Yesterday, I asked atheists who planned to vote for one of the Republicans in the race to explain their thinking.
No debate or judgment from me. I just didn’t get how atheists — who take that word seriously — could vote for religious conservatives like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. Or Donald Trump, the media spectacle who offers no substance. Or even John Kasich, the so-called moderate, who has shown himself to be awful on social issues most atheists care about. I could understand atheists voting for a third party candidate… but these guys? What was their appeal?
A lot of people responded and I’m listing excerpts (with minor edits) from their emails below.
I’ve broken down the responses by candidate, but let me summarize their main arguments:
1) We think economic concerns and Second Amendment fears are more important than church/state separation issues.
2) Hillary Clinton is just awful.
3) We’re assuming Bernie Sanders will lose the primary. (If he wins, we’d support him.)
With that in mind, here’s a glimpse at why at least some atheists are supporting the various GOP candidates:
In support of Ted Cruz:
My preferences this time around go: Sanders, Cruz, Clinton/Rubio (haven’t decided), then Trump WAY behind. My reason is simple. I am pretty much a single issue voter right now who is deeply concerned about government surveillance…
Sanders is not perfect (for example he wants to see Snowden prosecuted), but he has promised to dismantle a lot of the surveillance state and consistently voted against it.
Cruz has promised to reduce the amount of surveillance. Not great, but that would be an improvement.
Cruz is a Constitutionalist first and I feel that we need to get back to the Founders’ principles and restore the Constitution and uphold it’s law. Yes, he has strong religious views, but at the same time our country has had religious presidents throughout its history and we are still a country of mostly religious people.
Religion is only ONE issue to consider during this presidential election. If you base your vote only on religion then you are ignoring the bigger picture. We have a First Amendment that protects religious freedom as well as freedom of speech, press, and to peacefully assemble. It was put there FIRST. And the Second Amendment gives us the ability to protect these Rights and our Founders put that second on the list. Having these freedoms is FIRST but protecting them is SECOND. Obama has attacked and threatened the Bill of Rights throughout his term and I feel Hillary will continue and expand upon what he started.
In support of Marco Rubio:
I will vote for Marco Rubio if he is the nominee. I do not see overt religion from Rubio or pandering to evangelical groups. I don’t think he’s quite Presidential material (yet), but he is preferable to the complete statism of Sanders, or the standard Democratic statism of Hillary Clinton.
Why would I vote for Rubio if he’s the nominee? Well mostly I’d be voting against the Dem nominee. I absolutely cannot stand Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she has real values or beliefs — she is purely a creature of politics. I love the idea of a female president, but I just can’t abide her. As for Sanders (assuming he has a shot, which I don’t see), honestly there are four reasons why he would not get my vote.
1. The man has never had a “real” job in the real world like a normal person.
2. I think his domestic policies, while theoretically admirable, are untenable and unaffordable.
3. I don’t think he has any foreign policy credentials to speak of.
4. He’s old.
This last one is nothing personal against him and it actually applies to everyone running — except Rubio and Cruz. I’m 43 years old. As far as I’m concerned, the Boomers had their chance to be in charge of things and that time is done. Go retire somewhere and let Gen X give it a shot.
I’m not thrilled by any of our choices. On the Democratic side, I don’t trust Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t seem to believe the law applies to her, and that’s a very dangerous quality in a president. As for Bernie Sanders, it doesn’t seem he’s learned anything from Obama’s experience. Obama overpromised and underdelivered, in my view. I saw a lot of Millennial voters in particular become very disillusioned. Now all the HOPE bullshit has begun anew, with Bernie overpromising even more, with no real plan to get his proposals through opposition in Congress. Remember the battle to pass the ACA, all the sausage-making, “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it” nonsense — and realize that the ACA is far, far more modest than Sanders’ platform. I’m a natural pessimist, but even so, come on.
John Kasich was my pick, but of course he now has no realistic chance. The wild-eyed fundamentalism of Ted Cruz turns me off, but better him than Clinton. Rubio is easier for me to stomach; yes, he’s still Christian, but it’s toned down several notches compared to Cruz. And both of them are level-headed enough to think before they speak, and have taken the time to formulate actual policy positions, which is more than we can say about Trump.
I think it’s important to note that I don’t believe Cruz or Rubio could do significant damage to marriage equality or other gains on LGBT rights, because the popular momentum is just too strong. If the gay rights movement was still stuck where it was in, say, 2008, I’d feel differently.
In support of Donald Trump:
If it comes to Hillary vs Trump I will vote Trump. I’ve voted Libertarian in the past three presidential elections but mainly because it’s just the closest to what I believe. I’m not 100% Libertarian either.
… If I DO vote Trump it’s because I would rather burn this shit to the ground than elect Hillary.
I’m looking forward to a Trump presidency. When he is President, maybe people will realize the President doesn’t actually have all that much power. That’s probably wishful thinking, but when President Trump actually doesn’t ruin the country because of the checks and balances we have, people will realize their Congressmen have more impact on taxes and policies than their President. Maybe people will stop re-electing 90% of Congress every two years even though they have a 10% approval rating.
Trump won’t be able to get anything through Congress, and maybe — just maybe — people will realize that the office of the President is not quite as important or powerful as they thought, and they’ll do something about it.
I stand with Trump because, despite what the media says, he is the most moderate Republican running.
He wants to defund Planned Parenthood (which I agree with), however makes a point to say they provide services for millions of women, which they do. He wants to bring a lot of issues back to the states (e.g. Education). He wants to end the war on drugs and handle it on a state level. I am more of a fiscal conservative as well as a social moderate. Weird combination.
I believe in a sovereign nation and not a fan of “promoting democracy through the barrel of a gun.” Trump’s stance is strictly: we can’t afford it because we can’t. Let other countries fight.
Hillary isn’t an option because she is by far the biggest liar I have ever heard. Sanders promotes democratic socialism and although I would benefit from some of his plans, I don’t feel that free education and a $15 minimum wage would benefit our society. My husband who risks his life everyday as a fireman/paramedic barely gets paid $15/hr and fast food workers want to get paid that? Crazy. My husband worked hard to put himself through school as a rookie fireman to become a paramedic…Although I am not a fan of some of the things Trump has said, he is more moderate and I believe will help veterans and attack the waste, fraud, and abuse in the welfare systems.
If Sanders is not the nominee, I will vote for Trump.
He is against the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership], Clinton would sign it. Clinton pushed the ISDS [Investor-state dispute settlement] in the NAFTA.
In support of whoever gets the Republican nomination:
I’m a fiscal conservative who believes the best and freest form of governing is a limited government as delineated in the constitution. No power should be given to the government other than what is allowed by the constitution. So many are fooled by the false promises of socialism and the government making decisions and having power over our lives that we should retain ourselves.
I believe the concern over Rubio’s and Cruz’s religious beliefs are misplaced. Most previous president have been Christians. A strong constitutionalist like Cruz puts the constitution first. I don’t believe for a second he would violate the constitution and force some type of religious based thinking on those who don’t share those beliefs. It is actually the left that wants to impose its beliefs.
What I find interesting is how many leftist atheists there seem to be. Maybe other fiscal conservatives stay quiet about it. When one believes there is not any other legitimate philosophy other than the one they adhere to then that is a narrow-minded position (IMHO). I detest “groupthink.” If everyone in the room subscribes to a certain belief then I’m going to be more skeptical. Leftists seem to be surprised when someone has the audacity to have a different point of view then they do.
What is surprising to me is the Democrat party moving down the socialist path. I spoke with a Venezuelan yesterday who remarked how socialism had destroyed his once prosperous country. It is surprising how many are falling for the delusions of what Sanders is pushing when it is capitalism that made America one of the greatest economies the world has ever seen.
Let me make it clear: I am only voting Republican if Sanders loses the nomination.
My decision is based in moral reasoning, of which Hillary has crossed too many times, what with all the lying she is doing. Don’t get me wrong, Trump/Cruz is worse, but I would vote GOP to prevent Democrats from holding office and dampening revolutionists’ work.
How will this work? By effectively voting for a right wing idealist, we will see very clearly the divide between politics and parties. That line becomes blurred when Hillary is voted in. Half promises here, corporate buyout elsewhere, never really achieving results but just enough to shut everyone up for a while. My thought: not good enough. In order to hit home the idea of change, the disparity of policy in general must be great.
Sanders is the spark of something big. Should he lose the nomination, I would vote Republican to see that spark become a flame.
With every state and superdelegate Hillary Clinton gains, odds that I will vote Republican increases. I would vote for just about anyone over her.
— I do not believe this is not giving Bill an illegal third term.
— I would like to see a woman stand for election and have a good chance because of who she is, not to whom she is married. Her standing for election is rather un-feminist.
— I want to see the Democrats punished for the undemocratic tricks they are using to force their candidate.
— I am against dynasties.
— All that said, she was for the invasion of Iraq, is in the pocket of big banks, and is anti-labor. This short list is not inclusive.
So, I am a bleeding heart liberal atheist, however there is nothing that will allow me to vote for Clinton. If she is the Democratic candidate, I must vote against her.
I am very pro gun and pro capitalist. I think socialism is a failed philosophy of theft that drives everyone down to the lowest common denominator. I think Hillary Clinton is incredibly crooked and shady, and Sanders’ ideals are either unworkable, unconstitutional, or un-American.
As a simple matter of pragmatics: as a well-off male gun owner, the bad laws proposed by Democrats will negatively affect me more than the bad laws passed by Republicans.
I would vote for any Republican except Cruz. If it’s him, I will probably not vote.
The logic has nothing to do with Atheism. It is all about helping people. Economic prosperity is the only way to pull people out of poverty. Conservative fiscal policy is concerned with growing the pie for everyone, thus making life better for the poor. Liberal policy is about maintaining the trap of welfare and insuring generations of future voters for the left.
The other area where the poor get screwed is education. The left’s policy is to pay the same teachers more money in the hopes that the system will magically fix itself. The right’s policy is to create accountability such that good schools and good teachers prosper based on merit. The right has no problem with paying more money to good teachers or putting money to create good schools. It’s all about proper allocation.
I am a law abiding citizen that loves firearms. Since that is a topic in politics, I need to vote to preserve it and defend it against lies used to create moderate bans that will inevitably lead to making firearms useless for the purpose of the Second Amendment.
The Democratic party has more of my views on things, but to me there is always a catch. I really dislike the religious side of the Republican party but at least they like firearms which can be used to defend my non-religious views.
I’m an atheist. I’m also a business owner. I vote for republicans because I’m sick and tired of being taxed and regulated to justify a growing bureaucracy. I detest how the liberals have divided this country, have pitted one class against another, have rekindled racism, and have forced people to become dependent upon government. In my heart I’m a Libertarian, but since none of them ever get elected, being a liberal republican seems a decent compromise.
I am very devout atheist and am very much going to vote Republican, though I do not agree with any of their religious views.
My family would suffer so much more under Democratic leadership. First of all you have Clinton who let Americans die under her watch as well as all her underground deals and just look at the kind of things the Clinton foundation has done. Then you have Sanders who wants to tax anybody who works hard to help pay for some lazy ass ton sit at home and get paid for it.
I worked damn hard to earn everything I have in life. At least Republicans reward hard work and creating jobs.
My vote depends on whether or not Bernie wins the Democratic primary. If he does, I’m voting for him. However, if and only if he does not, I’m voting Republican.
If Hillary, who is infamous for lying, cheating, committing treason, and accepting bribes wins the Democratic primary, then voting Republican is the only logical choice. At least we know how they plan to screw things up and can work to stall them. But Hillary? No, she’ll screw us up in ways we could never see coming, in ways that make what the Republicans plan to do seem like child’s play.
Though the Republican party does not represent my views fully, their mixed premises warrant a slower destruction of this Country and my principles than the Democrats do.
So there you go.
Did I learn anything from this?
Yep. If these are the best arguments in defense of these candidates, I have absolutely no reason to change my vote from the eventual Democratic nominee, whoever it is. (I don’t have a strong preference at the moment, in case you’re wondering. In my mind, both Sanders and Clinton would be better than the Republican alternatives. I’ll vote Bernie in the Illinois primary, but I’d be perfectly fine casting a vote for Clinton in November if she wins the nomination.)
Also: I suspect nothing these Republican candidates say on the campaign trail or during the debates will have any impact on how these atheists will vote.
Here’s a more important point: The people supporting these Republican candidates are very passionate about them and they are going to vote. So if you think they’re wrong or crazy, what are you doing to counter them? How will you convince your allies to cast a ballot on Election Day?
If you take issue with what people said — and I’m sure some of you are seething — feel free to duke it out in the comments.