Open Letter to Republican Presidential Hopefuls

We beg your indulgence, dear reader, for this weekend departure from the usual contents of our blog. We try not to do this very often, but news of The Controversy between evolution and creationism is scarce at the moment. We focus on that as part of our larger concern for preserving the Enlightenment values upon which our civilization depends, so this isn’t too far off-topic for us. We can’t forget that if we lose our freedom, there isn’t much else that matters. Therefore, this is our open letter:

The Republican Party these days is considerably different from what it was almost half a century ago when Barry Goldwater ran for President. Back then it was essentially devoted to a strong national defense and an otherwise limited federal government, with relatively low taxes, minimal economic regulation, a vigorous free enterprise system, and a strong dollar.

Times have changed. As we described in Creationism and American Politics, after Lyndon Johnson’s betrayal of the old Solid South, and the exploitation of the resulting turmoil by Nixon’s Southern strategy, the GOP has seen an influx of people and ideas that had theretofore been largely confined to the Democrat party — we’re speaking here of what are now known as the “social values” voters. We’ve discussed our thinking about this before (see Open Letter to the Republican Party).

Now we’re approaching a new presidential election period, and a number of hopefuls are out there, testing the waters. We’ve discussed many of those people before (see Which 2012 Presidential Challengers Are Creationists?) and we’re unhappy that so many are creationists. Nevertheless — in our always humble opinion — compared to what we have now almost anything would be preferable. Almost anything.

To help us sort things out, we have one burning question that we’d like to ask of everyone who seeks the GOP presidential nomination. It’s a rather long question, but it requires a very simple answer — one which we regard as absolutely crucial. For this purpose, we’ll ignore foreign policy, assuming that all GOP presidential candidates are for a strong national defense, and we’ll also assume they’re all for stronger border controls. Here’s the Curmudgeon’s Question:

Assume that you become President and could propose and see enacted only one major legislative package. This will be your legacy. This is how you will be remembered in the history books. Which of these two packages would you choose, abandoning the other as being of lesser importance? The two packages — you must select one — are these:

1. The “Traditional Republican” package: Significantly reduce taxes, regulation, “entitlement” programs, and the size and scope of government; remove impediments to the domestic production and refining of petroleum and also to the building of nuclear power plants; and balance the federal budget — all resulting in a booming economy and the likelihood of a major reduction in the national debt over the next decade.

2. The “Social Values” package: Prohibit abortion, pornography, and same-sex marriage, and tear down the wall separating church and state (by constitutional amendment if necessary); re-introduce prayer in public schools, require teaching abstinence instead of “sex education,” and add creationism to the science curriculum — thereby reducing the influence of secularism and assuring the blessings of divine Providence upon our nation.

That’s it. Pander all you like while you’re campaigning, but not here. Your Curmudgeon will tolerate no ducking, no nit-picking, no long-winded speeches about how you’d like to push for both packages, and no complaints that you’d like more or different choices. We’re not leaving you any wiggle-room. Just pick one package or the other as your prime concern. Then we’ll know what to think of you. And so will the voters.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “Open Letter to Republican Presidential Hopefuls

  1. retiredsciguy

    I sure like your idea, but good luck getting any answers, Curmy.

    For what it’s worth, the one guy I like, Mitch Daniels, has already made the choice — and was practically stoned to death by the religious right. He had the timerity to say the Republican Party should call a truce in the Culture Wars, and concentrate on the economy and governmental reform.

  2. A savvy pseudosconservative politician might choose 2 but say “I don’t want ‘creationism’ taught, only ‘strengths and weaknesses’ of evolution,” to which you need to be clear that critics define “creationism” as any scam to promote unreasonable doubt ot evolution, including “strenthgs and (long refuted) weaknesses.” Or you could just say it up front instead of letting them bait-and-switch definitions of the C-word.

    Furthermore, every politician, and that includes any Democrat that wants to mess with evolution, needs to be forced to statre exactly what they think the evidence supports in terms of the age of life and common descent. If one person asks them, they’ll just evade the inconvenient question. But if 1000s ask, they can’t ignore them.

    Another question specifically for pseudosconservative Republicans is why they want taxpayers to pay for nonsense that has not earned the right to be taught as science, and to “liberalize” those classes to give students credit for wrong answers on tests.

  3. Frank J says: “A savvy pseudosconservative politician might choose 2 but say …”

    Nope. If he chooses package 2, that’s it. No spinning allowed.

  4. I may disagree, even vehemently, with choice #1, but choice #2 is just downright anti-American.

  5. Cyurmudgeon: “Nope. If he chooses package 2, that’s it. No spinning allowed.”

    It’s still fun to have fun watching them squirm, or in some cases make it clear that they learned their prehistory from the Flinstones. But the question is especially important to #1s (& Democrats, and independents) because the issue is at the heart of how they think, and would act. It’s far from the “minor issue” as most people (even me 15 years ago) think. If they attempt to evade the question it’s a good bet that they will be a stealth #2. And even if not, one has to wonder what else they will try to hide. Or what special interest they will sell out to.

    Any politician, left or right, religious or not, who doesn’t forcefully stand up for science, loses my vote.

  6. Frank J says: “It’s still fun to have fun watching them squirm”

    I’ve never seen them squirm. The crazy ones don’t know a contradiction from a contraceptive, and the professional scammers just dance away. Confronting any of them is always a waste of time.

  7. LRA says: “I may disagree, even vehemently, with choice #1”

    It’s not easy, but in time you will see the error of your ways.

  8. Curmudgeon: “Confronting any of them is always a waste of time.”

    Unless it reveals a scammer (the “dance away” is as good as a squirm to me). I won’t label Sarah Palin a “scammer” yet, but I was very disappointed in her remarks in a recent interview that covered evolution. She seemed to realize that her earlier claim that humans co-existed with dinosaurs is nonsense. But when given the opportunity to stand up for science, and maybe cite some good Christians like Francis Collins or Ken Miller who know their stuff and consider it a sin (and career suicide) to misrepresent it, she flunked. Instead she regurgitated some Discoveroid nonsense, suggesting that she approves of their, “don’t ask, don’t tell what the designer did, when or how, but (uncritcally) teach the ‘weaknesses’ of evolution.”

    Earlier you sounded comfortable that she wouldn’t directly help anti-evolution activists, and I have no reason to doubt that. But the activists will exploit every word to their advantage, so the damage may be already done with that interview. They are still getting mileage out of the Santorum amendment even though it doesn’t have the force of law.

  9. Gabriel Hanna

    NewT Gingrich has placed himself squah in the #2 camp:

    Newt Gingrich “warned that America is headed toward becoming a godless society unless voters take a stand against President Obama and liberal-minded college professors and likeminded media pushing his agenda,” the San Antonio News-Express reports.

    He also “called for a return to historic, Christian roots he said were critical to protecting the nation’s freedoms.”

    Said Gingrich: “There’s a desperation with which our elites are trying to create amnesia so that we literally have generations who have no idea what it means to be an American.”

    He has days where he sounds reasonable, and then he comes out with something like that.

  10. Gabriel Hanna says:

    He has days where he sounds reasonable, and then he comes out with something like that.

    It’s difficult to know where the pandering ends and the man’s real thinking is. Gingrich surely knows better, but if he keeps it up he’ll be so repulsive to the “undecideds” in the middle that he could never win — even if he gets the nomination. That’s the tricky part — knowing when to turn that stuff off.

  11. Gabriel Hanna

    He’s already quite repulsive to most people, SC. Certainly to me, despite his occasional lucidity.

  12. retiredsciguy

    SC says about Newt Gingrich, “It’s difficult to know where the pandering ends and the man’s real thinking is.”

    Amen to that, Brother! He’s been sounding “All pander, all the time” lately. Guess he thinks he knows where his main support is going to come from.

  13. And all the would-be front runners are going for #2. Jobs, jobs, jobs, right?

  14. James F says:

    And all the would-be front runners are going for #2. Jobs, jobs, jobs, right?

    Right. I just can’t watch the news any more.

  15. Curmudgeon: “It’s difficult to know where the pandering ends and the man’s real thinking is.”

    The only comment I heard from Newt about evolution was from 2006, and fairly positive. Though he oddly admitted in that article that he knew almost nothing about the then-recent Dover trial. Intentional or not, that probably attracted some blood-sniffing scam artists who by now surely tried to “educate” him about it.

  16. Jon Huntsman has already made it known that he is firmly pro-evolution and pro-science. He is not a RINO; he represents true conservatism, instead of empty-headed populism.

  17. retiredsciguy

    RWA: “Jon Huntsman has already made it known that he is firmly pro-evolution and pro-science.”

    Sounds like a reasonable fellow, at least from what I could quickly read on Wikipedia and a few other Googled blurbs. Problem is, I wonder what percentage of US voters outside of Utah have ever heard of him? I have to admit I hadn’t heard of him before reading RWA’s post, but then I’m not all that politically tuned in.

  18. RWA says:

    Jon Huntsman has already made it known that he is firmly pro-evolution and pro-science.

    Until you mentioned him, I had never heard of him. Well, maybe once or twice, but I know nothing about him, and I’ve never heard his name in connection with presidential politics. He’s got some work to do if he intends to ruin run.

  19. Newt Gingrich recently: “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

    Secular Atheist apparently is analagous to Radical Islamists. So what does he think about science?

  20. Gabriel Hanna

    @Ellie:So what does he think about science?

    It depends on his audience. He’s a repulsive panderer, he exmplifies every negative connotation of politician.

    The President’s call for an NSF increase is exactly right. One of the mistakes I think we made in the in the late ’90s is that we didn’t take care of NSF when we doubled NIH. In fact, because it was starting from such a smaller base, we should have tripled it. The work supported by NSF lays the foundation, through advances in computational methods, instrumentation, and other tools, for subsequent advances made through the NIH. I think the Bush Administration deserves high praise for identifying this priority and pushing it.

    Their recent NIH budgets, by contrast, have been very disappointing. We doubled the NIH budget with the assumption that this would catch it back up to where it should have been all along. Recent budgets, however, are rapidly eroding all that the doubling accomplished. Not only do we risk soon finding ourselves back where we were a decade ago, but this feast-famine cycle is a terrible context for trying to plan and execute sensible long-term research projects.

    In terms of the implications of these NIH cuts, I do expect that, whatever the federal government does, biomedical advances will continue at a remarkable pace. Biomedical research is now a global enterprise, linked by instantaneous worldwide communications. Biomedical research activity is already shifting, in relative terms, overseas – particularly to the Pacific Rim.

    But this isn’t a good reason to reduce NIH funding. First, it makes a dramatic difference in terms of lives and money, whether advances in fighting diseases come sooner or later. Many of us baby boomers are very glad The Salk vaccine was introduced in ’54 rather than ’64. It’ll be good news if we have available decisive interventions for Alzheimer’s disease within 20 years. It would be much, much better if we have such interventions available within 10 years.

    Second, it’s a wonderful thing that researchers in other countries are also working to overcome these same diseases. But it’s in our national interest on grounds ranging from economic growth to national security that America remains at the forefront of biomedical research. We need to find positive ways to maintain our leadership, and strong NIH funding has to be regarded as an essential part of any such strategy.

    When talking to scientists, Gingrich is very supportive of science. When talking to fundamentalists, he’s not.

  21. Gabriel Hanna says: “When talking to scientists, Gingrich is very supportive of science. When talking to fundamentalists, he’s not.”

    I’m getting to the point in my life that I can’t listen to any of them. I just read enough to keep informed. It’s the best I can do.

  22. retiredsciguy

    Curmy wrote about Jon Huntsman: “He’s got some work to do if he intends to ruin.”

    Intentional “typo”?

  23. retiredsciguy asks:

    Intentional “typo”?

    No, just a blunder. An unintentionally funny one. All fixed now.