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!

Views: 41

Comment by Velogiraptor on September 27, 2010 at 7:40pm
You say chicken, I say egg.
Comment by Dennis Paul Renner on September 27, 2010 at 11:23pm
I would hope that atheists use of critical thinking would give us an advantage over the emotional wishful thinking that plagues our theist friends. I can only speculate as to whether they would prove to be less corrupt than their religious counter parts. That is why I envoked the idea of applying the scientific method and peer review in to the system of governing. It has worked well in the scientific community, I see no reason why it should not work when applied to governing.

Social activism has produce more changes than voting by the public, After all only getting to vote for the misrepresentation of your choice is really no vote at all.
Comment by Doug Reardon on September 28, 2010 at 12:36am
When Richard Nixon died, they no longer reported "he was a crook", but "was an elder statesman." The moral being: the only good politician is a dead one.
Comment by Dennis Paul Renner on September 28, 2010 at 7:30am
It seems to be a propaganda tool to glorify dead politicians. Reagan was an idot and a liar his only credit was he could read a script. So now republicans seem to worship him. The man ran CIA death squads that killed hundreds of innocent men, women, and children. How soon history forgets the truth.
Comment by willailla on September 28, 2010 at 1:38pm
"Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough." -- Chinatown

Helen Keller, who was deaf, dumb and blind, was still able to think more clearly than most people. She wrote that voting was a choice between 'Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum.' Or as the late comedian Bill Hicks said, the puppet on the left or the puppet on the right.

I agree with all that's been said, but I don't think unfettered science would improve matters, as NAZI Germany demonstrated. The problem is our base human nature, and it will destroy us. I see nothing changing in the future as long as one person sees that it to his or her advantage to screw another.
Comment by Bill on September 28, 2010 at 2:26pm
I think that any atheist who is inclined to should get involved with politics. They should hide their atheism, or show case it, as their best judgment dictates. Our base human nature has always been with us, and we have evolved better and better social contracts for mitigating it's negative influences. Actually, humans are very social animals and in most cased see greater benefit to working together that to screwing each other over. The big speed bump that is see is overcoming the in-group/out-group mentality so central to religion and nationalism. I believe that through rationality we can create a global constitution that will appeal to our social nature and make clear that when we screw each other, we are only screwing ourselves. In order to move toward this goal, we need rational people working both inside and outside the system.

@Dennis, I think your OP is very well written. It outlines a direction that many atheists should invest their political energies, just not all, imho.
Comment by willailla on September 28, 2010 at 3:51pm
How do you get rid of the 'selfish gene', Bill? As a rule, even rational people don't believe it's in their best interest to co-operate. They never have. War proves that.

Because we, who are rational--or think we are, are at the mercy of people who are selfish. Good will efforts will not change that.
Comment by Bill on September 28, 2010 at 4:39pm
War proves it, between groups. Within groups, we tend to be far more altruistic. It will not be necessary to get rid of the selfish gene - that actually works in our favor once self interest is shown to be fulfilled by cooperation - but instead it will be necessary to see all humanity as one group.

I do think that rational individuals believe it is in their self interest to cooperate within small groups. We see this in almost all primates and almost all social mammals. The trick will be to expand the idea of who's in the group. I'm not Pollyanna about this, and I realize what a small chance we have of seeing it fulfilled.

There may always be a sort of predator/prey relationship between selfish individuals and altruistic groups. The more altruistic a population becomes, the more successful that population is. However, this altruistic population creates the ideal environment for selfish individuals to thrive. And of course their success has a negative effect on the success of the population as a whole. It will always be a struggle, but I think we can manage it with a reliance on the rational rule of law.
Comment by Jon Heim on September 28, 2010 at 5:30pm
although I agree with most of what you've said, I am very active in politics because it effects my way of life.

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