How should a non-theist who values the separation of state vote in 2008? The quick answer, "against Sara Palin" may be too simple minded. Remember Penn Gillette's' warning that the lesser of two evils is still evil. Election 2008 presents a terrible dilemma. I don't have a clue as to what Atheists should do come Election Day 2008.

This is a year when no Atheist should feel entirely at ease in casting their vote. Any way I look at it, I will either feel guilty for what I "supported" or for what I failed to oppose. When all is said and done, the best advice may be to try to wash away that guilt, by becoming more involved in areas where change can be effected. Maybe by donations to the Secular Coalition for America or others, writing letters, and/or focusing on more local matters.

Certainly the Republican National Convention has given us candidates we cannot feel good about. How in good conscious can we do other than to support any credible opposition to the religious bigotry associated with that ticket? But how can we support the Democratic Party as they seem to have abandoned and deserted us? From the opening display of faith at their convention (which pointedly ignored the non-theists) to the religious pandering s across the Democratic field, we have not been treated as if we have a place in America. Obama has made enough of his magical religious beliefs public, such that he helps legitimize the ridiculous magical beliefs of the opposition.

In terms of the major parties, we have lost out in this campaign. In going for presumed votes, the candidates have all left us behind. On one hand we are shunned on the other, taken for granted. Perhaps we are better off not voting at all and becoming a mass of potential voters ready to mobilize later. Would we have more power as a mass waiting, watching and available should a reasonable candidate emerge? I’m afraid we couldn't have a lot less influence than we do now.

Many view support of third party candidates as a wasted vote, but I’m not so sure of that. Perhaps non-theistic votes locked into a third party, awaiting a reasonable major party appeal would have more power than simply abstaining? However, this year it's hard for me to get excited about the Libertarian Party. The current candidate, Bob Barr, has a long record in favor of individual liberty, when it's for people whose preferences match his own. On the plus side he has backed down on some of his more bigoted stances, like his proposal to remove Wiccan services from US military bases. So unlike the other candidates, he seems to be moving in the right direction. But he is just too much a mixed bag for me.

I've got no good answers. What am I going to do? A long time ago, I thought that if there were a minority candidate that I'd probably vote for them whether they met my interests or not. The idea being that I'd cancel out the effect of undue discrimination somewhere else. I may just stick with that plan and vote for Obama. Besides, it would be a vote against Sara Palin. I guess I've got some contributions to make and letter writing to do.

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Tags: 2008, Obama, Palin, Presidential, atheist, election, vote

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Comment by Russ on September 9, 2008 at 5:07pm
Eli,

No question with me that you are doing the right thing for 2008. With the Supreme Court balance now, maybe we shouldn't play with fire. But maybe things have to get worse before people wake up and decided to make them better.

Supporting the Democrats this year may do more harm in the long run. Will we continue to be sold out for the hope of capturing the small percentage of the voters who might be had by religious pandering involving the marginalization of non-theists. Should we subject ourselves to second class treatment during the election because after all is said and done we will do the right thing and vote for the better candidate no matter how we might be abused? If the parties had to worry about alienating and losing 5 to 6% of their base by such tactics, they'd cut it out and maybe they would respectfully refer to us a worthwhile citizens and party members. Maybe if the candidates showed some backbone and tried to represent all people they might energize some of the already disaffected voters that would more than compensate for the small percentage moved by religious pandering.

The religious right has far to much influence in politics, because they can mobilize voters. That means they don't always vote for the person closest to them. That effect may not be as strong as is thought, but it's there. The sit out elections when they don't like their candidates, they move when motivated. If we can't mobilize voters, because we vote the same no matter what, we'll never have any real influence.
Comment by Eli on September 8, 2008 at 5:38pm
The sad fact of affairs is that until you can wake up the majority of the American populous a vote for a minority party candidate in a national election is throwing your vote away. Now for smaller-based elections (state & local) you've got a much better chance of making a difference.

I'm NOT going to aid putting a pentecostal wack-job a heartbeat (and one in the chest of one of the oldest men who would ever take the oath of office as president if elected) from the presidency. Despite the snub (by the Convention CEO, not the candidate himself) by the DNC, Palin assures I'll be totally at ease with voting for the Democrat.

Lesser of two evils? Sure, but we can just hope that next election it will be two even lesser evils, and maybe a bit lesser the election after that, until we can finally get a choice for no evil at all...

..eh, maybe the LHC will create a big black hole next month and none of us will have to worry about this anymore.

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