Monday, November 12, 2007

No Really, Democrats Are Different (Somehow...Maybe)

I hope everyone's getting excited for the approaching National Bible Week (November 18th--one week from today!). Congress certainly is, as evidenced by this gut-wrenching parade of Democrats taking up actual Congressional time to talk about how awesome a 2000+ year old piece of poorly written fiction is. Watch the video (care of Shakesville), but maybe take an anti-emetic first:

The Democrats like to talk about being the party of reason and intellect (opposing themselves to those dirty irrational Republicans), but every now and then something like this comes along to expose that for the egregious lie it is. How is it possible that in the 21st century, with all the problems of war, terrorism, global climate change, unemployment, and more war, these leaders of the Democratic party think that it's acceptable to take up any Congressional time to praise this garbage?

PZ Meyers over at Pharyngula takes this opportunity to ask "Can We Form a Rationalist Party Now?", a dream that I certainly share. However, Alonzo Fyfe, the Atheist Ethicist, points out that this might not be the best idea. Snip:

Assume, for the sake of argument, that rationalists tend to support Democrats over Republicans. If a Rationalist Party removes the rationalist vote from the Democratic Party, the Democratic candidates are going to have to make up those votes somehow. The only option is to embrace theocracy even more strongly than it has in the past, in order to seduce a larger percentage of theocratic voters out of the Republican Party. The result is to drive both major parties (the only parties capable of fielding viable candidates) even closer to theocracy.
This is a real danger, as we saw in the 2000 election with the Green Party--in a two party system, mobilizing any relatively large minority group (as rationalist voters would be) always runs the risk of simply making them not count. As Alonzo points out, the magic number in the American system is 51%; anything lower than that and you might as well not exist. This, of course, isn't true across the board, but at a national scale it is more or less the case. Our system, in contrast to other democracies (e.g. the UK) is a winner-take-all two party system: it doesn't matter who came in second or third--only the winning party counts. Unfortunately, that means that even if the Green Party (or the Rationalist Party) makes a very good showing, they don't win anything.

So what's the answer? In the long run, election reform; the system in the United States is outdated and in need of several serious overhauls. In the short term, I suspect that Alonzo is correct in that Rationalist Voters should focus on establishing a "Rationalist Caucus" within the Democratic party rather than a "Rationalist Party" itself. In other words, the best option is to try to steer the Democrats away from blindly endorsing superstition (as they are on that video) and toward recognizing that a substantial number of their constituents are not impressed when they profess to blindly accept the false beliefs of people long dead.

Oh, and how about a "National Constitution Week" to go with that National Bible Week?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I never thought about it before, but it's silly that I vote for religious politicians. I think the party name of "Rationalist" is too reminiscent of somewhat irrational modern philosophy, but I'd certainly support such a caucus. Thanks for the insight, anyways.