Election Night 2014 Not a Win for Atheists, But Opens the Door For Future Atheist Politicians
- By Alison Lesley --
- 10 Nov 2014 --
The recent midterm election has proven that atheists have very little representation in government.
As a voting bloc, they are often forced to vote for candidates who are openly religious. However, atheists have determined that sitting out during elections is no way to gain representation, even though some believe that politicians will never pay attention to atheists unless they are forced. Atheist candidates represent a very small fraction of those running for office and typically suffer from an inability to garner votes from religious voters.
This is a problem for atheists because most candidates enter office deeply indebted to the Religious Right, especially those from “red states.” This indebtedness causes conflicts of interest when those same politicians begin to create legislation, because it may not represent what is good for all constituents, but rather favors the groups to which a politician “owes” something. This results in legislation, which favors one religion over another and any religion at all over atheism. It is rare to see any politician, either liberal or conservative, actively reach out and try to include voters who do not have a religion, leading to an entire segment of the population, which is left completely without viable representation.
Atheists Daniel Moran and James Woods (running for office in Texas and Arizona, respectively) both lost their races, even though they had support from a coalition of nonspiritual groups, including the Secular Coalition of America. Woods was openly atheist during the race and feels that even though he lost, his campaign was important for opening politics up to the inclusion of openly atheist candidates.
Election night was not a complete loss for atheist voters, though. Democrat and atheist Juan Mendez, an Arizona Statehouse representative, secured his second term during the 2014 election.