I often hear the question or a suggestion that atheists get involved in the political process.
Here are my reasons for thinking this is a really bad idea. First of all politics is like walking through a deep mud puddle. There is just no way to do it without getting dirty.
Politics in our strange form of democracy (really a plutocracy) is not base on truth, facts, science, critical thinking or in the best interests of the country or its' citizens. Politics in America is ruled by profits, greed, corporations, lobbyists, emotions, religious dogmas, and bigotry. Why would any rational person think that entering the political fray would be the answer. Politics by its' nature weeds out the honest and moral individuals that get into office and makes them impotent until they can be replaced by some one who is willing to play the games of deceit, stealing, exploitation, lying, and wielding of power .
If there is one thing I have learned in my life, it is that politicians from either side of the isle cannot be trusted. The other thing I have learned that even the best of them are liars and will say anything to get elected. The system is just plain corrupt.
If an atheist wants to get involved there is nothing stopping him or her except the bigotry they will face by a majority of theists. In this you have two choices, you can lie about your beliefs like I am sure many politicians do; or second you can face the challenge of being honest and be rejected at the polls.
Perhaps we have to look at the flaws in democracy to understand how messy and dysfunctional our form of government is. First it is based off of the vote of the majority as if the majority is always right. Lets take a quick look at this idea. The majority of the people at one time thought the earth was flat. The majority at one time believed in creationism. The majority at one time thought the earth was the center of the universe. The majority of Americans believe in some form of god. The majority has few critical thinking skills. The majority are very gullible. The majority respond to emotional manipulation by charismatic figures.
The majority are not the most intelligent.
The majority are not scientists.
The majority are not social engineers.
The majority are not economists.
The majority are not the most moral.
The majority are not the most ethical.
The majority are not the best suited to decision making. So why would we choose to participate in a system where the majority rule.
The truth is that the majority don't rule. It is all a farce. This country is run by a very small minority. The ultra wealthy. The country is run by profiteers and corporations through lobbyists that buy the votes of the congressman and senators. It is the ultimate form of government by misrepresentation.
No matter how you look at it, the political system in America is just rotten to the core. Maybe it is not as bad as some political systems in other countries but still it is far from a rational, logical, fare, expedient way to govern. Our glorified ideals of our democratic form of government are just another form of dogma.
As atheists, free thinkers, critical thinkers, we should understand that jumping into the mud pit will only get us as dirty as rest of the politicians, that we all despise and are frustrated with. In the end we would only be caught in the bog of a dysfunctional government.
I see atheists as taking the high road and creating an information system that exposes the flaws in the current system so that humanity can start moving toward a system of governing that is based off of the scientific method, Where decisions are under continual peer review by experts in the field, Where basic human needs, like food, medical care, clothing, shelter, and education are held above the ideas of profits. Where we understand that all of society will gain greatly by providing these basic human needs to everyone. With rational, critical thinking, peer review and the scientific method applied to all of our decision making, humanity might just have a chance at a decent future.
As it is in the current system it is just too messy, slow, and corrupt. That is why we have not addressed global warming. We have not prevented poverty, We have not stopped starvation and hunger. We have not provided universal health care or equality. That is why our education system is failing. That is why we have not extinguished bigotry. The current system will never solve these problems as long as it is more profitable not too. Our archaic economic system is designed to create and maintain social stratification, exploitation, and injustice. None of these problems can really be solved until it is replaced by a resource based economy instead of a monetary based economy.
I completely reject the idea that we have to work within what system exists. The system that exists is rigged to maintain the status quo. That is why I reject the idea of atheists, entering into the current political system. We need to operate above the fray like we deal with religion. We don't find the answers to religions dogmas' and bigotry by participating in church. Why would we think attending a theistic dominated, corrupt system of government would provide atheists real equality or solutions to humanities really big problems.
Al Gore made a rather profound statement when asked about running for office again. He said “that he found he could be more effective outside of government.” Outside he did not have to answer to the lobbyists or the corporations.
Think about it!