Millennials and the ‘Nones’: Why 40 Years of Religion in US Elections May Change in 2016

Jul 17, 2015

by Diane Winston

Forty years ago, Jimmy Carter’s born-again faith transformed the American political landscape. Whereas John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism had been a liability in the 1960 presidential campaign, Carter’s evangelicalism in 1976 was a curiosity, and secular reporters trekked south to learn about the candidate’s peculiar practices: He read Scripture. He prayed regularly. He taught Sunday school.

Even though many Americans — perhaps as much as one-quarter of the population — shared Carter’s evangelical beliefs at the time, media and political elites seemed surprised that evangelicalism had survived the Aquarian Age. Time magazine dubbed 1976 “The Year of the Evangelical,” and journalists scrambled to tell the story: Religion not only motivated the Democratic candidate, but also galvanized millions of voters.

Political reporters would go on to rediscover religion every four to eight years. Conservative Christians help elect Ronald Reagan! The Religious right stands by George H. W. Bush! Evangelicals back Bill Clinton! Values voters embrace George W. Bush!

After the 2000 election, journalists finally accepted religion’s role in politics as a fait accompli. And religious people, candid and convicted in their beliefs, were happy to share their opinion that America is a moral mess. Their ongoing grievances, manifested in the decades-long culture wars, involved homosexuality, reproductive rights, gun laws, immigration, climate change, the absence of prayer in public life, and the erosion of the traditional nuclear family. For news cycles built around conflict, religion and politics is a godsend.


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34 comments on “Millennials and the ‘Nones’: Why 40 Years of Religion in US Elections May Change in 2016

  • It is about time that america moved away from the ayatolla’s politics . The “nones”Atheists and agnostics are the smartest and represent a substantial chunk of the electoral votes and couldn’t make that advantage by lobbying count.I hope they’l unit in the next election and drag the rest of the US of A to a brighter tomorrow.



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  • With more than a year to go before the candidates are even officially
    chosen, it’s too early to guess how religion will play in the 2016
    election.

    We only wait for the media to tell us what to think and how we’re supposed to feel.



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  • Hi kamel,

    I see no evidence for there being a lack of intelligent Movers & Shakers steering the right wing of the Republican Party. As Vicki pints out, below, many are not actual in-the-spotlight politicians.

    On the other hand, you touch on the one weak point in the argument advanced by Diane Winston: The nones voting record is poor.

    The biggest single reason for this is not money spent on election campaigning. An economic study of direct campaign finance found no correlation between funds and votes cast (as detailed in the falsely titled book Freakonomics).

    Vicki is correct. The 2016 election is being fought NOW, TODAY. I remember a certain Leading Media Figure at a Swiss business gathering revealing, long before the publication of Freakanomics, that the media do not win elections either – meaning: Not directly, during the actual campaign. It is the ” … daily drip, drip, drip … of propaganda … ” that changes minds.

    Well known features of propaganda include:

    It doesn’t have to be true.
    If you repeat any statement, or imply any conclusion, enough times people believe it to be true.
    People like living in bubbles, including bubbles of delusion, in the full knowledge of what they’re doing.
    People are more easily persuaded to not act, than to act.

    Add to that last one, as any good statistician will tell you, that not voting is the rational response to a political election that is a first-past-the-post system (i.e. the U.S. voting system). Because, statistically speaking, your vote is almost worthless.

    Nones not voting will give the election to the politicians most in touch with Movers & Shakers. Unless ……

    Our work begins now!

    What is the plan to get the Nones to realize their power, that 2016 is their year, that real change, exciting change!, positive change, is theirs for the taking?

    All they have to do is, each one, write a letter setting out their hopes for fact-based, rational, secular, politics to their candidates, judge them on their responses – then , disappointed or not with the ‘best’ candidate … VOTE!. Then, finally, tell everyone that they voted.

    It doesn’t sound like a lot to ask.

    I’ve been there, and when your up against the powerful propagandists, time is one of the few things we have.

    Peace.



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  • We only wait for the media to tell us what to think and how we’re supposed to feel.

    Vicki not speak with forked tongue… What most are overlooking about American politics is that both political parties must appeal to the large center of the electorate and decisively to independent voters. Whether the Democratic or Republican party wins will make significant differences in how power is exercised through policy differences and how budget resources are allocated at the margins but it is important to bear in mind that the status quo establishment will not change. America is an affluent consumer society whose lifeblood is market capitalism. Ironically the minority party, the Republicans, represent the majority pocket-book interests of Americans. Frequently partisan pundits talk as if Democrats will initiate a golden age of socialist spending that meets all the needs of the poor, the elderly and children or conversely as if Republicans will launch a golden age of business and job growth by cutting spending and regulation. Nothing of the sort will happen when either party takes the reins of power. Expect politicians, government and institutions to pretty much preserve the current centrist system. The American way of life depends on it.



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  • We only wait for the media to tell us what to think and how we’re supposed to feel.

    Much of what you say is obviously true, but you overlook certain things – and fail to appreciate the very statement that you yourself elected to quote.

    “The status quo establishment will not change.” Ever? That sounds like the voice of an omniscient, all-powerful being. It can and has changed – for the worse. If things can get worse, they can (conceivably) get better.

    Americans are not affluent. What is America other than an aggregate of its citizens? There is a concentration of wealth at the top. Nor are we all consumer-driven. You speak in generalities, and are too categorical in your pronouncements.

    “Republicans, represent the majority pocket-book interests of Americans.” What does that mean? That’s what they want us to believe, but it’s a lie, a false, pseudo representation. And “the American way of life.”—You are confusing what Vicki quite rightly referred to as a media driven collective mind-set (the “manufacturing of consent”) with something other than that, something that really IS a way of life. Things might be bleak, but there is resistance still, and there is awareness of the lies we are being told, and there are still those with insight, who are aware of how the two parties are misleadingly presented as virtual opposites, as if they were not both serving mom and pop: the corporation.

    I think science is your forte (if you are the same Melvin I am thinking of); your analysis of American politics is not very nuanced or precise. Perhaps your cynicism (which is justified to a large extent) has clouded your thinking a bit.



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  • Hi Melvin,

    Vicki: We only wait for the media to tell us what to think and how we’re supposed to feel.

    .

    Melvin: Vicki not speak with forked tongue… [interpreted as: Vicki is largely correct]

    What most are overlooking about American politics is that both political parties must appeal to the large center of the electorate …

    This is not true. In the last US election the NYT studied poll results and found that although voters responded to the direct question (Are you a swing voter?) with about 1/3 yeses, the NYT estimated the real figure at approximately 3% to 5% based on a mix of other evidence. Although we like to think of ourselves as flexible, most of us are happiest with the familiar (or what is presented as the familiar). This result is therefore both not surprising and instructive.

    Add to this four other thoughts: Political commentators who’ve been around for a while are saying that the U.S. has never been more partisan, more polarized, than it is now. The numbers who actually identify as Democrat or Republican are approximately 45% to 38% respectively. The U.S. suffers from gerrymandering more than most democracies, but those lines were never drawn with the Nones in mind. Nones have traditionally not voted (in line with rational thinking based on stats) and not identified as a political constituency because they don’t have religion – and they therefore have no central organisation(s).

    On that basis, remember that self identified Nones number about 1/4 of US voters. That’s 25% versus 5%.

    Any 2016 candidate that can get even half their Nones to the polls will swamp the usual swing vote.

    I freely admit that I spent only a short time on my research, that numbers available on the Net are not the most accurate or up-to-date and that my stats are therefore questionable. But, frankly, it would take a form of denial of heroic proportions not to recognise that in the current U.S. political system the true numbers won’t be that different and the above basis for my statement remains valid.

    … it is important to bear in mind that the status quo establishment will not change.

    I agree with Dan, this is utter nonsense. American democracy is dysfunctional, not dead.

    To state such a thing is a policy of despair: This is exactly the kind of argument that the media will drip feed, from now until Election Day, to discourage Nones from voting. Ignore such siren voices, tuned to steer your vote onto the rocks of despair.

    Frequently partisan pundits talk as if Democrats will initiate a golden age of socialist spending that meets all the needs of the poor, the elderly and children or conversely as if Republicans will launch a golden age of business and job growth by cutting spending and regulation.

    This is why communication, like letter writing – and, yes, e-mail is allowed – is very important. Both parties need to hear the Nones on WHY they will vote. Platitudes and dreams are common political currency, as are emotional reactions – because our emotions are a large part of what we are. If Nones are moved by truth they need to say so.

    It is a puzzle to many U S citizens, and most of the rest of the World, that the U.S. has the resources to set up non-partisan truth seeking of the real effects of Government policies – yet universally, distinctly and irrationally fails to do so. This says more about the current state of U.S. politics than almost everything else put together.

    Nothing of the sort will happen when either party takes the reins of power.

    Expect politicians, government and institutions to pretty much preserve the current centrist system.

    The American way of life depends on it.

    Again with the depression-mode none-thought of: “Nothing to see here, nothing can be done, the situation is hopeless, give up now, all is decided, you are powerless and insignificant, walk on .. ” give the rest of us a break! okay.

    You may have no ambition, Melvin, just don’t count the rest of us in your herd

    Nones: Real change is within your grasp, history waits to made by YOU.

    America is an affluent consumer society whose lifeblood is market capitalism.

    Again, I agree with Dan. America often shocks Europeans who visit for the extremes it demonstrates between those at the top and those at the bottom. No Humanitarian can remain unmoved.

    Ironically the minority party, the Republicans, represent the majority pocket-book interests of Americans.

    I fail to see the irony? Many of the Rich wish to remain rich (it is noticeable that this group contains more inherited wealth than earned wealth – is it just me, or does that say something about Rich Americans’ self-esteem, not to mention their own view of their actual ability to create wealth?) have irrational fears about empowered citizens and a few have poorly used their free time and remain bigoted, ignorant fools. This is news?

    I long ago came to the conclusion that all countries, and the U.S. is turning out to be a case history in the making, run through a political cycle of Revolution, Principled Moral Rectitude (think of France’s: Liberté, égalité, fraternité), then the encroachment of vested interests until they reach Oligarchy, or something close, then complete the cycle by moving to Revolution.

    The trick to being a successful country in the long term is to avoid sinking from Oligarchy into Dictatorship/Fundamentalism – a fate that modern day Russia is struggling with as we talk … and failing. The U.S. Constitution gives every indication that it’s authors understood the World and history in similar terms.

    Yes, you’re right (no pun intended), an Oligarchy is almost in place in the U.S. and is clearly being driven by reactionary political actors off-stage who have substantial resources. Do climbers give up at the foot of Mount Everest. Did Britain give up after the fall of France in June 1940. Did the U.S. throw in the towel after Sputnik.

    Actually, thinking of the Space Race; let us not forget John F, Kennedy’s words in what must be one of the most powerful political speeches by anyone, anywhere, ever:

    … we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

    … some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this … country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward …

    We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people.

    We choose to [do these things] in this decade … not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

    Peace.



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  • Melvin:

    America is an affluent consumer society whose lifeblood is market capitalism.

    Ah but before things can be bought and sold on the market, they first have to be produced. Without production of “stuff”, there would be no market where the rich could attempt to rob each other. Yes I know the rich can and do bet on futures, derivatives etc. , but that doesn’t alter my point.



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  • This is a mixed bag of issues unfortunately. The tie of religion in politics became a major issue in the 80’s with the Christian Coalition but has since become systemic with the corporate wealth getting deeply immersed in government and political dealings in the time since. Religion in politics is simply a method of mollifying the masses that take such beliefs seriously (which in the US is clearly a rather large portion) and our current political system uses it at every turn.

    The nones and other non religious generations coming up will likely impact this (the last couple of elections indicate that appealing to the younger culture and minorities is becoming more impactful and necessary) but as to how much it will change in the long run will depend on getting more to self identify as some form of non religious and participating regularly in the system.

    The religious dialogue only exists in it’s current, virulent form because religion has far too much influence on the social consciousness. Remove the influence and you lessen it’s impact and politics will stray away from making it a go to tool. Definitely not as simple as it sounds, but it is the task ahead for the current generation and those to come.



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  • Hi Vicki,

    Many thanks for the kind thought.

    The original story has made me think a lot about what Nones might achieve.

    My back-of-an-envelope calculations suggest, all rhetoric aside, that the 2016 election will be very important for Nones.

    The worst case scenario appears to be that the two parties’ supporters are dug in and all swing voters together number up to 20%. Nones number approximately 25%, but we all know that getting them all facing in one direction on the same day will be very difficult. As Richard says; like herding cats,

    In addition, we actually have to motivate most of them to actually vote. I don’t see this as being so much of a problem. There will be other efforts to get voters out, and with planning piggy-backing will help to preserve resources and time. The parties are already helping by being annoyingly irrational and silly.

    As I said to Melvin, the data we have to work with are not great, but still compelling.

    Judging the number of actual probable voting Nones – in the final analysis these are the only Nones that count, literally – appears to come down to about 10%.

    If that can be verified, via polling, and that the 10% is either new votes or swing votes, there is no doubt that we’re talking about the potential to create a major shift in the political landscape in 2016.

    Tell any U.S. politician that you know how to pull in 10% of the vote and you”ll get a hearing. Almost any politician to the left of Rick Santorum will still be listening when you say “Nones”.

    Then comes the trading, what do they actually have to say, to promise and, ultimately, to deliver?

    But that’s in the future. For now, today, the urgent challenge is to begin showing that Nones are organising, that they are at least showing signs of voting a line – and what that line is – and that they know what they won’t vote for.

    The next urgent challenge is to get the message out to Nones: Your vote can count in 2016. This message needs to be a series of almost daily doses of positive-vote thinking to counter the media that Melvin and you identified.

    Finally, and it has to happen before the start of the primary season, the message needs to get to media and politicians: Nones care. Nones are fed up because you’re not listening. Nones will vote. Nones are a big group, and they’re starting to circle (meaning: adopt and support) one message for the first time.

    The alternative is to do a Melvin; hide in a cave shouting ‘La-La-La, I can’t hear what’s happening therefore my cave is all there is!’

    The future does not look good from this perspective.

    What will you have to say for yourself when your kids ask you, in the disastrous future: “Mom, what did you do in the election of ’16?’

    But, before any of that, we need to ditch the label. Nones is too negative and too easily disimised. No-one wants to say they’re a None. How about: Positive Thinkers for Truth – Positives, for short?

    Peace.



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  • Hi achromat666,

    This is a mixed bag of issues unfortunately.

    Unfortunate in what way? To me a mixed-up political opposition is an opposition ripe for plucking. Unfortunate? Hardly!

    The tie of religion in[to] politics became a major issue in the 80’s with the Christian Coalition but …

    But? Are you pretending that religion in U.S. politics no longer exists? Did I just slip through a spacetime wormhole into an alternative Universe.

    The tie of religion in[to] politics [somehow became] systemic …corporate wealth getting deeply immersed in government and political dealings [today].

    Dude, you’re in a class of your own.

    In my World, elections are still won by messages and argument. There’s a lot that’s wrong with it in the U.S … but it’s real.

    And thanks for giving a more subtle sample than Melvin on how negative, ‘your vote won’t count anyway’ messages look. Forget it, we’re on a roll.

    Religion in politics is simply a method of mollifying the masses … [blah, blah, blah …]

    Negative vibe … you are powerless, there is nothing you can do … your role is to be a mass consumer … conform, it’s easy … do nothing and nothing bad will happen …

    Yeah, whatever, do you have an actual argument?

    The [Positives] and other non-religious generations coming up will likely impact this (the last couple of elections indicate that appealing to the younger culture and minorities is becoming more impactful and necessary) …

    Ooh, good one, reel us in to see if you can club us just under the surface.

    .. but as to how much it will change in the long run will depend on getting more to self identify as some form of non-religious and participating regularly in the system.

    Oh and he misses!

    Man, I could see that coming a whole mile off! ‘Yeah this is a good story and at some future, indeterminate, far-off, future it may even be real. But it’s for the kids folks, nothing to see here, move along … ‘

    achromat66, that’s so far off you’re not even wrong.

    2016 will be big for us Positives.

    The religious dialogue only exists in it’s current, virulent form because religion has far too much influence on the social consciousness.

    On the one hand, spot on. Too much influence from other people, peers of the Positives, means time for the Positives to act.

    On the other hand, nice try at going for the negative ‘your vote is pointless’ trope from a slightly different angle. I especially liked “virulent” – totally unsupported by evidence, nicely emotional, brilliantly evocative of a power we cannot hope to unseat. But guess what: FAIL!

    Remove the influence and you lessen it’s impact and politics will stray away from making it a go to tool.

    Good plan.

    Definitely not as simple as it sounds,

    We choose to [do these things] … not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

    … but it is the task ahead for the current generation and those to come.

    … some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this … country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward …

    The door is always open achromat666, Join us.

    Peace



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  • CORRECTION:

    Finally, and it has to happen before the start of the primary season …

    Most of the probable favorites have started campaigning. I therefore meant before the voting starts in the primary season.

    Obviously!

    Peace.



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  • Hell, Stephen, I’ll vote for you!

    What am I, chopped liver? (Joke)

    Here’s part of an interview (from 2002) with the late Norman Mailer, a profound critic of American life and an incisive commentator on American politics. (JFK had many excellent qualities, but he didn’t live long enough to exhibit profundity.) Here Mailer discusses some of the inherent contradictions (along with their attendant ramifications) that many Americans are forced to live with.

    We lost a great voice when he died.

    Interviewer: What now?

    NM: I’m not sure anything can be done. I think America is in pretty bad psychic shape. If it really is, then many people may turn to the idea of Empire as a transcendent solution, a way to get rid of our ongoing guilt. I would argue that there has always been a tremendous guilt in our lives, at least as long as I know. I can go right back to my World War II days in the Army. We were all convinced then that when peace came, we’d return home to a depression. We G.I.’s were bitter about that and we enjoyed our bitterness. We were maybe going to lose our lives, but if we got through this, we’d probably go back to depression. Good luck! But after we returned, the country took off on an economic ascent. A lot of Americans were very happy to be prosperous, but they also felt secretly guilty. Why? Because we are a Christian nation. The Judeo in Judeo-Christian is essentially a grace note. We are a Christian nation. And the idea, if you really are a Christian and a great many people in America at that point were significantly devout, was that you were not supposed to be all that rich. God didn’t want it. Jesus certainly didn’t. You were not supposed to pile up a lot of money. You were supposed to spend your life in reasonably altruistic acts. That was one half of the collective psyche. The other half: Beat everybody you are in a contest with because you’ve got to win. To a certain extent, and this is a cruel, but possibly an accurate remark, to be an American is to be an oxymoron. On the one hand, you are a good Christian, and on the other, you are viscerally combative. You are supposed to be macho and win. Jesus and Evel Knievel don’t necessarily consort too well in one psyche. Nonetheless, we moved forward, we became more and more powerful, even as the guilt developed in all sorts of subterranean ways. The communist Red Scare of the early Fifties, at a time when the Soviet Union was still hugely ravaged by its war wounds, is one example of how we reacted. When 9/11 occurred, there was an immense guilt mixed in with the rage. I was here in Provincetown, 300 miles away at the time, and the reality of it didn’t hit me directly, but after a while I began to perceive part of the key element in it. The terror of that act involved the TV audience all over America. It was as if our TV sets had come alive. For years we’ve been seeing scenes just like that on the tube and enjoyed them because we were so insulated. A hundredth of our psychic receptivity could enter the box and share the fear while 99% of ourselves felt absolutely safe. Now, suddenly, it was real. Gods and demons were invading the U.S., coming in right off the TV screen. That may account in part for the odd guilt so many felt after 9/11 as if untold divine forces were erupting in fury.



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  • Stephen of Wimbledon
    Jul 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    And thanks for giving a more subtle sample than Melvin on how negative, ‘your vote won’t count anyway’ messages look. Forget it, we’re on a roll.

    How much a vote counts, depends on where it is cast!

    My votes on candidate selection and party leader selection count more than my vote to select MPs or councillors in public elections.

    Participating in party planning meetings with the local MP also gives more influence than that of the casual voter.

    Having said that, the intellectual input can be wiped out on particular issues, by the media manipulated sheeple vote backing dud candidates, parties, or manifestos.



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  • I don’t know which is more disturbing: Your level of condescension or your massive amount of misunderstanding of nearly everything I wrote.

    And let’s be clear about this. I don’t ever purport to be right about everything, and I do appreciate actual criticism when I get something wrong. And this may not be a perfect viewpoint (as I don’t think those exists) but the level of malice in the response is unwarranted.

    Let’s start shall we?

    Hi achromat666,

    This is a mixed bag of issues unfortunately.

    Unfortunate in what way? To me a mixed-up political opposition is an
    opposition ripe for plucking. Unfortunate? Hardly!

    I’m not sure if this is humor or just an attempt to find fault in the beginning of an observation. The ideas brought up in the OP are indeed a mixed bag. There are a lot of causes involved and the effects are far reaching.

    Not sure what in these first 8 words was worthy of such a response. Strikes me far more as nit picking.

    The tie of religion in[to] politics became a major issue in the 80’s
    with the Christian Coalition but …

    But? Are you pretending that religion in U.S. politics no longer
    exists? Did I just slip through a spacetime wormhole into an
    alternative Universe.

    This is the full sentence from which you chose to edit down to rebut:

    The tie of religion in politics became a major issue in the 80’s with the Christian Coalition but has since become systemic with the corporate wealth getting deeply immersed in government and political dealings in the time since.

    You want to make grammatical correction (which you do throughout)? Fine, but where are you getting this spacetime wormhole? There is a complete thought there that reflects my take on where the issues got out of hand with religion getting into politics. Why do you pick at only a portion of that statement? What purpose could that possibly serve?

    The tie of religion in[to] politics [somehow became] systemic
    …corporate wealth getting deeply immersed in government and political
    dealings [today].

    Dude, you’re in a class of your own.

    In my World, elections are still won by messages and argument. There’s
    a lot that’s wrong with it in the U.S … but it’s real.

    And thanks for giving a more subtle sample than Melvin on how
    negative, ‘your vote won’t count anyway’ messages look. Forget it,
    we’re on a roll.

    Where the hell is this coming from? A large part of the issue with religion and politics in this country is based around the way politicians and corporate interests have manipulated its perception and overblown its importance. And the problem is systemic in how deep it has infiltrated the process.

    And where in this statement do I say your vote won’t count? Where in here have I said that nothing can be done or that no one is currently trying to do something about it?

    This is my perception of the issue. You don’t like it? Fine, but don’t create strawmen from things I never said.

    Religion in politics is simply a method of mollifying the masses … [blah, blah, blah …]

    Negative vibe … you are powerless, there is nothing you can do … your
    role is to be a mass consumer … conform, it’s easy … do nothing and
    nothing bad will happen …

    Yeah, whatever, do you have an actual argument?

    Way to oversimplify. Once again, where have I said that we are powerless? Cite an actual line and argue that. Religion in politics is a tool politicians use to manipulate laws and the people. Happens all the time.

    And this isn’t an argument. You’re turning it into one.

    Moreover, since when did stating what I see as true of a situation suddenly become hopelessness and despair? Why specifically are you taking such issue with this post? Stop attacking strawmen and make an observation based on something I said.

    The [Positives] and other non-religious generations coming up will
    likely impact this (the last couple of elections indicate that
    appealing to the younger culture and minorities is becoming more
    impactful and necessary) …

    Ooh, good one, reel us in to see if you can club us just under the
    surface.

    .. but as to how much it will change in the long run will depend on getting more to self identify as some form of non-religious and
    participating regularly in the system.

    Oh and he misses!

    Man, I could see that coming a whole mile off! ‘Yeah this is a good
    story and at some future, indeterminate, far-off, future it may even
    be real. But it’s for the kids folks, nothing to see here, move along
    … ‘

    achromat66, that’s so far off you’re not even wrong.

    2016 will be big for us Positives.

    What are you arguing exactly? That I don’t think that positives or nones won’t impact the election? That it will only happen in the far flung future? That there is no hope because people won’t vote enough? Because I haven’t said or inferred any of those things.

    And I’m saying that the nones and positives are in fact going to impact things. If you want to argue degrees, go nuts. But to say I’m saying this is only going to happen in the far flung matter or that I’m undercutting the effort is simply untrue. Seriously where are you getting this?

    The religious dialogue only exists in it’s current, virulent form
    because religion has far too much influence on the social
    consciousness.

    On the one hand, spot on. Too much influence from other people, peers
    of the Positives, means time for the Positives to act.

    On the other hand, nice try at going for the negative ‘your vote is
    pointless’ trope from a slightly different angle. I especially liked
    “virulent” – totally unsupported by evidence, nicely emotional,
    brilliantly evocative of a power we cannot hope to unseat. But guess
    what: FAIL!

    I’m beginning to honestly think you’re reading a different post entirely from the one I wrote.

    Emphasizing the influence the worst aspects of right wing radical religious politicking has does not infer that anyone’s vote is pointless. Those are words I never use, an intent I never infer and a point I never make.

    Remove the influence and you lessen it’s impact and politics will
    stray away from making it a go to tool.

    Good plan.

    Well thanks for getting that part right at least.

    Definitely not as simple as it sounds,

    We choose to [do these things] … not because they are easy, but
    because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and
    measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is
    one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone,
    and one which we intend to win.

    … but it is the task ahead for the current generation and those to come.

    … some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to
    wait. But this … country of the United States was not built by those
    who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was
    conquered by those who moved forward …

    The door is always open achromat666, Join us.

    Not sure what the point of this last bit is. But then I’m literally confused about over 90% of your response so i guess i shouldn’t be surprised at this point.

    But I am. I am because while I don’t always agree with you, I appreciate your input on most things. It makes this response especially confusing because you’re essentially accusing me of saying that nones don’t matter, the system won’t change and that we’re all fools for thinking it will make any difference. I’ve said none of those things.

    I’m trying to bring home how entrenched the current religious thinking is in politics and how much of a struggle all of this is and will continue to be. whether you agree with the wording or not is one thing but you’ve turned my whole post into a strawmen to vent some frustrations you have with what seems like an entirely different post.



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  • What the fuck is a “positive” and why are allowing stupid, ambiguous words like that to creep into the language? None is another one. I won’t use that word. It says too much and too little, and lends itself to ridicule.
    As for the topic of this thread, voting is not that important. It isn’t meaningless, but its importance is exaggerated – another form of manipulation that reinforces and maintains the status quo (which Melvin referred to somewhere). Real change is brought about through mass action. There isn’t a strong tradition of that here in the US, or hasn’t been for decades.
    I do think that the less people are inclined to vote for candidates that (falsely) claim to be religious or who are actually religious (delusional), the better. But how do we go about getting people to renounce their adherence to their faith? How do you go about doing that? As Mailer implied (in the interview that I pasted somewhere on this thread and which no one read) Americans are guilt ridden. They are attracted to candidates who will lull them into a state of tranquility.
    This issue – religion and politics in America – is enormously complex, but I think we need a strong candidate who can say “I respect your faith but I have no faith.” That would be a breakthrough. People could then decide to let go of their guilt (over acquiring more and more wealth while claiming to be Christians), vote for him or her – or not! Either way, it would send a shock wave through the collective psyche of many American Christians. It would have either a liberating effect, or the opposite of a liberating effect.—It could also engender despair and dread and a greater need to hold onto (what they think are) their moral-religious values – which serve a cohesive function.
    Yup, we’re a sick society in some ways. No question about that.
    That’s enough out of me. Politics isn’t my thing, but I thought I’d do a little riffing, as it were.
    (Not sure if I addressed the topic too well. The article was boring, so I skimmed through it. I read the threads, however. Those I liked.)



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  • The tie of religion in politics became a major issue in the 80’s with
    the Christian Coalition…

    IMO, it was even earlier. I remember Jimmy Carter’s campaign: “Vote for me; I will never lie to you.” It was a different time then. We were reeling from Vietnam protests and the Watergate hearings. Trust in the leadership was pretty slim, and Nixon’s resignation speech was about the only time we felt we could actually connect with the guy as a human being. It was ridiculous that politicians had to promise not to lie to the electorate.

    Then came Reagan, with his promise to “restore America” and the religious right saw their opportunity.

    Sigh.



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  • Why shouldn’t he despise Falwell, Bonnie? I detest bad people too. So what?
    Vicki, read Mailer. He was our most profound critic of, and commentator on, American life and politics. He was a profoundly knowledgeable and insightful man.

    He wrote fiction and non-fiction. He also gave many interviews. (You can check him out on YouTube.) You might want to start out with The Big Empty.

    “Questions are posed, writes Norman Mailer, ‘in the hope they will open into richer insights, which in turn will bring forth sharper questions.’ In this series of conversations, John Buffalo Mailer, 27, poses a series of questions to his father, challenging the reflections and insights of the man who has dominated and defined much of American letters for the past sixty years. Their wide-ranging discussions take place over the course of a year, beginning in July 2004.”



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  • Like the sun that shines on the good and bad, both atheists as well as believers welcome six-figure incomes. The Nones are a volatile cohort whose current slump in unemployment, income and opportunity relative to the affluent American generations who proceeded them may bring about a resurgence in government state welfare programs. Nonetheless, the revolutionary time range is decades away. The underlying economic and political infrastructure in the United States (as elsewhwere) is remarkably stable. Shoot the messenger if you will. The subtle paradox in arguments presented in the article is that they focus on horse-race statistics rather than how both the Democrat and Republican parties, embrace continuity of policy, both foreign and domestic. When the Democratic savior Barack Obama arrived in 2008 with “change you can believe in” he proceeded to bail out financial institutions, including our iconic General Motors, with taxpayer money. Simply put, he preserved the system that Americans depend on wisely turning a deaf hear to all the grumbling. After collecting his Nobel Peace Prize he pursued the war policy of George W. in Iraq and Afghanistan with renewed vigor multiplying the number of drone strikes against jihadists. Significantly he has given us the Affordable Care Act but the rise of medical care costs have been left under the control of private insurance companies, for-profit hospitals, fee-for-service specialists and testing facilities.

    But what is on the horizon? Likely our next Queen will be Hillary, the heir apparent snake of the Clinton dynasty, whose King Bill passed laws the “ended welfare as we know it.” Come back in sixteen years and see how much has changed.



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  • I see a worrying possibility- because the Republican Party is synonymous
    with evangelical loonery, atheists will vote Democrat and we will have at least 4 more years of “NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM”, “workplace violence”, etc.
    As Islamic terror attacks become an everyday reality and fundamentalists
    grow in western societies the denialists become ever more desperate and our freedoms ever more threatened; & STILL Islam will be granted the shield of religion.



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  • JimJFox
    Jul 21, 2015 at 3:34 am

    . . . and we will have at least 4 more years of “NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM”, “workplace violence”, etc.

    I think the denial of the fundamental violence of Islam, is hidden in the fundamental violence of the Xtian right, and the US gun lobby.
    The fundamentalism, looks to me like the assertive ignorance, which prescribes brute-force and stupidity as an alternative to studying details and making adjustments.
    Excuses are then made by apologists and fellow religionists, who recognise the similar resemblance of faith-thinking to their own mental processes.

    As Islamic terror attacks become an everyday reality and fundamentalists
    grow in western societies the denialists become ever more desperate and our freedoms ever more threatened; & STILL Islam will be granted the shield of religion.

    What needs to be recognised is that Islamic fundamentalism is closely related to Xtian fundamentalism and ideological fundamentalism.
    The violence of these faith-based cultures, has been illustrated by the crusades, The Teutonic Knights, the Ku-Klux Clan, Mao’s cultural revolution, Pol Pot’s revolutionaries, Stalin’s terror etc. over the centuries.

    The fundamentalist Caliphates are not all that different to the historical conquering of populations with other religions and imposition of Xtianity, by crusader knights – in the middle-east and in Europe.



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  • Democrats and Republicans in America like Tories and Labor in the U.K., represent domestic political interest groups that historically have competed for power within those sovereign nations. However they choose to project power through foreign policy – using diplomacy, trade agreements, sanctions or military operations, they have little control over geopolitical developments. In the decades since WWII, the U.S. and the U.K. allowed significant numbers of Muslim immigrants (and other non-Europeans) to settle in their countries. The world saw the founding of the state of Israel and the rise of Islamic nationalism-jihadism during the same period, leaving the democratic west in a double bind. On the one hand, governments cannot violate the civil rights of Muslim citizens, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding, yet charged with protecting public safety and national security, police powers are compelled to keep “radicalized suspects” under intrusive surveillance.

    It is naive to believe that more liberal or more conservative elected administrations adopt significantly different postures or enjoy a significant advantage in dealing with domestic terrorism not only because they share the same zero-tolerance revulsion for Muslim perpetrators but also because they employ the same security-intelligence apparatus institutionalized over decades within the state. Lashing out though war as Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan only multiplied the number of Islamic terrorists and the militarized movements they formed in the middle east. Tragically, the rebound effect extended to Muslims citizens, mostly young men, living in the west. Politicians have to be selective in their rhetoric when speaking to the diverse mix of their citizenry. Condemning Islam as a violent religion is not feasible from a political platform because it will be construed as a rejection of the ethnic-sectarian identity, in effect the humanity, of the vast majority of law-abiding peaceful Muslims. The politicians of both liberal and conservative parties instead pursue a vigorous policy of condemning specific acts of terrorism in-the-name-of Islam, only criminals who persecute, murder and maim. Though political partisans will cherry-pick minor differences in rhetoric or response, do not waste your time trying to parse which party will take the harder line. This is not principally about intellectual criticism of “religion.” It is about the rise of a new geopolitical conflict where the stakes are kill or be killed.



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  • 28
    Wilhelm says:

    The problem with the “believers” is that they keep themselves lagging behind and hampering all the accomplishments and advances in human civilization, keeping lingering alive all the old problems already surpassed. They can even overthrow all the hard reached landmarks because of their willing rejection to progress and common knowledge. They tend to reproduce faster than most responsible up to date evolved people. They tend to be gullible, manipulable, misguided, obstinate and easy prey for evil intentioned politicians.



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  • Melvin
    Jul 21, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    In the decades since WWII, the U.S. and the U.K. allowed significant numbers of Muslim immigrants (and other non-Europeans) to settle in their countries.

    This was basically a short-termist capitalist source of cheap labour – as immigration and out-sourcing is today!



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  • This was basically a short-termist capitalist source of cheap labour – as immigration and out-sourcing is today!

    There is some validity to the observation. It’s hard to tell if it’s intended as a dismissal of the larger narrative, an “explanation” exonerating western immigration policies for unintended consequences, or a free standing statement of fact.

    Considering the dynamics of the push-pull factors driving emigration-immigration in the 21st century, the demographic trend appears long-term because of sub-replacement birth rates in prosperous Europe and among Euro-Caucasian populations in the United States. Both regions will feel the pressure to allow increased immigration to sustain a youthful work force to care for the needs of a dependent aging population as ethnic Europeans decline in numbers relative to newcomers from the hinterland of former empires.

    As for Wilhelm, he speaks harsh truths. Would that the gods have made him more diplomatic! You don’t tell a thug holding a cocked pistol to your head, “go ahead, pull the trigger; you haven’t got the guts!”



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  • Good for Menchen. Let him hold it. I’ve never read Menchen, but he died in 1950, and he sounds like he had a few things in common with that asshole Lindbergh. Mailer was, for me, the most interesting critic of his time. Forget best or greatest.
    I just like telling people to read Mailer. He’s worth reading. That’s all.
    Have either of you even read one line of Mailer? (And I mean something other than The Naked and the Dead.) Don’t lie.
    (In a foul mood. Sorry.)



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