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Re: [atheists-27] Snow Day! Let's talk politics

From: Don W.
Sent on: Thursday, March 7, 2013 2:52 PM
I think Chad is right that the Tea Party is now a liability for the GOP. However, members of the Tea Party do not consider themselves to be a liability. They remain within their delusional world view where they are right and the rest of the world is supposed to come around to their views of reality.
Morover, Boehner and company are fanatical on a basic Tea Party platform of no increase in taxes to achieve a move toward fiscal balance. Polls show that the majority of the GOP favor an increase in taxes on the rich so GOP leadership is substantially out of touch with their own base. I am sure that most members of the GOP would consider those making between $250 and $450k to be among the wealthy and those people did not have any increase in taxes with end of year agreement.
Chris Mooney has documented the fact that conservatives are substantially less inclined to be open to new experience. They want cognitive closure around their existing world view which comes from their various sources of conservative authority. The fact that Rick Scott has moved away from this knee-jerk variety of conservatism is to be applauded.
This brings me back the question of how we define what our secular values are? As part of my organizing activity for our upcoming Secular Voter's Forum I have be communicating with the Secular Coalition for America. This is a profoundly wonderful group. However, I found myself a bit disturbed by their understanding of the secular/religious divide in a conference call they had today.
Someone successfully made the point that within the SCA that voter ID laws are not considered a secular issue. I was appalled by this since I am rather certain that support for those laws would come disproportionately from the religious. Moreover, I doubt that we would have even 5% of our members here which would support those laws.
As a matter of science it has been demonstrated that extreme societal inequality results in substantial increases societal dysfunction and the probability of complete collapse of the social order. The current American trajectory toward a future where the rich and super-rich take a vastly disproportionate percentage of the economic wealth of our nation is not good.  Voter ID laws are specifically designed to disenfranchise those on the low end of the income spectrum to make the world more comfortable for those who are already extremely comfortable.   How is this not a secular issue?
Don Wharton

From: Chad <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, March 7,[masked]:51 AM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Snow Day! Let's talk politics

On a national level the Tea Party is now a liability for  the GOP. Moreover, like a goiter, the TP is cumbersome and embarrassing.  Scott may be trying to cut them off. A pat on the back is in order if it is anything but a briefly lived bipolar episode. 

Chad Albus

Robert W Ahrens <[address removed]> wrote:

I was struck by an article today about the Florida Governor, Rick Scott.

We had a lot of fun poking fun at the guy in the election, and excoriating him for his anti-democratic voting laws, among other things.

But, this article notes that in recent weeks, he has made some surprising 180 degree turns on several subjects, including the ACA and Medicaid expansion.  One thing he cited as a reason (one of several, he said) for changing his mind was his mother, who died last year.  Apparently, they were poor, and poor enough his mother at least considered putting him up for adoption at one point.

One of the comments to the article was a terrible recounting of his past actions in favor of the Tea Party, and saying that nobody should believe his turnabout, etc., etc.

Yes, the article does recount how he endorsed the TP in his first year.  Don't forget, the TP was in its ascendancy then, and it was, in a lot of places, fairly popular.  Such things attract politicians, as they carry votes they need to win.  Today, not so much, and Scott's popularity ranking is basically in the toilet.

Accordingly, he is going around endorsing the Medicaid expansion he has decided for, early voting periods and several other much more center of the road positions he was against last year.

Horrors!  The man changed his positions!  He must be a - gasp! - flip-flopper!

Actually, I can admire a man ((or woman) who can reasonably tell the voters that circumstances - and the voters - have changed his/her mind about something.  A person who cannot or will not change their mind upon encountering either new information or hard and fast opposition is called a hard liner and is usually too stubborn for anybody's good.

Don't get me wrong, someone who changes their minds to follow however the wind blows whether from new information or not is nobody to follow either, but there is a difference here.  One can be a principled person with reasonable beliefs and be able to change one's mind upon being presented with new information or upon being persuaded by someone else with a good argument.  That is a good thing, and is something every politician should be encouraged to do.  It's called being a good skeptic with an open mind.

The main thing I want to talk about is that we have, supposedly, a democracy.  It is a representative form of government that is technically a federal system.  The representatives are elected to represent their constituents' interests in a body we call a Congress, or a legislature.  The President and VP are also elected to represent us in their Federal and centralized positions.

In this kind of system, instead of being sent there to represent themselves and their own interests, they are supposed to represent ours.  Yes, we like principled people with strong morals, but - and this is a big but - we expect them to do what WE want them to do, not what monied interests would pay them to do or what they want as members of a political party in opposition to our wishes as their constituents.

So, when a politician stands up and supports positions that are different from previous policies he has taken and those new positions are obviously popular ones, why do we tend to look down on that person?  Isn't that what we expect them to do? Especially a sitting Governor!  If he is asked by a reporter, "Did you take these positions to get re-elected?" I would fully expect him to answer honestly, "Yes!  I did, because these are the things that are important to my constituents and I want to do what is good for them!"  That is an honest answer, and one I would be impressed to hear.

What are your thoughts?

Robert Ahrens
The Cybernetic Atheist

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