Saturday, October 13, 2012

One-Size-Fits-All Politics

"Atheists should not be organizing as a political party" is bullshit! This is not to say that there are not any valid points made in the piece or that there aren't a few difficulties involved in organizing atheists into a political party. There are. However, most of the reasons given in this short article and that have been used since the National Atheist Party first started forming (since it isn't even two years old yet it is still a work in progress) are at best superficial and hypocritical.

One of the main arguments is based on the false assumption that a political party must meet all the needs and interests of every constituent. What political party has ever managed such a thing? It is not possible. That atheists tend to be very individualistic and very diverse does not necessarily loan itself to large scale organizing but that does not mean it can't be done or that the attempt is not worthwhile. The notion that we should not try, as far as I'm concerned, is only one step removed from insisting that we "shut up" and "stay in the closet."

That this piece was written by an atheist does not make it any better or excusable. In some ways it makes it more disappointing and irritating especially since it is apparent that they really did not bother to look into the NAP before making up their mind. A few of the discussion questions used display a lack of understanding regarding the party. For example, "Would you vote for a poorly qualified candidate simply because he or she is an Atheist?" What? Why would any intelligent person vote for a poorly qualified candidate? That is not what the NAP is about or for. In fact, currently the NAP cannot run or endorse candidates. It's non-profit status is based on issue advocacy. Eventually, the goal is to upgrade its status but simply running a candidate because they are atheist is not among its goals and does not represent its principles.

Another such question betrayed the author's (and the atheist/freethought group he's associated with) lack of knowledge of the US' political landscape. "What would we feel about a 'Natioanl Christian Party?'" I'm not sure how feelings have any value when it comes to reality? Whether we like it or not there is a national Christian party. They may not use that name but that does not change their purpose or goals. The grossly misnamed Constitution Party has been around for a while and they do want to turn the US into a Christian theocracy. On that note, I would point out that unlike a "Christian" party (or any other religious based party) the NAP would not come in conflict with separation of church and state.

It is also important to point out that despite our many differences there do seem to be a number of issues and principles that the majority of atheists do share. Most us are supportive of separation of church and state, free speech, and civil rights among others. Each of those alone is well worth fighting for and therefore organizing around. Ultimately, the goal is provide atheists with more of a voice in local, state, and national politics. That alone is worth the attempt.

Note: for the sake of disclosure I feel obligated to point out that I am a member of NAP and am also on one of its committees.

No comments:

Post a Comment