Definitions for 2008 Election: Are YOU Informed?


By: Warner Todd Huston

We have a few major problems with the debate in the 2008 elections. Far too many people, with the leftists in the Media in the lead, are using words incorrectly and causing the debate on the candidates and issues to go wildly off track, so much so that no one has a clue what they are talking about. We need to get back to using words that we KNOW the definition of and we need to do it before people begin casting their first Primary ballots. That being said, there are two words in particular that are causing us trouble in the 2008 election, words to which we desperately need to understand the definitions.

1. Bigot

Mitt Romney’s folks are the guilty party for misusing this word. People like Hugh Hewitt and the rest of team Romney constantly do their best to squelch debate on “the Mormon question” by claiming that anyone who discusses it is a “bigot.”

My 1968 edition of the Standard College Dictionary defines bigot as such:

Bigot 1. One whose attitude or behavior expresses intolerance, as because of race, religion, politics, etc., 2. A narrow-minded, intolerant adherent of a particular religion.

Now, to question if a Mormon is a real Christian or not is not a bigoted question. It is a discussion of the relative aspects of Mormonism that do or do not adhere to general Christian doctrine, one based on theological facts. Look again at the definition. It is centered around intolerance and hatred, not theological discussion.

Few pundits — in fact not one that I know of — have said theyhate Mormons. No one in the mainstream is saying they shouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney because he is somehow evil for being a Mormon. In fact, I cannot even tell that “the Mormon question” was raised decades ago when his father tried to run for president so it really isn’t the issue here. Certainly, very many theological commentators have made the credible case that Mormons have enough doctrinal differences from Christianity to make them not members of a Christian faith. (For some of my own reasons that Mormons aren’t Christians, go to this one I wrote in early in 2006)

But, the fact that Mormons are not Christians does NOT mean they are hated for it nor does it mean that anyone who doubts a Mormon is a Christian hates them for it. I don’t think Jews are Christians, but I’d vote for one. I can like a fellow from India and want to vote for him even if he should not be a Christian.

Anyone who claims that it’s bigotry for questioning Mormonism’s merits as a Christian faith are either trying to squelch debate like Hewitt, or simply have no clue what the word bigot means. One is disingenuous, the other merely ignorant.

2. Experience

This is one that is being liberally tossed around on the Democrat side. Those attacking Obama because he has no “experience” seem to have a few problems with definitions.

So, what is “experience” for a presidential candidate, anyway? What type of experience is there that qualifies a candidate to be a president.

Short answer: None.

Long answer: In the Constitution there are but three qualifications (and one is now irrelevant) to become president. Let us quote Article 2., section 1, clause d:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

So, qualification one is to be a natural born citizen and number two is to be at least 35 years of age. That’s it, folks.

So, gentle reader, this means that most likely a great number of the people reading this are qualified to be president! I am qualified to be president.

The Founders did this on purpose. For one thing they wanted to stop any foreigner from coming here, acting the pretender at being a loyal American, then becoming president only to end up serving a foreign master. They felt a natural born citizen might have more loyalty to the nation than one of foreign birth… though they’d probably be stumped by Democrats today. They also wanted someone who had attained some level of maturity, and since you can’t decide on an individual basis who is mature and who isn’t and need a catchall age, they chose 35. Remember, people often died before they reached their 50th birthday in those days, so 35 was pretty old. If you weren’t mature by then, you had major problems that would presumably show up long before you became president.

This means that on a strictly Constitutional basis Obama, whether you like him or not, is as qualified as anyone to become president of the United States. This of course, is where we as voters step in to determine who we like and for what reasons.

Now, since there are no actual requirements to be president, this means experience is a nebulous issue. We chose Eisenhower, but he had never even declared himself a member of any political party until about 10 minutes before he decided to run for president much less had experience to be president. He’d never had a real career outside the military and he had never held office. Ike was merely a general, famous and battle tested of course, but not “experienced” as an executive. His other merits may have made him a good candidate, but experience to be president? No one really has that because experience means that they’d have been one before and no one running for the first time has ever had that (save one running for the second term, naturally)! Heck, we chose William Henry Harrison on much the same basis as we chose Ike… in fact, Harrison had even more experience than Ike. At least Harrison had been 12 years a territorial governor of the Indiana Territory.

We can squabble over who has better experience, but it just isn’t factual to say that no experience disqualifies a person to become president. If it were, most of our presidents would not have passed the test — even president Lincoln.

To elect a president is one of the most important civic duties an American has. But to go into the debate without even understanding the words used to talk about the candidates makes us all less informed at a time when being informed is all important.

I hope this helps us begin to narrow the debate in a more logical manner.

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