Ben Carson is interesting as a Republican candidate for the presidency, not because he could ever win, but because he embodies in one person the very worst of conservative thought. In spite of his intellectual prowess as a neurosurgeon, Carson celebrates ignorance, relishes anti-science sentiment and ignores the fundamentals of history. This describes depressingly well the right wing of the Republican Party.
We know by now that Carson said on Meet the Press that he "would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation." So a man running for president, responsible for upholding our constitution, is ignorant of basic governing principles: Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
Excluding a candidate from the presidency because of religious belief is a clear and direct violation of our own founding documents. Yet, when questioned about using faith as a litmus test, Carson doubled down with, "I guess it depends on what that faith is," when considering what might be disqualifying. Only Christians need apply. Carson is sure the United States is a Christian nation with the same conviction Saudis believe Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation. In pursuing his dream of imposing one religion over all others Carson is seeking to create the very type of theocracy we so disdain in the Middle East. The irony is lost on him.
Carson's tenuous grip on reality is embarrassing, but typical of the far right. He rejects well-established facts of biology, is terribly confused about entropy and the order of the universe, dismisses fundamental claims of physics, and of course denies the reality of climate change. Carson claims the theory of evolution was inspired by Satan. Carson invokes Einstein to bolster the view that Darwin was a dupe of the devil because someone as smart as Einstein believed in god. Well, like most of what Carson says, that is untrue. Einstein unsurprisingly held complex and subtle views on theology, but the bottom line could not be clearer, when he said:
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.
Therein, we discover the main problem with conservatism: Truth is nothing more than an option, nothing more valid than fantasy. Truth carries no more weight than the random musings of a madman. Faith trumps fact, religious conviction supersedes civic duty, and ignorance becomes a celebrated worldview.
Democrats do not seem up to the task of taking on this new breed of crazy. With the freak show called the GOP primary season in full swing, the time has come to offer up a political counterbalance to dangerous right wing extremism -- beyond what traditional Democrats can muster. The right created the Tea Party; we will call our new movement the Devils of Darwin (DOD) Party. Hopefully the DOD acronym will confuse the unaware into thinking we are associated with the one branch of government so favored by the right. The GOP conned the poor into voting for the rich, so this misdirection is the least we can do.
Devils of Darwin: A New Party of Reason and Rationalism is Born
We the people of rational thought and sound mind in middle America, in order to establish a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the benefits of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Devils of Darwin Party of the United States of America.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal with no special status of birth, and that all life on Earth began as a contingent event based on standard laws of physics and chemistry involving no magic spark or divine act.
We further hold these truths to be indisputable facts of our biology and a clear demonstration of our humble place in the biosphere, which is a fundamental foundation of our political philosophy:
1) Evolution explains the incredibility diversity of life, and is an undirected process with no purpose, intelligence, or foresight. Humans, who evolved under the same laws of nature as all other creatures on earth, hold no exalted status in the pantheon of life.
2) All species exploit the environment to the maximum extent possible, until either competition, resource depletion, predation, disease or other constraints limit growth and expansion. Like every other animal, humans have followed this natural path of using all available resources in our struggle to survive.
One critical difference, however, is our technological advantage. Our species has successfully co-opted a significant percentage of the planet's bounty as we fight to pass our genes to the next generation. This unique reliance on technology to exploit the environment, and to threaten each other using weapons of war, has had global effects over a short time period. As a result, while we act no differently than other animals in pursuit of survival, our actions may cause our extinction, either through the degradation of the resources on which we depend, or more directly through the use of weapons of mass destruction.
3) The large brains that gave us technology, prosperity, myths and war also give us the ability to choose, personally and collectively, to be concerned with the fate of distant generations, and to behave for the greater good. Humans are special, not because we are made in god's image, and told to rule over the Earth, but because people have the amazing ability to choose a future in which we will thrive and develop in a just society while coexisting with a healthy natural world. If humans fail to seize this opportunity to create such a future, we will be no more than bacteria with email accounts.
The Devils of Darwin Party is committed to the development and adoption of policies, programs and laws that will help guide humankind toward a just future in which we celebrate our deep connection to all things living as a minor twig on the vast four billion year old ever-branching bush of life.
To secure the inherent rights consistent with our biology and evolutionary history, governments are created as human institutions that derive their just powers solely from the consent of the governed. No government so formed can claim to be favored by gods of its own making. The mythical god of Abraham is not Republican, Democrat, Independent, Progressive or American. Holding office requires no litmus test of faith.
A government formed by the people for the people can survive only through open debate, free exchange of ideas and reliance on verifiable facts to arbitrate disputes. The Devils of Darwin Party is therefore dedicated to rooting out hypocrisy, myth, appeal to faith and bigotry in political discourse. We vigorously reject pious calls: to balance the budget, but only when a Democrat holds the nation's highest office; to protect the Constitution while advocating to alter the document for trivial purpose; to end "runaway government spending" when the party making that demand is responsible for the nation's greatest debts and deficits; to repeal "government-run" health care while reaping the benefits of Medicare; to stop tax hikes that are in fact nothing but repealing temporary cuts that led to record deficits and debts; to promote energy reform that is a cloak to hide continued subsidies for the fossil fuel industry; to agitate to "take back America" without articulating who exactly America is being taken back from; to get "government off the people's back" while advocating government intrusion into our most personal and intimate choices, including who we marry and a woman's right to choose her own reproductive destiny; to promote limited government while urging the federal government to "do more" whenever a crisis or natural disaster occurs; to promote education while foisting upon our children superstitions and myths appropriate to the 15th century; to promote the inherent advantages of capitalism while legislating "free market" regulations that subsidize and foster corruption, harm individual investors and squeeze small businesses. Conservatives privatize profit but socialize loss. Business leaders reap all the profits and rewards of risk and claim brilliant acumen when successful, but burden taxpayers when business fails. This hypocrisy must end.
We call for a government that is as big as necessary, but no bigger. The ideals of small government, balanced budgets and lower taxes are shared by all in theory but diverge in implementation. While conservative agitators attempt to paint of a picture of stark differences in fiscal ideology between the left and right, the facts tell a different story. We call on the Congress to debate federal spending on facts rather than ideological fiction. To promote such a debate, we note the following facts about the 2014 federal budget:
National defense ($605 billion), Health and Human Services (including Medicare; $921 billion) and Social Security ($851 billion) combine to a sum of $2.4 trillion out of a total federal budget of $3.8 trillion. The sum all of these government programs comprise 63% of the entire spending package. The National Science Foundation ($6 billion) and law enforcement, including border patrol ($60 billion) add $66 billion more. Farm subsidies, which mainly go to red states, add another $17 billion. Those total $83 billion. The government is also paying $200 billion annually in interest on debt created under President Bush.
This segment of federal spending has widespread and deep backing from traditional conservatives. The bottom line is that total government spending that has mainstream Republican backing amounts to $3.2 trillion, out of a total budget of $3.8 trillion. Conservatives hate big government in theory, but love big government when it comes to military spending, fossil fuel subsidies and state pork. We note therefore that Republicans actively support and defend 84 percent of the big government they so thoroughly disdain. We conclude that opponents of liberalism believe a budget of $3.2 trillion is virtuous but are outraged by a budget of $3.8 trillion. Even if liberals supported 100 percent of the federal budget (they do not), gathering up righteous indignation about the remaining 16 percent hardly constitutes an ideological divide between big and small government. Let us lose this false debate and focus on the issues of greatest importance to our future well-being.
The Devils of Darwin Party believes that we can and must protect American citizens against terrorism without sacrificing the very rights we are fighting to protect. We have faith in the strength of our Constitution, and believe that we can work within the constraints of our founding document to protect the Republic and secure a prosperous future.
Republicans scoff at the idea that "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both" (multiple variations, usually attributed to Ben Franklin). Instead, conservatives believe that our safety can only be secured by sacrificing our rights; the same ones our founders thought were inalienable. In the name of national security, conservatives advocate that the government (which they distrust in all other arenas) be given the extraordinary power to detain any American citizen and that the suspect be denied the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus, denied access by families and denied legal representation. In condoning torture, disdaining Miranda rights, and dismissing the right of the accused to meet his accuser, conservative ideology has become one of the greatest threats to liberty. None of that dangerous legacy of the Bush years has ever been acknowledged by right wing ideologues. War crimes were committed but never prosecuted. Conservatives want to give unlimited power to arrest and detain to the very government they hate. The irony is lost on them.
Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Recovery
Faced with the choice of a catastrophic depression or federal debt, President Obama prudently even if reluctantly chose the latter. We applaud his precipitous actions to prevent an economic calamity with emergency stimulus money. As with health care, we acknowledge as well his leadership in getting the Congress to pass meaningful if imperfect Wall Street reform. Reform has been horribly inadequate but at least a step away from the chaos of conservative leadership.
As measured against GDP, the deficit has declined by two-thirds under Obama, hardly the epitome of liberal excess. Liberalism has proven to be the only fiscally responsible ideology. Eight years of conservative rule left the economy of the United States in shambles with double-digit unemployment festering in a deep recession, on the verge of a great depression, with record annual deficits and a ballooning national debt. Eight years of an almost religious zeal for deregulation left Wall Street drowning in a sea of massive corruption, failed banks, and collapsing brokerage houses. Conservatives have exhausted all credibility on the subject of fiscal responsibility. Whenever a Republican is President, the Party quietly buries the mantra that we are "living off the backs of our grandchildren" to rail against government spending, but brings the phrase back into use when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office. Enough. The time has come, finally, to kill once and for all Republican hypocrisy on this subject.
Unemployment has declined to pre-recession levels. We note that President Bush inherited from President Clinton an unemployment rate of 4 percent, but left office bequeathing to Obama an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent and growing monthly. Bush was losing 700,000 jobs per month; in September 2015 the economy added 142,000 jobs and the total unemployment rate is down to 5.1 percent. The rolling average of job growth is 198,000 per month for 2015. Hardly the economic mayhem of liberalism so feared by the far right.
Our educational system is in shambles, and our children lag far behind by every international standard. But we dither, focusing on "vouchers" instead of underlying problems. In the meantime in states where tested 75% of our kids do not know that George Washington was our first president or that the east coast of our country borders the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than face the real issues, conservatives simply attack the Department of Education as a favorite foil. We are dooming entire generations to second class status in the world. While the rest of the world eagerly provides children with a sophisticated curriculum of science and technology, the United States lags behind under the weight of antiquated debates forced upon us by the religious right. We need to stop fighting battles appropriate to the dark ages; we need to teach basic science to all kids.
We fully endorse the Affordable Care Act, passed in the face of unyielding right wing opposition. In doing so we recognize that the president of the United States has limited power, and must work with a divided Congress, and therefore any legislation will be less than perfect. We applaud President Obama for his success even if a single-payer system would have been more desirable. He acted in the face of a growing crisis: our health care system is an embarrassment, but is defended by the right wing through gross ignorance as "the best in the world." We spend twice as much per capita as any other wealthy democracy but get a poor return on that investment. The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not offer universal health care. In the industrial world we are ranked 25th in infant mortality. We are 26th in healthy life expectancy, behind Slovenia. Behind Slovenia. This is the health care system John Boehner claim is the best in the world. Another case of conservatives losing touch with reality, where faith trumps fact. Overall our health care system is ranked 37th globally, behind third-world countries like Oman. Only the United States has the embarrassment of medical bankruptcies. Obamacare is an important first step in bringing the United States back up to the standards of a developed country. We must build and expand on this new foundation.
Now is the time to create the renewable energy equivalent of the Manhattan Project or the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. We need to push our transition to green energy technologies quickly, massively, with unwavering commitment. This is our opportunity.
We must invest heavily in research, implementation and infrastructure development: research to discover new technologies; implementation to ensure wide adoption of the technologies in play now; and a more aggressive restructuring of tax incentives to promote clean growth, discourage waste and accelerate the development of the extensive infrastructure changes necessary to widely adopt clean energy technologies. While the predominant emphasis must be on the private sector, we will also need direct government investment in certain areas beyond research, such as modernizing the power grid. This is how our national interests will be secured. This is where jobs will be created. The United States should rightfully lead this charge. The nation that first energizes its economy primarily with renewables and weans future growth from fossil fuels will be the next global superpower.
Climate change is real, exceeding natural background rates, and caused by human activity. We have run out of time for debate, and need to act quickly now. Cap and trade is a flawed mechanism to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but better than doing nothing and certainly a reasonable intermediate step. We call on the Congress to overcome conservative resistance and re-introduce this legislation. Obama made important progress when signing the recent agreement with Chinese president Xi Jinping on a protocol for reducing greenhouse gases.
Conservative denials of climate change are tragic on many levels. We are condemning millions to an unfortunate future of coastal flooding, mass migrations, agricultural disruptions, exposure to the northward march of tropical diseases, and inevitable wars over shifting and scarce resources. When these tragic events unfold, we will face of millions of unnecessary deaths and the preventable disruption of hundreds of millions of lives: a direct consequence of conservative ignorance.
The world every year is losing 40 million acres of tropical forests, which now cover only 6% of the globe's surface, down from 14 percent. Humans have depleted 90 percent of all large fish from the world's oceans. We are losing up to 50,000 specie seach year to extinction, a rate 1000 times natural background levels. More than half of all coral reefs are dead, dying or endangered; all coral reefs may be extinct by 2100. If you don't care, consider that 500 million people depend directly on coral reefs for survival.
We have no luxury in time as we ponder a response. The false dichotomy between growth and the environment is an anachronism born from the failures of conservative thought. Conservatives believe that growth is only possible at the expense of the environment, and that any and all efforts to protect our resources impede growth and cost jobs. That philosophy is wrong on every count and has proven so by history repeatedly. Environmentalism is not the ideology of socialists, but instead the true engine of all future economic growth.
In just eight years, George Bush managed to undo nearly a century of progress on the environment. Obama has worked to bring us back to the 21st century with an environmental program based on fact rather than fiction. We have much work to do. We need to protect our forests and biodiversity, reinvest in clean air and clean water, sustainably manage our marine resources and improve efficiencies at all levels of production and consumption. We accomplish these goals with strict enforcement of existing regulations, improved laws to accommodate advances in our knowledge of ecosystem function and the development of a truly level playing field in which green technologies can compete fairly with traditional industries. Economic incentives, tax laws, enforcement of environmental legislation, implementation of international treaties, and government support for sustainable resource use are necessary to create the milieu in which individuals can rationally act to promote the greater good.
We, therefore, the representatives of the rational electorate of United States of America, appealing to natural law and reason, do by authority of the good people of the United States, solemnly publish and declare that the Devils of Darwin Party is hereby established. For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of human dignity, we mutually pledge to each other our fortunes and sacred honor.
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