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Politics and evolution

I’ve only been reading Red State Rabble for a few days, but already s/he has jumped to the top of my list of favourites.  While one post today on the decline of American natural history museums is really upsetting, I just don’t have a whole lot to add to that issue.  I’ve been around university museums for years, but have never properly appreciated them.

He has a nice couple of posts about evolution and US presidential politics.  Three of the candidates for the Republican nomination indicated that they didn’t believe in evolution – Huckabee, Brownback and Tancredo.  Since then Huckabee and Brownback have decided to backpedal a bit, but only so far as an essentially ID position.  On one hand I should be glad that the other seven aren’t nuts, but the modern creationist movement have been willing to admit “microevolution”, and in so doing, muddy the waters.  On the other hand, if they are trying to appeal to voters in the Republican party, it wouldn’t make sense to hedge their bets that way.

Red State Rabble points to a Gallup poll which says that  68% or Republicans doubt evolution, while 30% believe the evidence (is that the social/fiscal conservative split or the neocon/theocon split?).  Running away from creationism in a Republican primary is thus not likely to be a winning position.  On the other hand, if all the leading candidates do so, then it’s likely to be something that factors out.  Democrats and Independent show almost the opposite split – 57% of Democrats and 61% of Independents believe the evidence for evolution, while 40% of Dems and 37% of Independents doubt evolution.

While these numbers are actually disturbingly high, it’s nice, (as RSR pointed out) that the Dems and Independents converge on this issue (much like they do on the war).  If the Republicans were to nominate a creationist (unlikely, but still), one hopes that as Eleanor Clift said:

There are millions of people that don’t believe in the theory of evolution, and there are many more millions, myself included, who wouldn’t want a creationist to become president.

(Again, H/T Red State Rabble)

As Clift pointed out, Huckabee governed as a centrist while governor of Arkansas.  Still, creationism poses a danger of becoming a wedge issue in politics.  Sadly (from a scientific perspective) Dems can’t afford to alienate the 40% of Democrats who are creationists, which makes it harder for the theocrats to turn this into a political wedge issue.  But I’m sure people said that about abortion.


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