Politics Explained: Lack of Women and Diversity in the Cabinet

There has been quite an interesting response to President Obama’s most recent selections for filling top cabinet positions. Women, such as Hilary Clinton have stepped down from their cabinet positions and President Obama has nominated only men to fill the vacated positions. The world of political commentators are perplexed because this is the kind of thing that liberals would expect from a Republican President. In fact, during the Presidential campaign, Mitt Romney got a lot of grief from the liberal media because he admitted of having binders full of potential women to hire. The liberal media used this as a means of saying that he doesn’t really interact with women to the point where he has to have a special file to let him know who is out there.

But now, Obama has not even nominated a single woman to possibly take a place of one of the vacant cabinet positions even though there are qualified women who could have taken the job.

Politics Explained: Obama with his all male cabinet with no female nominees

Obama with his all male cabinet with no female nominees

The defense that the administration and liberal media have taken up is the one that Republicans usually use when accused of discriminating against women. The argument for all male nominations is that, “well, these were just the best people for the job. We don’t look at gender, we look at qualifications.” This logic makes certain women advocacy groups angry at the suggestion that there was not even a single woman as qualified as one of the men he has nominated.

Some of you may be still scratching your head and thinking, “why does it matter? Why is it such a bad thing that there aren’t any women? I mean if all those men really were the right choice, isn’t that better than promoting a less qualified women just for the fact that she’s a woman?”

This is about so much more than making the President look like a chauvinist, as many are now deeming him. You don’t put women in top cabinet positions just because you feel like you have to to be politically correct, but because diversity is extremely important when it comes to making important decisions. You want people from a variety of backgrounds and upbringings when considering policy. That keeps you from overlooking details that may not adversely affect people that look like the decision makers, but may very well hurt those not involved in the decision making process.

The opinions of women especially should be sought after to bring a different and much needed perspective in making such important policy decisions. This is why Mitt Romney had those binders; he knew that he wanted women, not just to look politically correct, but because he knew that including women on important decisions would make for better decisions. So he created a system for keeping track of qualified women so that when he had to bring in new members of the team, he could quickly and efficiently add the proper diversity to his counsels and committees.

So, is it disappointing that the President did not nominate any women? Yes. But not because the cabinet pictures would look better with them, but because decisions would have been better with them, and at such a critical point in American history, good decisions from the executive is what we need more than anything else.

Politics Explained: The Vice Presidential Debate

After a widely proclaimed debate win by Governor Romney last Wednesday, the country now turns to the Vice Presidential candidates to see if Ryan will do to Biden what Romney did to Obama.

Politics Explained: Joe Biden and Paul Ryan go head to head at VP Vice Presidential Debate

The Contenders for VP: Paul Ryan and Joe Biden

In the days leading up to this next debate – as you will notice before every major debate – the parties start praising their opponents. To Democrats this week, Ryan is the brilliant congressional economist who will be able to present a lot of convincing information. To Republicans this week, Biden is the smooth, cool, experienced politician who has been preparing for this moment for a long time. But why do this? Why talk up your opponent? Wouldn’t it be more effective to try and lower his self-esteem (as undignified as that may seem)?

This is because, both sides are trying to lower expectations. By doing so, it won’t be as bad if their guy goes down in flames. What would the conversation in politics this past week have been like if everyone was saying that Romney had no chance and that Obama was going to shine? We would be talking an awful lot about how that didn’t happen and how Obama wasn’t the man we thought he was. Instead, because of this rhetoric that he is out of practice, we just look and say, “well, I guess you’re right.” So each side is going to try and raise expectations of their opponents with the theory that, the more you lift the up, the farther and harder they’ll fall.

Politics Explained: Paul Ryan Political Cartoon

The Democrat view of Paul Ryan

But do you think that anyone actually believes the rhetoric? Of course not. Republicans have been salivating at this opportunity for Ryan to take on Biden since Romney first accidentally introduced Paul Ryan as the “future President of the United States,” at his announcement in Virginia. On the same token, Democrats are just dying to see what Joe “Cool” Biden will be able to do with this young radical from Wisconsin.

So what’s it going to be? How is this debate really going to look?

To start, I first recognize just how difficult it is to predict debate outcomes. A week ago, no one would have expected Romney to come away with the biggest debate win in modern US history. That being said, we can look at the contenders and see what they’re up against.

Let’s start with Paul Ryan: He’s smart – brilliant in fact. He was chosen by Romney not for political purposes, but because he is a man who could be president on day one and really is qualified. He was on the House budget committee and was a main author of the House budget which has come to be labeled by the left as “radical.” He’s been apart of many debates on that very budget, and it will most certainly be apart of the debate on Thursday.

Now Joe Biden: He’s experienced. This man has been in Congress for many years. He’s known for being smooth with his words and quick on his feet – even if that means a gaffe every once in a while. But even think about those gaffes. The man is so likable that he has always bounced back from those awkward moments looking as cool, calm, and collected as ever. He has experience in the Vice Presidency.

No matter what they may be saying this week, Republicans see Biden as a bumbling fool, and Democrats see Ryan as a radical rightest whose heart is three sizes too small.

Politics Explained: Ryan and Biden go head to head at (VP) Vice Presidential Debate

Ryan and Biden: Different messages with different strengths

This won’t be an easy win for anyone. Ryan is going to come strong, with lots of numbers and data. Biden will have already seen those numbers and be prepared with rebuttle. He’s going to use his past presidential debate experience to distract from the evidence presented by Ryan and deflect to the idea that Ryan is heartless. Ryan is going to get ticked off at this. And this is the point that will make and break the debate.

If Ryan can keep his cool and keep the debate focused on substance like Romney did last week, then you will hear MSNBC making more excuses for why Biden didn’t do all that great. But if Biden is successful in pushing Ryan’s buttons and gets him to lose his cool and lash out, then Romney will have some catch up to do in the next debates.

As much as either side would like to believe on the inside, this debate is not going to be as easily won for them as they thought.

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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: Mitt Romney Releasing his Tax Returns

Whether or not Mitt Romney will release his tax returns has become a big question in the media, especially as allegations are being thrown around like a baseball concerning those very taxes. So what’s the big deal? Why does Obama care so much about Romney releasing even more tax returns (because he’s already released two years worth), what do we expect to find in these tax returns, and why doesn’t Romney just release them? Well, as with everything having to do with this campaign, it’s all political.

Politics Explained: Obama demanding Mitt Romney's Tax returns

Politics Explained: Obama demands Romney’s tax returns

First off, where did this all come from? Why does Obama even care? Well, it has become some sort of a tradition for presidential candidates to release as much as 10 years worth of tax returns, detailing how much money they made, how much they paid in taxes, and what kind of investments were made and exemptions received. Why this became tradition, I don’t really know. It really does nothing except expose potential tax fraud and show you just how rich these candidates are. But either way, it has become tradition and Obama is using it to his advantage.

Well, one of Obama’s campaign strategies is to portray Romney as a rich, insensitive, disconnected, heartless capitalist who cares more about his money than the American people. Every bit of information Obama can get about Romney’s taxes will just serve as more ammunition. But why is that? What is in those tax returns that is so valuable to Obama.

Politics Explained: Romney's Taxes are lower due to capital gains tax rates

Politics Explained: Romney’s investment career

Well, here’s what we’ll find in those tax returns. First you’ll find that Governor Romney only pays about 14% of his income in taxes. This, according to Obama, is evidence of the unfair tax code. But what he won’t tell you is why. He pays 14% because, since he is retired, he’s making his money from returns on investments. This is called “capital gains” and as of right now, the capital gains tax rate is effectively 15%. “But you said he probably paid more like 14%.” Well, that’s because he took advantage of deductions. Obama will use that to try and show that Romney is greedy and out of touch. But let me ask you a question. Would you ever not take a tax deduction that you could legally obtain? Do you know anyone who would ever pay more in taxes out of the goodness of their heart? No. People don’t do that, but Obama would have you believe that Romney is not patriotic because of that fact. Another reason you will find that he pays less in taxes is because he gives a large portion of his income to charity. We would not be surprised to find that 10% of his income went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And obviously that proves that he is a member of a cult that is making secret plans to take over the government (sarcasm intended).

The last thing you’ll find is that Romney invested in foreign companies and businesses. The Obama campaign will show that his tax returns are proof that Romney doesn’t believe in America. But, really, Romney is doing what anyone else would do. Try to be as prosperous as possible. Because do you know what he did with the money he made from investing abroad? He spent it in America. He gave to charities. He purchased a home, a car (or two or three), gave people jobs, bought specialty items from small businesses. He contributed to the economy more than he could have if he had not invested abroad.

So that’s why Obama wants Romney to come out with these tax returns, because he has a plan of attack for each and every point. And to make things better for him, in the mean time, Obama can paint Romney as having something to hide for not releasing his tax returns. This is why Obama won’t let it go, because either way you slice it, Romney loses.

But so, why doesn’t Romney just own up to his tax returns and release them? Why can’t he just get it over with. I mean the Obama campaign manager even sent Romney a deal that if he released just 5 years worth, he promised out of the goodness of his heart to not attack Romney on them. Now what are the chances that deal would be kept? Sure, the Obama campaign may not attack him, but they don’t need to, they have the media to do all of their dirty work for them.

So what? Either way, Romney is being attacked, why not just release them and be transparent? Because, he is choosing the lesser of two evils. By not releasing, not only does he avoid the calculated attacks that I’ve already mentioned, but he avoids looking weak by giving in to the demands of the Obama campaign. Yes, he lacks complete transparency, but he has decided, and I agree with this decision, that it is better for people to make themselves look ridiculous making unfounded accusations than have him distract from the message on the economy to defend his taxes.

Obama wants nothing more than to distract from the current economic struggles, and Romney won’t let him.

Politics Explained: Romney and Obama come to a head.

Politics Explained: The beginning of a tense race

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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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