Despite being a “hard-core” liberal, I’m not a party “loyalist”. I don’t agree with every plank, and I like to look at candidates as individuals. Up until today, there was one permutation of the GOP candidates versus the Dem candidates where I might well have voted for the GOP candidate. The GOP candidate in question was Ron Paul. Yes, he has nutty glibertarian views about abolishing all kinds of government departments. Yes, he has a fanatical, almost fundamentalist army of hard-core supporters. I was able to look past that stuff because he seemed quite principled, honest, and reasonable.

Then I saw this.

Yes, Ron Paul “does not accept” evolution. In fact, his answer is full of the typical right-wing BS about evolution. I think I’ve finally come to a litmus test that can automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration for my vote, and a reader of Andrew Sullivan explains why:

[Paul’s rejection of evolution] is important because it says much more about him than merely what his religious beliefs are. It illuminates a major element of his thought process.

It tells me that he is able to completely filter out an entire planet full of empirical evidence supporting Evolution, because this evidence conflicts with his beliefs. Notice his choice of words: “don’t accept”. Its an act of outright denial. How could you possibly live in our world, as an educated person in 2007, and refuse to acknowledge that you see natural selection occurring everywhere around you? It is as if he is an ostrich, burying his head in the sand because he is too scared to acknowledge reality. It is truthiness, in its finest form, and it reminds me of the way Bush thinks.

This to me, has major implications for a presidential candidate. If he is able to turn a blind eye to Evolution, and deny it simply because it conflicts with his religious beliefs, how can I ever trust him to have sober judgment when it comes to serious issues facing a presidency? He has now demonstrated the ability to look away from reality when it proves inconvenient to his own beliefs. How could we ever trust him to deal with Global Warming, or Islamic terrorism, or any other issue that requires wide open eyes?

As I’ve said before, this isn’t some anti-religion screed. The Vatican’s position on evolution is completely reasonable – and it’s from over 25 years ago.

The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer.

I understand that this is a problem for people who believe in literal inerrancy. Well, too frickin’ bad. We need leaders who can critically assess evidence to come to a better understanding of what is really happening in the world in order to face and attempt to solve those problems, rather than leaders who come to a decision first and then try to “spin” the fact to support that decision. For example, declare that Iraq is a “clear and present danger” and proceed to ignore every piece of evidence to the contrary (and even fabricate some intelligence to support the faulty conclusion). Belief in evolution is no different, and that kind of thought process is unacceptable.

I still have preferences about who I hope will win the Democratic primary, but when it comes down to election day next November, I’ll push the button next to any of the Democratic candidates over any of the GOP candidates. I prefer each and every one of them to every GOP candidate. And that’s a sad statement about the modern GOP. How ironic that Goldwater’s 1960 run ultimately gave us this.

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