Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | September 4, 2008

My Litmus Test

Apologies for a political post. I try not to do them very often, but current events have intruded on my generalized political apathy. Although I have tried my hardest to avoid the recent conventions, some of their drivel has leaked through, rather like a tiny gap in a window frame lets in enough moisture to fog the windows. As I read about the candidates and their positions, I realize that I have a personal litmus test.

The expression “litmus test,” by the way, comes from elementary school science classes where we first learned about acids and bases; the concept of pH. Litmus paper is either red or blue, and turns red when dipped in acid (meaning that red paper stays red) and blue when dipped into a basic, or alkali solution. There are no degrees of acidity measured; every solution is either considered an acid or a base; red or blue. Simple; clear cut.

The concept of a litmus test as applied to politics refers to a single issue whose importance to a given voter is so crucial that a candidate’s failure to agree with the voter’s position will cause the voter to refuse to vote for that candidate. I suppose there are some people who also use the term to refer to the converse: voting for people based on their views on a single issue, regardless of where they stand on all other issues. In my case, the former applies.

My litmus test is that I cannot bring myself to vote for any political candidate who believes in magic instead of science, and who uses those beliefs to determine policy.

Homeopathy is magic. “EverCleanse” colon cleanse (advertised daily on the radio) is magic. Enzyte is magic, and it’s inventor/marketer is on his way to jail for fraud. Chiropracters run the gamut from those who understand that they’re glorified physical therapists to those who don’t believe germs cause disease; in general, chiropractic is magic.

Creationism is magic, but because it is cloaked in the trappings of religion, it gets treated with kid gloves. Religion needs to stay out of the science classroom, and I cannot bring myself to vote for anyone who doesn’t understand why.

I think it’s a shame that ignorance has become not only prevalent but desirable in this formerly great land of ours. I suppose hypocrites are so popular because they make people comfortable with their own hypocrisy.

I can’t even tell if my dominant emotion is fear or sadness.

All I can do is apply my own private, non-partisan litmus test in the privacy of the voting booth. Magical thinking is a thought process of childhood. It’s time this country grew up.


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