Friday, October 18, 2013

Why do so many Athiests lean left?

A close friend of mine happens to be an Atheist and happens to be politically conservative in general; probably fits into a libertarian category best (he’s fine with gay marriage, legalized drugs, things like that). He’s intelligent and very well read on history, politics and religion. I tend to be center-left, very liberal on social issues, more centrist economically, but I hate to generalize and I have no allegiance to either wing. Present your argument and I will consider it.

My friend recently made a comment during a conversation questioning why so many Atheists, like me, appear to be liberal, or at least lean that way. I think the answer is clear; conservative politics, worldwide, is joined at the hip with religion. And the more fundamental one’s religious practices are, the further out on the right one tends to be.

The problem is worsening, too. The trend now, in the Tea Party generation, is forcing conservatives to out-RIGHT each other in order to win their nominations, but going so far right seems to be hurting them in general elections—at least it appears that way in the last two presidential elections and it very easily could have worked out that way in Bush v. Gore, too. I suspect that Hillary (or whatever Democrat ends up running) has to be considered the front runner for 2016, unless the Republicans figure out a way to stop alienating Blacks, Hispanics, women and the secular community. And, important to note, the secular community is far bigger than most people realize; by most counts, a far bigger, though much less powerful, minority than Blacks, Gays, or Hispanics. Also important to note, there are many, many people that have some level of god belief and still understand the need for separation of church and state. In the late 18th century we called these people, the Founding Fathers.

It’s especially ironic that Blacks and Hispanics tend to be among the most religious in the U.S. and the Republican party seems to be making it a priority to alienate them. I think it’s also ironic that it might be the religiosity of the Republican party that is their own worst enemy right now. In fact, if they follow the following suggestions, I would almost guarantee a Republican would win the next Presidential election.

ABORTION. Stop trying to make abortion illegal and focus your efforts on “positively” preventing unwanted pregnancies. Yes, that means you will have to grow up and realize that people like to have sex, and that birth control is absolutely necessary in a modern culture. But you will gain so many moderate, one-issue voters that vote against you, it’s not even funny.

SCHOOL PRAYER, ET AL. I can drive a mile without seeing a McDonald’s or a Starbucks, but I can not drive a mile without seeing a church or a cross. We know you are there, you don’t need to be at town hall. Shun all the “War On Christmas” nonsense, all the Ten Commandments in the courthouse nonsense, stop worrying about god on money, god in the pledge, and all the “Christian nation” bullshit that you think you love so much. Broken record: you will pick up moderate voters that get turned off by all that crap.

NON-WHITE PEOPLE: Try to get just a few of them. You can keep trickling down on them, just stop being so overtly antagonistic toward them; you don’t need that many of them to win, but your conventions are way too pasty (despite your desperate efforts to display as much color as you can manage).

The most important point. Some people might argue that adopting these suggestions would enrage the conservative base and they would be correct. But ask yourself this question… What are those people going to do in the election booth, vote for a Democrat? I don’t think so. If you could stop being so religious, you would only gain market share. You literally would not lose a single vote, and you would probably kick the liberals asses in every election.

But my point here is not to be a republican strategist, it’s to try to explain why so many Atheists seems to lean left.

Lastly, here’s some strong anecdotal evidence on why religion and politics are a bad mix, and why Atheists often dislike conservative politics. These are just a few examples I’ve bumped into in just the last 2 days.

Michele Bachmann blathering on about end times and Jesus during a Syria rant. Some people, I think, are overtly religious for show, like President Obama (and he seems to be getting worse each year). But Michelle is the real deal. This is 3 minutes of audio that will send shivers down your spine regardless of your politics (unless of course you read Revelation and think, yep, that’s sounds about right).

The Andrea Tantaros Show. I don’t listen to much radio, but I just happened to catch the of end this show the last two days picking my kids up from school. I had the local “news station” on which, from what little experience I have with it, usually reports the news and occasionally has some mild right wing commentary. That’s why the last two days stood out to me. The woman on the radio was just wildly over the top right wing, which is fine, I don’t care, it was just unexpected. What made me laugh was her shameless promotion, at sign-off, promoting her book that PROVES god. Again, boisterously right wing politically and all up in god’s business, too. Here’s a link to the show archives. I only heard the last 5 minutes of the show on 10/7 and 10/8. On 10/8 Sam Sorbo (the fill in host) ended the show by playing a clip of Jon Stewart grilling Kathleen Sebelius on Obamacare. She made some criticism, as one would expect, and went on with some pretty standard right wing rhetoric. Again, whatever, I don’t care. Have at it. But here comes the money shot as she begins to pimp her book, starting at 2:38:00 if you want to listen to it. “You know we have freedom because of Christianity. The Christians were the first to believe that we’re all created equal under god. It all goes back to god, which is why I wrote this book on god and heaven. This book proves it! It’s proof of god and heaven!” Then some idiocy about gravity, I guess to sound scientific. On the 10/7 show, she’s riffing on healthcare not being a right and then adds this: “and it’s (healthcare) not a right, god did not give us that right. God gave us OTHER rights.” See, here’s the problem, she mixes in with reasoned arguments, some pretty wacky stuff, which if fine, but it always seems to wind up at God’s feet and thus, for me and many other Atheists, she comes across as delusional regardless of the strengths or weaknesses of her arguments.

Antonin Scalia is not friends with the devil. In this New Yorker interview, Scalia waxed poetic about the devil and heaven and hell. I do not have a problem with Scalia being a believer. I do have a problem with the fact that it appears to me that he is the kind of person that might let his religious beliefs, his Catholicism, supersede all else. In contrast, Sonia Sotomayor is a Catholic but her Catholicism doesn’t rule her decision making, obviously. So I think I have a pretty good feel for Sotomayor’s brand of Catholicism …just in case you may be wondering if Sotomayor is really a believer. She probably is.) Here is a screen shot of the religious back and forth in the piece. Interviewer in bold. Scalia in regular type.