This issue has plagued us throughout the entire time we’ve been blogging here. We’ve tried to express our discomfort several times, of which this is typical: Creationism and American Politics. So is this: Open Letter to the Republican Party.
It’s very nice to sit back and write essays about the grand sweep of things, but elections are coming up in the US. There are decisions that must be made and we are faced with very limited and extremely imperfect choices. It’s no secret that your Curmudgeon is not of the political left, but that’s not important here. Like everyone else, our preference is for political candidates with whom we can agree. But here’s the problem: What is to be done when the candidate who agrees with us on most things is also a flaming ignoramus about other issues?
What brought this recurring problem to mind is a news article we found today in the Tampa Tribune: A once unknown Rubio takes over lead in the Senate race. Here’s the one relevant excerpt:
On some issues, Rubio hews closely to rightist ideology. He has said, for example, that he’s not convinced there are human causes for global warming, and advocates allowing schools to teach creationism as science.
That crystallizes the problem, and we’ve blogged about it before: Open Letter to Marco Rubio. We’ve done that sort of thing more than once. During the 2008 Presidential election campaign we wrote our: Open Letter to Sarah Palin. In the Palin letter we said:
Do you truly believe that the earth is no more than 10,000 years old? Do you reject the theory of evolution and all the evidence which supports it, in favor of the Genesis creation account?
This is important — not because a Vice President (and possibly President) needs to know anything about geology, biology, and astronomy, but because the person who occupies such a position needs to be rational. We must know if you understand the difference between science and faith. Do you accept the existence of objective reality, or do you deny it?
[C]an you keep your faith in Genesis apart from the way you evaluate evidence and make decisions in the secular world? If so, we can accept that. But you have to tell us.
That pretty much sums up our thinking on the “creationist candidate problem,” but we never achieved a satisfactory resolution of the problem with either Palin or Rubio. Palin isn’t on the ballot this time around, but Rubio is. In most cases he sounds like a solid, old-time Republican — but there are disturbing overtones. See Creationist Theocrat for Senator?
There’s no doubt that Rubio is a fool about creationism, and probably some other things too — although his “church and state” remark may have been mere pandering. So what’s to be done with a candidate like that?
We find ourselves wondering what old Ben Franklin would do in such a situation. Ben Franklin? Yes. He faced somewhat bigger problems than whether to vote for Marco Rubio. Could you, dear reader, have supported the US Constitution — which tolerated slavery? Ben Franklin could, although he had serious reservations. He famously said to the Constitutional Convention:
… I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us … . I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? …
Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. … On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.
That’s impressive, and it helps to put our little problems in perspective. But we still have decisions to make.
We know that way too many Republicans these days are creationists — or at least they say they are. We never hesitate to blog about them, even though it’s embarrassing. Does that mean the Republican party is a lost cause? What’s the alternative?
Don’t forget that there are idiots in both parties — and we can show that without discussing the Democrats’ economic views. Among the Dems there’s Senator Patty Murray, who praised Osama Bin Laden as a great humanitarian after 9/11. There’s Sheila Jackson Lee, who thought Neil Armstrong had landed on Mars. And let’s not overlook Hank Johnson, who feared that an “over-populated” military installation would cause Guam to tip over.
So we shouldn’t bog down over the fake issue of whether one party is smart and the other is stupid. They’re both stupid. Also, they’re both anti-science, but in different ways. We’ve previously pointed out that the Dems are just plain weird about their environmentalism — no oil drilling, and no nuclear plants either. We don’t know the principle involved (if there is one), but they also seem to oppose all weapons research. Further, they’re shutting down the space program, except, perhaps, for Muslim outreach. So the Dems aren’t very scientific at all.
And don’t get us started on what they’d like to do in the name of global warming. The climate may indeed be warming, but there are alternatives to putting the government in command of the economy. That’s the Dems’ “solution” to every “crisis,” and there comes a time when their motives should be questioned.
So we’re faced with making choices on Election Day — none of them perfect, and most of them very unpleasant. It’s agonizing to choose the lesser of two evils. When doing so, besides thinking of Ben Franklin, we should also remember the wisdom of Henny Youngman. When asked “How’s your wife?” he’d invariably respond: “Compared to what?” That’s more than a punchline; at times it’s profound.
Could you vote for someone whose ideas you respect generally, but who has one flawed idea? That depends on the idea, doesn’t it? Could you vote for slaveholders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison? No, you couldn’t — not now. But back then? Never mind; we live in the here and now.
We’re talking about what amounts to a reluctant policy of “practical compromise.” In theory that’s abhorrent. One should never compromise in matters of principle. But when casting a vote the choices are limited. What’s to be done?
There can be no doubt that a raging theocrat is definitely too far over the edge to be tolerated. We may be wearing blinders, but we haven’t seen any Don McLeroy types running for Congress — at least not this time around. So we don’t have to rule anyone out on those grounds. We’re left with some candidates who oppose what’s been going on these past two years, but who are admittedly goofy about creationism. Let’s get serious now.
We readily admit that Christine O’Donnell tests the limits of any compromise policy. The only reason we’d even consider her to be barely tolerable is that she doesn’t seem to be malevolent — just stupid. And what of Sarah Palin? She’s no genius, but she’s brighter than Christine and we’ve never seen any hint of malevolence from her. It all comes down to Youngman’s razor: “Compared to what?”
We’ve probably upset many of you with this essay. That’s only fair — your Curmudgeon is upset too, and we don’t have any solid answers. Everything is squishy. So we’re blogging about our troubles and bothering you with it. Sorry about that.
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