Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Final Primaries

At the moment, I am living in one of the last states to hold their primary elections, South Dakota. I grew up here but was absent, except for short visits, from 1983 until 2005. With the Democratic race going right down to the wire, South Dakota voters (at least the Democrats) are the recipients of much unaccustomed attention from Senators Clinton and Obama. This attention is probably a good thing if it serves to overcome voter apathy and get people fired up for the whole informed self-government thing.

Though I am not registered with any political party, I certainly won’t be voting Republican. Nor am I terribly enthused about the Democratic contenders. The lengths the Democratic candidates have gone to in bending over backwards to appeal to “people of faith” have, quite frankly, appalled me. Sen. Obama announced on May 31st that he has withdrawn from membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago after repeatedly having to distance himself from the incendiary rhetoric of its pastors. The mess he got himself into with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would likely not have risen to the pitch that it did if he was not straining to place what ought to have been private piety on public display.

Senator Clinton is equally guilty of “public displays of piety” (PDP’s). In the same way that public displays of affection (PDA’s) that get out of hand can make one want to shout “Get a room!,” going overboard on the PDP’s make me want to shout “Take it to a church!” Of course, I do not think that anything Sens. Clinton or Obama could do would set as dangerous a precedent as Sen. McCain choosing Mike Huckabee, a minister that wants to rewrite our constitution to conform to biblical law, as his running mate. That pairing would give us a Commander-in-Chief and a Pastor-in-Chief.

What I would like to see (I know, keep dreaming) is a candidate that replies to the first question about his or her religious opinions by saying something along the lines of:

“Article 6, Section 3 of the United States Constitution specifically prohibits any ‘religious test’ for public office. I submit that your question constitutes just such a test and violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution. At best, merely asking the question highlights your ignorance of the Constitution, and at worst it represents a deliberate attempt to subvert the Constitution, which is about the most un-American thing I can imagine. It is for the reasons I have just given that I refuse to answer the question.”

I realize that this is not going to happen and that leaves me less than sanguine about the future of our free Republic. As Edward R. Murrow, who saw this coming, said...“Good night and good luck.”

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