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I got to wondering: What would disqualify someone from running for the Presidency? There are, of course, the obvious Constitutional ones: not being a “natural born” American, being under 35 years of age, having been involved in a rebellion against the US. There are others that, while not encoded in law, would, in the minds of most voters, render them unqualified. I’d include here things like holding documented racist views, being demonstrably ignorant about Constitutional law, forswearing religion, having had no experience in governance … things like these usually make people feel so uncomfortable that no matter what other virtues the candidate might have they are unlikely to vote for them.

But once you get past these kinds of fairly obvious and largely undisputed issues the game sinks into a partisan brawl. So, since I’m usually ready for a political brawl, here are my first three items of disqualification, positions or actions taken that, in my mind, render an individual unfit for high office. Are they partisan? Honestly, I don’t think so but you may think otherwise.

I. Signing Grover Norquist’s pledge: Any politician who signed this pledge has abrogated his or her responsibility to represent the best interests of their constituents. They have handed control over how they will vote on economic matters and issues of taxation to a private individual. Such an abdication of legislative responsibility renders any complicit politician from ever getting my vote or support — for any elected position, not just the presidency. I have no problems with officials who are wary of tax increases. I’m willing to discuss the issues and listen to debates but I have no truck with anyone who makes a pledge to some right-wing, partisan blow-hard about how they will conduct themselves as elected officials. I note that, as things currently stand, this would eliminate 95% of all Republicans in congress and every member of the GOP who ran in the presidential primaries in 2012.

II. Denying climate change: There is no doubt about the impact of human activity on the climate. It is utterly obvious to anyone who has looked at the data — all the data. It is not a hoax perpetrated by left wing academics. It is not based on fudged numbers. It is also not based solely on specific warming trends. It is seen in dramatic shifts in polar ice, in the melt-rate of glaciers in Alaska, Canada, the Alps and the Andes, in the shrinking of the Greenland icecap, the sloughing off of the Antarctic ice sheet, the thawing of the tundra permafrost, the shift in ocean currents, the changes in the biochemistry of the oceans, the alternations in migration patterns of birds, shifts in the geographical distributions of species of animals and plants, global movements of insect species, increased variance of weather patterns and the frequency of extreme weather events. Any politician who still maintains that this man-made disaster isn’t coming at us like a figurative run-away train and who, as a result, won’t engage in the kinds of legislative and executive efforts that will be required to deal with it has disqualified him or herself from consideration.

III. Denying evolution: Evolution is not a theory. Evolution is a fact. There are theories about that fact, the one most widely accepted is the one that identified natural selection as the driving force. It was, of course, first posed by Charles Darwin in 1859. In the 150+ years since then it has been refined and elaborated and supported. It forms the core of all (and I mean ALL) the social, biological, genetic, botanical, biochemical, biophysical and medical sciences. It is the binding model under which everything we know about life is tucked. To deny evolution is an act of stupendous ignorance, an ignorance so egregious that anyone cleaving to a so-called “creationist” model is automatically disqualified from higher office.

And I do not want to hear any nonsense about balance, about teaching a child about both evolution and creationism and letting them choose. You don’t let a child choose to believe in grammar or arithmetic. You wouldn’t argue that we should teach a child about Einstein’s theory and some silly science fiction idea about faster-than-light travel and let them choose or tell them about plate tectonics and ancient notions about fixed continents and let them choose which to believe. Science isn’t about belief. It’s about theory and data. Religion is about belief and religion does not belong in the public schools.

Are there more disqualifying positions? Sure, but these will do for today.

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