Politics Explained: Mormons Ignore Romney as One of Them

In the last 6 months, as the election has been heating up, I’ve done a bit of travelling. I have been on the East and West Coasts of the US and up and down Eastern Europe. In my travels, I often wear BYU gear and when people see that they assume that I am a Latter-day Saint (LDS) (AKA Mormon). Their assumptions are good. But then another assumption is immediately made. “Oh, you’re Mormon…So you’re a Romney fan.” I shouldn’t be surprised by that statement because I get it a lot, but I’m always taken aback. I feel that my integrity as a politically involved member of society is in question when people make that assumption. I don’t want people to think that my political opinions are based primarily on a candidate’s religion. So I usually retort with, “Yes, I’m a Romney fan…but not because I’m a Mormon.”

Politics Explained: Mitt Romney speaks at Mormon University - BYU

Romney speaks at BYU commencement

Recently, I’ve engaged in some self-reflection. Why do I get so defensive when people accuse me of basing my political beliefs on my religious ties, and should I be? I think I get so defensive because I feel that me admitting that I like Romney because he’s LDS, would justify people not liking him for the same reason.

True as that may be, there is a fine line here. Was it wrong for African-Americans to be excited about Barack Obama becoming the very first African-American president? Was it wrong for Greek Americans to be excited about Mike Dukakis being the first Greek Orthodox nominee for president? What about Catholics and JFK? Now, can Latter-day Saints be excited about Mitt Romney as one of their own having a legitimate chance of victory? My answer is, yes.

Latter-day Saints, from both parties, should feel able to be excited about Mitt Romney as a Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not always been even tolerated in the United States. In 1838, Governor Boggs in Missouri issued Executive Order 44 – commonly known as the Mormon Extermination Order. The Governor issued an order allowing citizens to drive Latter-day Saints from the state and kill any who resisted… Kill any who resisted…. That was not the only time Mormons were driven from their homes. Now, just under two-hundred years later, a member of that church that was forced from the country into the barren wasteland that became vibrant Salt Lake Valley is now competing for the highest office in the land. It’s a great moment for Latter-day Saints and should be celebrated.

Politics Explained: Mormons forced from America

Mormons Pioneers Forced West

Will Latter-day Saints vote for Romney knowing nothing more than the fact that he is LDS? I would hope not, just like I would hope that African-Americans would not vote for Obama just knowing that he is African-American. But can either of these groups be justified in citing their cultural ties as a reason for voting? Should society turn a blind eye to a candidate’s religious, cultural, and ethnic background? My answer to that is “no”.

My religion has made me who I am. From my religious upbringing, I have learned how I should treat other people and define my own priorities. My perspective on life’s problems would be vastly different if I was not raised LDS and served an LDS mission to Ukraine. To turn a blind eye to that would be to turn a blind eye to my character. To turn a blind eye to a candidate’s character is to turn a blind eye to how they are going to act in the Office of the Presidency.

Politics Explain: Mormons excited about Mitt Romney

Mormons Excited For Mitt

So Mormons, be excited about Mitt Romney. Don’t be ashamed of what you share a common set of religious beliefs. African-Americans, do the same. Look to the candidates’ character to understand how they will do their job, but understand that we are voting for the President of the United States, not the President of the student body. This is not a popularity contest; too much is at stake.

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Politics Explained: In Defense of Democrats saying “NO” to God

At this weeks Democratic National Convention, there was an unexpected hiccup in the adoption of the party platform which outlines the beliefs and goals of the party. In the drafting process, the only mention of the word “God” was removed from the party platform. Republicans latched on to this, knowing that their party, as well as a considerable chunk of Democrats have a strong belief in God and dislike removing Him from the public square. In an attempt to calm the angry masses, the Democratic Party decided to sneak in an amendment to their platform, not only adding “God” back into the platform, but also stating that it is their belief that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel. What happened when they brought it to an official vote was completely unexpected, go ahead and watch keeping in mind that this was live and on National Television.

Poor Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles didn’t quite no what to do. He was expecting to get up, pass the amendment, and sit down. I mean who’s going to argue with the party leaders? Well, lots of people it turns out.

People are surprised by this for a couple of reasons. 1) Because people three times clearly voted against the recognition of God and Jerusalem and 2) because the party accepted this as an official vote when it was not really clear if two thirds of the people were truly in favor.

Politics Explained: Peter Denies Christ three times, like democrats

Peter Denies Christ Three Times

Republicans have latched onto this as a denial of God by Democrats. The only thing that would have made this more perfect for them is if the cock crowed after the third denial. But I think the Republicans are being a little unfair with their criticism. People were not booing God. The Democrat Delegation was booing the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is something that Republicans are very adamant about as a means of supporting the Jews in Israel. The Palestinians in Israel, however, see Tel Aviv as the capital. By accepting Jerusalem as the capital is to remove legitamacy to the Palestinians which is not very popular among the Muslim and Arab world. You’ll notice that in the clip, they keep panning the camera to a man and woman who have a sign that reads, “Arab Americans for Obama.” After that, I wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed home this election.

But the point I’m trying to make is that the democrats were not denying God. Sure there may have been a few adamant Atheists in the crowd who really were upset about that, but I think that was the exception not the rule. I think that people were more upset that the party folded to pressures concerning the Jerusalem issue since many Democrats have a legitimate argument about the US giving too much credit to the Jews who they feel are oppressing the Palestinians in Israel.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Ignores People

Mayor Villaraigosa Ignores People

The real atrocity of the night was the manner in which it was all decided. Did you hear 2/3s of the people say “aye,”? I know I didn’t. But Mayor Villaraigosa knew that they needed to pass it, so without really having any way to know how many were for or against, he just pushed it through saying it passed. That’s when even more boos came. Again, not against God, but because he ignored the voice of the people.

Politics Explained: Romney and Obama’s Convention Speeches Compared

The national party conventions are the most prime opportunity for a candidate to make his/her case for the presidency. The national news networks are finally all tuned in and giving their undivided attention. For the first time, they have a national audience, and they, the candidates, get to set the agenda. This moment was very important for both the President and Governor Romney but for different reasons.

Politics explained: Romney vs. Obama

Different Conventions, Different Speeches, Similar Goals

President Obama needed to stand up and convince America that he deserves four more years. He needed to explain why his leadership, that we’ve all seen, will be good for another term and then go on to explain what he’d do with it.

Governor Romney on the other hand had the task of explaining why he, the man without four years of presidential experience, would be that much better than the current option. He needed to lay out his plan for America’s future and show that America is not currently on the right course.

We’ll start with looking at Romney’s speech since he gave his first, and part of Obama’s speech was in response to Romney’s.

In the most basic terms, Romney’s speech was a success. Something that I’ve been noticing about Romney recently is that he is making his case for the presidency by acting presidential. After being introduced, Romney walked in from the back of the hall. To many observers, it was very akin to the way in which the president enters the House of Representatives, from the back, just before delivering the State of the Union address. There was a lot of hand shaking, hugs to friends, and one slightly awkward moment when Romney had to ask a lady not to touch his face because he was afraid of her ruining his stage make-up (before you laugh about him wearing make up, remember it was stage make up that helped JFK win in the presidential debates against Nixon. The debates were televised for the first time, and Nixon refused to put on make up…JFK looked better).

Politics Explained: Romney at Convention

Romney delivering speech to RNC

Then once behind the podium, he spoke to his purpose. Remember, that purpose was to make his case for the presidency. He started by first making the case that people should be considering a change in leadership. He asked the country to really ask themselves, “are you better than you were 4 years ago?” He supplied evidence to the fact that they weren’t. After getting people to consider new leadership, he explained what that meant. He laid out a five point plan to economic and job recovery which included energy independence by 2020 and stronger trade relations abroad. He ended by expressing his love for America, and all that politician fluff.

Exactly one week later, Obama spoke to his party. His entrance was a lot different, instead of coming from the back of a well lit room, he came from back stage of a dark room under a spotlight to the tune of a Coldplay song. The Obama people are really good at theatrical drama and evoking the most emotional response from their audience. This is no exception.

Politics Explained: Obama at convention applauding supporters

Obama applauds supporters

The speech itself, again, should have been aimed at laying out his plan for his next term as a way of convincing people that he deserves more time. He started with an acknowledgement of the historic nature of this election. He then went on to attack the speeches given by the republicans, throwing in the word God at every opportunity, just in case people still remembered how the DNC almost removed all instances of God from their party platform. He then laid out a long list of democratic party principles. He said that they could add thousands of jobs in multiple areas, and the only thing that he needs in order to do that is our help.

So what do we learn from this? Well, we just get confirmation of what we already know. This is a fundamental difference, in my opinion, between the Romney campaign and Obama campaign. Romney speaks to the country as a whole and offers a plan to help the whole; Obama seeks to divide and conquer.

Romney Speaks to the NAACP

Romney Speaks to the NAACP

Another great example of Romney doing well what he did at the convention was during his speech to the NAACP. There is an organization which is made up almost entirely of Obama supporters, but Romney went to them anyway. He realized that if he is going to be President of the United States then he will be president of all Americans, not just Republicans. He went into that meeting with the NAACP, and gave a very similar speech to those he gives all over the country. He was even booed at one point for saying some unpopular things. But the thing is, Romney will not pander. He will not change his message because of the color of people’s skin or their social standing. He is to be a president of all Americans.

Politics explained: Obama campaigns with strategy of divide and conquer

Obama seeks to divide and conquer

But Obama knows that in a system of winner take all, he doesn’t need all of America to agree with him, heck he doesn’t even need half of America to agree with him. He just needs more people to agree with him than with Romney. And so how does he do it?  Obama’s strategy has been to divide the people then gather up enough groups to secure his victory and save the needy and oppressed, as he feels that he is doing. This is seen in his divisive rhetoric against the business class of the country. He rallies the poor and middle class around the idea that the rich Americans don’t really care about the country or people who are under them. He attacks the successful for the purpose of gaining the support of those who want a share of their profits.

That’s what he did at the convention. If you listen, you’ll hear that he was speaking directly to his base. He was preaching to the choir to get them to sing louder. This wasn’t a speech for the undecided voter, like Romney’s was. If it was, he would have given more concrete ideas, and not abstract hopes and dreams for the future.

I would like to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment on, and be sure to LIKE, this blog’s Facebook page. You can find it by clicking here. You can also follow me on Twitter (@PPLvI ) by clicking here.

Politics Explained: Which of all Parties is Right?

Every day, on my way home, I enjoy listening to the National Public Radio station (NPR). They, more than anyone else, are able to provide the most important domestic and world news in a very clear and concise way with little to no spin or bias. Just yesterday, as I was listening to NPR, something that was said struck me and caused me to think. A story was being delivered by a NPR reporter who has spent considerable time with President Obama. In the story, the reporter said, in essence:

 

Politics Explained: Obama Campaining

Obama has sincere belief that he is the answer

“The President is very frustrated by the fact that the opposition is successfully portraying him as a radical more interested in his own agenda than in the American people. In his mind, Paul Ryan is the true radical who is set to destroy America as we know it…”

My knee jerk reaction was one of disgust. “How can you, Mr. President, really think that Paul Ryan is going to destroy the country and that you are really who is best for the job?” After my political reflex wore off, I was still left wondering, “Does he sincerely believe that the opposition will ruin the country? If so, what does that mean for his opponents who, with all sincerity say the same about him? Who is right, and how are we to know it?” This almost started to sound to me like a question of faith.

Most social scientists will agree that a person’s beliefs and value system are most often acquired in the home during child hood. We as people are influenced by the people who surround us. If we grow up in a Republican home, we are often Republican. Democrats beget more Democrats. And why is that? If we hear something from a trust worthy source, we are more likely to take it on faith. What if we didn’t grow up in a political home? Well, there are also cases where people say something that they may not necessarily be convicted to enough that soon it becomes their core ideology. “Oh, so that’s why Obama actually believes he is good for the country,” you may be saying. Well, not so fast. Who’s to say that you aren’t the one that has been indoctrinated past the point of recognition to the point where you rally behind things you may not have otherwise even agreed with?

There will be some who say, “It doesn’t matter because in politics nothing gets done anyway, so all you’re really doing is voting for a face, a face that will harm the country just as much as the next guy.” I don’t agree with that. Chances are slim to none that the plans presented (even if they are not entirely fulfilled) will result in the same outcome. But if that’s the case, how are we to know which plan will produce the most positive (or at least the least negative results)? How are we to discern between those who actually have the right ideas for the country and those who only have fooled themselves into a false conviction?

My answer may be too complicated in its simplicity; open your mind. Honestly ask yourselves the question, “Why do I believe that this is right?… Why do I think socialized medicine is good for the country? Why do I think it is better for the nation to outlaw abortion? Why do I support higher taxes on the rich? Why do I want to cut regulations on business? What are the results of my preferred policy? Am I better off because of it?” This is the only way that we, as a nation, are going to be able to solve our problems. We must all take the time to ask ourselves these serious questions before we get too involved in politics. And as we ask ourselves these questions, don’t be content just regurgitating the talking points from your party leaders. Be open minded enough to go beyond that. Ask yourselves why there even is a debate. If your side was so clear and so right, why are people even fighting against that position? Do you think that you are just inherently smarter and less blinded by the craftiness of politicians than over 150 million other capable Americans? Unless you take the time to explore the issue, you can’t be sure of your own belief.

Now, I understand that this takes a lot of time and effort. I understand that if you are reading this, it’s likely because you simply don’t have the energy to devote to exploring every issue in depth. But that’s why this blogs like this exist, to inform. Read what I have to say and ask questions until the point where you feel that you are confident in your understanding of both sides of the issue.

Too often, people just brush politics aside because it is simply, “too partisan” and no one really cares about compromise. It’s true. There is a lot of waste simply because the system has evolved into one of good guys and bad guys. How scary is it to think that someone with a brilliant idea for improving America may be completely passed over and ignored because it is not coming from the party in control? What would our constitution have ended up like if we rejected the idea of separation of powers because the person who brought it up was from the wrong party? What about the Bill of Rights? I think you get the picture.

The truth of the matter is, a change in the way we do politics is going to be a slow change. In the current system, there is no room for political contenders to challenge their own beliefs. To do so would be to commit political suicide. That’s unfortunate, but it’s just the way it is. That, however, doesn’t always have to be the case. We can change things. We can make the government a place of grand ideas again. We can create an atmosphere in Washington that is conducive to healthy debate for a better tomorrow. But that’s only going to happen if we choose to care. That’s only going to happen if we choose to not simply accept what we are told by the leaders of the party we feel we should belong to. We need to take the things that are said and think about them. Really listen to what they have to say, listen to the other side, then decide.

You may decide after all of this that you still fall into the category of one of the parties. Great. I know I do. But I will never stop asking myself the question, why does the party think this is really helpful?

If you’ve made it to the end of this article, that means that you really do care about what’s going on. I commend that. Keep it up. Never be content with the way things are when you know that they could be better and allow me to help guide you as much as I can along the way.

I would like to hear what you have to say. Leave a comment on, and be sure to LIKE, this blog’s Facebook page. You can find it by clicking here. You can also follow me on Twitter (@PPLvI ) by clicking here.