When most people - well, most liberals - think of the United States, they think of it as a land of polarized electorates and highly religious overtones to both parties and their politics. No where is more obvious than in the Republican Party, with its rural, evangelical base and very religious candidates that say some very dumb things at times. Even the Democrats have their religious personalities, including the President himself who, while not wearing it on his sleeve, is noted to be relatively religious (not a Muslim, just FYI).
Then there is Pete Stark, a 20-term Congressman from California who came out in 2007 as America's only elected atheist federally. The fact that Stark was willing to admit this, especially during a time that evangelical participation and political action was consistently on the rise, is a pretty brave move. This 2011 article says it all: "Study says religious people distrust atheists as much as rapists." Thats not to say atheism isn't on the rise, because it is; but even the general population, according to this 2010 article (who knows about now), has a problem with atheists. I don't know what the attitudes are like in Canada, but I'm also not sure I want to.
Anyways, Stark lost on Tuesday night to a fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, and while I'm not saying its a bad thing - Stark has been there 40 years, is an octogenarian, and Swalwell is 31 with a good future ahead of him - it is something of a shame. There is some hope that an Arizona candidate named Kyrsten Sinema, who has apparently followed around in skeptic and reason circles, may come out as yet another atheist congressperson - but she's in a very tough district in what seems to be the Pheonix suburbs. AP has yet to even call the race, last I checked. I wouldn't blame her if she stayed in the closet.
Bachmann Remains, West Whines, and Jackson's Landslide
Another sad fact tonight has been the retention of Michele Bachmann in Minnesota's 6th District. Old readers will know I'm not exactly a fan of the woman. This time around, she had a strong challenger from Democrat Jim Graves, a local businessman and moderate who put up a good fight against the evangelical nutbar Bachmann, losing by about 5,000 votes. That's a real shame right there.
Over in Florida, Tea Party Congressperson and the GOP's only member of the Congressional Black Caucus looks to have lost in a squeaker. Allen West is probably up there with Bachmann as one of those politicians that liberals love to hate, because he hates you right back. Nearby Democrat Alan Grayson would be the liberal version of West - basically, an asshole with little interest in actually working across the aisle to get something done.
But West has called foul against his opponent - well, more accurately, the county election chair, for basically rigging his election. It remains to be seen what happens here, but I hope the man goes down in flames. Not a fan at all, though you never know, his opponent Patrick Murphy could be just as bad.
Finally, Jesse Jackson, Jr. won re-election in his Chicago district. What a fucking atrocity. Jackson has been hospitalized with bipolar disorder and is pretty much unable to perform his duties as a congressperson, but he refused to bow out of the race. He was re-elected with a landslide.
I know people with personality disorders can contribute to society just as well as any other person, but the man was hospitalized. That is pretty serious, and calls into question whether or not he should remain in a position whereby he represents 600,000 people. He can't represent them from a mental institution, where he's been for the past five months. C'mon, people.
There are some other notable races - such as Utah's only Democrat defeating a Republican rising star (and the hilarious accusations of racism coming from right-wingers because of it), Charlie Rangel somehow winning re-election, and Ron Barber possibly losing re-election in Gabby Gifford's seat. Overall, though, the House of Representatives has remained the same, with a few more Democrats but not much more in the way of progress.