The first Republican National Committee-sanctioned debate of the 2016 campaign is only three days away, but not every candidate will make the cut. Fox News announced that it would only invite the ten best-polling candidates from the field of 16, which sounds like maybe too many anyway, unless you happen to work for the Bobby Jindal campaign. “Whatever happened to the idea of freedom?” Jindal consultant Curt Anderson wrote of Fox’s plan. “Or democracy?” Soon every sentence uttered by a Republican on any subject will contain the word “freedom” and be in the past tense. Possibly coincidental to the demise of robust argument, Jindal, Lindsay Graham, and Ricks Santorum and Perry are all out of the top ten in NBC’s aggregate of the last five weeks’ polling. And Donald Trump is in the lead.
Last week, we took brief pause at a report that the Tea Party was “even less popular than much-maligned groups like atheists and Muslims.” It’s nice to know that those of us who profess no religion are still beating those who profess religion loudly at school board meetings, but man—Muslims? They’re holding Congressional hearings about those guys. Then, on Sunday, as I was resting, Smick sent me this blog post about plans to compile a national registry of atheists. The unattributed “they”—”they are comparing atheists to child molesters” and “they want a list of all the atheists in their area”—is the kind of ace reporting that has made the reputation of the Daily Kos. “They” turn out to be various Christians on internet message boards, but the phenomenon is still troubling. They are the same people who published George Tiller’s home address, after all. Putting aside the betting line on a list-making and planning war between evangelical Christians and atheists in this country, I think it’s time to address a salient question: do we get minority status now?