Do we have a democracy in the US, or a plutocracy? Or somewhere in between? Or something completely different? How much does money really influence American politics?

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The only political positioning that makes any sense at all from a logical standpoint for an atheist is the politics of "green". The Greens are THE ONLY party that rely on science and reasoning for a vast majority of its positions. Of course, I concede that participants within various green party may be, in theory, just as dishonest as those in all other parties. But in an ideal world, Greens (neither left nor right, nor centre, but logically and scientifically). Within this framework, it is possible that some resulting Green societies might be more communally orientated, or more libertarian orientated, but the foundation of each society would still have a profound understanding of the harms done to ourselves through the harm done to the physical environment and all its inhabitants.

Historically, atheists have been more aligned with left wing politics, I think it's because atheist circles have been dominated by Humanists. But I am uninterested in further advancing the Homo sapiens cause at the cost of all others, so the Humanist manifesto goes against all I think is necessary for human contentment among all other earthlings. We need more balance to achieve some degree of social justice.

I am all for living in greater harmony with all the other species on the planet. I deplore the fact that humanity is the cause of the 6th mass extinction in our Earth's history, and in a few short decades or centuries we may have wiped out a vast percentage of Earth's species, including ourselves. However, I disagree that a "green" party is the only available position for an atheist to take from the perspective of logic. If "The Greens are THE ONLY party that rely on science and reasoning for a vast majority of its positions", then this seems to be because of the party's narrow focus on our relationships to other species and to our own sustainable future, but what it leaves out is the wide realm of those things we know or should know about how members of our species interact with each other. It is quite clear that, driven to extreme circumstances, people will exhibit extreme behavior. Should we be forced to live without any governing body, as Libertarians or Anarchists would have it, we would devolve to the most sinister, selfish behavior. Should we be forced to live with an intrusive, domineering governing body, as in Communism of Fascism, we would display some remarkably parallel behaviors. It seems clear, then, that we need to strike a healthy balance between the needs of the individuals and the needs of the group as a whole. Surely there is wiggle room, and societies built upon science and secularism would have somewhat differing orientations, but as we realize the boundaries of what kinds of societies humans can thrive in, we will hopefully edge closer to this optimal balance. When I argue against Libertarianism, for example, it is because I believe that, given the evidence I perceive, you cannot build complex, sophisticated, highly-functional societies around the idea that individuals should be left to their own devices to the extreme. This kind of philosophical point cannot be made within the confines of simply a "green" approach to politics. It is akin to saying that biology should be approached only from the standpoint of chemistry, or that psychology should be approached only from the standpoint of biology, and so forth.
which is why I stated "a green society might be a little communal, or a little libertarian" and how I talked of balance :)

Glen, you ask, "Does the individual who has lost her faith also jettison the morality of superstition?"

I wish we would all jettison the IM morality of superstition?  I think we are just as selfish as everyone else.  We're just smarter.  Just think of the biblical teaching that the other animals are here for our use.  It's not true, but how many of us have stopped exploiting them?  WE often throw out god, but hold tight to those teachings that give us license to behave badly, and feel superior, and justified.

I will try to keep you in mind for my movement! :-) Maybe I should start a discussion board which asks who would be willing to move to VT to work on creating an atheistic/socialistic society based on an ethical theory which could be considered "humanistic". In any case, I don't know about being able to match your current income, but one would think that what you lost in income would be more than made up for in other ways. You would be in a community of like-minded individuals, for one. You would be creating a way of life rather than just accepting one which was ready-made for you by people with whom you have vast differences. This could give you more motivation since you would be living a more meaningful existence. And the argument that a capitalistic society which takes advantage of you by luring you with cold hard cash but not giving you enough bang for your buck, existentially and otherwise, is another thing to consider. Would you really rather work for a society such as ours, if you had the opportunity to work for one in which you truly believed, even if it couldn't match your current salary dollar for dollar?
In Vermont, in the winter, there is really NO need for cooling!!!!! Now, if you could use the winter air for heating, you would have a great idea! LOL!!!

Wanderer, agree completely concerning the nature of atheism. I do however hold out hope that atheists in general are kinder and less apt to embrace various forms of discrimination which are in large measure derived from religion. Of course this cant be fully judged unless and until atheists have institutional power. Islam is more destructive today than christianity simply because it is more powerful among its adherents.

What will atheists do? If an atheistic community forms but political leanings are not defined who can say how politics and mores will emerge?

Well if our political institutions would be anything like A|N, we would be by and large leftist. There is a committed group of libertarians here, to be sure (and they should be committed! -muah), but it seems like we are as a whole a generally left-leaning group which is much smarter on average, and much better people on average, than theists. So I think you have a point, because if the only criteria for joining an atheistic community is that you are an atheist, while there would be a small segment of libertarians and other assorted morons, we would still be on the whole a much better community of individuals.
I voted for Obama and what did we get? He bailed out huge banks, we are still at war, no real jobs program and never mentions need for  tariffs on Chinese goods. Then there are the republicans which are even worse. Both parties bought and paid for by corporations. I dont fault those who do not vote since  real change is close to futile. I do vote but think voting becomes more pointless each election.
True dat, Mark. I surely don't want any of those serious wackjobs from the right running this country, but I am seriously thinking about just sitting on my hands this time around and not voting. Why should I throw my support behind Obama when he does nothing to fix the actual problems of this country, and by extension, the world? I just bought the Suskind book, in it he (Ron Suskind) argues that the bankers are basically laughing at him, saying that the more they say Obama isn't doing enough for them, the more he does for them, and he argues that even the bankers were saying that they expected conditions to be put on the bailouts and even knew that it was in their long-term best interest, and were shocked that Obama did nothing of the sort. It is outrageous, I had high hopes he was going to go in there and nationalize the banks and make a quick left-turn into socialism, with immediate benefits to be had which might have convinced the country of how wrong-headed the Republicans really are, instead he let the banks take everyone up the ass and we are in one awful damn mess now. Sorry for the rant, but I am pretty pissed off and I'm not about to take it much longer. Look for my new discussion post coming up, I'm gathering some ammunition to point out the real problem in the world.

I vote, not because my one vote will make any difference, but if all the cynicals who don't vote would turn around and CAST a vote, maybe we COULD make a difference. To paraphrase a song of the 60's, "One man's hands can't move to push the plow, 2 men's hands can't move to push the plow, but if 2 and 2 and 50 make a million, we will see the world go round, we will see the world go round."

Yeah, I'm a hopeless idealist, but "if we don't hang together, we will surely hang separately" to quote a far earlier figure!

Ah, more quotes from Natalie! I liked the first two very much, and I like these two very much as well, but again, I could easily offer up counterarguments which apply to this particular discussion. Firstly, more votes doesn't mean better votes. You might persuade people who would otherwise not have voted to vote for the wrong candidates. Just because millions more people voted, doesn't mean the results would turn out any different. And it seems we are already hanging separately, despite our votes. That is the whole point. The system itself is broken, and more votes within a broken voting system will not fix the system. Something else is needed. Certainly voter apathy isn't the solution, but it can draw attention to the problem and as such is useful.

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