Discussion by: Coffee Addict 83
For those of us who claim the label of Atheist (or Antitheist) we only have one thing necessarily in common. We reject the existence of a deity as having insufficient evidence (and in the case of the antitheist, that religious belief is positively harmful). Do any political beliefs unite us? A casual glance might suggest certain leanings, but by and large none do, nor should they. It further seems to me that political labels are antithetical to the notion of free/critical thinking, and only serve to box people into straw man arguments.
To some extent labels are useful. In fact, all words are really just labels, symbols for ideas that we wish to express. The human brain needs them to categorize and organize thoughts. That having been said, we need to be careful about the specific labels we use and how we use them. For example, what follows will show an American bias in labels used, though I think my meaning should translate well enough.
In a way, it surprises me that so many of my fellow Americans do not bother to vote. For presidential elections roughly half the voting age population bothers to cast a vote. It only gets progressively worse from there. I am surprised because we make our politics into something of a soap opera, an exercise in low brow entertainment, which is exactly the kind of thing most of my fellow citizens seem to enjoy. Perhaps that actually goes to why so few bother to vote? In any event, even among the non-voting segment, there is quite a lot of discussion on the matter (“discussion” probably is not the right word for it). Essentially we have two camps, liberals and conservatives. In party terms, this exists as Democrats and Republicans. Now, there are several “third” parties, some of which exist more as a wing of either of the two main parties, and sometimes independents (Bernie Sanders being a prime example), but for the most part people are forced to vote for either Democrats or Republicans in practical terms. What becomes of the Atheist, the Antitheist, the Agnostic, or others in this system? I can personalize it to this extent, it becomes difficult for me to try to associate in any way with any group for an extended period of time.
By and large, I cannot associate myself with conservatives. Leaving aside all religious issues, I don’t find myself often agreeing with either social policy or economics. I do not see the logic in denying marriage equality, for example, nor do I buy into the long discredited notion of “supply side economics” (it should be noted that not all self identifying conservatives agree with those things either). Being in possession of an MBA, from a private conservative university no less, I would like to think of myself as not uneducated on the latter point. I find that if I try to have a rational discussion I end up subjected to nothing more than unthinking personal insults. These insults all too often come with horribly spelled sentences with atrocious grammar. I do not think I need to go into any specifics here, common experience that that is. I have to imagine that there are those in the broader “A” community (if I may be permitted to call it that) who consider themselves to be conservative, but also wish to disassociate themselves with all the baggage (from the obnoxious members and from their equally obnoxious rhetoric). I am empathetic to that, because I feel that way about the political left.
I have generally considered myself to be on the political left, but I prefer not to see myself quite that way anymore. If I adopt the label “liberal”, or any other that might come from the left, it is almost assumed that I believe in or agree with every bit of dogma that comes from there. I have noticed how often, if we are talking about moderated fora, that I have ended up banned or otherwise silenced if I have even slightly deviated from scripture, no matter how rationally and politely stated. From what I can tell, there is a deification of sorts of the Clintons, much as the right has with Reagan. If I dare criticize the Clintons (always using facts, of course) I must be some kind of neocon lunatic. What happens when I point out the actual histories of Mother Teresa and Mohandas K. Gandhi, and not merely the myths that have been built up around them? Goodness, people on the left get angry. I do not understand that at all. I know those on the left would prefer to have those two lifted up as über liberal ultra pacifist peace and love makers, but who and what they actually were are the very kind of terribleness I would expect those on the left to oppose. The fact that I own a rifle and that I was in the Army offers enough ammunition to some to try to discredit me as a person, rather than try to make counterarguments to what I have actually said. I encounter a lot of postmodernist drivel, a lot of wish thinking, and an apparent desire to exist in nothing but an echo chamber. In short, it all smacks of the religious to me.
So I ask, are political affiliations more useful than harmful or more harmful than useful? For my part, I would like to see politics without party affiliations, where everyone could be defined as an “independent”. I know that is not practical, given human nature, but I do have a desire for it. All I find from such associations is a desire for what Christopher Hitchens called the “false security of consensus”, and a complete rejection of anyone who dare think differently. I further think that the notion of political affiliations does a discredit to those of us who claim any of the “A” labels.