Ritter for Governor
by Ari Armstrong, October 26, 2006
I have decided to vote for Democrat Bill Ritter for Governor to help preserve the separation of church and state. Republican Bob Beauprez has aggressively injected religion into the politics of abortion and welfare. More disturbingly, his running mate has rejected the separation of church and state.
Ritter also pushes religion into politics, yet to a considerably lesser degree. My vote for Ritter should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any of his policies. Ritter poses a serious threat to our rights to control our income, purchase medical services on an open market, and acquire and use tools for self-defense. Yet Beauprez poses the larger threat of breaking down the separation of church and state, the necessary precondition for freedom of conscience and the choice to adopt and support a particular religion or no religion.
Sources and Additional Notes
My decision to vote for Ritter over Beauprez will come as little surprise to those who read my October 12 column for Boulder Weekly. I close that piece, "Apparently, to maintain our right to remain free from religion, we have to vote to remain free from the Republican Party."
My decision to vote against Beauprez was only solidified when I read some comments by Leonard Peikoff. He discusses the politics of the U.S. Congress, but his comments are also relevant to the governor's race in Colorado, I believe. (Given that Democrats control the state house and senate and likely will win the governor's mansion, I believe a vote for some Republican state legislators is justified in order to check the economic interventionism of the left.) Peikoff argues that, while the left pushes toward socialism, the left is basically bankrupt, while "the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power."
C. Bradley Thompson has also offered a scathing critique of the modern conservative movement. Thompson writes, "The purpose of President Bush's faith-based initiative is to create a religious welfare state..."
Beauprez's religious stand against abortion has been widely publicized. Here is just one example. Stuart Steers writes for the October 6 Rocky Mountain News: "Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez took a hard line, saying he would sign a bill outlawing virtually all abortions, oppose stem cell research and refuse to fund Planned Parenthood. 'We Catholics recognize a fertilized embryo is life,' said Beauprez. His opponent, Democrat Bill Ritter, said he would let Catholic teaching inform his decisions while recognizing he had to represent Coloradans who disagreed with the church. He said he would not work to overturn abortion laws and disagreed with a ban on the use of stem cells in research... Beauprez also strongly opposed gay marriage and proposals to allow gay couples to establish civil unions... Ritter said he opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions. He said society seems to be in transition on the issue... 'I have never had a problem telling people how I let my faith guide my positions,' said Beauprez."
That both Beauprez and Ritter endorse religious welfare is made clear in an October 18 article by Mark Couch for The Denver Post. Couch writes, "Beauprez said restrictions on [tax] money to religious organizations has hurt society." Ritter isn't much better on this issue: "Ritter said churches, synagogues and mosques can serve as a conduit for government funding to needy people when those institutions are 'neutral' about how they distribute the aid... Ritter said he thought the federal government's faith-based initiative can provide valuable funds for social programs. When he was district attorney, he said, he used such money for a program to help senior citizens." However, at least Ritter expressed some concern about the separation of church and state. Ritter "pointed out that Beauprez's running mate 'is on record saying that she doesn't believe there is a separation of church and state'." Ritter qualified his support for religious welfare, reports Couch: "I want to say that we need to be very, very careful. We need to be stubborn stewards of that relationship of the separation of church and state." Sending tax dollars to religious groups is inherently a violation of the separation of church and state, but at least Ritter qualified his support for religious welfare.
Lynn Bartels provides information about Janet Rowland, Beauprez's running mate, in an August 16 article for the Rocky Mountain News. In 2004, Rowland answered a survey from The Testimony: Western Colorado's Christian Chronicles. She endorses religious welfare and the tax funding of creationism in schools, and she explicitly rejects the separation of church and state:
What is your position regarding President Bush's "faith-based initiatives?"
It's also clear from Bartels's report that Rowland opposes domestic partnerships for religious reasons.
Religious politics -- implementing policies based on religious convictions -- is what animates Beauprez's campaign. While Beauprez opposed Referendum C (last year's net tax hike), he has shown little interest in (and sometimes open hostility toward) economic liberty, the right to bear arms, and other values that interest the limited-government wing of the Republican Party (such as it is). That's no surprise. Candidates who don't endorse the separation of church and state have no understanding of the fundamental right of conscience -- the freedom of thought -- and so cannot be expected to take rights seriously in any area. However, even if Beauprez were stronger on other issues, his persistent appeal to religion as the basis of his policies would warrant a vote for Ritter.
Voting for Ritter is the strongest way to vote against Beauprez and against the attempted takeover of politics by the religious right. Not voting or voting for a minor candidate would merely deprive Beauprez of a vote. Casting a vote for Ritter results in a two-vote difference. I have considered the risk that my vote for Ritter will be misinterpreted. This article, and my promotion of it, ensures that my vote, at least, cannot be misconstrued. In general, letting candidates know the reasons for your vote is a good way to ensure that your vote is properly understood.
It's getting late in this election cycle, but, for 2008, I believe a good strategy would be to vote only for candidates who explicitly endorse the separation of church and state. That will require asking candidates their views in advance and publicizing their answers.
Today, no party seriously supports individual rights. The whole point of the left is to subvert economic liberty to state controls for egalitarian ends. Increasingly, the whole point of the right is to subvert individual rights to religious controls. Voting against the religious takeover of politics is the more urgent demand. Yet the long-term goal is to promote a culture that again respects individual rights in all spheres. Perhaps someday I'll be able to vote for a decent candidate, rather than against the worst of evils.