Assuming that today is February 5th, today nearly half of the country votes (or has an opportunity to vote) in state primaries or caucuses to select the next President of the United States.
Today, I want to rant a bit about the political process. I have no arguments to make. I just want to point out some things about it that I do not like – that it would be within our interests to change to whatever degree we actually make those changes.
On the Republican side, the nominee will probably be John McCain. McCain is almost certainly the best of the Republican candidates. (Some people might have said the same about Ron Paul, until discovering that he is a theocratic creationist little different from Romney, Huckabee, and Brownbeck.) Unfortunately, McCain does not represent the Republican party. McCain’s successful nomination comes from the religious-right contingent splitting their vote between Huckabee and Romney. If either one of these two had dropped out early, the other would have likely been the nominee.
This would have made for an interesting election, because the number one topic under debate would have been the proper relationship between religion and government. The Democratic nominee would almost certainly have tried to secure the Presidency by out-doing the Republican nominee in apparent religiousness. However, I think a substantial portion of the population is uncomfortable with such a blend of religion and politics, and they would have been asking questions.
In this sense, I wish that the religious right would have agreed on a candidate for President and had picked the Republican nominee. If they had done so, then we could have had nine months seriously focusing on the issue of the role of religion in government.
This would not have been a debate between the Republican and Democratic candidates – I have little doubt that the Democratic candidate would certainly try to pander to those with religious sentiments to some extent. This would have been a debate between the Republican candidate and the American people, because I think a significant portion of the American population has serious misgivings about the wisdom of theocracy. This debate would have given them the ability to express those misgivings in a way that the population at large would have had difficulty trying to ignore.
Really, we should have seen the folly of theocracy in the last eight years under the Bush administration. The greatest problem of this administration was its fundamental inability to draw conclusions based on evidence. From global warming to the question of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to dangers represented in a memo saying that Bin Laden is intent on striking within the United States to sitting in children’s class after being told America was under attack, Bush (and his supporters) represented an incredible incompetence when it came to drawing substantive conclusions from available evidence.
Against that background, it should have been easy to argue against more of the same – particularly with a candidate like Huckabee at the head of the Republican ticket, who brags about his unwillingness to draw substantive conclusions from the available evidence.
The Huckabee/Romney faction is going to have to sit through the 2008 election knowing that the type of person that they want to see in government is not on the ballot. They will have to settle for a ‘second best’. This will dampen their enthusiasm, and increase their resolve in making sure that the same thing does not happen in the next election. They will (or they should, if they were wise) use this to remind themselves of the need to settle on a specific candidate early, to provide him with maximum support, and make sure that no other evangelical candidate becomes a serious threat.
This is just a guess. I could be wrong.