If you've followed the blog and payed attention, then you probably know that I used to be politically active and was a candidate in the last provincial election. If you've never had the pleasure of running for public office, let me say this: it is a 35-day job interview (at least in Canada, where we're sensible about these things. I just watched a 20-month orgy of narcissism and pointlessness not 200km south of here).
Really, just like a job interview, there are standard questions (What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?), a panel of reviewers, a job on the line, and competition that you probably recognize (depending on the job you're pursuing). It's also exhausting, and given enough time, you eventually say something damning.
As an aside, here's some free job interview advice (though you may not want to take it; I've been to a LOT of interviews, which says something about my skill, maybe): answer the question and shut the hell up.
But back to the anecdote. At about day 22, I started feeling frisky. I was sick of talking points and euphemisms. I didn't want to say "carbon tax" any more. I didn't want to tell people about peak oil. I was sick of being called a moonbat. I was sick of being told that I had done very well explaining the platform, and that I was a smart young man, and that they believed in what I stood for, but wouldn't be voting for me. (I ran as a Green.)
There's a funny little anachronism in Canada's constitution. It guarantees Protestant and Catholic education in all provinces (now except Quebec & Newfoundland). Protestant can now be read "public", but Catholic remains enshrined. It's funny in that it costs Ontario about half a billion dollars a year to run a second school system, and it's an anachronism in that it clearly doesn't reflect the realities of the province. About a third of the province is Catholic, making them easily the largest religious group in Ontario, but still a vocal minority. It was likely political suicide, but the Green Party recognizes that a dual school system is unsustainable and discriminatory, and included in the platform a planto eliminate publicly-funded Catholic education in Ontario. The Tories went the other way and offered to fund EVERYBODY, in the issue of fairness. Both plans are fair (certainly fairer than the current system), but ours is cheaper, easier and inherently more fair.*
As I said, possibly political suicide. But here's the thing. As I got more exhausted, more familiar with our platform and the platforms of the other candidates, more bored with the same old bullshit, and more annoyed at the average Ontario voter, I started saying some crazy things. It was about day 22 that I came out publicly, at a debate, in front of an audience (at a university, to be fair, so a relatively safe environment), and said that I was an atheist.
Did it actually hurt my chances at winning? I don't know. The odds were long to begin with (Green Party, for crying out loud!), but I suspect that declaring my godlessness without shame, without fear and without deferring to the deluded majority cost me votes.
There's no way to track it, and atheism is not the root of all evil in Canada like it is down below, but there's still some ill-will.