For 27 years I have been registered "non-partisan", like my father before me. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, Greens, and Libertarians. I've even protest-voted for myself a few times when the only choices were between bad or worse. I don't vote based on party or slogan, I vote based on my informed belief in the ability of the candidate to accomplish both the job requirements and the goals they have laid out. This will be the first year I have ever voted a straight party ticket, and it will be Democrat.
I've spent the last month traveling Ohio covering down ballot races as a freelance journalist. I've also been following the various races and issues around the nation. Frankly, I am stunned and offended by the campaign the Republicans have been waging. At least six old men have argued they know what's best for the victims of rape. Many have argued that science is a hoax and faith is a more reliable method for both education and governance. They seem to believe that actions in the world can have no long term consequences, and saying otherwise must be a plot. The Republican party has shown such a disregard for the value of knowledge that they actually said, "We won't let our campaign be dictated to by fact checkers." On top of all of this, they have turned away from traditional conservative ideologies of a community of responsible individuals, to a new theory of "every man for himself, the ends justify the means".
Each of these ideas, individually, are bad enough. As a combination, representing the party's overall political ideology, they actually serve to undermine the foundations of western civilization upon which the success of America is built; Humanist ethics, Abrahamic morality, and critical thinking.
Critical Thinking and Western History
From the Renaissance through the Enlightenment and Age of Reason into the Industrial and Information Ages, western civilization has developed by confronting challenges, forming hypothesis, gathering data, either disproving or proving that hypothesis, and then moving forward; AKA the scientific method. At no time was any of this done in isolation. Each person, community, and generation builds upon the work of others to create new accomplishments of its own. There is no internet for DARPA and CERN to build without Franklin and Tesla, who in turn owe to others down the line, even to Descartes for developed the first scientific method in 1637, and even to Plato and Democritus for introducing critical thinking into western culture centuries before the common era. The Republican argument against science, critical thinking, and fact based debate is an argument against the development and progress of our culture.
Morality in Western Culture
The Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) which inform the morality of western culture, whether you subscribe to them or not they are rooted in the zeitgeist, are also undermined by this new Republican party. Despite its zealous protestations of fealty. The golden rule, "treat others as you wish them to treat you [because they will]" is the most basic precept in all world religions, but is specifically enuciated in both Judaism and Christianity. The other basic tenant to these two faiths is the idea that worldy possesions are meaningless in the face of good vs evil. The argument Republicans are now making, that we should not use the tools of our government to assist each other when downtrodden, that the pursuit of cash is of greater importance than the pursuit of a better nation for us all, stands diametrically opposed to these moral values.
Humanism and the Social Contract
One of the core precepts of Humanism is the Social Contract; the idea that all living things are born free and we humans choose to sacrifice a portion of that liberty to form societies for our common benefit. That sacrifice takes the form of things like taxes which take some of our earning, and laws which limit our choices, while the benefits take the form of security in food, shelter, and justice, etc. We don't ask for delivery on a silver platter, nor do we allow tyranny. The goal is to end the natural state of survival of the fittest so that we can progress to higher achievements, such as flight and curing polio. The Republicans of today are arguing that all of the progress of the last four centuries was built upon an unethical philosophy, and that we should each be left to our own devices, damn the consequences. They are arguing against Western Culture.
This is not like the Republicans of the past, this is a new dangerous breed whose aversion to knowledge makes them unaware of the devasting outcome of their philosophy. Allowed to continue to its inevitable conclusion their lack of foresight, caustic xenophobia, brutal greed, and devout ignorance would lead Western society into a new dark ages.
Though President Obama and the Democrats are hardly Einstein, Keynes, or Locke, and certainly deserve criticism for their continued support of the security state, at least we can rely on them to remain invested in building upon the foundations we have been laying down for the last four centuries. The ideas of democracy that inform both our republic and our economy, which have allowed for an expansion of civil rights and the middle class through mass education, free speech, and economic safety nets, cannot be abandonded. The Democrats have staked their political fortunes on this mission, while the Republicans have staked their political fortunes on undermining it all. For this reason, it has never been more important to support an electoral victory for a President and his party.