Michael Huckabee worries me. A lot.

Since President George W. Bush was elected in the year 2000, the country has shifted immensely to the right. Not only have taxes been raised on the lower class, but also the United States has engaged in some messy conflicts, and continues to point it’s self-proclaimed middle finger at the rest of the world. Our middle finger continues to show up the world, even as we have lost much of the political and diplomatic clout obtained under the Clinton administration. George W. Bush, master of incompetency, has ushered in a new age where the United States is no longer a global superpower – we just live as one through a proverbial political wet dream.

The main driving force behind this is that of religion. Religion has repeatedly damaged the appeal for pragmatism, which I plea for in this post. Religion hurts America more than it helps because the driving force behind it is the afterlife. What goes on now hardly matters to most politicians, because when the end result is heaven, finding health care reform shouldn’t really be a top priority. Rather, the top priority is to make those who aren’t a certain religion (in this case, Christianity is the ideal religion we speak of, non-withstanding of sects within) Christian, and join them in their path to salvation.

Understandably so, it makes sense. If you’re on this earth now to prepare for salvation later, then the only thing that matters in this world is to do God’s bidding, or in other words, “spread the good news about His gospel”. Alas, fixing social security, finishing and completing the war in Iraq, and even rescinding support for Israel are things that won’t really matter. Why? Because when the end result is heaven and not decomposition, the people who run in politics, specificially American politics, are more or less martyrs to the cause at hand – advancing Christian supremacy. Hence George W. Bush continues to reject stem cell research, push forward on Iraq (and Iran and North Korea?), all while championing his set of non-existent moral values.

So what does this leave atheists with? Absolutely nothing. While I sympathize with those who do decide to follow a faith (that’s 86% of the world here), I’ve also been feeling a bit more for the other 14%, those who don’t choose to open up a holy book, pray before a meal and walk around on Sunday (Jehovah’s Witnesses) telling others that they need to be saved from being damned. This country, the United States, while opening up borders for many individuals, closes them up as well, especially for the atheists who reside. While a Christian may go to heaven regardless of whether health care or social security passes, what about the atheist who wants to live a secure life now? What about the atheist who wants to live longer and get health care benefits, or be able to recieve money to live off of before they die? They may not have pearly gates to look forward too after they decease, but they too deserve a chance at living their way.

This brings me to another question: Why does religion even matter in the scope of American politics? Admittedly, Purtians did start this country, but that was 400 years ago. No longer are we dealing with famine and the cold, but more advanced issues such as stem cell research, abortion, health care and the ongoing war against terror, a conflict against a subtle and invisible group of people. Obviously, while a candidate’s moral values are important because those qualities do factor into political decisions, why should one being Mormon, Christian, Catholic, Orthodox, or any other religion matter? In all those religions, the central tenet is Jesus, with a few switched things here and there (eucharist for Catholicism, etc…), but even on a larger scale, it should not have to interfere with whether you build that new highway or not. With that in mind, why would anyone, in their right mind, like Mr Huckabee, decide to go after Mitt Romney and attack his mormon (or any religious) ways? You may think that someone’s devotion (or lack of) may factor into their daily political work, but honestly, it doesn’t even work that way – there are many students and friends that I know who claim themselves to be labeled religious but it does not affect the way they perform at school. Would it not be more pragmatic to attack them on their stances towards whichever political belief?

My plea for pragmatism in 2008 is that we can turn away from this religious orthodoxy that has begun to plague the United States. The religious atittude that plagues this country has sapped it of needed pragmatism, and replaced it with the needs of the afterlife, refusing the atheists and non-religious individuals in this country a chance for life now. If Mr Huckabee, or anyone similar, gets elected, expect this country to get worse. And using the word worse is being nice about it.