Over at the Friendly Atheist, Hemant highlights a recent bit of incoherency in the positions of American Atheist leader Ellen Johnson, who apparently decided not to vote in the recent primary elections. Hemant does a good job of defending what I assume to be his favored candidate, Obama, from Johnson’s cynical call to sit out elections. There is little doubt that Obama and Clinton, and the presumptive Republican nominee McCain, are all religious, but bemoaning the lack of an atheist candidate at a national level is just sour-grapes bigotry, not savvy politics.
Rational people should understand how representative democracy works, instead of pretending that its something its not. Our election systems are based on forced compromise, end of story. In order for us to all live together as one big, ideologically diverse nation, there’s simply no logical way that every subgroup can get 100% of what it wants. If ever we wanted such a dictatorship, it could only work for one interest group at a time. Comfort yourself over your compromise by recognizing that nearly everyone in the country has to compromise just as much, if not more, when they cast their votes. That’s just how the system works.
And frankly, I find a lot of the atheist kvetching over God-talk amongst the Democrats this year to be overblown. PZ Myers let his vaunted rantism overcome his reading acuity in his recent screed against Obama’s supposed “ghastly exercise in self-delusion and post hoc justification of religious bigotry.” The fact that a religious person thinks that religious values are worthwhile to a public debate could be a jumping off point to deride non-believers as inferior, with less to contribute. But when someone like Obama clearly goes out of his way to show that this is not his message, accusing him of the implication anyway just seems petty, not principled. When candidates could easily safely ignore the non-believer vote, credit where credit is due for politicians that never fail to put in a compensatory good word for the unchurched.
Anyway, one more reason for me to give an eye-roll to the endlessly clumsy and tone-deaf group American Atheists. If any regular people think that Ellen Johnson is Queen of All Atheists, no wonder they aren’t impressed.