Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kyrsten Sinema and Pete Stark: A wash for non-believers

Kyrsten Sinema
As wonderful and progressive as the 2012 elections seemed to be, what with the election of the first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin, and the amazing victories for marriage equality in Maryland, Maine and Washington, as well as a rejection of those extreme candidates who would curb reproductive freedom in many races throughout the country, for atheists, Humanists and nonbelievers the election was kind of a wash.

Representative Pete Stark, Democrat from California, the only openly atheist United States Representative, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Eric Salwell. Salwell ran a smart campaign against Stark, and was helped when Stark claimed that Salwell had accepted bribes, an accusation Stark had to later retract. More than an atheist, Stark was a true progressive, and Salwell played to conservative voters to win his seat.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema seems ready to declare victory in her bid for a House seat against Vernon Wells, a Tea Party inspired Republican. I covered the Sinema/Parker race back in October and since then, if anything, the race has become more contentious. But as of this writing Sinema has a decent lead, and the Huffington Post has already published one article declaring Sinema the victor.

What's most interesting about both these races is how little the matter of Sinema and Stark's atheism or nonbelief has seemed to influence their elections. Sure, Stark's opponent Salwell brought up Stark's vote against "IN GOD WE TRUST" as our national motto, but that small moment paled against Stark's big misstep and Salwell's smart campaign strategies. As for Sinema, her race seemed to be about everything but her nonbelief, considering that she's openly bisexual, and has been branded a radical leftist by her opponent.

It's time for atheists and Humanists to stop pretending that atheists can't get elected to public office. It's a non-issue to most voters as long as a candidates policy positions are thought out, within the mainstream and realistic. We need to put ourselves out there, run some campaigns, learn from the successes as well as the failures, and start making history.

1 comment:

  1. I would just add that the atheists already holding seats need to come out of the closet.