The 2012 Presidential Candidate Scorecard… for Atheists

The Secular Coalition for America has just published a report card for the 2012 presidential candidates… and while you can make a pretty strong prediction as to how this will pan out, the differences are really remarkable. (Keep in mind that the SCA does not endorse candidates.)

The grades break down like this:

An A means the candidate has been “consistently positive” on that issue.

A B means the candidate has been “neutral or occasionally positive” on that issue.

A C means the candidate has been “mixed, with positive and negative responses” on that issue.

An F means the candidate has been “consistently hostile or negative” on that issue.

When it comes to matters specific to Secular Americans, the Fs are running wild…

The full report (PDF) goes into detail about why each candidate received each grade, but here are the big takeaways:

  • If you care about our issues, Jon Huntsman is the person you want emerging from the Republican side. And even with him, it’s not apparent where he stands on issues like taxpayer funding of religion (e.g. “faith-based initiatives”) or religious refusal laws (“conscience clauses,” which would allow, say, a town clerk in New York to refuse to give a gay couple a marriage license because it went against her faith or a Christian pharmacist to refuse to dispense birth control).
  • Michele Bachmann would be a disaster. Fs down the line. Rick Perry would likely have followed suit, except there’s no word on how he’d respond to religious refusal laws. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum barely avoided the Epic Fail fate, but it’s clear neither of them have any respect for the issues that matter to a lot of us.
  • For as much enthusiasm as he’s generating in Iowa, Ron Paul isn’t very good for us. He doesn’t accept evolution, he says he would “follow [Jesus] in all I do and in every position I advocate,” and he’s received the endorsement of Christian crazyman Chuck Norris. And that’s just the beginning of his problems.
  • Mitt Romney actually receives a couple of As on the scorecard: He accepts evolution (though he believes a god began the whole process) and says he would not become a “spokesman” for his church if he were to become president. Neither one, though, makes me feel better about the words “President Romney.” (And is it really any surprise that the Flip Flop King earned that many Cs?)
  • President Obama doesn’t receive a single F, but his inability to sign an executive order preventing taxpayer funded groups from proselytizing is extremely concerning. His Christianity doesn’t bother me per se, but he better “evolve” on the gay marriage issue pretty damn soon.

So what’s the overall message from all this?

None of the candidates are great when it comes to our issues, including the current president. Who knows how much different a Second Term Obama would be from version 1.0. If you have to go with one of the candidates based solely on “secular issues” (and you’d be foolish to do that), Obama’s still better than Huntsman only because Huntsman is still a question mark in many important areas.

When it comes to Republicans, though, there are some candidates who are better than others… even if you can’t fully “support” them.

Here’s a question for debate: Would you rather see someone like Jon Huntsman emerge as the Republican presidential candidate because he’s better on our issues? Or would you rather see someone like Michele Bachmann because she’s so goddamned awful on our issues that it wouldn’t even be a question of how we should vote? Or, phrased another way, would you rather see Obama go up against intelligent-but-flawed opposition or a cartoon-y super-villain?)

Or are you just not going to vote, because the lesser of two evils is still evil?

Maybe we can take solace in the fact that there are some Republicans who aren’t completely batshit crazy in every area. None of them are ideal, though.

I still hope the eventual Republican winner loses to Obama, only because I’m naïvely hoping he’ll become a better president if he doesn’t have to campaign again. If he loses to any of the current Republicans, I fear that we would inch that much closer to a theocracy.

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