A free market in ideas 3

One of our readers, Nietrick, has raised a very important question: who are acceptable political fellow travelers ? The US has a two party system, so if power to make law is desired, we are left with a choice between the GOP and the Democratic Party.   I would guess that many atheists are Democrat, because they associate Republicans, or conservatives generally,  with the religious.  And statistically they would be right. But they must also have an ideological leaning towards collectivism, and an anti-free-market, authoritarian government. (Perhaps the bias is inspired by the wish to squash religion.)  For an atheist to consider himself a Republican, the free-market, individual freedom and  small (federal) government principles must be of paramount importance. If the religious vote Republican because they want government either to legislate religious values, or because it is more likely to support values that are traditionally in line with religious beliefs (heterosexual marriage, pro-life, creationism), does the GOP become a hostile place for a rational, free-market atheist?  No.  Leaving out the extreme religious agenda (establishing a state upon a constitution based on fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible),  political policies attached to marriage and abortion should be decided at the State level. The GOP has been a strong supporter of States’ rights precisely because it allows local majorities to decide social issues – and therefore allows for the most self-determination, and diversity. Should Kansas decide to demand creationism be taught in schools, foolish as it is, it has only local effect, and individuals are still free to work around it. Meanwhile, other states will ban creationism from science class to another forum, or altogether. Given the need for qualified scientists, I believe that the creationist jurisdictions will fade away.  Indeed,  I believe that the free market permits the free market of ideas, and backward leaning ideas will be crowded out as they always eventually have been, by innovation and progress, which occur only under free-market and individual liberty systems. For these reasons, I believe that for atheists who want rationality to flourish and individuals to arrange their lives as they will (within the law),  the GOP is the right choice, although there are more atheists on the other side. I would also add that the left desires a uniformity of opinion, which we are seeing propagandized nationwide in schools, whereas the right likes  genuine diversity of ideas.

C. Gee  September 2009

  • C. Gee

    Zealots are loud mostly because the leftist media is their megaphone. The network TV news, CNN, NYT, PBS, etc. enjoy painting a scary picture of the right being taken over by crazies.

    When a Republican denounces extremism, it is interpreted as a deep crack in the party. When a Republican politician does not denounce extremism, that is interpreted as the leadership being sympathetic to the crazies, or being crazy itself. The “six degrees of separation” game is played to see how quickly a chain of association can be made from the politician to a fundamentalist organization, or financier.

    The crazy right is seen as larger and more dangerous than the equivalent on the left. Tea parties are dangerous, because of the Ron Paul presence. Healthcare protesters at townhalls are dangerous, because they are whipped up by insurance companies, and because they use “death panel” slogans, or signs (swastikas) suggesting socialist /fascist government takeover. Fear of a violent revolution by the right is now a common motif in the MSM.

    The irony is that the din seems to be having an effect. Obama is down in the polls across the political spectrum. Perhaps the quiet voices of reason do not need to talk louder, but just continue to talk sense.

    And I do not think that the quiet voices should spend any time trying to persuade the left that extremists are not true Republicans. In the first place, it is a futile exercise, as the left is not actually interested in making thoughtful distinctions about the right. Moreover, it is the core free-market, individual liberty ideology that the left most profoundly condemns and fears (just as the right most profoundly condemns the collectivist core of leftism.) Second, and politically crucial, is that a zealot vote counts as much as moderate vote, and the moderate voter is not contaminated by the zealot vote rubbing against the moderate vote in the ballot box. This lesson has been very well learned by the left, which accepts antisemites, international socialists, unreconstructed communists, anarchists, eco-fascists, screamers dressed in pink, felons and racial separatists in their parades and in their big, smelly tent.

    A moderate voter switching parties will only be exchanging one set of extremist fellow partisans, or shall I say irrational Americans, for another. As conservatives, we are reasonable people, but let us not be too nice.

  • I think it's important to note that, while the GOP has been to some extent dominated by religious zealots in the last 20 years or so, religion is not really a part of classical republicanism. I sometimes get the impression that many Republican politicians are swept up in a kind of “me-tooism” that they feel is necessary to gain the support of the highly vocal religious wing of the party. They pay lip service to religion while probably not feeling very strongly one way or another. If anything, those of us really do advocate personal freedoms and states' rights — even when this means letting people marry whom they want to and terminate pregnancies they don't want — need to make our presence known more and thus move the party back toward its ideological roots. In other words, we need to start talking as loudly as the religious zealots do.

    • C. Gee

      Kelly, my comment is a actually a reply to yours. I should have addressed you.