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: Biden says Romney’s “going to put y’all back in chains”

This kind of rhetoric shouldn’t surprise me, but I am still taken aback by the divisiveness of this administration. Obama and Biden alike have taken to the streets to split America in two by engaging in class warfare.

The two of them, are going across America to rile up the poor against the rich. They are inciting anger and envy that will only subside once they get their way and have taxed the rich into oblivion and decreased everyone’s standard of living. To them, if everyone can’t be successful, no one should be, because that’s what’s “fair.” It was once said, if you want more success, you have to stop attacking success, and that is why Obama must be stopped.

Now about the politics of this all. I’m not sure if Biden was making a reference to the Civil War and slavery with his, “going to put y’all back in chains” comment. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one and just say his rhetoric was just a little extreme. Even so, even without an intentional reference to slavery and the Civil War, just listen to how that comment was received.

And another thing. From the way Biden was speaking, can you guess where he’s from? You guessed it…Pennsylvania. Wait, I didn’t know Pennsylvanians had a Southern drawl? I guess you learn something new every day. And did you hear how he let his grammar go? This man is pandering. He is playing up the crowd, and he’s going to change his message, his accent, and his vocabulary at the next campaign stop. Because that’s what Biden and Obama do. They do whatever is necessary to be elected; that is priority number one.

But doesn’t Romney do the same thing? Sure he’ll adjust his message from campaign stop to campaign stop based on what is important to that people, but I challenge you to find an instance of him changing so dramatically that he sounds like a different candidate. When Romney spoke to the civil rights organization, the NAACP, he didn’t pander to African Americans; he didn’t just tell them what they wanted to hear. He delivered the same message of economic recovery that he has been spreading across the United States.

That’s the difference between Romney/Ryan and Obama/Biden. Romney/Ryan are concerned with one thing, getting the country back on track. They are concerned, not with dividing the country, but unifying it and raising up everyone together. Obama/Biden just don’t want to leave their posh seats in the capital. Because if they were really concerned about putting the American public in chains, they would be taking a serious look at how they are creating a dependency on the government.

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Politics Explained: “You didn’t build that” – Obama

Video

Obama Meme from "You didn't build that" comment

Obama “You Didn’t Build That” Meme

Recognize this picture? Well here’s the story behind the madness. At the beginning of this week, President Barack Obama caused tsunami level waves among conservative crowds for his comments made at a campaign stop in Virginia. At the end of this video, Obama culminates his build up by making the bold claim that, “If you’ve got a small business, you didn’t build that…” I recommend watching the clip before reading on; it’s less than one minute long.

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click here for the original on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKjPI6no5ng

Conservative audiences jumped all over this comment saying things like, “President Obama doesn’t believe in the American dream!”

When I first set out to write this column about Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment, I was going to try and just give him the benefit of the doubt; I really was. But every time I re-watched the video, I was more and more put off by his comments. However, before I go into that, let’s go over what Obama’s supporters, and those sympathetic are saying.

On the surface, these comments seem pretty normal. Nothing to scandalous about them. In fact, you can see where the president is coming from. To be quite honest with you, when I first saw the clip for myself after reading all of the hype, I thought to myself, “So what? What’s the big deal?” I wanted to join in the exposure of some radical comment but I just didn’t get it. It seemed that all he was saying was, you are where you are because other people have helped you along the way. I mean it makes sense. Even his part about the roads. I mean I guess no one could come to my business if there wasn’t a road leading up to it (but now that I think of it, they seemed to do just fine in the old west, and for all we know, in the future we might not even need roads; I guess only Marty McFly and Doc Brown can answer those questions). Forgive my aside. But anyway, all our dear president was saying was, be a little bit more grateful for your success. When you think about it like that, it doesn’t seem like that radical of a statement.

That’s just the surface though. The more I listen to this (and I’ve rewatched the video multiple times now), the more I realize just what this says about Obama’s thought process and ideology that I don’t agree with. Conservatives are talking all about how Obama doesn’t understand that small business is the lifeblood of the economy. I disagree, I think he does understand that any business is good, but there is something much more fundamental that needs be exposed.

I’m especially disturbed with his statement about being smart or working hard. Obama is in essence saying, if you’re successful, it’s not because you are smarter than the average person or that you worked harder than the average person, it’s because you got lucky. It’s because you were given that success. And I dare say, he means to say that it’s because of the poor who worked on those roads and built your building, that you are rich.

This is another example of class warfare. Obama is trying to convince people that the rich and successful are only that way because they got lucky and their success is a gift. Since it is a gift, according to Obama, they are then greedy and heartless for not wanting to give back to the people that made them that way and pay more in taxes to fund the government.

Politics Explained: George Romney American Dream

George Romney: Fulfilling the American Dream

“But what about those smart kids in the intercity? Even if they work hard and are smart, can you really think that they can be as successful as the kids who went to prestigious public schools? It’s not the kid’s fault that he was born into a poor family.” I sympathize with this sentiment. I think that the way out of poverty is education. Why else do you think Mitt Romney talked so much about education reform in his speech to the NAACP. He realizes that this is an issue and wants to fix it, because it hasn’t been fixed. That being said, I say now back to you, what is the American dream anyway? The American dream is that anyone, from any walk of life, can come to America and make something of themselves. How many stories exist of people fulfilling that dream? Many.

George Romney, Mitt’s father, was so poor in Michigan that at one point he was selling paint out of the back of his car just to make a living. Because of his hard work and intelligence, he worked his way up the corporate ladder, became the president of a major American automobile manufacturer and then became governor of that very state. Was that luck? Was that because he was serendipitously handed opportunity? I don’t think so. I think he worked his tail off out of a love of family and a strong work ethic.

Obama wants us to believe that we are nothing without the government. He wants us to believe that just as God gives us everything so we should give 10%, government gives us everything so the rich should give 30%+. I don’t agree.

Politics Explained: Obama in Rain as campaigner in chief

Campaigner-in-chief speaking in Virginia

This kind of rhetoric is destructive, it’s divisive, and it’s the product of a master campaigner who know just what people want to hear, despite the consequences of such actions. I mean, watch the video again. Do you notice something different about our president. Hear that southern twang in his voice? He was born in Hawaii and went to school on the East Coast and ended up in Chicago. That’s not the South. But here him droppin’ the “g” as he’s speakin’? He knows his crowd (Virginia), and he’s riling them against a made up enemy…the rich.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the clip again, except this one is longer and gives more context. Listen for those things. Hear how he speaks, listen for the words he uses, and I think you’ll tend to agree with my analysis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=192oEC5TX_Q

So, in short: On the surface, this sounds like your run of the mill liberal rhetoric, nothing too radical. But as take the statement in a greater context, you’ll find divisive politics aimed at pitting Americans against each other in a case of class warfare that is destructive to our country. We should be trying to make America a place where all can prosper, and not take from those who were successful just to make people dependent on government welfare. We need a safety net for the poor, not a hammock.

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Q&A: Do I have to respect the president?

Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States of America

I recently had a conversation with a good friend about the office of the president. I consider this friend a great patriot and so I was intrigued when he expressed to me how he has completely lost respect for President Obama. “Years ago,” he said, “presidents were respected. They were more noble, they were stately. You may not have liked their policies but you respected them because they honored the office they held. Now we have somehow elected a man who never even finished one term in the senate. I’m not going to respect a man just because he won a popularity contest.”

After expressing his feelings, he asked my opinion about whether we should be obligated to respect the president just because he’s the president. Well here it is:

The thing is, there are two different types of respect that we are talking about here. Respect for the person, and respect for the office. Though they are connected, they should also be considered separately.

First let’s talk about the Office of the President of the United States of America. As an American, I feel it to be my duty to hold that office in the highest regard. No matter who is in the White House, I will always stand when he/she walks in the room and I hope that the band will never stop playing “Hail to the Chief.” No matter who is in office, no matter what the circumstance, if I was directed by the President to serve in the armed forces, I would. Because the Office of the Presidency is more than a person, it’s a symbol of the executive authority set up by our Founding Fathers in our Constitution, and I believe in the Constitution. That is how I respect the Office of the Presidency.

Respecting the person is a whole different story. I just deleted a long paragraph about why I don’t respect President Obama as a person, because though it is relevant to the conversation, I felt it distracted from the main point in my response. It will suffice for me to say, that I, like my friend, have little respect for Barack Obama, the person. I don’t like his policy ideas, I don’t like how he conducts himself, and I don’t like his attitude. To be fair, some of those things are probably compounded. You know, like when someone starts to really get on your nerves and then all of a sudden everything they do seems to be the most annoying thing in the world? Yeah, I’m kind of at that point with the President, but I try to keep myself in check.

But so what now? He’s the president right? Aren’t I obligated as a true patriot to respect him as the President of the United States and the Commander-in-Chief? I can remember in high school how annoyed I would get when kids, who knew nothing about politics, would constantly bad mouth Bush. I would say to them something like, “Come on guys, he’s still the president and we have to respect that.” Am I now a hypocrite every time I criticize the president? Well, it all depends on how I do it.

The thing is, one of the greatest things about being an American is our right to speak ill of our government leaders. We won’t go to jail for speaking against our government leaders as long as there is no actual threat of personal harm. A few months ago, I was on Twitter and the Official White House twitter account tweeted something about what a great job the President was doing at restoring the economy. I did not entirely agree and so I responded with some pretty sharp words. Think about that for a second. I sent a message to the White House telling them how I disapproved of their work. I dare you to try that with the Kremlin in Russia or the Imperial Palace in China, it just won’t work. I, as a citizen of the United States, have the right to speak my mind even if that means verbally attacking the man who holds the highest office in the land. I have that right, and I’m going to exercise it.

But at what point to we cross the line between disrespecting the person and disrespecting the office. Well, the line is quite blurred (welcome to politics). Some may say, well, you only have the right to speak against his policies, but no personal attacks. In general I agree with this statement. In fact, it’s one that I try to live by. But what about this, what if the president, by his personal actions, not connected with policy decisions, does something himself to disrespect the Office of the Presidency? There have been things which President Obama has done that I feel have been below the conduct required by the Office of the Presidency. It’s at this point where we have to ask ourselves again if it’s okay to attack the president’s personal actions. Because I respect the Office of the Presidency, I feel justified in criticizing anyone who shows that office disrespect, even if it’s the president himself.

Does that mean I should be morally allowed to point out every personal flaw that the president has? No. If I’m going to attack the president’s character, I should have a pretty good reason. Because he holds the office, he is entitled to, at the very least, informed criticism, as opposed to ignorant criticism. So going back to the kids in my high school, they, in general, did not know what was going on in politics. If you asked them, “Well, what has Bush done to disrespect the Office of the Presidency?” they probably wouldn’t be able to give a intelligent response.

I’m not going to lie; I at times have been guilty of unfounded personal attacks against the president. I realize my mistake and I am trying to do better to always respect the Office of the President.

So, in response to my friend who asked the question, “Do I have to respect a junior senator who went on to win a popularity contest to become the president?” I, in short, say, the beauty of this country is that anyone can lift themselves up from any circumstance to be elected president through this grand democracy that we have. So we probably shouldn’t use that as our main reason for not respecting the president. We may not like the guy, but as president he at least deserves personal criticism that is founded on something, and believe me, there’s plenty of that to go around.

EDIT 7/17/2012: Thanks to the comments that have so far been left on this post, I realize that I have left off a major point that must be brought up during any discussion of respect. The thing is, no matter what position or amount of success a person has obtained in life, there is always a certain amount of respect that should be given simply because they are a person. As Americans, we have the right to criticize our leaders, but we must always act in a civil manner. Even if we have legitimate cause to call into question the president’s character, we can and should still be civil. Because, at the end of the day, the president is still a person, and frankly speaking, a child of God. I have made the mistake before of crossing the line into giving unnecessarily harsh criticism and I have been rightly called out on it. Stay above the filth, stay civil, and you’ll find that not only will you be respected more, but your message will reach even more minds and hearts.

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The Promise of America

Video

Politics can be complicated, but Romney explains everything in plain English so that we can truly comprehend the “Promise of America.” This video is inspirational and gives me hope for the future of our country.

I feel the key line in this video is “The President puts his faith in government; we put our faith in the American people.”

In the most recent State of the Union address, President Obama quoted President Lincoln, one of the greatest Republicans of all time, who said, “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.” Now, President Obama takes that to mean that the government can do everything better and therefore should. I join Mitt Romney in saying that you need to have more faith than that in the American people.

We, as a country, have accomplished many great things. Throughout our relatively short history we have become a world power, emanating the benefits of democracy and capitalism. We have not become that because the government made it so, but because American will power and ingenuity stepped up in times of need to make this country great.

Have faith in the promise of America.

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Politics Explained: The Obamacare Ruling

With the Supreme Court ruling almost entirely in favor of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), there has been a lot of talk on both sides of the aisle on what exactly that means. To prime the discussion, I would like you to watch a clip from Candidate Barack Obama four years ago.

If you decided not to watch it, basically it is Candidate Obama promising not to raise taxes at all on the middle class. After he was President Obama, he was interviewed about Obamacare and questioned about whether or not it was in fact a tax increase on the middle class. This clip is a little bit longer, but worth it if you have time to watch it. When confronted on whether or not this is a tax he said, “absolutely not.” There are penalties he says, but it is all fair. What the President didn’t want to admit was, no matter how justifiable you think it is, it is still a tax.

Today, the Supreme Court confirmed that. I will not go too much in depth in analyzing the Court’s decision except for those parts relevant to the Campaign season in front of us. For more details about the ruling itself, here is a nice breakdown.

The Solicitor General (the Government’s lawyer) tried to make the argument that Congress has the right to force people to buy health insurance because of the Congressional duty to regulate interstate commerce. Today the Supreme Court in essence said, “Well, no, this doesn’t really count as interstate commerce, but this is a tax, and Congress can tax…so fine…keep your mandate, but you have to call it a tax.” Now doesn’t that make Obama feel a little silly?

What does that mean politically? Well the GOP now has just the ammo they need to call Obama a “tax-and-spend” president, and the Democrats have what they feel is validation from the Court. Even in Obama’s brief remarks following the decision, he said something to the effect of, “Now let me be clear, we see today that the Court stands with us in saying this is something the country needs.” No Mr. President, that comment could not be any farther from the truth.

Chief Justice Roberts, writing the Majority Opinion said, “We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.” That is key to remember when thinking about this. The Court did not put it’s stamp of approval on the legislation. I think that Mitt Romney sums it up best when he said today: “What the Court did not do on its last day in session I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare….Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It’s bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday. It’s bad law today.” Constitutional or not, it’s “bad policy”

I predict that this outcome gives Romney more of a boost than if the Court simply threw out the bill as unconstitutional. First off, the democrats can not turn Obamacare into a martyr appreciated more after it’s demise. Even more, I say this because more scrutiny will be brought back to the harmful bill and it will finally be revealed for what it really is, a tax on the middle class.

In Obama’s address today, he talked about what Obamacare means for America. It means that Health Insurance companies are put under Congress’s control. The policies that have made health insurance a profitable business are being outlawed and thrown out. This means that they are going to lose money and normally that would lead to an increase in premiums for policy holders. But no, we can’t have that. We can’t have big bad businesses raising costs on people, so instead we’ll put the Health Insurance companies on life support and then prop them up with government spending. Oh good, so the government will pay for it. I’m sure glad that I don’t have to pay…Oh wait…where does the government get it’s money from? Oh yeah…me.

I can’t seem to find a link for Obama’s remarks, but I really wish you could hear them and hear just what Obama plans on doing to our country.

But like I said, this is not going to end well for Obama and he knows it. At the end of his address, he tried to say we have bigger problems like the economy. Though I agree with the President, when Obama tries to distract from something towards the economy, you know he’s in bad shape. And not only does Obama see it, but we all do. Evidence of this can be seen in the surge of donations to the Romney campaign since the verdict was delivered. In the four hours since the verdict was delivered, the Romney campaign has raised over $1.5 million from over 13,500 donors; all of that in the name of repealing Obamacare. By the end of the day, the Romney camp over doubled that number to $3.2 million

I joined the ranks of those 13,500+ with my small donation, and if you want to send the President a message by supporting Mitt, click this convenient link.

So, though Republicans lost the battle today on getting rid of this harmful policy, it will put them on track to winning the war and getting rid of it in its entirety.

A Better America Begins Tonight

Video

This speech came as Mitt Romney swept 5 state primaries on April 24. Though it has been clear for a couple of weeks now, this speech marks Romney’s commencement of the General Election against Barack H. Obama.

I sat in awe as and even smiled to myself as I listened to this speech. I just look at Mitt Romney and can’t help but think, “Wow, this guy can actually do it. He can become the President of the United States and put us back on course to prosperity.” And I think he will. Romney makes a great point when he mentions that Obama doesn’t really have a record to run off of. Are you better off than you were 3 years ago? What has that extra 6 trillion in debt done for you? Romney get’s it. Romney understands the economy. He understands what the American dream truly is and he’s bringing it back to us.

The next few months are not going to be pretty. You can count on mud being thrown by both sides until election day in November. People are going to say things they regret. Candidates will be o so delicately placing their foot in their mouths on multiple occasions. It’s going to get messy. But I firmly believe that Romney will come out on top. He has the winning message and Obama has the failing record.

The general election begins tonight but more importantly, “A Better America Begins Tonight”