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October 12, 2004

The Pagan Case for Re-Electing President Bush

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.


Beliefnet is going to have two writers make the Pagan cases for the election of John Kerry and the re-election of George Bush. I would like to address the latter here.

It is difficult to make a generic Pagan case for voting for any candidate for office: Wicca is as different from Greek Reconstructionism (both Pagan religions) as Mormonism is from Wahabbist Islam (both Abrahamic religions). Different Pagan groups differ widely in their beliefs and morality, and thus on what issues are of import to them. For example, while Wiccans are extraordinarily concerned with the environment, this is hardly the case for Greek Reconstructionists. While I believe that George Bush's environmental record is actually quite good, when examined rather than blindly railed against, discussing the issue in detail is only of merit to a subset of Pagans.

There is one issue that is important for all Pagans: separation of church from State. On this issue, I believe that George Bush - who after all once said that he did not think Witchcraft was actually a religion - is easily portrayed in scary tones, but actually not at all dangerous. Why is this? Because President Bush believes in individual Liberty.

If the government has the power to regulate group social interactions (which is a characteristic policy position of collectivists), then the government's position on religion is dangerous: the government can determine which religions are valid and which are not, and can thus restrict religious freedom. But if government does not have the power to regulate group social interactions, then the government's position is irrelevant: the government cannot prohibit your exercise of religion, nor compel you to belong to a particular religion.

While you might think that the fact that the Constitutional language on religion is clear, the government has over the last 75 years taken to ignoring the Constitution regularly. For example, who could interpret "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" to mean that it is OK for Congress to make a law restricting the ability of citizens to advertise in support of or opposition to a particular candidate for public office? Recently, the Supreme Court did just that.

The practical upshot of this is that whomever holds power in the Federal government - and in particular the President and the majority leaders of both Congressional chambers - by and large determines the degree to which individual Liberty is upheld. While the President made a terrible error in signing McCain-Feingold, he has so far steered far away from interfering in religious issues, and is likely to continue to do so.

While Senator Kerry is not particularly a believer in individual Liberties, preferring the betterment of society as a whole, under his "benign" management, it is also true that Senator Kerry is quite unlikely to support any position that would restrict Pagan practices. (Always assuming, of course, that such a position wouldn't confer immediate political benefits to the Senator.)

So if neither President Bush nor Senator Kerry is likely to prohibit, restrict or regulate Pagan practices, and if Pagan beliefs are so divergent as to prohibit a single Pagan view of whose policies would be better, on what basis is a Pagan to choose their candidate for President?

We are not only Pagans, but Americans. As Americans, we are targeted by the jihadis for murder (actually, this is worse for Pagans, because what slim hopes of mercy a "person of the book" might have are nonexistent for Pagans). Who would do a better job of protecting us against the jihadis?

During the Clinton administration, we were attacked in 1993 at the World Trade Center, in 1995 and 1996 in Saudi Arabia, in 1998 at two of our African embassies, and in 2000 in Yemen. Our response to these attacks was sufficiently underwhelming that Osama bin Laden decided America would surrender to al Qaeda if only we were hit hard enough in America. The result of that limp response was 9/11. There has not been a successful terrorist attack in the United States in three years, despite repeated attempts. John Kerry wants to return to the pre-9/11 policy of treating terrorism as a crime, rather than an act of war.

We are not only Pagans, but parents. As parents, we are concerned about the safety of the community; we are concerned about the quality of our children's education and our ability to choose their educational course. Who will do a better job of providing our kids with a safe community and an accountable educational system?

The Democrats want to extend voting rights to felons. How will they secure our communities while coddling criminals? The Democrats are in the pocket of the teachers' unions, and oppose not only school choice and homeschooling, but even such minimal measures as accountable teachers and schools! How then can we trust the Democrats with our children's education? By contrast, the Republicans generally support homeschooling, have been trying very hard to get school choice programs in place, and have been the primary proponents of No Child Left Behind, which (while flawed in some ways) has been the most effective program yet devised to improve public education within its current structure.

We are not only Pagans, but taxpayers. We want to be sure that money we earn, we keep. We want to be sure that the government can do those things only government can do (such as providing for the common defense), and that beyond that government does not act. We want to control our own charitable giving, not to have money forcibly taken from us and given to others without our ability to control or direct the use of that money. Who will do a better job of ensuring that we keep as much of our money as possible?

President Bush has obtained four tax cuts in four years. Senator Kerry promises to raise taxes. President Bush believes that money we earn is ours, and Federal funding should be limited. Senator Kerry believes that the government should have the unilateral right to take as much money from us as it needs, in order to fund an ever-expanding list of handouts, many intended primarily as vote-buying schemes for his Party.

We are not only Pagans, but consumers. We want to be able to get the things we need of the quality we want at the lowest possible price. Who will best ensure that our economy works as efficiently as possible?

Senator Kerry believes in protectionism to aid the favored few. President Bush believes in free trade to benefit everyone. Senator Kerry rails against outsourcing as if jobs were a zero-sum game. President Bush praises economic efficiencies gained by moving unproductive and low-paying work to places where it can be done better and cheaper (and in the process, raising the average wages of the countries to which those jobs are outsourced as well as getting us cheaper goods, so that our money goes further). Senator Kerry thinks we are (or should be?) working in below-minimum wage industrial sweatshops. President Bush promotes the high-paying information economy.

I don't believe that President Bush is perfect, not by a long way. But I do believe that as Pagans, and Americans, and parents, and taxpayers, and consumers, that we will be much better served by four more years of President Bush's careful stewardship, than by four years of John Kerry's active misrule. And I do know that in this election, I will be voting for George Bush.

Posted by jeff at October 12, 2004 12:00 AM

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