If you have any interest in running for public office, then stay away from this blog.
Seriously, quit reading, put some type of internet block on this site so that you might not accidentally find yourself here, and eliminate all traces of having visited this blog from your computers.
After all, palling around with somebody who self-identifies as an atheist will render you unfit for public office.
Senator Elizabeth Dole has released a new advertisement that attempts to clarify the fact that the problem with her opponent, Kay Hagan, is that she accepted an invitation to a fundraising gathering hosted by an atheist. (See The Hill Dole attacks Democrat with second 'Godless' ad
This ad ends with the question, If Godless Americans threw a party in your honor, would you go?
This is pretty much a universal political message - no politician may meet with or associate with atheists. No politician is permitted to be somebody that an atheist like myself can respect or seek to honor.
Hagan's political crime is not that she is an atheist (a horrendous accusation that makes the accuser the lowest of all low-life scum to occupy the planet). Hagan’s problem is that she attended a gathering at an atheist’s home and accepted money from an atheist.
Which, apparently, is comparable to visiting the home of a KKK leader, an official from the American Nazi Party, or Al Qaeda representative.
If attending a dinner hosted by an atheist is comparable to these things, we can only conclude that browsing internet sites such as "Atheist Ethicist" is comparable to browsing white supremacist and Nazi Party web sites. If that information were to hit the presses, you can bet your political career would be over.
So, I advise you that if you have any political aspirations, it is no longer sufficient that you are not an atheist yourself. You cannot be caught communicating with atheists in any way. Atheists are political lepers – unclean and dangerous things that one cannot even be in the same room with and not be infected by a fatal political contagion.
A few days ago, I wrote a posting suggesting that it would be foolish to expect Obama to be a friend to secular values. Many of the comments to that blog suggested that people did not interpret my posting correctly. They thought that I had written that Obama did not share secular values or did not think of them as worth protecting.
However, that is not what I wrote. I wrote that if Obama was smart he would not protect secular values because doing so would put the whole rest of his political agenda at risk. Obama will need to decide which ground he wants to stand and hold, and which ground he might need to give up because it is strategically indefensible.
Another way of saying the same thing is that I hope that Obama is willing to sacrifice secular values to the wolves because if he does not, then the Republicans are going to sweep back into power by turning America’s anti-atheist bigotry against him – a bigotry that has more than enough power behind it to turn the tide of elections unless the target does out of his way to prove that he is as bigoted, if not more so, than his accusers.
This is simply a fact of American political life.
If Obama is smart, he knows that the Republicans would love a fight over secular values, and they would love to have it early in Obama's administration. As soon as this fight erupts, Obama is going to have to make a choice between sacrificing secular values so that he can focus on other concerns, or suffer such a political kneecapping on the part of anti-atheist bigots so as to be rendered politically impotent.
Such an event would parallel what happened to Bill Clinton after his election in 1992. Clinton was forced to discuss the issue of gays in the military. The Republicans were able to use this issue to stage such a powerful comeback that they were able to capture control of the House and Senate – and keep control through the next ten years.
We even have a readily made issue that the Republicans in an excellent position to exploit to their political advantage. Sooner or later the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will have to release its decision on whether it judges "under God" in the Pledge and "In God We Trust" as the national motto to be violations of the Constitution. Chances are that that the opinion will read that "under God" at least is a violation of the Constitution. This will then be the foundation for a Republican return to power – the tool they will use to kneecap the Obama presidency and shatter his approval ratings.
If Obama is smart and he wants to use his political capital to accomplish things in the area of economic reform, then he will have to decide not to invest political capital in a fight that is almost certainly doomed to fail anyway.
To disarm the Republican attempt to base a return to power on the promise of theocracy, Obama will need to condemn the 9th Circuit Court opinion (assuming the decision goes as I have suggested) in no uncertain terms, promise to put the whole weight of the Federal Government into the fight to overturn this decision, and promise to make the protection of "under God" a litmus test for any Supreme Court justices he might have the opportunity to appoint.
The Republicans, then, sufficiently disarmed, will simply have less power to interfere with Obama's other goals, while Obama preserves his popularity and, with this, his ability to throw his political weight around.
The fight against anti-atheist bigotry has to be our fight. The idea that we can hide behind politicians and judges forever while they do the dirty work (and pay the political price) for protecting us – while we do nothing in our own defense is as absurd as the belief that the Earth is only 6000 years old. It is a willful denial of political reality.
Even with this, there is one last question that needs to be answered.
Maybe secular values do not matter. Maybe a social prohibition (even if there is no actual legal statute) against atheists from holding political power or positions of public trust is actually . . . if not a good thing . . . at least trivially unimportant.
As for me, I think that our refusal to challenge anti-atheist bigotry is one of the major contributing factors behind the fact that we have suffered for eight years under President George Bush. Our refusal to fight this fight is what prevents children from learning about evolution, and prevents medical research companies and laboratories from studying medical stem cell research. We are the ones who are keeping homosexuals from enjoying the benefits of marriage, and we are the ones who are making sure that government policy decisions are based on myth and superstition rather than science and reason.
Because we do not do anything to challenge the idea that the atheist – the person who has no faith – is the lowest form of life in the country, comparable to the KKK member, Nazi Party leader, the traitor, the tyrant, the defender of injustice for all.
In fact, the evidence suggests that atheists are even lower than those who belong to these other groups. Kay Hagan merely goes to a meeting where somebody who does not support a nation "under God" is present and her entire political career is threatened. Sarah Palin is married to somebody who was a member of an organization where the idea of a nation “indivisible” was openly challenged – a secessionist party and she is still the model Vice President drawing huge crowds wherever she goes because she is the "True American."
We keep hiding behind other people – judges, Kay Hagan, Barak Obama – expecting them to do our work for us (so that we can get by with doing nothing). For a few decades, a number of dedicated judges were willing to do that. The result was the establishment of a new political power that saw to it that those judges were replaced, and that politicians who would support those judges (regardless of political party) would have the power to appoint judges. We have hidden behind others, until those we would hide behind have been removed.
There is nobody left but us.