Elizabeth Dole's Campaign Manager: We Regret Nothing

Regular readers of Daylight Atheism may recall how this site became involved in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina last October. Trailing in the polls and running low on money, Republican senator Elizabeth Dole quoted Daylight Atheism in anti-atheist smear ads in a last-ditch attack aimed at her Democratic challenger Kay Hagan. Thankfully, Dole’s brazen appeal to bigotry was an utter failure, and Election Day saw her defeated and Hagan victorious.

Now Dole’s campaign manager, Marty Ryall, has written a post-mortem of the campaign and the infamous “Godless” ad. You would think that a decent and honorable person would express contrition over making such a shameless play for the bigot vote, that they would feel remorse for allowing desperation to drive them to such a low. But if you thought any of those things were true in this case, you don’t know the modern Republican party.

Far from feeling regret, Ryall defends the Dole campaign’s decision to air the ad. He acknowledges that it was risky and that he might have designed it somewhat differently if he’d had the chance to do it over, but he insists that the basic strategy was sound:

We had polled the issue in mid-September and found that it tested very well among the key groups that we needed to win. We needed to raise intensity among Republican voters, as well as shift the focus of Independents and conservative Democrats from our negatives to Kay Hagan in an unfavorable way. We needed something that had some shock value and would also generate an earned media component — and that was the “Godless” issue.

Ryall doesn’t regret the ad because it contained claims that were blatant lies (atheists want to “eliminate the Christmas holiday”), or because he now realizes it’s wrong for politicians to run campaigns by appealing to prejudice, or even because atheists proved to be a more influential political constituency than they had counted on. No, the only thing Marty Ryall says he regrets is not running the ad sooner!

I would argue that had we run the ad sooner, and without the voice at the end, it would have been closer. However, that is all hindsight.

It’s clear that the Dole campaign, and the Republican party in general, have learned nothing whatsoever. Ryall attributes Elizabeth Dole’s loss solely to the increased Democratic turnout, but never stops to consider what drove that turnout in the first place. Yes, the Obama campaign invested a lot of effort in getting voters to the polls, but the whole reason why that approach was so successful was that so many voters were fed up with the state of the country and willing to vote for a change of course. And why was that sentiment so widespread?

A look back at the eight years of the Bush presidency would readily reveal the answer to that question. The Republicans who were in power throughout most of that time, when they weren’t violating Constitutional rights or waging preemptive wars at staggering cost, spent most of their time stoking the flames of the culture wars: demonizing their political adversaries, inflaming their base with shrill invective, cramming fundamentalist Christianity down the populace’s throats, and churning out a ceaseless drumbeat of appeals to prejudice, hatred, and fear. They did all these things at the expense of governing, and the American republic suffered for it. Small wonder that American voters were sick and tired of their constant demagoguery, and ready to vote for candidates who could deliver meaningful solutions to actual important issues.

Ryall’s article demonstrates the precise attitude that laid low Elizabeth Dole and so many other Republicans: that their fault wasn’t in their philosophy, only in its execution. If only we’d worked a little harder at slandering atheists, he claims, we’d have won. I think the fact that they worked so hard at slandering atheists in the first place says a lot about their misguided priorities, and their defeat can be directly attributed to their failure to understand that.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • André Phillips

    I’d probably be supportive of the Republican Party continuing to dig their own grave if I was more trusting of the voters not to be suckered in with them.

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    There are times when I wonder if we shouldn’t just let the Confederates secede again. They’d be happy in their ignorance, and wouldn’t be able to foist it off on the rest of us.

    That said, didn’t Kay Hagan announce she was anti-atheist in her response to this ad?

  • penn

    Attributing their loss to increased Dem turnout and the Obama machine doesn’t even make sense. Hagan won by 7%, but Obama won North Carolina by less than 1%. There were a lot of conservative Democrats and Independents that voted for Hagan, but against Obama. Dole lost because she was an absentee senator, who ran a miserable campaign from the outset. The godless ad was just a pathetic last-ditch attempt to shake things up. It didn’t lose her race, but it had zero chance of winning it for her. She could have just run an honorable campaign, and lost with some dignity. But, she instead followed the modern Republican scorched earth brand of politics.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    The Republicans are just practicing the laws of power. They know that a meme’s popularity has nothing whatsoever to do with its truth value. Karl Rove has basically said as much. And where power is concerned, there is no moral goal except getting more of it.

    The wedge strategy works. It works brilliantly in normal times. It’s just that last year, people were scared out of their wits.

    Now that they’ve been completely defeated, you hear the increasing desperation from the right. Their only hope is for Obama to fail to fix the economy, and then they’ll be ready with “I told you so” and even more amped up wedge issues for next time.

  • steve

    I totally agree with Jennifer.
    Steve
    One day we will be strong. Let’s never forget their bigotry and hate

  • KShep

    Typical modern republican attitude—-”we lost, but not because of anything we did in the past, it was just that those darn liberal atheists/commies/baby killers/queers fooled everyone, and we weren’t conservative enough. We’ll be back in power as soon as we can again find something to scare everyone into voting for us.”

    Idiots, all. I’ve been enjoying peeking in on Hannity’s show from time to time. I can’t stomach an entire hour of it, but the opening segments are just hilarious. Did you know Dubya inherited the “Clinton recession?” Poor guy didn’t stand a chance what with the economy so screwed up when he took office.

    And anyone who thought that “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report” would run out of material when Howdy Doody left office, well, Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly and the rest are giving them a gold mine to work with. It’s been great to watch.

  • KShep

    Um, please place the word “for” in between the words “and” and “anyone” in that last paragraph. My internal grammar cop is apparently off duty.

  • http://www.chl-tx.com TX CHL Instructor

    Ah, yes, bigotry does raise it’s ugly head. Right here in this blog. For starters, not every atheist is a Liberal, not every Republican is a babble-thumper, and several other assumptions in the original post are seriously illogical, as well. Certainly not up to any reasonable standard for someone who holds himself out as an example of Freethought. And the resulting discussion isn’t much of an improvement.

    But maybe it *is* all Bush’s fault — he only tried 17 times to turn back the tide of bad loans to irresponsible borrowers; he should have gone for 18 instead of just giving up. OTOH, it’s too bad that he screwed up badly enough in other areas that people would vote for an empty suit with a blank resume out of disgust. Biggest screwup was getting involved in a war against a tiny nation that was no threat to us, and in which we have no clear national interest. Regardless of whether we did a good thing (and that’s not clear), we have endangered our republic with the costs of such a war.

    The problems you people seem so intent on pinning on Bush are also in the Obama administration, only multiplied 100x. They are problems with politicians in general, of whatever political persuasion. What I can’t understand is why the same people that made the Bid Deal that Bush’s war was a waste of money don’t view Porkulous in the same light.

    Yes, Dole is a bigot. An almost perfect reflection of the electorate. She would not have tried that stunt if she didn’t think it would play well in the campaign. Or haven’t any of you noticed that “atheist” is the new N-word? Except that it’s politically correct for politicians of every stripe to denigrate us. We need to fight for the same level of civil rights that blacks have.

    I was very much surprised to hear Obama acknowledge the existence of unbelievers in his inaugural address, but I suspect that it’s because he thought it would poll well (after all, unbelievers are actually a large, if disorganized, percentage of the population), especially if he understated it, and didn’t make a big deal of following it up in any meaningful way (which he hasn’t). Sorry, people, I’m not any more impressed with my status as an atheist in an Obama administration than I was under the previous theist.

    I am not in the least concerned with what Obama says; only by what he does. And so far, his actions have been completely out of sync with his words.

    On a positive note, I can say that Obama has given my business an almost unbelievable boost. I have had to expand my class schedule, and double the size of my classes — and I’m still turning people away because I can’t handle the demand.

    http://www.chl-tx.com

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Hmm, very entertaining. “Porkulus,” “you people.” Could you get much more dead-center in the Limbaugh target demographic? I mean it’s practically cartoonish. If you can buy into all his paranoid, atavistic, self-serving, isolationist, simplistic, tribal Republican rhetoric–and (wait for it)–you teach people to carry concealed weapons, why the hell DON’T you believe in the Bible? You can’t seriously pretend to be a freethinker and quote your daily sermons from Rush Limbaugh.

    From a political party that nearly doubled the national debt in eight years, there’s no call for talk about excessive spending. None. Zero. There’s your ‘socialism,’ on top of that fraud. Cut taxes but raise spending and run up the national credit card in eight years as much as every other president managed to do in 225 years. Shame. Your party is morally and financially bankrupt and out of ideas. You don’t have a leg to stand on. Time for you to sit on the sidelines.

    Hint: if you don’t want to give yourself away as a blatant right-wing partisan ‘droid, avoid using thought-stopping and misleading neologisms like “porkulus.”

  • Alex Weaver

    Gun fetishists are nearly as pathetic as Dole and her campaign.

    One possible contribution to this approach could be the tendency to embrace patriarchal, authoritarian family systems, and by extension patriarchal authoritarian system in general, among the conservatroids. That worldview tends to leave people thinking they can’t admit to being wrong without losing some of their authority.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-4275-DC-Secularism-Examiner Paul Fidalgo

    As I have explained elsewhere (probably too often at this point!), Dole did not lose because of anti-atheist bigotry. She may have lost ground for dissing a fellow Christian, but atheists were the net losers in this race. Hagan repudiated us, and no one in the media wondered, “Hey, it’s okay to associate with atheists, right?” We were chum in the water in this race, and Hagan’s victory is not a victory for us.
    More on this issue here, more artfully explained.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    I don’t agree with that assessment, Paul. Granted, I was as peeved as any atheist when Kay Hagan disavowed us (although, I note, she never offered to return our money – I don’t know if that’s good or bad).

    But we have to recognize political reality here. I would have loved to see Hagan respond to the Dole ads by giving a rousing defense of secularism and arguing that it shouldn’t matter whether she chooses to associate with atheists or not. But that would have been a risky campaign strategy even in a blue state, and this wasn’t a blue state, this was North Carolina – a state that until 2008 had voted for a Democrat for president only once in 40 years, a state that gave us Jesse Helms, a state that was never even thought of as a swing state until Barack Obama made it one. There are plenty of less conservative states where Christianity is still essentially mandatory for politicians. I don’t like this either, but we can’t expect politicians to change it for us. If we want to see a change, we have to work for it ourselves. We have to organize and show candidates that we’re a force to be reckoned with; only then will they start to take us more seriously. We’re not there yet.

    That doesn’t mean that Hagan’s victory was a loss for atheists. On the contrary, I think we should consider it a victory that anti-atheist bigotry failed so conspicuously as a campaign strategy. Regardless of what exactly she did to deflect it, you can bet that there are conservatives across the country who will think twice before they try this tactic again. Conversely, if this last-minute smear job had won Dole the election, attack ads just like it would be cropping up across the country in the next campaign cycle, politicians would view us as even more radioactive than they do now, and atheism as a political cause would have been set back years. We should count ourselves fortunate that this didn’t happen. And even if Hagan is less friendly to us than we’d like, it’s a truism that when Democrats are in power, atheists are better off. They’re far from perfect, but their views on separation of church and state (that is to say, their acknowledgment that it exists) are manna from heaven compared to the bullying, power-hungry Christianists who run the Republican party.

  • Bizeness

    As much as I agree with Jennifer sometimes, I can see where it is a mistake and it’s the same sort of thing that was wrong with Dole’s campaign.

    The ‘South’ represents bible-thumping Christians to Northerners? But, the south is also dotted with atheist, humanists, agnostics and other non-Christians, as isolated and alone as they might be or feel.

    I live in the north, in a small town where I remained silent about my atheism because my spouse and I were in sales. We would not have survived without silence on the matter. My town still has a public square with Christian artifacts at Christmas, and begins each public town meeting with a prayer to Jesus. Two mainstream churches were steeple-jacked in the last ten years. I’m too old to speak out now. Too old and too tired from holding my secret inside of me for all these years.

    I’ve been a Conservative since most readers of this blog were shiny gleams in their grandparent’s eyes. I admired the hands off approach of Barry Goldwater. (I did not admire everything about him.) He pegged Falwell and his ilk long before anyone else. There are no Atheists left in the Republican party who have not sold every last bit of ethics they have.

    Democrats, don’t feel so smart, Obama is chasing right after them. Make no mistake, the man doesn’t believe in any god except politics. He’s a humanist and a realist, but he’s also willing to slaughter the religious lambs at the door of his little Caesars.

    Gun fetishists? You’re kidding, right? Paranoid that the Obama army is coming after your guns? You’re kidding, right? As a fierce defender of the Second Amendment who can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a gun (and does not own one for that very reason) both sides need to stop the nonsense and save it for another time and place where it is appropriate to air extreme views.

    Everyone needs to calm down over issues that have nothing to do with the religion and politics and open your eyes. The issues are expanding. They are nolonger issues of the Religious Right. Hagan and Obama have shown that a Religious Left is growing. Unless we are a cohesive unit on the issue of separation of church and state, we will continue to be the lepers of both sides.

    Stop infighting. Some of us are too old to fight this. We are depending on the rest of you to set things right someday.

  • http://www.chl-tx.com TX CHL Instructor

    As I expected, replies to my post contained the same level of bigotry and nonsense as in the original post. Thanks, Blacksun and Alex, for making my point for me.

    For the record, I consider Limbaugh to be a fairly tiresome entertainer who doesn’t have enough really good ideas to make it worth listening to him. Only about 20 percent of Conservatives take the guy seriously, and jumping up and down screaming “dittohead” is prima facie evidence of Rush Derangement Syndrome. That sort of crap is used only to try to change the subject from Liberal abuse of power. In particular, the “fairness doctrine” is pure bullshit originating purely out of a Liberal desire to silence all dissent because Liberal ideas have a hard time competing in a free market. Up until the Obamassiah came into office, “dissent was a form of patriotism” — or can you remember that far back? It has only been a few months.

    Also for the record, anybody who thinks that a law-abiding citizen with a gun is a problem is a coward, a tyrant-wannabe, or a criminal. Which are you, Alex? Have you been brainwashed into thinking that guns are only for killing people? In that case, you must have a real problem with police being armed.

    Carrying a gun, and teaching CHL classes has nothing to do with a belief in the Bible or god(s), and insisting on connecting those two things is a logical error. I don’t get my morality from any revealed religion. I also have many friends who are also atheist, and carry guns. I occasionally do a pro bono class for the NTCOF (a ‘church’ for unbelievers), where I am also music director.

    Try coming down off of your prejudice and bigotry enough to understand why there is not a contradiction there.

    http://www.chl-tx.com

  • Alex Weaver

    As I expected, replies to my post contained the same level of bigotry and nonsense as in the original post. Thanks, Blacksun and Alex, for making my point for me.

    A bit of clarification is in order, I think. Have we cleared that up now?

    For the record, I consider Limbaugh to be a fairly tiresome entertainer who doesn’t have enough really good ideas to make it worth listening to him. Only about 20 percent of Conservatives take the guy seriously, and jumping up and down screaming “dittohead” is prima facie evidence of Rush Derangement Syndrome.

    [Citated needed, preferably with DSM criteria]

    That sort of crap is used only to try to change the subject from Liberal abuse of power.

    While it is certainly true that not every proposal motivated by liberal values and philosophy has been successful, well-thought out, proportional, or even vaguely intelligent in theory…

    Um, I think this is one of those “picture is worth a thousand words” moments.

    In particular, the “fairness doctrine” is pure bullshit originating purely out of a Liberal desire to silence all dissent because Liberal ideas have a hard time competing in a free market. Up until the Obamassiah came into office, “dissent was a form of patriotism” — or can you remember that far back? It has only been a few months.

    The “Fairness Doctrine” as a formal FCC policy was abolished in 1989. Covering both sides of a story uncritically in a “he-said, she-said” fashion became the rule during the last president’s administration. Dissenters and critics of the Bush administration were routinely characterized as traitors and innocent people, including one high school girl whose case achieved nationwide prominence, were detained invasively and abusively for hostile statements that pale compared to the veiled threats of mob violence or actually armed rebellion that have been flying back and forth across the right-wing mediasphere. By contrast, Obama himself has disavowed and rejected any attempt to reinstate the “fairness doctrine” (source), and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are still on the air.

    What planet have you been living on for the past nine years?

    Also for the record, anybody who thinks that a law-abiding citizen with a gun is a problem is a coward, a tyrant-wannabe, or a criminal. Which are you, Alex?

    Except to the family members they’re likely to mistake for an intruder and shoot in a panic and the children who are likely to get themselves killed playing around with the guns, and in terms of the general destructive effects of a false sense of security, I don’t think law-abiding, stable gun-owners are a problem, and the responsible, mature ones even less so. On the other hand, the people who visibly possess A) an intense, deep-seated, “conspicuously-compensating-for-’something’”ish emotional need to possess a deadly weapon in general and a firearm in particular, entirely unconnected to any realistic threat of violence or danger, and B) demonstrable difficulty distinguishing ideological fantasy from reality, make me somewhat uncomfortable, which is why I support reasonable restrictions on firearm possession in order to keep them out of the hands of people who are genuinely dangerous to the well-being of those around them, either through malice or gross negligence. Small children shouldn’t have unfettered access to weaponry no matter how tall they’ve gone. Though I’m curious where you got the idea that I supported a blanket ban on possession.

    Have you been brainwashed into thinking that guns are only for killing people?

    Well, I suppose you COULD stand then on end, pour water in, and put flowers in some of the bigger ones…maybe prop a table up. Longer rifles could make substitute curtain rods in a pinch, and an unloaded revolve would make a pretty viable hammer. Yeah, I see what you mean.

    In that case, you must have a real problem with police being armed.

    The capability of defending oneself against a suspect resisting arrest and of bringing deadly force to bear to prevent third-party casualties is obviously important and relevant to a police officer’s job, so derisive comments about people with an emotional “need” to possess a gun wouldn’t apply to the police.

    Carrying a gun, and teaching CHL classes has nothing to do with a belief in the Bible or god(s), and insisting on connecting those two things is a logical error. I don’t get my morality from any revealed religion. I also have many friends who are also atheist, and carry guns. I occasionally do a pro bono class for the NTCOF (a ‘church’ for unbelievers), where I am also music director.

    Interesting. And this has what to do with my comment?

    Try coming down off of your prejudice and bigotry enough to understand why there is not a contradiction there.

    Try coming down off of yours long enough to actually read and comprehend my comments rather than responding to your favorite strawmen. I do not, and did not, express any of the views you’re flailing at in the post I just dissected. In fact, I’m not sure any real-world liberals do.

    I guess, by analogy, this really does connect back to the topic of the post. But anyway…

    I noted that Obama had made some supportive and affirmative comments about people who are “secular” on the campaign trail, when the election was still in doubt. The fact that he still won might be regarded as a small victory given how pathologically anti-Atheist mainstream US culture had become.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    TX-CHL Instructor,

    I don’t have a problem with guns. I own several and know how to use them. I’ve bagged two elk in my day (and enjoyed eating their meat all winter long). That you were a concealed weapon instructor was just ironic and added to the–shall we say–colorfulness of your character. Gun-toting atheist Texas ultra-conservative. :-)

    I just have a problem with people who insist they’re rational and objective and then in the same sentence use ridiculous slurs like “Obamassiah” or “porkulus” as a substitute for argument. And then they claim Obama’s trying to “shut down dissent” because he won the election and is implementing the policies he was elected to implement.

    Let me guess, you also think climate change is big socialist hoax to enact a “world tax” and destroy the American way of life. We should “Drill, Baby, Drill,” and burn all the coal and fossil fuels until they are gone. Illegal aliens are stealing American jobs and they should all be deported, and Al Gore should correctly be referred to as the “Goreacle” Do I have all that right?

  • http://www.chl-tx.com TX CHL Instructor

    “Do I have all that right?” — Blacksun

    Nope. Not even close.

    http://www.chl-tx.com

  • abusedbypenguins

    I am not godless, I am god free.

  • S Emerson

    Ebon,

    I understand and respect your pragmatism, and while I certainly wouldn’t expect any serious American politician to produce a “rousing defense of secularism,” it would be nice not to have my generosity (to the tune of $500 that I could certainly use right now) thrown back in my face. That’s precisely what Kay Hagan did when she couldn’t even bring herself to politely ackowledge our support. If I weren’t so bitter about the whole situation I could at least laugh at the dire ideological predicament she put herself in my claiming not to believe in anything atheists stand for… given the broad range of views apparent in this blog (indeed, in this comment thread) alone, that leaves her a rather small selection of beliefs to choose from.

    Myself, I wrote to her campaign to congratulate her on her victory, to tell her exactly what I thought of her cowardice and ungratefulness, and to demand my money back. I doubt very much she or her staffers care, and imagine my letter was discarded immediately after whomever received it read the words “I am an American atheist.” Still, futile though it probably was, it made me feel better to speak up than to remain silent.

    I now consider that donation a supreme moment of weakness, irrational in the extreme and motivated solely by my anipathy for Dole. I am not a Democrat, support neither the Democratic nor Republican parties, and generally feel like a schnook for giving yet more of my money to a government that already takes more than enough from me only to waste so callously.

  • Jormungund

    What is it with leftist atheists trying to disenfranchise conservative and libertarian atheists? Blanket attacks on all conservative ideology does not help us. We need to try and keep our various political views separate in these matters. Denouncing politicians who slur atheists helps us. Denouncing all conservatives alienates conservative atheists and keeps us fractured.
    I keep hearing about how atheists are as common as Jews in America, but Jews are a very well organized political powerhouse and atheists are openly insulted by politicians. If you want atheists to band together politically, you will have to tolerate some non-leftist atheists.
    As someone who is on the far left on most social matters and the very far right on most economic matters, I won’t cooperate with atheists who denigrate my political views. If you want my support slow down on the blanket political attacks.
    And we do all see how these absurd attacks on TX CHL Instructor for being conservative prove his point?

  • Alex Weaver

    Jormungand,

    First, you keep using this word, “leftist”…I do not think it means what you think it does.

    Second, the simple fact is that the American republican party has embraced the Christian right and its goal of a Christian religious establishment as an integral component of its party platform and membership. Since the label of “conservative” has been misleadingly appropriated by the radical economic and social right which controls the Republican party (and people like yourself have allowed this, I might add), this line of attack, while imprecise, is not inaccurate.

    Third, I don’t see anyone attacking TX CHL Instructor for “being conservative” unless you mean to assert that “being conservative” is synonymous with a tenuous grasp on reality, a pathological obsession with deadly weapons, and a belligerent demeanor.

    Fourth, if someone’s actually going to sabotage their own self-interest by turning against their compatriots in a fit of pique because they don’t think those compatriots are being as nice to them as they should, they were never much of an ally to begin with, were they?

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Jormungund,

    I just love the double standard. When someone comes in and uses blatant slurs like “Obamassiah” and “porkulus,” they’re just expressing their legitimate political views. Yet when I call them out on their lack of argument, I’m the one mounting political attacks?

    Come on, there is something rationally wrong with people who think you can cut taxes and borrow the difference without cutting spending, or who distort science, or deny climate change, or fail to see the interconnectedness of the global economy and polity. Republicans are hypocrites in many areas, and it’s why they are now out of power.

    If you’re a libertarian, I’m with you as long as you pay for your externalities. Again, if you think people should be free not to pay for costs their actions impose on society, then you’re not rational either.

    It’s not about being nice, it’s about being real. Like Alex Weaver, I don’t want friends or allies who are irrational. Do you?

  • Alex Weaver

    There’s also something rationally wrong with people who think that taking money away from social welfare programs (“human infrastructure support” would be a better way of putting it) and throwing it at defense contractors constitutes “cutting spending.”

  • Jormungund

    I just love the double standard. When someone comes in and uses blatant slurs like “Obamassiah” and “porkulus,” they’re just expressing their legitimate political views. Yet when I call them out on their lack of argument, I’m the one mounting political attacks?

    I did not say that he was expressing a legitimate political view and for the matter you were mounting attacks on him that were just as petty as his slur against Obama. He should have refrained from insulting Obama and you should have refrained from insulting him with “why the hell DON’T you believe in the Bible?” and “Time for you to sit on the sidelines.” Is that the face of mature debate between atheists?
    The reason I said that is not to help conservatives. I said that because I genuinely think that atheists are politically weaker than we should be thanks to not attempting to unify and senseless infighting. If we focus on petty attacks on each other, then we won’t come together to try and resist religious influences in the government. Obviously we can’t work together on most political matters due to our different views, but on the matter of keeping religious influences out of our government we are all in agreement. Keep in mind that there are conservatives that hate the religious right just as much as you do. Don’t disenfranchise these people just because they fail some sort of political purity test.

    if someone’s actually going to sabotage their own self-interest by turning against their compatriots in a fit of pique because they don’t think those compatriots are being as nice to them as they should, they were never much of an ally to begin with, were they?

    This isn’t a matter of driving compatriots away. This is a matter of preventing conservatives from ever wanting to help you and making sure that they never will be your compatriot even if it benefits both of you. There are conservatives who are non-religious who value their conservative views over their non-religious views. They would gladly work to reduce the influence of religion in government if they could do so without being attacked for being conservative. I think it is irrational to drive these people away rather than support your own self interest by working with them and being hospitable to their support. If you really think that it is rational to forfeit support from people like me, Bizeness and TX CHL Instructor, then keep up the petty attacks and insults against fellow atheists who share your desire for less religious influence on government.

  • Alex Weaver

    This is a matter of preventing conservatives from ever wanting to help you and making sure that they never will be your compatriot even if it benefits both of you.

    My point stands.

  • Christopher

    Your point is completely irrelevant – I notice how you fequently complain about the lack of political power your constituency (as though non-religious folks are unified enough to have one) has, yet you turn away people folks who can assist you in a common goal. You say they complain too much, yet you are the one giving them things to complain about by holding them to values they don’t share with you! Like it or not, neither of you of you are going anywhere fast alone in a political system that has powerful constituency groups established that could a damn about either of you. Unless you plan to completely subvert the existing social power structure (something I don’t think either of you really want) you’re going to have to learn to “play nice” – at least until your common foe is destroyed, anyways.

    All I can say is this: I’m glad to not be involved in your nation’s political system anymore…

  • Alex Weaver

    All I can say is this: I’m glad to not be involved in your nation’s political system anymore…

    Dare I ask?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-4275-DC-Secularism-Examiner Paul Fidalgo

    I understand your point, Ebon, I didn’t expect a defense of secularism, but yes, I have every reason to expect a would-be senator to defend atheists’ basic humanity and the right for them to associate and participate – her own supporters, mind you! Of course she wasn’t going to lead a parade championing godlessness, but neither was her win a win for us. Her win was not a loss for us, and I don’t mean to imply any such thing — she’s just one more Democratic senator. But the North Carolina senate campaign as a whole certainly was. A big one.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    All this talk about atheist political “strategy” is so much bunk. Bottom line, atheists are free-thinkers. We are not a monolithic group in any sense of the word. We would drive the demographics people nuts, because we are all over the political spectrum. The only characteristic of an atheist is they are free of belief in any gods. Along with that should come a higher degree of rationality.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Atheists are just as prone to fall prey to logical fallacies, political demagoguery and plain old stupidity as the rest of humanity. We only have one thing in common, and it’s not politics. Some of my most persistent gadfly commenters at BSJ have been atheist conservatives. As a liberal-libertarian, I consider these types almost worse than theists. They share with theists the same immunity to argument and overuse of slogans.

    No, I don’t want these unthinking partisans as allies, thank you. In terms of pure unrelenting denial, intellectual dishonesty and illogic, conservative politics is right up there with God-belief–which is why I asked TX CHL why he doesn’t believe in the bible. In terms of irrational policies that create human misery, the Republicans have delivered in historic proportion.

    If they think Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush were great American presidents, and they like how they ran things, then they should just go ahead and canvass for Sarah Palin and her hypocrite family.

    Though the right claims to support “free-markets” (whatever that means) they are generally clueless about how to manage an ecosystem or the need for true-cost pricing. Since they don’t support knowing what things actually cost, it’s clear they really don’t want free markets after all. They want markets friendly to resource exploitation and governments friendly to budget-busting military adventurism. They don’t seem to be able to help being hostile to science–which supports ecosystem-based limitations on human consumption. It’s almost as if they think God (or someone or something) will magically come fix the earth after we finish fighting over and using up its resources. This is a huge problem. There’s no tent big enough to include such outmoded thinking in the modern atheist/humanist constituency.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    BlackSun “If you’re a libertarian, I’m with you as long as you pay for your externalities.”
    They’d hardly be externalities then, would they?


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