s a contradiction between a commitment to family values and to economic individual responsibility?
GB: Yes, there is real tension there. As a result there is growing tension within the Republican coalition. Because a lot of these family-oriented voters are beginning to conclude that the Republican Party will listen a lot more to its big business constituency at the expense of its social issue constituency. And it can cause the Republicans great problems down the road if they don’t figure out a way to manage this. Because they are getting all the money from one place and the are getting the majority of their votes from a quite different area.
You’re a critic of mass media, but also a radio host. How would you describe the role of media in creating a better society?
GB: We would argue that what comes out of Hollywood tends to reflect the very liberal social values of Hollywood and often has a negative impact on American culture. For example when a movie comes out of Hollywood that kind of glorifies the inner city culture: makes violence look like a positive thing, or is sort of cavalierly presenting violence against women - we would argue that has an effect on American young people, particularly minorities. And the people in Hollywood that make the movie, they are living a very elite lifestyle, laughing all the way to the bank with the movie that they just released in inner city movie theatres all over America. And, ultimately, when the American people get to vote with their pocket book they do, in fact, favor a family-oriented movie over a movie with violence and sex. So it’s interesting to see what the American public still prefers.
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