I'm a Democratic Precinct Chair in Harris County, Texas. I have no desire to run for office, as it's hard enough for me to find time to feel like I'm doing my duty as a precinct chair. I do have a great interest in political matters, however.
I'm currently running unopposed for an alderman position in a village in north Louisiana. Louisiana doesn't allow write-in votes, so I am already "elected" and will be taking office at the end of the year.
I moved to Broadwater, Nebraska less than two years ago, at the time still an atheistic Wiccan. This village has 128 people, but does have a city government.
Not too long afterward, I rejected the "Wiccan" part of atheistic Wiccan. The village was aware of this (they know everything you will do before you do it), and several were dismayed that I no longer "believed in anything." (sigh)
Last September, my neighbour, one of the village trustees of thirty years service, resigned his post with two years remaining in his term. He died October 2, only a few days before the monthly city meeting. The church across the street was packed with people from across three states that knew him, for his funeral.
Though officially Nebraska on its ballots is non-partisan in state offices and below, I am openly a third-party member (Modern Whig). Worse, I was openly an atheist. So when the chairman asked for folk to step up to fill the remainder of his term at the October meeting, I volunteered.
So did four others later.
Before the November meeting, the chairman said privately to me he was going to advance my name in nomination, as he thought me the least divisive of the candidates (!).
At the December meeting, I officially entered politics, by taking the affirmation of office. Now starts my promising political career.
A photographer from the local paper took my photo; it ran on the front page. A couple weeks later, needing paperwork from my lawyer witnessed and not having the right folk available in his office, we went across the street to the Sheriff's office to get him and his deputy to witness.
Sheriff Milo peered at me (hippie hair, scruffy-looking, the sort of person he might find on the other side of the bars in his office) and said "I know you, I saw your picture in the paper." I assured him it was not as a criminal, but as a respectable City Trustee.
It occurred to me right before I stood up at the board meeting and placed my name before the board that part of the reason Evangelicals have done so well in politics in the last thirty years or so is because they had a plan: they started at the bottom, taking offices that were uncontested or that no one cared about, building their base, until they became an overwhelming force in the GOP.
With the so-called "nones" now 20% of the populace (much larger group than Evangelicals), and 30% of those under twenty-six, there is no reason we could not do the same.
The difference between an atheistic, secularly-minded group of government officials and religious ones is we are unlikely to ram our religious beliefs (having none) down anyone's throats.
I suspect that atheists would be far more likely to honour the religious freedom protections for all in the Constitution than the Evangelicals and Charismatics. I cannot say for sure, but I just think so.
Here in Nebraska, there is a hooraw over the state social studies standards for schools; the religious, having failed to overturn science standards in other states, are trying a different tack. Social studies is far less a "hard science" than science itself, so injecting politically- and religiously-motivated concepts into social studies is the tack they are trying here.
Atheists can bellyache all they want about politics and how the religious seem to dominate the field, but unless we get out and -do- something about it, they will continue to dominate.
Too many atheists "don't want to get involved." Well, the religious do, and are. The only effective way to counter them in a democratic republic is to counter them on the ballot, in cities and counties and villages across the nation, to let them know this is still a country that values freedom of religion.
Because if they get their way, it will not be, and our grand experiment for over two centuries in a system of government that values the individual and his beliefs will die a theocratic death.