To start, anyone who lives in the US, or is familiar with our political landscape, is most likely aware of the upcoming election.
We have one Republican nominee, and two potential Democrats.
Now, naturally, there are a million reasons I wouldn't vote for John McCain. Simplest would be his similarity to George Bush. The last eight years haven't worked, we don't need four (potentially eight) more of the same disastrous leadership.
Another would be, that Republicans are inherently bad for my interests, and in my opinion, bad for the interests of the country.
I also believe McCain touts his war record far too much. The time has passed where Americans are willing to jump up and elect the "War Hero". To wax geek, and quote Yoda, (from when George Lucas could still write dialogue), "Wars not make one great."
I don't find him to be a great man simply because he was in a war. A lot of people were in wars. It happens. You are a great person based on your achievements outside of battle.
Moving on, both Obama and Clinton have their share of issues that I am not fond of. First off, arrogance. Obama, I think, is more outward with his than Clinton is. While it may work for the general Joe and Jane Public, to act as though you can use your four (or eight) years to repair all the damage done in the last eight, that's simply not the case. What has been done in this country over the tenure of Bush cannot easily be repaired, and certainly won't be rectified over the course of one or two presidential terms.
Both could easily be accused of playing less to their strengths, and more to their stereotypes. "I'm going to be the first black president!", or "I"m going to be the first woman president!". Yes, that's lovely, but I don't care what color or gender you are, I care what you do. Who you are. Not what.
Both could also easily be accused of courting that base, while ignoring others. Obama is more concerned with the black vote than any other group, Clinton more so with the female vote.
This, I know, is politics. Talk a good game. Talk to the people who want to listen to you the most. If you can't dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit. Business as usual. I understand how it all works.
Obama, I find too inexperienced for the job. He makes a lot of assumptions, he acts as though traveling abroad is enough to have the foreign policy experience, and everything else required to hold the reins of one of the most powerful nations on the planet. He talks a good game, but that's mostly all he does. Talk.
Clinton, I find too...conservative. She could honestly barely call herself a Democrat, with some of the views she holds. Too, well, too much of a politician. Business as usual, make a lot of promises you won't keep. Convince people you're the right choice, when you're no better than anyone else running. That, and frankly, I was disgusted to see her stand up there with Joe Lieberman, and that crackpot attorney Jack Thompson, screaming for the banning of Those Evil Video Games. Censorship isn't terribly Democratic.
Moving on, and bringing us to the true point of this, is why I will yet again refrain from registering to vote, and letting another election pass me by. This is something that every candidate in the running, now, in the past, and pretty much for all time is guilty of. To them, well, atheists are invisible.
We see Obama in church. We see Clinton in church. We hear about the importance of their faith. We hear them courting the vote of the religious.
Have they ever campaigned to earn the atheist vote? Admittedly, there's not a lot of us. That's not the point. We're still here, and we still deserve some form of voice in government, someone who, perhaps, has our interests at heart.
Atheists are the most hated minority in America. The most distrusted, and the most reviled.
Sound hard to believe?
Here are some statistics. Americans were asked in a Gallup poll to determine if they would refuse to vote for "a generally well-qualified person for president" on the basis of some characteristic: (Earlier statistics in parenthesis)
Catholic: 4% (1937: 30%)
Black: 5% (1958: 63%, 1987: 21%)
Jewish: 6% (1937: 47%)
Gay: 37% (1978: 74%)
Almost half of all Americans would refuse to vote for an atheist.
Here, we have a Pew Research Center study on "religion and public life", asking people for their attitudes toward various groups, including atheists. The breakdown for atheists is as follows:
Very Favorable: 7%
Mostly Favorable: 27%
Mostly Unfavorable: 19%
Very Unfavorable: 33%
This is rather telling.
Also from Pew, Americans who would refuse to vote for someone based on these:
Evangelical Christian: 15%
Now, the US is somewhat notorious for being anti-Muslim. It's definitely saying something, that atheists are considered lower on the totem pole than Muslims, in the eyes of America.
Following, are the numbers that show the opinions of born-again Christians, who regard the impact of these groups as negative:
Now, the same numbers for non-Christians.
This is from a study done by the University of Minnesota:
This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society...
- Atheist: 39.6%
Conservative Christians: 13.5%
Recent Immigrants: 12.5%
I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group....Atheist: 47.6%
Atheism is the fastest growing religious identity in America. We're also the most hated. The most despised. The one group no one cares about, that everyone is free to hate without being called a bigot, the one that America feels comfortable with the idea of collectively demonizing.
Some state constitutions still continue to bar atheists from holding public office, despite federal law preventing a religious test for such things.
In 1987, Republican presidential candidate George H. W. Bush was quoted as saying this, in regards to a question posed to him about atheists: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."
Only 26% of Americans believe the right of atheists to speak against religion, gods, or to make fun of them should be legally protected. 71% believe that atheists should be denied access to public auditoriums to speak against god and religion.
So, what all this comes down to, is that I have never yet seen a political candidate speak as if I exist. To them, I am unimportant, irrelevant, and, frankly, immoral and possibly detrimental to the very fabric of American society.
So to them, I say: It might not mean much to say this now, but in the future it will: You cannot have my vote until you acknowledge that I exist.