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Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. In addition to his teaching, Dershowitz is a prolific author who makes frequent media and public[…]

Big issues instead of bumper stickers.

Question: What should be the big issues of the 2008 US presidential election?

Alan Dershowitz: I think there’s a sharp dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats on several issues.

One is secularism versus fundamentalism. When you have many of the Republican candidates raising their hand when asked if they don’t believe in evolution and all the Democratic candidates saying they do believe in evolution.

When you have many Republicans wanting to lower the wall of separation between church and state, and many Democrats pandering as well to religious constituencies, but at least saying the right words about separation of church and state.

When you get the religious groups misapplying Jesus’ message and trying to recreate Jesus in their own image. If you look at the Republican conception of Jesus, he’s a gun toting, tax-cutting person who hates the poor. Nothing can be further from the truth. Jesus was a man of peace who loved the poor and didn’t have such nice views about the rich. Something about the camel going through a needle.

And it’s bizarre. Now the religious right is trying to recreate Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, and James Madison, and George Washington in their own image by pretending that these were deeply religious Christians who wanted to create a Christian society in America.

So I think on the issues of secularism versus religion, on the issues of environmentalism, there are clear differences between Democrats and Republicans. On the issues of minimum wage and trying to help the poor; on the issues of immigration, perhaps not as sharply; but there are big differences.

I think none of the candidates today wants to discuss the big, big, big issues. They’re not good political fodder. They don’t make good bumper stickers. And it’s hard to campaign on anything other than slogans today.


Recorded On: June 12, 2007