Thursday, November 8, 2012

#Election2012: America's Only Atheist Congressman Loses, and Other House Races

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.


  1. Uh... I've been hospitalized for bi-polar disorder and your comments make me very uncomfortable :\

    1. There's a difference between having the disorder, and being hospitalized for five months and unable to do your job because of it. I mean, any private sector job would have you fired, or at the very least get a replacement while you were out; in this case, Jackson has been away for five months, and will likely not come back for several more. The man isn't doing his job, yet he ran and won anyways. How is that right? Even you should see the problem with that.

    2. No offence, but this all seems like an attack on those with mental illness. We need to encourage, not discourage those in public office to come forward with their mental illnesses (and yes, many have them) because as it stands, those with mental illness face enough challenges as it is.

      And FTR, I worked in the private sector and was unable to do my job for 4 months, and was not fired. Yes I was replaced, but a representative has an office and employees to help out - just ask those who live in Sinn Fien constituencies in the UK if their member has to show up in Parliament every day or not.

    3. Again, there is a difference between having an illness and being able to do your job and manage things. I have no doubt many people can and do. But at some point, a line needs to be drawn - and being paid for a job that you're not doing for months on end, and winning re-election without even campaigning and never setting foot in the same state... there is a problem there. People need to take responsibility, and if the stress is so bad that you can't do your job and need to be hospitalized, then you need to figure out your own priorities, as well as figure out what is best for the 600,000 people you represent in Washington.

      The Sinn Fein comparison is also a bad one - Sinn Fein candidates actually campaign and explain why they don't sit, but even so, they still do their work as office holders. I also think absentionism to that level isn't even proper, so not a good example for me at all. Either way, Jesse Jackson Jr isn't doing anything right now except recuperating. Good on him, I hope he comes out of it better, but why should he have been re-elected to do a job he is currently unable to do? Its not right.

    4. Winning an election means people voted for him. Are you going to tell those voters they are wrong?

    5. Given that its a subjective decision, I couldn't really say they're "wrong" - but I can say I wouldn't do it, and here's why. Explain why I find it to be a bad decision.

    6. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. In all blunt honesty, I find your reasoning to be dangerous.

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