"Electable" Candidates

Races for the Senate, U.S. House, etc. and other issues of national importance.
nutria
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"Electable" Candidates

Postby nutria » Wed May 21, 2014 3:44 pm

OK, so the "Is Hillary too old? " thread (a thread whose premise is bullshit, BTW) has devolved into a discussion of what is meant by "electability." In the interest of not threadjacking even more:

It seems to me that when people discuss "electability," they tend to conflate three questions:

1. Does this candidates stated positions match my own enough for me to vote for them?
2. Does this candidates stated positions tend to mirror those of the electorate he/she is trying to sway?
3. If nominated by one of the two major parties, does this person stand a reasonable chance of winning?

The first is obviously for any individual to decide for themselves. The second is probably hard to answer without context, and is pretty subjective anyway.

The third makes me sad, because to a large degree, I suspect the answer is "yes" for absolutely anyone. Look at it this way: no matter who gets the R/D nominations, they are going to get something like 60 million votes cast for them, regardless of their stance on issues. For any of you who have described Jindal/Christie/Rubio/whoeverthefuck as "unelecatble," imagine, just for a moment, that they get the R nomination. They will get at least 60 million votes in November 2016. Throw in a few voter ID laws here, restrict voting hours there, and boom, this "unelectable" person is president.

Ned Flanders
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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby Ned Flanders » Wed May 21, 2014 3:46 pm

#deepthinking

nutria
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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby nutria » Wed May 21, 2014 4:02 pm

Ned Flanders wrote:#deepthinking


Quite the ironic post, pederast.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby Ned Flanders » Wed May 21, 2014 4:06 pm

Image

DCB
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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby DCB » Wed May 21, 2014 4:07 pm

"electable" means they are subservient to the monied interests who fund campaigns.

nutria
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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby nutria » Wed May 21, 2014 4:08 pm

DCB wrote:"electable" means they are subservient to the monied interests who fund campaigns.


That's probably fair, and falls under item 3 above.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed May 21, 2014 4:40 pm

Here's a little bit of insight into what makes some candidates electable or not in the minds of voters. The post itself is just about atheism, but there's more info in the survey answers than is addressed by the blogger. Of course, the way religion plays into electing our leaders in this country is nothing short of pathetic, as the author notes: "48% of voters, on the whole, say they would be less likely to vote for someone who was an atheist. Having an affair would hurt you less than admitting there’s no evidence for the existence of God. Someone who’s never held elected office would be at an advantage over someone who didn’t believe in fairy tales.

(Hello, European readers. Please stop laughing at us.)"

{sigh}

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Wed May 21, 2014 6:30 pm

I wonder if that hypothetical would hold true in an actual candidate. Is this an issue of people having a stereotype of what an atheist is which an actual candidate would not fit?

On the other hand, a someone who proclaimed that your world view was completely wrong is probably going to be less popular with those who identify as having some faith in the supernatural.

I'm guessing an atheist candidate who did not speak to the issue of religion would probably not take that big of a hit.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed May 21, 2014 7:13 pm

Francis Di Domizio wrote:I wonder if that hypothetical would hold true in an actual candidate. Is this an issue of people having a stereotype of what an atheist is which an actual candidate would not fit?
I don't think any stereotype is necessary for believers to reject atheists simply for their atheism. Why do you? I mean, if you truly believe there is an all-powerful sky-god who has issued a code of conduct for humanity which, if not followed by us will result in His raining down death and doom and holy retribution, well... then it's kinda your moral obligation to not vote for the candidate most likely to anger such a creature, isn't it? (And yes, I know this doesn't describe the views of all, or even a majority of Christians/Jews/Muslims, but it does describe the views of tens of millions of them!)

Francis Di Domizio wrote:I'm guessing an atheist candidate who did not speak to the issue of religion would probably not take that big of a hit.
How would it be possible to not speak to the issue on a state or national level given that questions about faith are routinely asked of candidates? And if what you're guessing were true, why can't I think of a single candidate who has ever admitted they were atheist before being elected? Heck, I can't even think of any who have declared their atheism while still in office. Can you? As of late last year, there were no openly atheist members of Congress. That article cites a source as saying there were 28 closeted atheists in Congress in 2011. I don't trust that specific number, but clearly there were more than just a couple. Yet Barney Frank is the only one who has stated publicly that he's an atheist, and he waited until he was good and retired to do it. Considering he's been openly gay since 1987, it's pretty sad he thought he had to hide his atheism, doncha think? Can you name any other politicians who've come out as atheists besides Frank and... uh... Jesse Ventura?

nutria
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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby nutria » Wed May 21, 2014 7:22 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Can you name any other politicians who've come out as atheists besides Frank and... uh... Jesse Ventura?


Pete Stark was openly atheist while serving in Congress, but I agree with gist of what you said. It is pathetic that someone who thinks the earth is 6000 years old has an intrinsic electoral advantage over someone who, I dunno, understands the scientific method.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby snoqueen » Wed May 21, 2014 7:50 pm

...Barney Frank is the only one who has stated publicly that he's an atheist, and he waited until he was good and retired to do it. Considering he's been openly gay since 1987, it's pretty sad he thought he had to hide his atheism, doncha think?


I've been going back and forth about this question for the last ten or twenty minutes, trying to decide whether it's like being gay -- in which case coming out helps the whole community, in addition to the candidate himself or herself, who is then able to concentrate on other matters and not continually be concerned about being outed -- or whether it's different.

As a nonbeliever (I prefer that term to atheist for my own purposes) I am not concerned about being outed because I don't care what anyone else thinks about my beliefs and would not care even if I were in public office. I also do not do any particular activities that exhibit or declare my status -- I would not be interested in belonging to an organization for nonbelievers, for example, nor do I stick something non-believey on the bumper of my car. So I'm not interested in public displays of non-religiosity any more than I am in displays of religion. But would I have a responsibility to the community to come out as a nonbeliever if I were a public personality?

I can't say exactly why, but I don't think it's entirely analogous to sexual preference. You can be a nonbeliever your entire life, do nothing to publicly declare it, and lead an entirely satisfactory and fulfilling existence. This is my own life experience and that of generations of my ancestors. I don't know that any of us were formally Freethinkers or anything comparable. We just didn't go to church, and if we went to someone else's church thing (funeral, wedding) we were polite and participated in the parts of the service we wanted to and not in the others. That's not oppressive, it's being respectful and actually feels good, like doing a good deed without expecting anything in return.

The same neutrality is not true for sexual preference (for most people, anyway.) Having to live closeted can't be a satisfying way of life. The reason is sexual preference speaks to what a person does in life, and nonbelief speaks to what they don't bother with. I'm willing to stand up for someone doing what he or she wants to do, but for my part if someone doesn't want to do something they deserve nothing more than to be let alone not to do it.

I am a real pitbull about defending the rights of gay people and being inclusive. (If you think I can get stubborn about racism, try anti-gay prejudice.) I can't get that worked up about nonbelief, though. Most likely if nonbelief had the kinds of consequences and difficulties membership in racial and sexual minorities has, I'd change my tune.

To me, being loudly atheist is strictly optional and is as aggravating as being loud about belonging to any other religion. I would get far more active if I thought anybody's religion was the subject of actual persecution or threat, but on the whole I think religion is more or less a dead issue in today's environment and we as a society have bigger fish to fry.

I acknowledge this is not the case in some other countries, and I'm not taking sides in their disputes. I'm talking about the here and now in the US.

I am quite willing to admit this isn't very consistent, so have at it. As far as atheism and public office go, if a candidate doesn't make an issue of it it shouldn't be an issue in the northern and more secular parts of the country. If your religion says science is wrong, that's a matter to be countered on the territory of science, not by arguing over religion. If you are running as a Tea Party candidate and expect to get votes from people who believe their god created everything in six days, yeah... you need to tell 'em you believe in their god. That's your own problem.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed May 21, 2014 8:58 pm

Nice post, sno. A lot to chew on there.

I'll probably have more to say later, but for now, just a couple of quick points:
* We've been through this countless times, but atheism is not an "other religion". It's not a religion at all. And the fact that someone as thoughtful as you still cannot grasp that is disheartening, to say the least. It's not just a semantic thing. By calling it a religion, you are attributing to atheism qualities it does not possess and misrepresenting the position of those of us who wear the label without apology.
* I agree that there's a huge difference between religion and sexuality (even beyond the obvious one that religion IS a choice) and never intended to suggest they were equivalent. My point was simply that Frank -- a career politician -- thought he could be retain his seat even if openly gay, but he clearly didn't think the same was true if he admitted he was an atheist. And that's sad.
* I agree that atheists aren't generally persecuted like other minority groups are, but that's not to say that we're never persecuted, and certainly we face disapproval and cultural ostracism pretty regularly. Many surveys show results like atheists topping the list of who parents don't want their children to marry or who should be the last to receive organ transplants, for example. But not all negative sentiment aimed at nonbelievers is simply in the form of opinions expressed in questionaires. There are seven state constitutions which expressly forbid atheists from holding office. Don't you think that's kinda despicable? Are there examples of other forms of discrimination embodied in state constitutions? There have been cases of discrimination in child custody cases where belief vs. nonbelief came into play. We've all heard reports of children being ostracized for not wanting to recite The Pledge of Allegiance (which admittedly, may well be exaggerated.) Because of examples like these, I disagree that it's unimportant for politicians to publicly address their nonbelief. They should not be ashamed, they should not be persecuted, and they should be willing and able to serve as role models to other nonbelievers.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby Donald » Wed May 21, 2014 9:36 pm

I ran for school board twice in another state (lost the first time, won the second). I would characterize myself as mostly an atheist, but extremely tolerant of and intellectually interested in faith and spirituality.

What struck me about being a lower level pol was that there are actually people out there who will call up candidates and ask about your faith and your positions on various issues not related to the position (eg. abortion) before they will consider voting for you. Mostly these folks doing the calling are working for some local affiliate of one of the national political religious organizations. These guys don't want anyone who is not a committed right wing version of Christian to get elected dog catcher.

I always declined to answer questions on issues that didn't pertain to education, but, of course, I would have to answer their questions on teaching evolution, sex education, teaching religion in school, etc. I'm sure they had my number. I'm sure to them, I should have been unelectable.

I know there were atheists out there, but none of them ever asked me about my faith.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby bdog » Wed May 21, 2014 9:37 pm

My point was simply that Frank -- a career politician -- thought he could be retain his seat even if openly gay, but he clearly didn't think the same was true if he admitted he was an atheist. And that's sad.

It's politics.

We may have had an atheist in the White House already, but we'll never know.

You do realize it's fashionable, i.e., the voter demographic is sympathetic to you, to be pro-gay but being pro-atheist isn't quite there yet?

I think it's cute that the D's pick on the people that think the earth is only 6000 years old but give a pass to those who think there is a god controlling all of this shit. Now who exactly is not in that club?

It isn't anyone in the R's or the D's, the President included.

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Re: "Electable" Candidates

Postby gargantua » Wed May 21, 2014 9:45 pm

If you are a non-believer, you are an atheist. Don't sugarcoat it. Don't pussy foot around it. If you run for public office in the United States of America, you will be asked about your religious affiliation. If you are a "non-believer" you will have no chance to be elected to any public office that matters in this country.

This is despicable. This goes to the heart of something someone posted on another thread about how they couldn't believe the people of this country could be stupid enough to vote for a particular candidate. What a joke. They are stupid enough to disqualify anyone who does not share their unprovable superstition. May God strike me dead before I


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