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: Negative Ads and Presidential Debates

Politics Explained: Negative Ads and Presidential Debates

The Great Debate

As the presidential builds up to its Autumn climax, we are bombarded with negative political ads as well as accusations being flung back and forth by various cable news organizations. As strange as this may sound, I want to take a moment to recognize the importance of these negative ads in the political process and give you hope for a more productive and constructive debate in the fall.

The purpose of a negative ad, also known as an attack ad, is to discredit your opponent’s ability to fulfill their promises or ability to even effectively function in the office they are running for. An incumbent, meaning the guy who already has the job, tends to use less of these simply because he can use his own successful past in the office to prove that he should be reelected. The challenger however needs to not only prove that not only is he qualified for the job, but that he can do it a lot better than the other guy. In this sense, a series of ads focusing on the incumbents weakness seem to make sense.

In the current presidential race, there is a lot of mud being flung from both sides. Obama’s campaign is noted for criticizing the allegedly incredible amount of attack ads coming from the Romney campaign. The Romney camp’s only real retort is, “hey, we’re not the only ones.”

Something like over 90% of advertising, from both sides, is negative. This frustrates Americans. However, if Romney is going to prove to the American people that it is worth cutting out President Obama after only one term, he’s going to have to have proof. He’s got to convince the American people that they are not better off than they were 4 years ago and they won’t be any better 4 years from now if Obama is re-elected. Obama on the other hand is responding by fighting fire with fire. He constantly attacks Romney’s business record, in a way trying to convince America that, “sure things aren’t great right now, but it could be worse with that guy.” I could write a whole separate article about that very mindset, but I’ll move on.

This myriad of  negative advertising, especially from the Romney side, has left a bad taste in people’s mouths. They’re asking, “Okay, so Obama is bad. But what are you going to do? What can you bring to the table to make this any better?” To those people, I say, hold out a little longer. Your answers will come. By that I mean that the substantive talk about more specific policy will come as we get closer to November. Now as our 44th President loves to say, “let me be clear,” and say that Romney has come out with specific plans. Obama is already criticizing those plans as proof to their existence. You can go to http://www.mittromney.com to read those plans. They exist. But they will become more apparent and the talk of more media organizations in the near future. Why is that?

That is because right now, Mitt Romney is working hard to convince America that this is possible, that it is possible to remove Obama from the White House. Especially after a typically brutal primary campaign and republican infighting, most American’s figured that Obama had it in the bag and that there’s really no hope for change. Americans have felt that if they have to choose between two evils, they would rather choose a known evil. This is why Romney has been working to hard to make a case for not only his election, but Obama’s removal. And with every attack on Obama, there is a rebuttal and an attack in return. It’s a nasty war that is being fought on the TV screens of unsuspecting residents of swing states.

But don’t worry, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That light is studio lights of red, white, and blue, lighting the stages that will hold the 2012 Presidential Debates. That is where the real progress will be made. As it stands now, we have the candidates and their supporters filling the air waves with accusations and attacks against their opponent. Every time, the accusation is supported by some sort of “fact.” But facts are a fickle thing since any number can be twisted to mean whatever you want. Don’t believe me? When the August jobs report comes out, just watch how the democrats use it as “proof” that Obama is succeeding and the republicans use the same report as undeniable “proof” that Obama has failed. Though slightly informative, this type of debate is extremely ineffective.

Politics Explained: Presidential Debate

Politics Explained: The ever important debate stage

On the debate stage, it becomes much more difficult to throw out some number or “fact” and have it be blindly accepted. Their opponent will be standing just feet away from them with their own “facts” which will also be examined and attacked. In such a manner we get closer to the heart and truth of the issue at hand. Yes it’s messy, yes sometimes it’s uncivilized, but it’s debate. This type of debate, without teleprompters and inspirational music in the background will finally show us what these candidates are made of.

At the debates, Romney will finally come out swinging and make his case for the presidency. He will remind us that it isn’t over ’till it’s over and that he is the man to replace Barack Obama and bring about the change that America needs. Obama is of course going to try and prove him wrong, but the only way he will be able to make a strong enough case is by running on his record. The American people are tired of excuses.

So the next time you hear an angry talk show host, or news anchor, or even candidate slinging mud to the other side, try to recognize its role in the process and remember that the debates aren’t far away.  We look forward to the debates, not because it’s another excuse for the candidates to yell at each other, but so that finally we can hear some actual substance that must be backed up by acceptable facts.

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.

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.

If you would like to see Mitt Romney’s speech which was quoted in this video, in its entirety, click this link. Also, for more People v. Ignorance content, follow me on Twitter and be sure to check out the all new Facebook Page

Politics Explained: Voter ID Laws

Voter ID laws have a habit of coming to the forefront of political news around election time for obvious reasons. Republicans claim that there exists massive amounts of voter fraud that undercuts the legitimacy of the voting process, and Democrats claim that Voter ID laws is nothing more than a Republican conspiracy to keep minority democrats from voting. It seems that both sides need to do a little more homework.

Normally, I like to take issues that I feel are clear cut and explain why I feel that I’m right and express my disbelief that anyone would disagree. I had every intention of doing that with Voter ID laws, but in preparing to write the post I found that the issue was not as simple as it seems. Instead of shying away from the topic because I will admit that I don’t know the answer, I decided that I should share what I know and together we can discuss a solution.

Before I continue much further, in the words of our 44th president, “let me be clear” about what we are talking about here when it comes to Voter ID laws. A Voter ID Law is any law put into place that requires a voter to present some form of identification upon voting. Depending on the state, that could be as little as a utility bill, or as much as a government issued photo ID (like a driver’s license).

Proponents of Voter ID laws feel that something as foundational to American democracy as voting should be protected. You have to show your ID to buy a beer, get on a plane, even when making credit card purchases; why not show your ID when you vote? The main purpose for presenting some form of ID when you vote is to prevent people from taking advantage of the system in a manner labeled “voter fraud.”

As it stands now, in states that don’t require any form of ID when voting, voter fraud is possible. As you may be aware, in such states (which is most states) to vote, all you need to do is register, which can be done by mail in many cases and requires no photo ID. However, as is the case in California, you need to include some sort of identification number with your mail in registration form(Drivers License number, SSN, etc.). When you register, your name goes on to a list that is then given to the volunteers at the polling stations on election day. If you forgot to add some sort of identification number on your registration to prove you weren’t registering a fake or dead person, then any form of ID (utility bill, drivers license, etc.) is required for the first time you vote.

Seems pretty secure right? Well, what if your grandmother was a registered voter and she died shortly before the election? Chances are, her name is not removed from that list meaning you could go up to the poll, say “Hi my name is [grandma]” and cast a ballot in her name. “Well, that’s silly,” you might be thinking, “I don’t know about your county, but our county has the most effective bureaucracy and things like the death of registered voters is taken care of right away.” Well, to you I say, never move from that county because the world isn’t that perfect.

But to the citizens of bureaucratically effective counties, how about this scenario? A person  goes to work on election day and is talking with a co-worker about how they don’t really care about voting this year, or about how, for some reason, they just won’t be voting. For a person dedicated to the cause of casting extra ballots, it would not be that difficult to discern where the person was supposed to vote and then just go there before the polls close and vote in that person’s name. Or, as it has happened in Mississippi, people can offer to pay people for their vote. One more thing that I thought was interesting. In California, one of the forms of ID you can show at the poll (when you vote for the very first time) is the sample ballot that they send to your house. That makes sense right? I mean the government sent a letter to a person on their records so it must be valid. But how did the name get on the records? By voter registration forms. So you’re telling me that I can fill out a voter registration form by mail, not include any ID number, sign it Mr. John Lies-a-lot, and have the government mail something to Mr. John L. and use that as my ID? (I would love for someone to clear that up for me by the way). But for now it is just something to consider.

As you can see, voter fraud is not by any means impossible, and Republicans will be throwing examples like this around to prove to you that this is an epidemic of epic proportions. To be quite honest, voter fraud doesn’t happen as often as is claimed, but why not just build your defenses before you’re attacked?

Well, here’s the general Democrat response. They make the claim Voter ID is inherently discriminatory. The people who would be affected by this are people who don’t have government issued IDs, which means lower class minorities (who also happen to vote democrat most of the time). Arguments against Voter ID laws also call to the fact that this may be considered a poll tax (having to pay to vote) which is strictly unconstitutional.

With the first argument about it being discriminatory, that’s for you too decide. If you think that this is a plot to suppress Democrat voters, then call it discriminatory. If you think that it’s a way of securing the integrity of the voting process, then you can probably dismiss that argument. By that I mean, dismiss the conspiracy theory, but keep in mind that the opponents of Voter ID laws are not exaggerating when they say that a majority of those affected are the poor. Which brings us to our last issue. How do we force people to get IDs in order to vote without making it a poll tax, because you can’t force people to buy something in order to vote.

So, we could just give them out for free. But just like everything else labeled “free” from the government, that means more taxes for you. Are we willing to do that? Well, fine then we will give them out only to the poor as part of a welfare program, but they need to prove that they are poor enough before they get their free ID. But does this not place too much of a burden on the poor who already struggle to take time out of their day to even make it to the polling station? Would that discourage voter registration among the poor, and is that a consequence we are willing to accept?

Before I make my final comments, keep in mind that proponents for Voter ID laws come from every party. According to a recent poll, 52% of Democrats,74% of Independents, and 87% of Republicans feel that voter ID laws are necessary.

So here is my suggestion, then I would ask you to please leave your ideas either in the comment box or on the People v. Ignorance Facebook Page.

I personally feel that regardless of whether or not voter fraud is common in America right now, that is now excuse to have a system that can be taken advantage of. The right to vote has been fought for too many times for us to simply let this issue fall by the wayside. We need to require photo IDs too vote; voting is just that important. But we can’t cast out our poor like this. That is the beauty of America, that the poorest citizens and the richest CEOs have an equal voice in the ballot box; we can’t place an undue burden on them. So, I would suggest that, if you want a free ID, you have to go to a government organization (City Library, DMV, etc.) to register to vote with proof of your poor financial situation. There your picture will be taken and ID will then be issued. Yes this means tax dollars will be used. But I don’t know if you’ve been to any of those government agencies recently, but there are things that can be done to make the processes more cost efficient, and the saved money could be used for this purpose.

It’s a tough question. What do you think? How do we solve the issue of Voter ID laws? Leave a comment below or, better yet, leave a comment on the People v. Ignorance Facebook Page.

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”

Libertarianism as a Guide, not a Rule

Let’s establish from the beginning that on the spectrum of political ideologies, I consider myself to be a libertarian leaning conservative. I attribute that to my father, who for many years considered himself entirely libertarian, and tried to pass those thoughts and views along to his children. I like small government. But let me again make it clear that I do not consider myself to be a staunch libertarian. I do think that the current system is extremely bloated and that, for many, the Constitution has been considered nothing more than an old piece of paper in a museum. I agree this must change, but maybe not in the same way others may want it to. In changing the current system we need to rely on libertarian ideals of small government as our guide while also being willing to mold each individual policy so that the United States of America can best promote peace and prosperity at home and abroad.

Over the course of this primary season, I have personally come into contact with many strong Ron Paul supporters. Ron Paul is the candidate who is the champion of libertarian ideals. But in my conversations with Ron Paul supporters, I often feel like I’m being accused of supporting a socialist run police state, where Big Brother is as common as the taxes which fund him. Considering the fact, as I mentioned earlier, that I like to think of myself as being a libertarian leaning conservative, I am taken aback and left with a bad taste in my mouth by these encounters.  I’m left to reflect on my own political decisions and decide if I’m really supporting the right candidate. I ask myself, “Well, aren’t I in favor of limited government? … Don’t I want to see one trillion in debt cut in the budget? … Don’t I want states rights and federalism to thrive?” The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes,” but still Ron Paul is not the one for me. Here are some examples of issues that should be considered exceptions to the hard fast rules present in the minds of libertarians like Ron Paul.

One reason for this is that I do not believe that the world is as black and white as Paul believes it is. Libertarianism to me represents the ideal. It represents what we should be striving towards. If you are a typical Ron Paul person, you have likely already yelled at the computer, “Well then why not support the guy who is going to do that?!” Why not? Because, though I believe that libertarianism embodies the ideal form of government, we do not live in an ideal world. As much as it may pain us to admit it, the world is more gray than it is black and white. Foreign policy seems to me to be the most obvious example of this.

This is a direct quote from the National Defense Policy page from http://www.ronpaul2012.com:

“Taxpayers are forced to spend billions of dollars each year to protect the borders of other countries, while Washington refuses to deal with our own border security needs.

“Congress has been rendered virtually irrelevant in foreign policy decisions and regularly cedes authority to an executive branch that refuses to be held accountable for its actions.”

I personally think that these are great arguments against current National Defense policies. Like Ron Paul suggests, we need to avoid unnecessary war and always go about engaging in war in a constitutional fashion, but we need to allow for exceptions to the rule. I know this is a slippery slope, but it is necessary to consider.

When asked about what the United States should do in Syria, Ron Paul answered “It’s none of our business” (Read full statement here). In that interview he makes very valid points about how it’s not expressly in our national interest to care. I would agree with him, but we should still care. Thousands, even tens of thousands, of innocent civilians in Syria have died for desiring to overthrow a repressive regime, for desiring the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do we just sit back and let them die; let them work it out themselves, while the regime kills more and more everyday? Think about that. According to the black and white libertarian logic, the answer is yes, let them be, because it’s not our problem. But in any case when people are treated inhumanly, do we just sit back knowing that we have the resources to help and just let these people suffer? Do we let these tyrants consolidate their power so that they can continue to harbor non-state actors that are determined to see the destruction of the west? I understand that intervention in any way is costly, so let’s cut the fat elsewhere in the budget and come up with the cash to help these suffering people. Though I know that we could easily avoid such an increase in taxes if we cut the budget elsewhere, even if it means paying a few more dollars, sign me up, and if that makes me a raving liberal, then so be it.

His stance on foreign policy might be enough to convince me not to vote for him, even if it were the only problem I had with Paul’s policy. I am in agreement with all of the ideals of his domestic policies (just like I, in principle, favor the ideals of his foreign policy). The major issue I have with his domestic policy lies mostly in his stance on social issues.

It is the libertarian ideal that all of these kinds of decisions and policies regarding social issues should be left up to the states.  That is the ideal, and I agree with the ideal. But again, there are some things that are just too important to leave up to the states, and Ron Paul even agrees with me on that! Take his stance on abortion for instance. According to Ron Paul’s official campaign website, abortion is the only social issue which Ron Paul feels the national government should have a say in. He feels, as president it would be his responsibility to repeal Roe v. Wade to put the decision back in the hands of the states, and also pass a “Sanctity of Life Act” which would define life as beginning upon conception. From there it would be easier for states to then undo the legalization of abortions. This is a wonderful idea and a great start. It is no wonder why Dr. Ron Paul feels this way. He has worked for years as an OB/GYN and has seen the terrors of abortion. So in no way is my point here to attack Dr. Paul’s stance on abortion, but to ask the question, what about other social issues? Other social issues that are equally important to me, in Paul’s view, should be left up entirely to the states. Again, I agree with the principle of his ideas. For issues such as health care and education, get the federal government out of the way and let states govern.  However, just as Paul feels that the sanctity of life is too important to be defined by the states, I feel that there are other things that deserve a definition and support from the national government so that the government can fulfill its duty  to “promote the general welfare” of our nation.

I really like Ron Paul; I think his is a wonderful man who is doing wonderful things in educating the nation about the ideals of true libertarianism. The more people strive towards having a smaller, less intrusive government, the more prosperity we will see. That I believe. But I also believe that the world isn’t as black and white as we wish it may be. For these reasons and others, I  have decided that even though I like the principles that Ron Paul proclaims, I support a different candidate who also believes in those values of small non-intrusive government while at the same time being willing to shape policy around the specific issue.