For along time, I called myself "agnostic" because I didn't want to be discriminated against for being an atheist. Having read several books on the subject, I decided that this was akin to being a gay man staying inside the closet. I have since identified myself as an athiest to anyone willing to ask. It has since become clear that I will probably never be able to hold public office or be seen as a role model to people in the greater community because of this decision. This saddens me, however I hope it will come to be that a person is judged based on their actions and contributions to society, and not based on whether they enter a particular building with certain adorning symbols on a weekly basis.
Pete Stark is a strange dude. Old, weird, big ears, hobbit-like in appearance. He says inappropriate things – true, but inappropriate -- with strange intonations. If Pete “I wouldn’t dignify you by peeing on your leg” Stark can be part of the bay area congressional delegation with all his weirdness, and still manage to be a Atheist I don’t see that as a hurdle for you. If Gary ”I like to shave all the hair on my body” Condit can get re-elected to his bay area congressional seat after he became the lead suspect in the murder of his female intern, I think your problem is surmountable.
I know that wasn’t the point of the snippet of dialogue above, but it is … saddening… that you would rank it as significant reason for not even trying to run. You run for office not necessarily because you are sure you are going to win but because of how you want to help people. To appropriate (and hopefully not transmogrify) your words: you run for office because of what you can accomplish, of what you contribute to society. You dont run because you think you are the right candidate.
Whether you win or not is up to the people, with all their wants, prejudices and inclinations, to decide. It is their choice and you might not win. But this resigned sadness as response to the situation is, to misquote an old friend of mine, not HARDCORE.
As for a role models, Captain Morgan, you will never be a role model. Ask me if it has anything to do with atheism. :)