Why is it assumed that just because someone is an atheist, that they have to be a liberal? In essence, There are 2 sets of issues in politics. Fiscal and Social. That is at the extreme basic level..Money and Morals, if you can call them that. What happens if you have a 50/50 view with each of the major parties? What if you believe in low taxes and limited government? Well, then you are a Republican, right? What if you are an Atheist, but believe in low taxes and limited government? That does not make you a liberal.
I think that Atheists and homosexuals always think they have to align themselves with Democrats, because they are the opposite of "right-wing religious wackos"..To me that is not the case. I see most Liberal Democrats as a welfare mongering, hate spewing, illogical people. The party is generally filled with people with blinders on that think they have to oppose anything with an "R" in front of it. They think that all repulicans are going to overturn Roe v. Wade and impose religious rule on the country. I am sure there are those types in the Republican party, maybe more than we think..but, all in all, I doubt they could ever get anything like that through congress. So, you basically have to think about what issues are important to you, and what issues are likely to be pushed on the agenda. There is no perfect party for me..I have generally considered myself a Libertarian, but they have a few "planks" that are based in religion also..only difference is, they believe in personal liberty FIRST.
I guess most people choose which things are more important to them and align with those. Being without religion does not make me necessarily ANTI-religion. I could care less what people want to believe as long as they don't infringe on my rights doing it.
That being said, I choose to focus on Fiscal issues, and not social ones when I vote. Religion should stay out of politics. I am FISCALLY conservative, and SOCIALLY tollerant.!! I have gay friends, I have religious friends, I have preacher friends, I have minority friends. Strangely, I don't think I have atheist friends..at least none that claim to be...and none that really know I am. Only my family. I guess I am a closet atheist, but that is my business. It is no ones business what my beliefs are. I believe that being without religion is not a stance that I have to make a major part of my existence..I don't have to make sure others think like me..or make sure that I am an activist for the cause. To me, it is not a "cause", it is just who I am.
But, I most certainly am NOT a liberal. I believe that the current administration has done more to harm this country in 3 years than the previous bunch did in 8 years. I am also NOT a Bush fan, didn;t vote for him either time..he was a borderline Socialist himself. Thanks for listening and please don't consider this an attack on anyone that is a liberal. It is your decision alone, I just implore people to think and not just accept the "default" position..just because someone is a christian does not mean they are stupid in all aspects of thought.
I am an extremely liberal Atheist. My sisters husband is a republican, but like you, he is fiscally conservative, but socially tolerant. He believes in a woman's right to an abortion if she so chooses, and he believes gay people should have the same rights as straight people. I love him, but we SO disagree on the fiscal role of government.
I think Atheists and LGBT people feel more comfortable on the liberal side of things, because, and I'm not meaning to stereotype, but there really ARE more accepting liberals than there are conservatives. Hence the name conservative. I know there are many people who are fiscally conservative, and socially liberal,but there are a LOT of super right-wing religious people, and they are scary to people who are very liberal in my opinion.
I think you hit the nail on the head in that theres a problem with a 2 party system. I have voted "third" party many times in elections, but doubt that will ever come to pass in the US. Reading the definition of "liberalism" that you linked above I would say that I do not think it is anywhere near correct in the aspect of liberals in America. The values that are represented in that page are not what I see from liberals and democrats in this time period. I think that most liberals have grouped themselves in with progressives more and more. The current state of the government is progressive, and more and more young people have progressive tendancies. That is scary. Government is not here to provide for redistribution of wealth and social equality. Those are human responsibilities. Government is not here to give you things that you should be striving to obtain yourself. I don't need government to tax me to give to the "poor"..I do that myself. And, I would bet I do it with much more efficiency than the government. Congress is filled with crooks under the veil of compassion..truth is, most liberal/democrat controlled cities/states are worse off than others. Detroit being a prime examlple. Always been democratically controlled and has always been poor, unemployed, etc.
Anyway, none of this has anything to do with Atheism, so I will drop it..just wanted to state that just because I am an atheist does not mean I have to follow in the Liberal / Democrat footsteps.
Problem is, the alternative is voting Republican / Conservative, and I dispise the "christian coalition" overtones that that brings. There needs to be a party that can leave Social issues to the people and just take care of what the Constitution says..
I'm fortunate to be liberal enough in general that I don't often have to qualify "Except I don't agree with this". And the majority of the atheists I know, online and offline, are as liberal as myself or in many cases quite a bit more so. There are a few exceptions, doing a political mapping test and comparing the group is a fun and interesting exercise, so long as you don't have violent weirdos trying to convince everyone they're all wrong merely because they weren't placed the same. Oh wait, that was me. :P
I also think most, if not all, Atheists and Agnostics that I know are at least as liberal as I am, socially and fiscally Jezzy.
I have taken the "Worlds Smallest Political Quiz", or whatever it is called..I always land in the "right leaning Libertarian" area. Problem with all parties is they all have some sorta stance on religion that does not need to be part of government. There does not need to be a "how do you feel about gay people" in a party platform. It is no one's business what gay people do. There should be no "hate crime" legislation. Murder is murder and should be punished as such...period.
I agree that we all need to be openly expressing ideas and realizing that others do not necessarily believe the same things. That is their right to do so...and attacking others for that view makes us just like the outspoken believers that think they can yell at us until we accept christ.
Crap, that was supposed to be above with "Jezzy" reply..
A. Noni Moose:
I don't intend to be confrontational, but think it important to begin by saying that someone with the attitude of "I see most Liberal Democrats as a welfare mongering, hate spewing, illogical people." Has an alarmingly skewed understanding of what liberalism is as well as an unrealistic view of Liberal Democrats. While the vast majority of my friends, relatives & acquaintances are politically conservative Christians, I do know several Liberal Democrats (like myself), and none of them even approach the cartoonish extremes you describe. Most are fiscally responsible (which is not necessarily the same as fiscally conservative). They donate time, energy & money to charitable causes, and want our government to behave fairly, responsibly and sustainably. I know of not one who has tried to game entitlement programs or cheat on taxes. Certainly these things happen, but they're rarer than you seem to believe, and occur among those in both political camps -- I'd guess almost equally.
Why so many atheist fall on the liberal side of politics is an interesting question. Religion is a social construct reliant on preservation of ancient wisdom and/or revealed truth that resists challenge. That's a deeply conservative concept, even when it embraces founding principles that were originally liberal, as does Christianity. Said differently and way too simplistically, wanting to preserve the status-quo = conservatism. Wanting to change things = liberalism. We need both, just as a car needs both throttle & brake if it’s to stay on any course that makes sense. When I’m driving I try to minimize use of the brake by thinking ahead because that’s a more efficient way to drive. When I’m voting I tend to vote liberal because I think that’s a more efficient way to live in a society.
I largely live as a libertarian because I’m a hermit way up in the hills and what I do or think doesn’t much affect anyone else, or so I hope. But humans in general are social critters, and as such are, or should be (genetically), mainly concerned with how our actions interact with those of others in promoting the general welfare (as someone said in some old document that might be worth conserving). The problem I have with big “L” Libertarianism is that it seems to try to insulate the individual from our natural social proclivity. If we cut ourselves off from social responsibility (as I have) and proclaim the individual as king, pretty soon we’ll nothing but a chaos of kings. If we do that we will have lost what it means to be human.
Beautifully written Ted Foureagles.
There is more than a little irony in the comment "I see most Liberal Democrats as a welfare mongering, hate spewing, illogical people. "
"fiscally responsible".? Maybe in belief, but not in actions. That is why we now have a 15 trillion dollar debt with nothing to show for it. The very idea of liberalism may be different, but in practice it is just as filled with paybacks and cronyism as Republican Party has always been accused of. Trying to shape the economy does not work. Just because you pour money into Green energy does not make it viable in the free market. Some thought has to be put into things and a real outcome thought through. If it were at all viable, some entrepreneur would have invested in it long before the government got the idea.
Truth is, I guess, that there is no perfect party. I do try to keep myself open to voting for ideas rather than party affiliation..I guess that is about the best I can hope for.
I think it laudible that you remain open enough to vote for ideas rather than party affiliation. I find it hard to maintain such openness lately. When you say "fiscally responsible".? Maybe in belief, but not in actions.", are you taking about people you know? I ask because this sounds like the sort of thing I hear from those who derive their world view from Fox News rather than, well, reality. As I said above, most of the people I know are conservative Christians -- just a matter of local demographic. Within that context, I'll offer some examples of what I see, and I''m really trying to be honest here and not cherry-pick.
My neighbor across the street is some sort of big whoop-de-do in the local Baptist Church. He's also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He's been on disability for some reason that I can't discern for the 15 years I've known him, and his check amounts more than I earn. He is solidy in line, "in belief, but not actions" with right wing politics.
One of my main clients is chairman of his county's Republican party, and is a devout Morman. Hiis annual income is in the low millions, and he proudly says that he hasn't paid any taxes in his adult life. He told me yesterday that he can't wait for a rich white guy to back in the White House.
My sister is a liberal, agnostic lesbian. She has her own engineering firm that employs a couple dozen people working with companies like GE, Michelin, Caterpillar, etc. She's also on the board of more things than I can keep up with and donates very generously to several charities and causes. She also pays her full tax bill without fudging and still manages to provide pretty decent health care to her employees.
OK, maybe those examples are not representative -- I don't know -- it's just what I see from here, and it seems almost opposite of what you've implied.
As for shaping the economy working or not, I offer the GI Bill post WWII. It was a huge entitlement program that shaped our economy more than perhaps any other, and paid exponential dividends in promoting a large educated middle class just when it was needed. There are things like green energy that are best handled economically by society rather than a pure free market, or at least substantially boosted. Such industries are loosley analogous to the railroads in 19th century US. They were very heavily subsidized -- orders of magnitude beyond anything today (except the security industry), because it was understood that they couldn't happen if private industry had to front the cost and kill the Indians by itself.
Yes, of course real outcomes have to be thought through -- no argument with you there. Private industry is often best at that, but usually in the short term. For big things like connecting the continent with railroads or highways or internet, or going to the moon, or even sustaining a military, pure libertarian individualism wastes it's most vital energies competing against itself and can never accomplish those larger goals.
Purely selfish competition works on the level of the gene. At the level of a complex organism, cooperation is necessary to generate anything beyond slime. Once those critters evolve into sociial species it begins to dawn on them that individual selfishness is counterproductive. This of course proceeds by fits & starts, exemplified by two-party political systems.
Independent here! Conservative on some issues, liberal on others. Gun owner with a large collection. NRA firearm supporter. Pro abortion, pro gay marriage, and I believe in small government. I'm also pro law enforcement, pro military and anti I'm anti-religion in the sense of government. Secular governments are the only ones that work. I believe you work for what you have, and if you don't, you shouldn't live off the government just because you can. But what I can say that usually works for everybody I talk to is this: I have an open mind and I listen to everyone's opinion. I don't pretend to hear and start on my argument. If you have a valid point on a certain issue, I'm all ears. I think as atheists, we naturally need to have a more open mind on all issues. Isn't this what we are trying to ask of religious people?
Very good reply Andy Reid..only thing I'd disagree with is "pro abortion"...I am not PRO abortion, I am however pro CHOICE. I believe there are things that shape that choice that no one can know without being in a certain position. That is what enrages me about the pro-lifers..there is not an absolute like they try to believe.