Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm a Mormon. And I'm voting for Barack Obama.

So, it's election season.  Oh, you didn't know?  Kind of sneaks up on you*, I guess.

Which means it is time for me to get vaguely political, attempting to care about issues I don't really know much about, and trying to sound as sophisticated as possible when I talk about them.  (In other words, DISCLAIMER:  I'm an ignorant person.)

But allow me to attempt to rise above my ignorance, if only for the briefest of moments.

I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church (which is how I'll refer to it hereafter for the sake of clarity).  I consider myself both a religious and spiritual person, with an emphasis on the latter term**.  I agree with the majority of the teachings of the Mormon Church and its prophet, Thomas S. Monson.  Do I think either of these entities (the Mormon Church or its prophet) is perfect?  Certainly not.  President Monson is still just a man and therefore inherently flawed; the Church's stewardship is given to regular men and women, who are also inherently flawed.  But, that said, I've found a whole lot of joy, peace, fulfillment, and comfort in the Church's teachings.  I believe strongly in the Mormon Church, and particularly--and most importantly--Jesus Christ (yes, I'm a Christian).

Now, some of you may have heard that Governor Mitt Romney is also a Mormon.  I think that's great.  I think it's cool that a Mormon has garnered such popularity in mainstream politics; I feel more validated as just a regular person who happens to have a certain set of beliefs, rather than a walking stereotype of Mormonism, because of what Gov. Romney has accomplished.  I feel an affinity towards him because of our shared faith.  I suspect (although I can't say for sure, of course, given that I don't know the man) that he is a genuinely good person.  I think he wants the best for himself, his family, and his country.  And, I have to admit, I'm strangely touched by crazy Facebook trends like this one.

But I'll be voting for the other guy.

Now, to be fair, this has a lot more to do with my personal politics than with either of the men running for president.  I believe equality is important, and that it should be an indispensable part of our society.  I believe that women who work the same jobs as men should be paid on the same scale as men.  I believe that women should be able to do what they want to do with their own bodies, and not be dictated to, in that regard or any other, by anyone else (And if men get Viagra covered by their insurance, BY ALL MEANS, give women birth control!  The logic behind that whole situation is outrageous to me.)  I believe that people should be able to love who they want to love, and be in the relationships that make them happiest.  I think of healthcare in terms of "right" rather than "privilege."  While I have the utmost respect for business owners and entrepreneurs, and think it takes a tremendous amount of tenacity, drive, and creativity to do what they do, I don't think they would be able to accomplish what they do without the help of friends, mentors, teachers, and--dare I say it?--government.  I think it is everyone's responsibility, but particularly that of the successful and the wealthy, to support others in turn, through charity, education, and taxes.***

And, honestly, the rhetoric of the conservative side of things is just bothersome, sometimes.  Saying things like "legitimate rape," and "Obama is a Muslim and will ruin this country" just doesn't seem helpful.  Now, I'm aware that the left has had their share of rhetorical diarrhea (forgive the imagery).  But, at least to me (and why not?  I'm biased, anyway), the fault seems worse on the conservative side of things.

What I'm NOT saying, here, is that Mitt Romney doesn't care about any of the aforementioned ideas, or that he endorses the crazy things extremists say.  Let me repeat:  I'm NOT saying that.  I think he probably does care a great deal about a lot of those things.  But the way he wants to approach them really doesn't strike my fancy.

President Obama's approach does (strike my fancy, that is).  And there's a lot more I like about him, besides.  I agree with him when he says that our national defense is no longer based strictly on the size of our navy.  There are a lot of other factors that go into it nowadays (let's be honest; there always have been), and I think he knows what those factors are and how to make them work for America.  I think that balancing the budget requires a lot more than a vague five-point plan.  And I think Pres. Obama has handled the last four years remarkably well, considering what was dropped in his lap in the first place.  In his next term, I think he'll continue to strengthen and lead our country through recovery and into success.

Now, I recognize I've focused, mostly, on pathos in this post.  And I don't feel bad about it.  This is how I feel about things.  I COULD cite a bunch of facts (and I'm sure a lot of people who disagree with this post will view that as a sleight; I'm not posting the facts because there ARE no facts that support Obama, right?).  I COULD point you towards the 31 straight months of economic growth, or show you how unemployment is the lowest it's been since December of 2008, or demonstrate how housing starts are at an all time high.  But I won't.  Because facts are boring, and I don't want to, and this post is long enough as it is, and this is my blog and I can do what I want.  So there.  And, ultimately, this post is about how I feel about the upcoming election.  My point of view on things, nothing more, nothing less.

So, even though I'm a Mormon, I'm voting for Barack Obama (and look!  I haven't been struck by lightning yet!  I'll have to wait until election day to tell you for sure, though).  Even though I don't think Gov. Romney is an awful guy--and I admit, I think he would do some good things for our country as President--I think Pres. Obama is the right man to lead in the next four years.  He would do . . . more . . . of the good things . . . ahem.  Hey, don't look at me like that.  I told you I was ignorant.

That's how I see things.  If you feel otherwise, feel free to let me know!

And, in the spirit of friendship, you should watch this, because it is hilarious, and will make your day.

*  And by "sneaks up on you," I mean "hits you over the head with a giant hammer, Super Smash Brothers style, like a year and a half too early."

**  Hopefully this goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway:  I also consider myself a seriously flawed person; my attempts to give up those flaws and weaknesses are a large part of what I consider spirituality, and one of the driving concepts behind my idea of religion.

***  A brief tangent:  I'm always just a little bit astounded that the majority of Christians tend to choose the Republican platform over the Democratic one.  While I was in church just this last Sunday, I listened to a scripture-oriented discussion on how people are so prideful these days that they think whatever they own, create, and accumulate for themselves is theirs and theirs alone, when in reality they should be thinking of all of the people that helped them accomplish and receive all of the blessings they have, and of ways they can share those blessings with others.  I'm sure that a whole lot of the people involved in that discussion also posted memes like this one on their favorite social media sites.  So, yeah.  I just don't get it.  Jesus' only requirement for healing was something called faith.  That sounds like a pretty good healthcare system to me.  He seemed to be in favor of helping the poor, afflicted, and downtrodden--not putting the rich on a pedestal.  When the most basic idea behind Christianity is becoming like Christ, I'm astounded at how many people seem to ignore His actions.  Maybe I just have the wrong idea about Christianity.


  1. And, if you do choose to comment, I encourage you to be civil. Discussions are cool. Arguments can be fun. But trolling and cruelty are, like, so stupid.

  2. Saw your post and decided that I needed to write down my thoughts. Sorry it was so long that it's going to stretch to two comments, but thoughts like you've stated above deserve thought - thanks for giving me a springboard to write down my thoughts, and for being willing to put your thoughts out there as well. Spero che tutto vada bene per tu (te? la lingua mi scappa...) e Rachel!

    I see two issues - who to vote for as President, and with what political party do you affiliate. My read is that the majority of your post addresses the second issue, which in turn informs the first issue, and I think that's fine. Nothing wrong with voting for a candidate whose party's views align better with yours.

    I've thought a lot about our country, the issues we face, and how that's going to affect my daughters. I've read articles and books and attempted to figure out where I stand. In the end, I've learned and relearned the fact that I'm not going to find a candidate or political party that believes 100% the way that I believe. Where I stand on climate change, how I'm willing to compromise on same-sex marriage, how to deal with chronic poverty and extreme dependency, and how to pay for everything...there is not a candidate/party out there that believes the exact same way that I do. So I've found myself trying to set priorities for what I look for in a presidential candidate. Maybe you've done the same thing.

    And for me, the biggest problem in this country is that Washington has this incredible lack of willingness to get things done. There are a lot of good ideas out there from both parties that, I think, deserve the chance to be debated and enacted. Instead, both parties have tended, with some minor exceptions, to keep things the status quo, and to continually kick huge and growing problems down the road. (Immigration...Entitlement reform...too big to fail financial name a few examples.)

    So as I decided who I was going to vote for, I decided to look for the ability to compromise. In fact, I wouldn't be very comfortable if the group of people in charge all thought the same way were in charge. The Founding Fathers did not get along and agree on practically any issue. However, it was their compromises which, in my mind, enabled our country's success.

    Now that I picked what my ultimate priority is, I was able to compare the two candidates more clearly. I'm voting for Mitt Romney.

  3. Nothing in our current President's background nor his presidential record leads me to believe that he will compromise with people that think differently than him to enact the solutions our country so desperately needs. The President came to office promising hope and change, a new area of bipartisanship - the problem solver in me really liked that message. I wanted him to be a successful president. He came into an office at a difficult time, certainly. Unfortunately, while working through that crisis, over the past four years, he has failed to work with the other party. The stimulus was passed with an emphasis on speed and no effort toward bipartisanship. ("We have the votes, f- them" said Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff). His health program was passed with zero support from the other party. There are some good things in his health care program - it would have been stronger with the incorporation of some republican ideas, and it would have been more legitimate. He failed to come up with a compromise to get a spending/debt deal passed, and instead continued to kick that can down the road.

    Politics involves compromise and working with people who think differently than you do. (By the way, Bob Woodward's book "The Price of Politics" was a very interesting read on our current President's handling of these issues. Bob Woodward was one of the two journalists who broke the Watergate story, to give you an idea of his background. You won't see him solely on MSNBC or Fox News, if you catch my drift.) When something doesn't get done, both sides deserve blame...but if you're the President, you're the one ultimately in charge and deserve the greater share of both the credit and the blame.

    On the other hand, Mitt Romney's business and political background shows me a person that has and will continue to work with people who think differently than him. As a business leader, he had to come up with deals and compromises in order to be successful. As a church leader, he showed a willingness to compromise where he felt he could. As a governor, he had to work with a legislature where his political party was a distinct minority. I look at Mitt Romney's record and I see someone who would work with those who see differently than him, who would be anxious to incorporate the best ideas from all the political parties. With the problems our country is facing and the extreme political divide our country has, that is the defining characteristic that I am looking for in a President.

    And that is why I'm voting for Mitt Romney.

    (FWIW, if you take all the candidates' stated positions on issues, I do lean more towards Gov. Romney than Pres. Obama, but not completely. However, if I didn't believe he would be willing to compromise and work with people that think differently than him, I wouldn't vote for Gov. Romney. I'd either vote for Pres. Obama or a third-party candidate.)

    Ciao bello!

  4. Logan! Sei sempre tu il più bello! Rachel and I are doing great! How are you (all, fam included)?

    Thanks for your treatise in two parts :-)! I think that placing a candidate's ability to compromise as your top priority is a smart move. I agree, that is definitely something Washington needs, but has missed, for years. And it's true, Pres. Obama certainly has sort of thrown compromise out the window on a few occasions (some of them justified, in my opinion, but some of them not). That said, he has attempted to compromise in some areas, attempting to avoid defaulting on our national loans being the example that comes first to mind, and has been met with strong resistance on the Republican side. Both sides seem to say they're willing to compromise, but not on the issues the other side wants to compromise with.

    While Gov. Romney has a very strong track record where this is concerned, as you mentioned, my worry is that Washington is a very different animal than the Mass. Senate, or any other state senate/house for that matter. I'm just as disillusioned with the complete obtuseness of Washington as anyone, and I'm not convinced even Romney, despite his record, would be able to do much about it. I think this is one of the more serious problems we face as a nation, and something that could mean the beginning of the end of the two-party system (for better or for worse).

    I'll have to look into the Woodward book you mentioned; reading up on this sort of thing is something I wouldn't mind being more consistent about, instead of suddenly remembering I want to be informed when elections roll around.

    Thanks again for your comments, opinions, and for reading. I'm glad I was able to inspire thought on some level :-). Hope all is well with all y'all!

  5. Chris

    Once again thank you for your post. While I I have differing views, your thoughtful post has prompted me to reflect on my own views and more importantly prompted me to ask myself how I arrived at my current philosophy. In my younger years I had more liberal points of view - but it seems that the older I get the more my views move to the right of the political spectrum. My overarching view is that America is a unique country that had the advantage of wiping the slate clean ( 200+ years ago) and creating a government that was truly an experiment of democracy by the people. I believe that these principles are what made America what it is today. As I look at Europe I see the result of years of well meaning politicians that increasingly grew their governments (with good intentions) to the point that the people became more and more dependent on the government for their well being. On a macro scale I believe that when that happens the individual feels less responsibility to help his fellow man because it is the governments job to take care of them. You spoke in favor of increasing taxes on the more wealthy in our country. I think that this punishes success and takes away the incentive to work hard and improve. There are many studies that show the charitable donations that come from the wealthy would most certainly decline if they were taxed more – In my opinion it is like saying “here government, you take my money and decide where it is best spent.” I have seen beaucracy work on all sides and I am here to tell you that rarely is there an efficient expenditure of funds.

    As far as the current debate on health care – I think it is a very complex issue. I am leery of the government getting overly involved in health care. Do I think the current system is working ? No! Does it need to be fixed ? Yes! Will the 2000 + page government health care law take care of this . I think it is doubtful. There has to be other ways. Do I think that the government should mandate that private insurance companies pay for contraception - no! Nor should they mandate payment for Viagra. Should a women have the right to do what she wants to do with her own body? I think in most cases yes. However, I do feel that the issue of terminating the life of an unborn child is more complex than just what “someone wants”. In fact (I know that many may cringe when I say this) I think that there is nothing more sacred than human life, and that a society that is willing to kill its own off sprin g has more far reaching impact on civility and civilization as a whole than people may realize. I have four children because of four wonderful women who decided that abortion was not an option.

    I believe that the people are best served when their governments are closer to the people they govern. I am in favor of extending more power to the states, (this was the original intent of the founders) shifting control to the federal government seems to me that we are giving our rights and monies to a body that doesn’t have the knowledge of how to best serve the local needs of the people. We don’t have to wonder what a government would look like if we go the direction of the current administration– we just have to look at Greece or Spain. Its approach to government is precisely why people flock here. This country is unique in its approach– is it perfect ? No way– does the excess of this country create it own problems? Yes.

    Well, there you go..... those are some of my thoughts. I echo your sentiment regarding the current political discourse – I am very weary of both sides and their mean spirited tatics.
    On another note ...I must admit that I am somewhat self conscious of my writing skills knowing that you are the expert.— I wish you the best

    Here is a link to a speech by a man named Daniel Hannon he is British journalist, author and politician who is a Member of the European Parliament. Please take some time to watch this and let me know what you think...

    Curt Holman

    1. Finally got around to watching that video. Very interesting, Hannan seems like he knows what he's talking about. I actually think that the UK Conservative Party (Hannan's party) is where the current GOP needs to keep conservative values and preserve the fundamentals of the constitution, but to be just a bit more progressive in their views of race, minorities, women, and the poor.

  6. Thanks for your response, Curt, I really appreciate your thoughts. What you mentioned at the beginning reminds me of something Winston Churchill is credited with saying: "Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains." Which is not to say that there aren't any older liberals who have manages to keep their "hearts" a little longer, or younger conservatives who happened upon brains a little earlier, as it were--or, for that matter, that you are an "old conservative" :-). But I do find some truth to the statement.

    I appreciate your comments on taxation, and agree with a lot of what you're saying, particularly about incentives to give to charity and how those could be seriously hurt, and about the efficiency, or lack thereof, of government spending. That said, I think one of my main concerns is lowering the deficit, and I think that higher taxes, particularly on the wealthy, is one of the best ways, although absolutely not the only way, to begin facilitating that.

    My opinions on abortion are certainly very sensitive.  I believe in a person's right to do what they wish with their body, but I also believe in the sanctity of life. I love how you put it; a society willing to terminate its own potential offspring is certainly not the type of society I envision as remotely ideal, and I agree that the repercussions are probably a lot more far reaching than any of us realize.

    I also think that giving the states more power is a concept worth pursuing. I think, overall, there are a lot of changes that need to happen on the federal level, whether more power is transferred to the states or not.

    Again, thanks for your comments! I'm usually pretty timid when it comes to discussing my view of politics, but this has been a great experience for me. I appreciate all you had to say, and thanks for continuing the discussion.

  7. Also, I haven't watched the video yet, but as soon as I get a reliable Internet source I will, and I'll let you know what I think.

  8. Have a great time in Puerto Rico and tell Jaime and Travis Hello!!
    By the way my post on your blog-- is my very first attempt and entering the online discourse-- I feel so hip

    1. Puerto Rico was great, they are looking so good! I'm glad I was able to inspire thought and discourse :-) welcome to the blogosphere, Curt!

  9. Chris I think the following quote by a French political thinker from the 1800's is incredible. He seems almost prophetic. I have also included a short bio of the man that made this quote -

    "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government, It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations has been 200 years. " The clip I sent earlier is worth watching and thinking about

    Alexis-de Tocqueville (French: [alɛksi(s) də tɔkvil]; 29 July 1805 – 16 April 1859) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both of these works, he analysed the rising living standards and social conditions of individuals and their relationship to the market and state in Western societies. Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early work of sociology and political science.

    1. Yeah that does seem prophetic. Interest groups and lobbyists have way too much sway in our government. That's definitely one of the first things I'd like to see reformed...

  10. -Howard W Hunter-
    "The Law of the Harvest"
    BYU devotional address
    March 8, 1966

    "The government will take from the 'haves' and give to the 'have nots' both have lost their freedom. those who 'have' lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who 'have not' lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got 'something for nothing' and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift"

    1. Good quote. I certainly agree; I don't think our government should enable people to be "takers" by any means. The whole teach a man to fish thing is certainly where we should focus (which is where the Church welfare program is really brilliant). That said, I think it is still important to help those who are trying, but because of various circumstances may need an extra hand (college students being a prime example).