Well good, we’ve got that cleared up: all the potential Democratic presidential candidates are religious, there’s not an atheist in the bunch. That’s a relief, isn’t it? And a surprise? Atheists being so thick on the ground in US politics, especially at the national level.

The assumptions behind the news article reporting on this shocker are rather strange, however. Or at least, if not strange in the context of US politics, still, strange in other contexts one can think of. There is this remark, for instance:

Each of the Democrats vying for the right to challenge Bush next year has reaffirmed his or her faith, refusing to cede spirituality to the Republicans.

So, they refuse to cede spirituality, but they’re perfectly content to cede skepticism, secularism, atheism. Why is that? Well one obvious answer of course is that there are more religious people than non-religious ones in the US, and people seeking votes naturally want more rather than fewer. But is that all? Is there not an underlying assumption that ‘spirituality’ (whatever that is) is a good and virtuous thing and therefore must not be ‘ceded’ to the other party? Or am I imagining things.

And then of course there’s the permanent irritation of the way Democrats are always in such a sweat never to ‘cede’ anything to Republicans, and it hardly ever works the other way around. Again, why is that? Why do Dems never worry about ‘ceding’ anything to the left? Why do Republicans never worry about ‘ceding’ anything to Democrats? Why is it almost always just the Democrats who have to follow the Republicans’ lead? This is not just an artifact of the recent takeover of every conceivable political office by Republicans, either, Democrats have been doing it at least since the ’50s. Lyndon Johnson had deep misgivings about sending troops to Vietnam in the summer of 1964, for instance, but he did it anyway because otherwise Goldwater would be able to portray him as weak on the Commies. And it’s always like that. Democrats are always afraid of being seen as ‘too’ lefty, Republicans are hardly ever afraid of being seen as ‘too’ righty. I suppose that could be because Republican ideas are inherently better ideas, but, somehow, I don’t quite think so…

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