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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Romney, Quotas, Atheists

by folkbum

Via Kevin Drum, I see that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney may well believe in quotas:
I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
Kevin Drum adds,
What's really telling about this is that you can almost see the gears turning in his brain when he came up with this answer. Obviously he had to say "no," because he knows that the Republican base would go nuts over the idea of a Muslim in his cabinet. But he can't just say that, can he? So his Bain-trained analytic mind went searching for a plausible excuse and the first thing that popped out of the wetware was a numerical explanation: (a) minorities deserve cabinet positions in proportion to their population, (b) one cabinet position is 5% of all cabinet positions, (c) therefore only groups with at least 15 million members are "justified" in getting one, (d) Muslims aren't even close to that, so (e) no dice. However, since they do make up about 2% of the population, they certainly qualify for 2% of all the lower level positions.
This naturally led me to wonder about Romney myself. There are between 20 million and 30 million people who identify as atheist, agnostic, or otherwise unaffiliated with any faith in this country, depending on whose estimates you believe. That means Mitt Romney, with his apparent religious quota system, ought to appoint one or two cabinet officials who claim no faith.

Do you think that would ever happen? Of course not--Romney is probably less likely to put an atheist in the cabinet than he is to appoint a Muslim. And that's not just because Romney is who he is--the same is likely true for pretty much all the Republicans, and, for that matter, most of the Democrats. Remember, atheist was at the very, very bottom of a presidential preference poll--people would be more likely to vote for a 72-year-old black gay Jewish woman than they would an atheist. (Note: That Gallup survey seems to have not included Muslims. Why is that?)

Which brings me back around the inevitable question raised every time this subject comes up. What is it with people of no or indeterminate faith that kills our chances with the American people? I could never win an election not because I'm a fat, bald liberal, but because I won't end every speech with "God bless America" or take my oath of office on a Bible.

So how about it, readers: Would it take a quota system for you to put an atheist in your cabinet? And be honest: Would you vote atheist over Christian (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc.)? And please explain your answers. Complete sentences preferred.

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