In my job, we have several types of activity where we have to show exactly what we think the damage will be, or precisely what it is we are trying to fix. It’s tedious, but a good exercise. We can’t go into court and say “Well, he’s crazy, judge. He needs a guardian.” We have to show what harm is likely to occur if he doesn’t take medication. Is he going to stop eating? Is he going to assault someone? Because if he is just going to be a pain in the ass, so what? Lots of people are a pain in the ass, but we don’t lock them up for it. We can’t say to the insurance company “Well, she’s not better yet. Still sounds a little depressed to me.” The insurers are going to insist that for $1000/day, we need to show she’s likely to get suicidal again immediately, and that there’s no $100/day outpatient treatment that would keep her alive just as well. So rather than conjuring all these images of the Inquisition, the Crusades, and Salem trials – and I could have quite a few words in defense of those anyway, but that’s another day – it pays to ask people define exactly what they think will go wrong if a religious person is elected. I think Mormonism is a cult, for example, but may still vote for Romney. Because I am not seeing exactly what damage his Mormonism is going to do, here. Judd Gregg is UCC Congregationalist, which is already pretty milk-and-water, but even in that sphere is a limited player – so he’s 90% secular; John Sununu was an ardent Catholic. I’d vote for either in a heartbeat over anybody running for anything in America today. When you try and define exactly what is going to go wrong for religious reasons if we elect a Michelle Bachmann or a Rick Perry, I don’t find that their critics come up with a lot. There are some symbolic issues, which people use as a proxy for whether someone is Like Us or Not Like Us, but only on gay marriage is there likely to be any activity. Since the mid 70’s, the abortion issue has never been in danger of moving more than a few degrees one way or another – more waiting or notification or less, more federal funding or less. Even under radical change, the most that will happen is sending it back to the states. On stem-cell research much of the activity is on using your own stem cells or umbilical cells anyway – it’s a symbolic issue. Creationism? Kids learn neither the biology we teach now nor their Sunday School lessons. There’s a lot of “who’s in charge” posturing on this – both sides. Even if a teacher were made to teach creationism against their conscience, if they stood in the front and said “Uh, this is another theory that some churches think is important that you know,” does anyone think there will be mass conversions to fundamentalism? Of course not. But it bothers people because it seems rather explicitly religious, and thus not very separation of C & S. I think they are right. But I think environmentalism is weak science trotted out in defense of some pretty dubious philosophical ideas that absolutely crest over into religion for some people, and no one’s going to stop teaching that to my kid.
What exactly do people feel the damage is going to be? When you take away all the haunted house recordings and pictures of blood and werewolves, what exactly is going to harm us at Spookyworld? I think a lot of it comes down to feelings that America/society/the government isn’t expressing them. I think a lot of American groups feel that way, including a passel of conservative ones. There’s this idea that our values should be reified in some formal, obvious way, declaring to the world that this is the Real America. Liberal or conservative, it irritates and puzzles me. I have never expected the society as a whole, and especially not the government, to reflect my values more than approximately. I just don’t get it. People get all worked up because what – we were made to say the Lord’s Prayer in schools decades ago? And we now think that’s unamerican (likely true), so electing people who don’t condemn that in the loudest possible terms is going to lead to some fascist… Like that’s going to lead to…well, what did it lead to last time? Give me a break.
You hear it in the phrase “I don’t want to live in a country that…”
Think that through, Bessie.
I wonder how much of people’s personal issues are behind this? When I can’t find much measurable in the complaints, it’s a natural next question, isn’t it?