this is truly AMAZING. for all the talk about who won the election for President Obama, the one demographic that might have made the biggest difference is....us! ok, not Atheists per se, but that growing part of the US population generally referred to as "the nones". consider this:
In the swing states, where the president lost the Catholic and Protestant vote, Obama won a huge margin of "the nones." Nationally, he lost Protestants by 15 points and barely won Catholics by 2 points. 70 percent of the "nones" voted to re-elect the president.
70% of those unaffiliated with religion went for Obama. yet from what i can gather almost no one is mentioning this. the "nones" make up about 20% of the US population, which is greater than Hispanics or Blacks (although there is certainly some overlap). many in the non-believer communities have ventured that we are an untapped voter block that could wield tremendous electoral influence. well, the data is in, and we are in fact a force to be reckoned with.
the question is, will we ever be courted? typically electoral sway has resulted in political power. Hispanics are a desired voting block so Hispanic outreach is mandatory, as well as offering political office to such a demographic. who will reach out to the "nones"? where is the solicitation of public office from this group? all i hear are crickets.
to me, this is the next logical step to take Atheism, secularism, non-belief, humanism, whatever you want to call it, to the next level. if we ever want to be considered on par with the religious we need public voices. we need politicians to come to us and ask us what's important. we have power - we just need to figure out how to use it.
here's a link reporting on this:
one more really good discussion about this:
Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, did get it: “It’s not that our message—we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong—didn’t get out. It did get out... It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”
Interesting that there was more mention of the influence of women and minorities on the result of the election just past than of the "nones," and that it has taken this long for this facet of the election to come out. That NPR has noticed it is encouraging, but I wonder if that notice can be sustained in the absence of an active political campaign.
It may be that part of the problem is the relative insularity of atheists, our tendency to be disdainful of positions less utterly committed than our own, like the old "spiritual but not religious." In opening our field of vision to such people, we not only increase our power base but possibly allow them to consider OUR position, with an eye toward eventually adopting it. I know I was utterly indifferent about religion for a long time before I finally committed to being an atheist.
So how about something of an ad campaign, or bumper stickers. Something like:
i think i like it!
Matthew, thanks for the links. Really interesting and uplifting reading.
agreed. you're welcome.
The problem is, to paraphrase the late Madelyn Murray O'Haire, organizing atheists is like herding cats. By our very nature, I submit, we tend to reject "group think" in favoring of making individual decisions on our own. Hell, just take a look at A|N as a prime example. We have liberal, conservative, and libertarian atheists on here who all have different political opinions ranging from fiscal to foreign policy to social issues. Vegetarians and meat eaters who argue about what is and is not a moral/ethical stance on the consumption of animals in one's diet.
I do think our current President has at least reached out (thrown a bone) to the "nones" when he speaks of this nation being made up of christians, jews, hindus, muslims, and non-believers. Obviously, a far cry better than George H.W. Bush who said we're not even citizens. Hey, at least being recognized as citizens who are not the spawn of Satan or baby cannibals, in this current climate, is at least something I suppose.
I think part of the reason 70% (myself included) went with President Obama is similar to the reason the Hispanic voting block went the same way. When people of hispanic origin hear Newt Gingrich talk about the Spanish language as the language of the ghetto, and Mitt Romney talking about making life so miserable on them that they will self deport, it's pretty much a no-brainer. Same with us. When one side rails against the godlessness of a secular America, touts the phony "Christian nation" agenda, says we're not citizens, while the other says we're actually members of society, Helen Keller can see where that one's going.
So long as the GOP loudly and publicly shows its disdain for us, the Democrats will be able to take us for granted. As a veteran and former elected official, I have no desire to throw my support behind a political organization that questions my very loyalty. Which is too bad. If they divorced themselves from the god-botherers and homophobes, accepted science as a rational way to find solutions to real problems, and then really meant it, I'd consider them as a viable option to the things I don't like about the Democrats. In the meantime, I'm left with the conclusion, by their public pronouncements, that they really don't want my vote.
you hit the nail on the head. of course we won't (largely) vote for the party of religion, aka the Republican Party. and i guess it makes sense that the Democrats would take us for granted, as opposed to embracing us which might be politically damaging.
maybe that will change now though. data crunchers are sure to take note, and wonder how they can better tap into us as an electorate, without hurting them in the process.
I think we're working this through in the right direction but something is missing. We may be a demographic block, but we're not aligned as a voting block. There are plenty of left handed people, who if they voted together could surely swing many an election. They aren't courted by politicians however because they do not coalesce - their demographic is irrelevant.
As I see it, there are several possibilities here:
1)We continue to be the cats that can't be herded, in which case we will continue to be ignored until we naturally reach critical mass and candidates try to manipulate us into being a demographic they can utilize for their own political gain.
2)A political situation arises naturally which binds none's together as a voting block. This could take a long time to occur naturally because of our culture. This country "wants" to ignore us.
3)The nones stir the pot, creating the situation that binds us together as a voting block. I think the most likely scenario is one where we insist our government grow up and start acting like rational adults. The only way I see that happening is if the various groups begin dialogues where a plan is hashed out. Because we're still unorganized, we have too little signal/noise right now.
One more point...I think the goal of the nones must be clear, concise and limited. To bite off too much would guarantee failure. Not that I agreed with the OWS movement but as an observer, I saw that as being their biggest failure. They allowed anybody the opportunity to make demands and it demolished their credibility. I would suggest we take a principled stand, advocating a religiously neutral government, as an advocate for all citizens.
Greg, your last point has a great deal of merit. Possibly something like the NRA is to the 2nd Amendment, we should be with respect to the 1st Amendment. Loud, vocal, and make it known we won't vote for anyone who mixes government and religion.
Oh, and maybe a chicken in every pot ;-)
I think a hardnosed position is going to be the only way we get anywhere. It has to be the high road though or we'd never get outside supporters. We're going to have to beat down a lot of accusations about atheism being a religion, slippery slope towards eugenics, satanism and other rubbish. Personally, I don't know if some of these people have the capacity to think outside their miserable self imposed box.
Or, in the State of Washington, some pot for every chicken.