Why Mormons Should Consider Backing Obama

Obama FamilyWith Mitt Romney out of the presidential race, who might the Mormon faithful back?

Of course, the Church is officially neutral on political candidates and parties (thank goodness). But let’s be honest, Romney’s failed attempt at the presidency has got to upset a lot of Latter-day Saints, who overwhelming backed Romney (at least in Utah), and who seem to not be very fond of John McCain or Mike Huckabee, not to mention Hillary Clinton.

But Latter-day Saints I have talked to have a fairly favorable view of another presidential candidate: Barack Obama.

Is it possible for a good number of Latter-day Saints to turn to this inspiring new face as their preferred presidential candidate?

I realize that I am facing incredible odds in this question of mine — 1964 was the last time a Democrat (Lyndon B. Johnson) took the state of Utah. But still, I think that if Latter-day Saints will take seriously the counsel of the late Gordon B. Hinckley, and vote for the best person, regardless of party (as he did throughout his life, voting for both Republicans and Democrats), then maybe, just maybe, Obama will gain support among the LDS faithful.

Let me be upfront. I am not a Democrat. I consider myself to be historically conservative and currently moderate. I have grown to be disenchanted by the Bush administration, as I’m sure many of my fellow Latter-day Saints have been. I was in support of the Iraq war at first, but now I realize that it was a major mistake and an abuse of power, and that it is not in the best interest of America or Iraq for us to stay there. Whatever good is being done there is negated three times over — by its costs in American and Iraqi lives, American dollars, and the continually neglected threat of terrorists in Afghanistan.

In regards to Iraq, we can’t simply say, “Well, what will happen if we pull out?” We need to also say, “What is happening, right here and right now, by our continuing to stay in?” I know that some Mormons are in total support of the war for various reasons. But can we really continue to let our troops — fathers and mothers — go back time after time after time to fight a war that is questionable? Our wonderful troops have sacrificed so much, and unless we have a draft or enlist many more individuals (your sons and daughters), we cannot continue to fight this war. It simply must end. I daresay that even some of my reddest fellow Saints are frightened by McCain’s assertion that we could be in Iraq for 100 years. A vote for John McCain is a vote for George Bush’s war. It’s a vote for the continued loss of American and Iraqi lives. It’s a vote for billions and billions of dollars to be spent — who will pay for it? It’s a vote for neglecting more serious needs — Afghanistan, Darfur and other genocides, our children’s educations, our own economy, and so on.

Conservatives worry about how liberals will raise taxes, but it is unrealistic to think that we can continue in this war, as we are, without either raising taxes or seriously depriving our children and others of crucial resources. It is not honest. It is not responsible. Either we hike taxes and stay in the war, or we get out. There’s no other honest way about it. (Remember the LDS principles of buying what you can pay for.) We need to be careful and measured about how we leave, which Obama wants to do, but let us be honest — we cannot keep fighting. The Iraqi government needs to take responsibility, and we need to move on. It is not unpatriotic, nor is it neglectful of our troops, to suggest that we need to move on if it really is true. Mitt Romney’s father George Romney, along with the rest of the nation, realized this about Vietnam. We need to follow his lead and realize it about Iraq.

Regarding the economy, I used to be in support of conservative principles, but I have grown to be fed up with the philosophy of giving tax breaks to the rich and not taking seriously the health care crisis in our country. (Obama, by the way, is not interested in raising taxes, but repealing the Bush tax cuts for those who make over $250,000. This group never asked for these tax cuts, nor do they need them, and the past several years have shown our economy to be worse off, not better, since their inception. Moreover, that these tax cuts have coincided with an ultra-expensive war is unbelievably dishonest.)

I have grown to realize that my religious beliefs require me to take the plight of struggling working families seriously, to no longer hide their faces behind an economic trickle-down curtain that allows me to ignore the growing poverty in our country. Like my fellow Latter-day Saints, I am sure, I am afraid that economic classes are being more polarized, that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The middle class is shrinking. Selfishness is rampant. We have great need to worry, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is our only hope.

It is because of my belief in Jesus Christ that I believe we need a new political direction in our country. No, it won’t solve all our problems, and the Church will continue to grow to be independent and shine as a source of light and hope for all to see. But a new political direction can help us to better serve those who are need, and to better interface with the world around us. I envision a new type of political involvement among Latter-day Saints, in which Republicans, Democrats, and Independents work together in tackling the problems of our day. I am tired of political division. I am tired of political campaigns and platforms being bought by lobbyists, many of which do not really care about you or me.

President Hinckley would never have voted for someone simply because of his or her political party. What about you? Are you willing to entertain voting for a Democrat because it is for the good for the country? Are you willing to consider anew your political commitments and obligations? President Hinckley voted for individuals (Republicans and Democratics), not parties, as he has said in media interviews. So I ask, who is the best PERSON?

May I suggest that, in my opinion, the best person currently in the race is Barack Obama. If we can look past partisan politics, I think more will start seeing this. More and more Mormons are seeing it everyday. He is the friendliest candidate to taking faith seriously in the public square. He wants to unite the country, not divide us. He is a deeply religious man who takes his Christian faith seriously. He is one of the most “fair-minded” public figures that I have ever known of. He prays every day that he will be fair to others, that he will give them the benefit of the doubt. I encourage you to listen to his speech on the role of faith and politics, located on his web site.

I don’t agree with him on everything. I am very much pro-life and he is pro-choice, for example. I wish he would consider more of a pro-life position. But he is more concerned with fighting for sexual responsibility and decreasing abortions than he is about fighting about ideologies, which never gets us anywhere anyway. He is also very willing to continue to have a fair-minded conversation with pro-life Americans about the abortion issue, and what we can best do as a nation right now. Perhaps we should consider entering this conversation, rather than merely fighting about legal issues. Perhaps, just perhaps, such an approach will help us get the values of responsible sexuality into the hearts of American men and women. It really is a problem of the heart, isn’t it?

Consistent with our concern for innocent human lives, let us not forget that a war has and is continuing to claim thousands of lives, both soldiers and civilians. That a genocide in Darfur is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and has displaced millions. That there are hard working families in our country who have a father or mother die because they don’t have adequate health care. Let us not allow an ideological fight (such as abortion) to keep us from taking seriously the pressing needs of our society. We have a responsibility to our citizens and to the world. This responsibility transcends political bickering. We have a responsibility to a troubled world to set an example as walkers of peace, as solvers of problems.

Obama also has compassion for our brothers and sisters from other nations, including those who have come into this country undocumented, often working long hours with little wages to support their families. Let us never forget, as our Church leaders have cautioned Utah legislators recently, that “illegal” immigrants are our brothers and sisters. Many are our fellow Saints. Obama is taking the immigration issue seriously, but he is also opposed to the radical and dehumanizing plans of some, such as punishing ordinary citizens who help out illegal immigrants or busing law-abiding immigrants back over the border. I have found that most of my fellow Latter-day Saints are much more compassionate regarding immigration than many other Americans are, while at the same time realizing that we need to work hard at solving the problem. Obama feels the same way, and he also realizes that much of the problem is due to NAFTA, signed into law by President Clinton, and other problematic American trade policies.

In addition to being the most faith-friendly candidate, I think he is also the most family-friendly candidate. One of his biggest concerns is fatherless homes. He is concerned about parents not taking responsibility for their children’s media watching. He is concerned with hard working families who don’t make enough to even begin to make ends meet. I encourage you to take a look at his issues in this regard on his website.

Obama is also the candidate who best approaches the LDS communitarian ethic. Politically speaking, he is not unlike Joseph Smith. His approach revolves around “we,” not “me.” His movement is completely invested by average Americans working together, many of whom have never been involved politically before. He has a charisma that inspires people to realize that they really can make a difference in this world. He desires to reach beyond petty bickering and divisions, realizing, as did Joseph Smith, that we can move beyond our differences and work together for positive change in the world.

Moreover, I think that he is the candidate who is the friendliest to the Mormon faith. He doesn’t demean LDS beliefs as Mike Huckabee did. He has strong family values and has been faithfully committed to one wife, unlike John McCain. In fact, his wife Michelle Obama recently visited with Elders Ballard and Cook about how we can better help American families. Take a look on the Church’s website.

I envision that an Obama presidential administration would be a very friendly place for LDS leaders to work with in order to tackle our common goals. I’m unsure if I can say the same thing about John McCain or Hillary Clinton.

In conclusion, I ask:

Is backing Obama in line with our political obligations?

Yes it is.

Should we consider rallying behind such a leader?

Yes we should.

Can we?

Yes we can.

UPDATE: Check out this new post on Mormons and Obama.

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70 Responses

  1. Dennis,
    nice.

    I think I agree with everything, if that surprises you. Very well put. In terms of feedback, I’ll email you my suggestions, but let me say that I think you should send this out not only to the Daily Universe, but to the Salt Lake Tribune, Daily Herald, and the Deseret News. I also think you should submit it to the Political Review. I think it’s important and timely and needs to be sent out now. If you don’t send it out, I will. Just let me know. :)

  2. Utah went for Johnson in 1964, not 1960. In 1960 Utah went for Nixon (who lost to JFK).

  3. Thanks manaen and mark d.

    I’m going to edit the post so it is correct.

  4. I have to agree with Doug on this one. The more public you can make this message, the better.

  5. Obama would greatly improve the very negative image of the United States throughout the world. It seems to me that this would be great for missionaries and for the Church in general.

  6. Why not, he’s reaching to us while Republicans are competing over how best to punch us in the face..BTW, Johnson ran in 1964..Why is it that I haven’t seen any LDS blogger refer to “the curse of McCain?”

  7. this is great – you should definitely send it to some newspapers.

  8. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I agree that Obama is the person we need to lead our country right now. I hope many, many readers find this!

  9. Wow! How refreshing! I heartily agree with everything you said here.

    Republicans have no lock on LDS values. And I am particularly disgusted by the hubris and complete disregard for the rule of law demonstrated by the Bush administration.

    I agree with manaen that republicans have shown no respect for the LDS vote. And I’m tired of my vote underwriting the real political power of the so called “christian” political nut jobs who also protest at our prophet’s funeral.

    Time to rethink the LDS vote. And even my conservative parents are openly talking of voting for Obama! Hope he wins.

  10. Thank you so much for writing this. I sent it to everyone I know.

    Obama 2008!

  11. Very thoughtful and well done. Thank you! Please do send it to newspapers!

  12. Well written and thought provoking. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  13. Yes we can.

  14. I have become a big fan of Obama lately. I just finished The Audacity of Hope, which showed me he was deep thinker who wasn’t looking for easy answers to complex questions. And I really want a president who inspires me when he speaks, not make me cringe.

  15. I appreciate your thoughts about Obama. I agree with a lot of what you have said and the fact is that I a really like Obama as a the person. I am highly concerned about his plan in Iraq and what withdrawing will mean for that country. In retrospect I’m unconvinced that it was the best idea to invade, but we can’t go back now. I am also concerned about his pro-life stance. In general, I am highly hesitant to see the democratic party have too much power in Washington.

    I have been a McCain supporter from the beginning of this race. Although I have concerns about his personal morality (which is huge for me) I have been very impressed with his willingness to ignore party lines and get things done (like immigration reform). He has never been a strict conservative, wanting to just ‘look good’ to his party. I think and hope that if elected he will be a uniting power in partisan Washington to finally get people working together.

  16. I believe!

  17. My LDS mother in Tennessee sent me a link to this article, because Right after Super Tuesday I had called her and told her that if Romney was out, I’d be switching, hopfully, to Obama. As a staunch republican for the last 15 years, I have decided to become a democrat, largely due to Mike Huckabee. I have been shocked an appalled at the outright hatred and unfair prejudice he and his staff have exhibited towards members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hatred and persecution is not Christian. How could the Republican party turn a blind eye to waht just happened here? We, in this great country, need to stand up for the civil rights of ALL people in this country regardless of race, gender, or religion. This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. I have never met a group of more devout, kind, honest Christians than the “Mormons.” The democrats do a much better job of including, standing up for, and loving everyone. Democrats are better about standing up for civil rights. I’ve had it with the republican party. How could they be so ignorant to elect Mccain?! or Huckabee?!! Mike Huckabee and John Mccain, you have left a very bad taste in my mouth. I was one of Bush’s most staunch supporters and before this election I never could have dreamed of registering as a democrat, but here I am.

  18. Dennis,

    I think that you make a good case for why a Mormon could vote for Barack Obama; indeed you cite many of the reasons that led me to vote for him on Tuesday. However, I am not persuaded that Obama (or any other candidate) merits the distinction of being the candidate for whom Mormons should vote.

    You ask, “With Mitt Romney out of the presidential race, who should the Mormon faithful back?” I’m afraid that many of the qualities and positions that you say makes Obama the candidate the Mormon faithful should back were not to be found in the Romney campain. Should faithful Mormons not have backed Mitt Romney?

    Likewise, I’m uncomfortable with the way you dismiss the other candidates without much consideration. As long as the question is “Who should the Mormon faithful back?” it is insufficient to merely cite McCain’s position on the war and his infidelity, Huckabee’s ignorant comments about Mormons, and not a word about Clinton beyond the fact that many Mormons seem to not be fond of her. I could well imagine another LDS blogger advocating to fellow believers one of these candidates, treating these objections in a similar fashion to your treatment of Obama’s pro-choice position.

    I’m sorry, but I find the notion that the Mormon faithful should back any one candidate ultimately destructive to our community. Isn’t this homoginization of the Mormon vote the very problem that has led so many Mormons to presume Republicanism as the unofficial party of our religion?

    Dennis, you have a great passion for your beliefs and you are engaging important moral and religious questions as you consider which candidate deserves your vote. Your voice should be heard. But I also want to hear from Mormons whose careful and thoughtful considerations of their faith and morality lead them to vote for Clinton, McCain, Huckabee, and others. I believe that hearing these voices will make us a better people and lead us to choose a better leader for better reasons. I fear that we will not hear these voices if we keep asking “Who should the Mormon faithful back?” We are too diverse a people with far too varied concerns and too rich a morality to only be represented by one candidate or one party.

  19. My personal opinion is that regardless of the original reasons for the Iraq war, we are there now, and must do our best to “finish” the job. I don’t think setting some arbitrary timetable for withdrawal will accomplish that. I originally supported the war, but with the benefit of hindsight now believe it was a wrong decision.

    Although I also disagree with Obama on some issues such as abortion, I may vote for him in the fall. My main reason being he will give me the benefit of the doubt, and not dismiss my opinions because my views differ from his. This is the only way to get things done in our nation. Besides Obama, McCain is the only other viable candidate left in the race I can personally support. I personally cannot support either Huckabee or Clinton, but will not go so far as to say no Mormon can or should, that is misguided at best.

    All in all though, a great post. If it comes down to Obama and McCain, I will have a tough decision come November. I’d vote for him in the primary, but registered a few days too late to be eligible.

  20. Friggin,

    Good points.

    I suppose the “should” is a rhetorical move. I am not arguing for who I think you “could” or “might” vote for, but rather who I think you “should” vote for, while obviously respecting that you could be a very good person and not do so. I suppose that’s the nature of political persuasion, and I certainly wouldn’t limit this to Latter-day Saints. I wonder if you would feel the same way about a generic post: “Why You Should Back Obama.” My guess is no. I’m feeling that you are more troubled by the idea that Mormons should vote as a group.

    This certainly isn’t what I was intending to convey, and in fact I touched up a few parts to soften anywhere that might be implied.

    Regarding Romney vs. Obama, I think that there were many good reasons that Latter-day Saints rallied behind Romney, in addition to many bad ones. But I’m not really concerned about why Mormons have backed Romney. That’s history. I’m simply saying that of the viable candidates who remain, Obama is in my opinion the best choice.

    Yes, other Latter-day Saints will give their reasons for supporting other candidates. You are right, though, I’m operating on the assumption that you will not see many Mormons rallying behind Clinton. I will give you everything I own if this happens. I guess I’m just too much of a pragmatist; there’s no use entertaining Clinton as a viable candidate that a noticeable number of Latter-day Saints will rally behind. From my experience, she’s hated much more than McCain and Huckabee in Mormon circles, and I don’t see that changing. Regarding Huckabee, I’ve already crossed him off the list of viable contenders.

    On that note, I probably wouldn’t be suggesting that Mormons “should” back Obama if I didn’t see it as a viable possibility. I see him as a candidate with a lot of momentum and a lot of likability among Latter-day Saints. I simply have not seen the same thing for McCain or Huckabee, but I suspect that many Latter-day Saints will learn to tolerate McCain for various political reasons.

    So yes, some Latter-day Saints will like Clinton, some will like Huckabee — fine with me. Write blogs about it. But you won’t inspire a movement. Pretty sure, anyway.

    McCain of course will certainly get a lot of LDS support. But this wouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s nothing to write home about. I obviously believe in Obama and not McCain for many reasons that I have not given. I hope that a conversation can be started about evaluating the two; I’m not trying to close off any dialogue about it.

    About the LDS homogenized vote, I’m not terribly worried. If the Latter-day Saints vote as a block for Obama, again I will give you everything I own. You know this won’t happen. I am simply thinking that many Latter-day Saints might, perhaps even a majority, but this would be extremely remarkable.

    This blog will speak to those Latter-day Saints who are willing to consider someone like Obama. Without a doubt, many will disagree, some vehemently. One thing is for certain: We will continue to be, as you say, “too diverse a people with far too varied concerns and too rich a morality to only be represented by one candidate or one party.”

    And what better way to spell this out loud and clear than Obama (or McCain) winning by a narrow margin in Utah!

  21. This is some nice discussion. I guess I would say that Mormons SHOULD consider voting for Obama. Perhaps that lacks sensitivity of the LDS church’s nonpartisan position, but I also think that it is important that we not only vote for the best candidate, but that we spread the word when we find a candidate who we strongly support. This is certainly in line with the LDS principle of to be civic activity. My statement that Mormons SHOULD consider Obama, or Dennis’ for that matter, in no way undermines the church’s position.

  22. This is my first time at your blog and just wanted to say what a wonderful read this was!!! I am a hube Obama supporter. I’ve never voted Democrat in my life, but I will this year. I have sent a link of this blog entry to many friends and family for them to consider. Thanks so much!! Yes We Can!!!

  23. Thanks for your thoughtful post, however I’m still not sure I could vote for a candidate who stole his campaign slogan from Bob the Builder:

    http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=6792936

  24. I think what is great about this whole debate is that it helps Church members realize that the Republican party is not sanctioned by God. You would be surprised at how often I am “chastised” for being liberal. I’ve been a liberal for some time now and have gotten used to being an outcast within my own culture and religion.

    It is wonderful to see other Church members excited about a candidate who is not conservative.

    Hopefully, some day in the near future, “liberal” will cease to be a dirty word among our people.

  25. Excellent analysis! (From your level of detail here, I assume you’ve read his book.)

    The fact that Obama is honest and “very willing to continue to have a fair-minded conversation” on various issues matters. It matters that he makes an effort to understand the perspective of people he disagrees with and considers the issues in terms of values that are shared across the political spectrum (instead of narrowly claiming that some people have values and others don’t). He’s the sort of leader who can convince Americans to cooperate on the challenges we’re currently facing.

    (Please see my own Obama endorsement.)

  26. Growing up in Utah, as a Mormon, I have learned to harbor a more conservative mentality. I am 17 — will be turning 18 in April — and have grown to love Obama and his views.

    I never thought that my first presidential vote would be Democratic, EVER, but just like Julie, this year I am voting OBAMA! He has proven to me that he has what it takes to break the bonds of political polarity. He has what it takes to move us toward a bipartisan country. Why not get the best of both worlds?

    To me — and I’m sure many other Americans — my vote is determined by character and belief. Obama has both. I agree with almost every view of Obama, granted there are a few I don’t fully agree with; however, I find him to have the most integrity as a man than any of the other candidates. That is why my vote goes to Obama.

  27. Obama’s the only canidate I’ve ever definatively heard talk about torture in a negative way. Almost all republican canidates have defended waterboarding and the abomination that is Guantanamo Bay. As for Clinton I don’t know her stance, but I believe having her in the White House would in itself be an act of tortue to many Americans, myself included.

  28. Very nice Dennis. Thanks for the email. As an independent I haven’t been able to cast a vote either way yet (insert two party system rant here), but I am looking forward to an Obama- McCain presidential race. Let us hope that happens. For the most part I agree with you, and if I may, I would like to add to another mentioned reason a vote for Obama makes sense. I cannot understand the dedication of many LDS people while it is being hijacked by the ultra-right Christian evangelicals who are not shy about the way they feel about the LDS church. To see Romney pandering to these people infuriated me. I was so disappointed he didn’t run as a moderate, but I guess he thought he had to separate himself from McCain. Anyways, while party loyalty has never made sense to me, it REALLY doesn’t anymore. While I believe that defending the church and its doctrines is one of the most important things we can do as members, I have no idea why we as a people are banging our head against the wall trying to convince a large demographic of the Republican party that we too are Christian. We have seen first hand from Huckabee’s comments what kind of ignorance and intolerance he and his ilk bring to the public conversation on religion in America. It is definitely time to do what Dennis has suggested and have the courage to vote for the best person regardless of party affiliation. Down with party politics.

  29. You are awesome

  30. Thank goodness someone finally wrote all of my emotions and feelings about Obama into a blog entry!
    Yes we freakin’ can.

    -Megan Byers
    Los Banos, CA
    24 yrs. old

  31. Dennis,Inderesting post. I am very conservative, but do admit considering voting for Obama. See my full response at http://cougartex.blogspot.com. Tony Brown

  32. excellent job. i have been a strong obama supporter after having read ‘Dreams of My Father’ a year or so ago.

  33. There is NO WAY on God’s great creation that I would ever vote for Obama!!!
    You state that you were a “conservative republican now a moderate” I don’t believe you were ever a conservative. A conservative would never want to raise taxes. Both Ronald Reagan and JFK understood the impact of raising taxes and the negative effect on the economy. When taxes are lowered for both the rich and poor it puts money back into our economy that we as citizens choose how to spend. The wealthy are able to create more jobs and the poor are able to fill those jobs. This creates more economic wealth through out our great society. In turn, the total taxes the government collects increases drastically. I relize you have no understanding of economics if you think increasing taxes will help our economy, it actually decreases the total amount of taxes the Government takes in. You liberals don’t understand this concept at all.
    Another reason a conservative shouldn’t vote for Obama is abortion. Notice I’m not mentioning anything about Mormons and who a Mormon should vote for. I think it is rude to mention a religion and “Why Mormons should consider backing Obama”. As you know the Mormon faith doen’t support abortion… the only exceptions is the life of the mother, rape and incest. Obama believes that anyone at anytime can have an abortion. Even teenagers without the knowledge of their Parents. You mention President Hickley several times so I will as well. President Hickley would never have supported not informing a parent of suck a drastic life event as an abortion. So if you will please stop acting like President Hickley would support everything you believe in.
    Another one of your topics is the illegal aliens that are in our country. Yes the first Presidency has said they are our brothers but they did not say it was ok to break the laws of our country. We have an Article of Faith that states obeying the laws of the land, so why don’t you read them and get to know them better. If we went into Mexico from its southern border without proper documentation we would be thrown into jail…that is their law in Mexico….so I say we should have the same law here. They break our laws by comming here. Here in Arizona over 33% of our prisons are filled with illegal aliens…not becaause of coming here illegally but but murding, raping, robbing, vandalizing, and many other criminal behaviors. You might of recently heard of the Chandler Rappist…he was Illegal if he would of been kept out of our country then there are many girls who wouldn’t have had to go through what they did. I know there are American criminals too, but we are letting in the poor and the worst of the Mexican people…think about it, if they were doing well in Mexico why come here illegally. We get the ones who are so destitute they will chance their life to crossing the Arizona desert when it is above 130 degrees so that the can get money. Even if an individual is a good person coming here, by coming here illegally they are no longer good, they have broken our laws, the laws of this great country. If you don’t like that then get our laws changed that says anyone can come here whenever they want… and if they want to have a drug house set up next to your house like they have to many of my Arizona brothers and sisters then you will understand how 87% of Arizonans feel.
    I can go on all day from one topic to the next why I as a Conservative would never vote for Obama…..AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME BEING MORMON, but I don’t think you would care because you have an agenda and it has nothing to do with being MORMON.

  34. WAWRogers,

    I appreciate your views, but may I suggest that you’re stuck. You’re stuck in an old-school conservatism that isn’t coping with today’s world.

    If conservative economic principles were universally true, we wouldn’t be in a major economic recession. I’m sorry to hear that you have accepted lock, stock, and barrel an economic philosophy that ultimately grinds upon the face of the poor. I used to also accept it (as you somehow can’t believe), but I don’t anymore. The thing you’ve got to understand is that it doesn’t NECESSARILY “trickle down,” and a perfect example of this is corporations like Wal-Mart who treat their employees like dirt. (The King gives the same “trickle down” argument to his peasants, by the way.) I would be in favor of more conservative economic principles if I saw that employees were being treated well and given good benefits, but what is happening — if you would open your eyes — is the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The “trickle down” philosophy sure looks nice in a textbook — funny how working Americans aren’t catching on. Even Adam Smith said that his economic principles don’t work in a society without strong moral principles, which we currently don’t have among the wealthy corporations today (e.g., Enron and WalMart). Do you really think the poor and middle-class are just going to sit by and not do something about? Wrong. They’re going to rally behind someone like Obama who is interested primarily in repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans (not raising taxes elsewhere), helping to tip the scales more evenly.

    But the ultra-conservative machine, which is ultimately about keeping the big bucks in a few people’s pockets, is scared to death of someone like Obama, and so they have a special card up their sleeve to scare us into voting Republican: abortion. I agree with the LDS position of abortion, as did President Hinckley. And, as I said, I disagree with Obama on this issue. But what I am so tired of are conservatives who play the abortion card as if it is the ONLY card. Let me ask you this: if Hitler were running against Obama, and Hitler were pro-life, let’s say (in terms of abortion, that is), and your vote would make the difference in who is elected, who would you vote for? (I’m tempted to say Hitler, considering that there is “no way on God’s great creation” that you would ever vote for Obama). I would proudly vote for Obama. (And I daresay, President Hinckley would to, though I suppose I can’t speak for him.) Now, I do not mean to compare any candidate to Hitler (that would be ridiculous), I am simply using an extreme hypothetical to demonstrate that under certain circumstances a pro-choice candidate is the better candidate, even for a person who is strongly pro-life (such as myself). Moreover, I trust Obama concerning working productively on this issue in a way that will help the situation (see links for above post). Moreover, I am opposed to all sorts of issues that the President of the United States will have more of an impact in curbing: thousands of deaths in Iraq, the healthcare crisis, and the genocide in Darfur, to name a few. On these issues, I believe, Obama is the right candidate. It is not honest or responsible to hide behind an abortion card without considering EVERYTHING that is at play. I completely respect that someone might make these considerations and then vote for McCain (or someone else). What I am asking Mormons to do is to at least CONSIDER the whole picture rather than ruling out a pro-choice candidate from the very beginning.

    Regarding immigration, you’re right, I would probably have a different viewpoint if I were an Arizonan. May I suggest, likewise, that you would have a different viewpoint if you were a Mexican. My brother has lived in Mexico and Guatemala studying this issue, and in talking with him I get an entirely different perspective. I am very opposed to illegal immigration, and I agree that there are illegal immigrants who are a disgrace. From my experience, though, it is a few bad apples that ruins a barrel. But a perspective that you might be missing is what it is like to live in a third-world country just south of a lavishly wealthy nation that grinds upon your poverty-stricken face. Don’t you get it — WE are as much of a problem as anything. We FIRST intruded into their countries, with our outsourcing and unilateral trading. Our nation is like a wealthy king, the other nations our pee-on peasants. If we had never intruded into their countries first, then the story would be different. You say that they have broken the laws of our great country. May I suggest that, unfortunately, our country is not as great as you suggest (at least in their eyes). Second, may I suggest that we and our ancestors have broken their laws, their way of life, their customs. Perhaps you don’t realize that for some of them it is a question of starving or breaking the laws of “our great country.”

    Something to think about.

  35. Sounds like someone really drank the Kool-Aid.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about Obama, but first he has to get past the Clinton Juggernaut.

  36. You know I found your insights very reasonable. I am sure there is more than me out there that might say this but I have been a mormon all my life and I have never had consideration for any republican candidate. Which means I have consistently been a democrat. I was interested in Romney for the slightest few days but a realization that he was not what i sought in a presidential candidate.

    I found it highly disgusting to see the other republican and even the media spin the negative aspects of romney being LDS. I respected romney for the times i saw him not stoop to their levels as seen in huckleberry and etc. I completely support Obama and will be disgusted if clinton gets the nomination. Yes I will say i voted for clinton (2nd term) but his actions and so forth made me wary of any clinton name.

    Obama cannot offer any mainstay platform that a true conservative would like. I wish not to be inflammatory here but I hope any level headed conservative now can clearly see that we went to iraq because of ideology/oil and not WMD’s….and im still waiting for them to be found! and its not a war Pres. Bush stated the war was over years ago….. what is it then an occupation?

    As I have heeded with Hinckleys counsel about voting with a conscious mind. I have always and will continue to pray for guidance on such matters. But I also note that my belief is everyone should have the same freedoms and ideals that most have but still there are some that dont.

    Hate the sinner NOT the sinner. Freedom for all NOT forced upon the individual. And i will share this blog with my fellow mormons. I am sure though they truly want to vote for McCain ;-)

  37. Thanks, Dennis.

  38. Très bien!
    PAIX

  39. WAWROGERS,

    Wow. Some of the stuff you said is so ridiculous. Why do conservatives act like the US is the only country that “really” exists. Nice response, Dennis.

    May I add that the articles of faith is a document that applies to the entire Church, and that the Church is a worldwide religion.

    This means, that there are laws or views in other countries that may be in direct conflict with our own laws here at home. Laws change from country to country and Mormons live in them all! Do you expect Mormons in other countries to obey the laws of the United States?

    Also, lets not forget, most of our Church membership lives outside of the US. Ironically, (especially in light of your racist comments) most Mormons in the world live in Central and South America!

    You should read the article that Dennis references in his pro-Obama blog. The church made it very clear how we should feel about illegal immigrants. Church leaders have specifically mentioned not to vilify the group as a whole, which you are doing.

    Food for thought: How come people aren’t up in arms over Canadian illegals? Is it possible that this issue is more about race than you care to realize?

    Here is a practical example, that perhaps you can wrap your head around: Many Mormons falsely believe that Socialism or Democratic Socialism is evil. I mention both because pure Socialism doesn’t really exist anymore. The Socialist states in Europe are actually Democratic Socialists.

    Anyway, Democratic Socialism is flourishing in various forms in Western Europe, and there are millions of Latter-Day Saints who live there and live by the principles of their respective countries. It is highly ignorant to think that only American laws are important, especially in light of how powerful and corrupt our government has become.

    It is also highly ignorant to make assertions about the laws of “this great nation” without knowing when or why those laws were created.

    According to our own doctrine, the constitution will hang by a thread in the last days. Why are you so quick to defend all the laws of the land? Why not study them and make a righteous judgment call, instead of using FOX News sound bites to defend your positions.

    Nothing irks me more than people who defend their views without facts or experience.

    I just finished a film on illegal immigration and realize that it is a highly complicated issue. However, Dennis is exactly right in his assessment of the problem. Our government and laws are a big part of the problem. Our nation’s history with the border, free trade, and American big business shutting down Mexican maquiladoras are also at play.

    I suggest reading some literature and stop getting all your info from the nightly news.

  40. Well said Dennis. I have referenced your article in the comments section of a post on my blog that deals with the same thing. Good work, gObama!

  41. Wow. I wish every Mormon in Utah would read your comments, and then apply the same logic to the Utah Legislature… easily one of the most Un-American, Un-ethical groups as a whole, as exists in any third world. There is hope that the herd mentality that is so pervasive here is dissipating and either we can recapture the Republican party (which will be difficult) or find that the Peter Carroon, Ralph Becker, Patrice Arent, and Barrack Obama type of real conservativeness and public stewardship is not only acceptable, but appropriate for our values and principles. Thanks for your comments.

  42. In all of the banter going on with this post I have yet to hear anyone post facts about any of the candidates. Each and every one of them has a history of political service. Each one of them has voted on laws that would effect the very issues at stake. Everyone keeps talking about what they say they’ll do. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE? Instead of focusing on their charisma, or the speaches that are prepared for them, why not look at the actions they have taken. If they say they don’t care about party lines, does their history demonstrate that? I don’t mean that they’ve convinced the other party to join with them, but have they left their party to achieve a greater good?

    As a US service member overseas, I don’t have ready access to either the time or resources to find the facts. I personally don’t like any of the candidates that we have to choose from in this election and am hoping that someone will stand up that I can stand behind (even though an independant will never win).

    I think most of the the posts in this stream have been emotional responses without much substance to really support their points. I am disgusted by all the references to Pres. Hinckley and ‘what he would do’. What gives any of you the right to declare his views? If you want to post your opinion, go ahead. That’s the wonder of the world wide web. We have a location for all the senseless and ignorant banter to go (my own included).

    To hit a few high points of the conversation: The articles of Faith make no reference to which set of laws we should follow. We are therefore required to follow the laws of the land that we currently live in. I have lived in the US, Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Saudi Arabia, and now Italy. In each of those countries, there were different laws that I had to follow. Luckily none of them required that I go against my religious beliefs. In other countries that isn’t the case. I had friends who served their missions in Russia when it first opened (that puts a date to me) and they were not allowed to preach the gospel but 1 hour per week. The rest of the time they spent teaching conversational English to the Russians. They were allowed in the country on very strict rules, and they FOLLOWED them. Don’t use the church as an excuse to say we don’t have to follow the laws because laws are different between countries. That’s a complete misrepresentation of the articles of faith, and the church in general.

    Immigration – I have lived in Southern Texas and Southern California while serving in the military. I have friends that are illegal immigrants, and I have sister in law who is engaged to a non-citizen in CA. If they are in the country illegaly, they are breaking the law. Enforce the law, or change the law. Disregarding the law is not acceptable. If they are here illegally, there must be a consequence (without it there is no law). Enforce it!

    Iraq – I served a tour in Iraq. What we are doing there is worthwhile. It is well beyond the scope of what the US Miltary is trained to do, and it would be better if the rest of the world contributed more, but the truth is that we still sit on a moral high ground in the world. We don’t sit very high, but it’s above the other governments of the world. In the states you are never told about what is going on in other countries, but I can tell you that it’s worse. The curruption that exists here in Italy blows my mind.

    Everyone keeps talking about how we should get out of Iraq. When the United States Military fights in a country, we don’t ever leave. We still have troops in Germany, Japan, France, (to get more recent) – Kosovo, Afghanistan, … Once we arrive, we don’t leave. The media just stops talking about it, and so the public assumes we’ve left – WE DON’T LEAVE, EVER.

    Sorry about the long post. I would love to read the responses to this. Please stop talking about the ‘Mormon’ vote though, it’s disrespectful to us all to think that we are mindless followers in any sense. Emotional statements sway the public and win elections, but I’d like to hope that we are all rational enough to look at facts and base our judgements on what people have done, instead of just what they profess that they will do. Don’t believe that who they are will change dramitically by putting them in the oval office. All the speeches and baby kissing are a show, look at what they have done (they are all Senators for Pete’s sake) and project it to the next level if you really want to know what to expect.

  43. First, I am a conservative Mormon/LDS, and I recommend other Mormon/LDS voters supporting Obama. I feel he is friendly towards Mormonism, while Clinton, McCain, and Huckabee are all antagonistic towards the church, and have axes to grind. Like Obama, I saw the war in Afghanistan as justified, but saw the war in Iraq being much like the Nephites vs. the Lamanaites when Mormon refused to lead them. Finally, the Utah Republican Party has a great deal of corruption, and having a balancing influence would greatly improve Utah.

    Now, I live in Southern Tucson, my sister is married to a formerly illegal immigrant from Guatamala, and my sister and both parents served in South America. At BYU I roomed with students from Mexico, Paraguay, Urugauy, and Brazil. There is a pronounced crime component to illegal immigration in Southern Arizona, and not just “F*** Gringos” tags. I have not read any evidence of huge crime problems along the US-Canada border, and have many reasons to expect the same problem does not exist. Latino Democrats in Southern Arizona oppose illegal immigration.

    Finally, it is academically dishonest to blame the US for Mexico’s problems, as Mexico has been a nation far longer, and had these same problems for centuries before the revolutionary war. Even the PRI and Mexican Billionaires who have perpetuated the system are not entirely at fault. It is a disservice to Obama to use such terrible logic on a blog supporting him.

    In conclusion, I think it is in the interests of Mormons to vote for Obama, and I encourage you to support him. He is the remaining candidate that is most friendly to the church, has the ability to bring about a great deal of healing, and I firmly believe that during his tenure the number of abortions will decrease.

  44. Chewie,

    First of all, no one is using the articles of faith to defend breaking the law. As you said, the articles of faith say to obey the law of the land. The irony here is that laws are different in each country. I mentioned this because WAWROGERS was using the articles of faith as a means to justify why illegal immigrants are “bad” once they cross the border illegally. As if our laws here in America should really matter to someone outside of the US.

    I also stated this: “According to our own doctrine, the constitution will hang by a thread in the last days. Why are you so quick to defend all the laws of the land? Why not study them and make a righteous judgment call…”

    It doesn’t make sense to staunchly defend the laws of the land if the laws are not moral. Many laws on the books here in the US are immoral and we need to be able to criticize our own country. Joseph Smith did as much and so did Brigham Young.

    Moving on…

    Matt in Tuscon,

    I’m glad you are supporting Obama. But yes, the US HAS been instrumental in creating the illegal immigration problem. Through NAFTA, free trade, and American business closing Mexican factories, we have in fact, encouraged illegal immigration. Obama also shares this belief. So, if you support Obama as you say, maybe you should look into his views more.

  45. Chewie,

    PS – Thank you for your service in Iraq. We all appreciate your sacrifices.

    I know many Iraq war veterans that are pretty against the war. Just because you served in Iraq and support the war, doesn’t prove anything.

    Soldiers are diverse, just like the rest of us.

    When did you serve? May I suggest that if you had served in 2006, you might feel differently? The war in 2003 was much different than it is now.

    Required viewing:

    A documentary called “No End In Sight.”

    Soldiers on the ground don’t see the policy mistakes made by politicians and business men here at home.

  46. Excellent and well said!
    As an immigrant myself I have learned to sympathize with Obama’s principles. I completely agree that becoming an American should not be a freebie. The way Obama intends for my fellow immigrants is as fair as it can be…to follow a process where everybody who has been in this Great nation trying to feed and educate their families and trying to better their own lives, start at the end of the line and undergoes a step by step process that includes paying a fine, instead of kicking hard working mothers and fathers across the board, and repeatedly leaving children behind to their own luck. In many cases digging homes in the middle of the night just the way it happens in countries people have escaped from.
    As an LDS I feel strongly confident with the “WE” principle.
    I do believe that in order for this nation to continue surviving as the Greatest Nation in the whole World, we all have to build the cake with our little crumbs…
    That we all as a multi-color family
    continue to enrich this culture.

    What comfort it gives me to read your comments. I feel supported in my common sense and gut feeling. Politics have not been my strong side but I do desire a better USA for me and for my children and everybody’s children.
    I strongly believe that Obama is the real change we are all waiting for.

  47. Nice try, but you can’t negate economics, Obama is too far off.

  48. I don’t know you Dennis, but I wish could. You honestly just put into words all of my thoughts over the past week. I was a Romney supporter and am now going to vote for Obama.

    I am an American, but currently live in Canada and the members of my ward here are definitely Obama supporters (and they aren’t even American).

    I do disagree with Obama on a few issues, but overall he is definitely the best person for the job from the pool of candidates we have to choose from.

    Thanks again for your comments Dennis!!

  49. Nice work, Dennis. I’ve actually been an Obama supporter all along, which was fun explaining to people with Romney still in the fold.:)

    And WAWROGERS, you might want to take a little bit deeper look into conservative economics. The bedrock of this ideology is first, limiting government spending and second, reducing taxes on the population. If both actions aren’t there, conservative economics fail, or at best produce only a partial result. For example, tax cuts do stimulate economic growth. This is true. But the data consistently bear out that tax cuts do not pay for themselves in government revenue unless they are also accompanied by a reduction in spending. One of Bush’s extreme failures as a self-identified conservative politician is the actual significant increase in government spending characteristic of his Presidency. When you cut taxes and increase spending, debt grows. Some might think this is a “no duh” principle of economics, but apparently few in politics today understand this.

    Now, what could the country possibly do to reduce spending right now? This alone does not justify withdrawal from the middle east, but is part of the equation.

  50. I find this interesting. I’ve been leaning to Obama and yet there’s a naivete in his rhetoric that is frightening. For example, the notion that we can get the troops out of Iraq in such a short period of time. When thousands (and potentially hundreds of thousands) of people perish as a result, all that blood is on his hands. I think the Iraq issue must be dealt with realistically, not with rhetoric ridden promises.

    Second, on the economy. I can’t believe he’s blaming the state of the economy on government (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080213/ap_on_el_pr/campaign_rdp). He seems to be a smart chap and should realize that a controlled economy is not the way to go (USSR, China) and is actually impossible to do. Has he ever taken an Econ class? Does he know any of this? Again, I’m frightened by the rhetoric: too many promises nobody can keep.

    Finally, his naivete on taxes. The best way to define his position: have our cake and eat it too. How will we introduce countless government programs into the current system while keeping taxes stable. Some estimates (by democratic strategists) suggest that should all of his programs go live, the federal deficit will reach historic highs! The war is costly, but this would be insanely costly, and will introduce additional bureaucratic structures where there is little to no motivation to run efficient businesses (see public schools). However, due to his charisma (and he is quite charming–even moving you to tears :) ) he glosses over the real costs of his “changes” and fails to lay out a plan for just how he’ll convince everyone to fork over the cash.

    So, I agree with a lot of these points: he’s a great guy, seems to be pretty moral, is a good person, etc, but his policies are a little too naive, and it would be naive to vote for someone based primarily on the quality of the person. I just wonder how he’d react to a 4 star general giving him an update in Iraq, laying out the consequences of just yanking everyone out. What does he do? He doesn’t have experience. Does idealistic policy supersede quotidian reality? Hopefully he would listen to them, take their advice, and make appropriate decisions, but who knows. So what happens if Iraq spirals into a Mid-East disaster zone? Then do we go back? Its a nasty issue. I think we do need to look at current consequences but also balance those against the consequences of an early pull out. He is trying to please the people, and it makes him great on stage, but what would happen when utopia meets reality?? That is my worry.

    I appreciate the dialogue, a lot of things to thing through. I think Barack is the front runner for my vote right now–but I’m way nervous about his stage power vs. practicality.

  51. I want to preface my comments, like the author, with an assurance that I am unaffiliated and have yet to decide who will receive my vote.

    I am, generally, a moderate and am having a hard time understanding the anti-McCain movement. I hear claims that McCain is a liberal (the dreaded “RINO” label is attaching itself to him) and then listen to justifications why Barack Obama is the next best candidate after Mitt Romney.

    Obama’s rhetoric is incredibly motivating. He is full of hope and charisma. It is hard not to trust him and believe him when he says, “Yes, We can.” What many conservatives (of which I am decidedly not numbered) seem to be missing in a fit of scotoma, is that Obama’s positions are ones that generally bring shuddering and cries of woe from the Mormon politick. Obama is, as stated above, pro-choice, in favor of increasing homosexual rights, immediately withdrawing troops from Iraq, sitting down with Iran’s Ahmadinejad, granting a form of amnesty to illegal aliens, discontinuing President Bush’s tax cuts, etc. If these are positions that you happen to favor, than Obama certainly warrants your consideration. But, Obama’s positions differ very little from Hillary Clinton’s (Obama being a little further to the left), and Hillary Clinton actually has the clout and experience to see some of these issues through Congress.
    But, otherwise, I cannot help but believe that Obama is receiving such accolades among Mormons because feelings are hurt because of McCain’s defeat of Romney. Why is the most liberal candidate in the field the one being considered? If Romney was backed because of his conservatism then why the swing to the far left? Are people misled by Obama’s charisma and rhetoric and think that he isn’t a liberal? Do they think that Obama won’t appoint (up to three) activist Supreme Court justices?

    While I am certainly impressed and grateful for the optimistic and positive tone that Obama has helped to bring to this year’s campaign, I am immensely skeptical of his credentials to be the head executive of our country. Senator Obama has served about half of one term and spent more than half of that time campaigning for President. How can he possibly expect to affect the changes he is campaigning for without the support of Congress and other party leaders? You’ll notice Hillary still has a substantial lead among the superdelegates (party elites), denoting the skepticism with which the party leadership is also fraught.

    A second concern that I have with Barack Obama’s campaign is the complete lack of specifics in his platform. Universal health care sound nice? To a lot of people it sure does! Where is the money going to come from Barack? How are you going to frame this policy? Where are you going to get the support? This complete disregard for the mechanics and reality of politics is what caused former President Clinton to call Obama’s campaign a “fairy tale.” And, he’s right. Obama promises everything you could possibly want…with absolutely no description of how he intends to accomplish his promises. Unless Obama is really Kingsley Shacklebolt from Harry Potter, I am disinclined to believe his alchemical campaign.

    In summary, I have yet to hear any justifications for an Obama vote that is more than he smiles nice, makes me feel good when he talks, and, boy, would this teach John McCain a lesson!

    I still may decide to vote for Barack Obama but I happen to agree with many of his platforms (I don’t think that most conservatives, especially those in Utah and Idaho, happen to agree). I believe that the mounting support for Obama has more to do with former Mitt supporters feeling like a spurned lover than because the supporters really believe that Sen. Obama is the best candidate to represent their values.

  52. doug, thanks for sending this to me. dennis, thanks for writing it. you stated very clearly the message that i’ve been trying to convey (concerning obama) to many of my friends and family. I agree you need to get this out there to as many readers as you can!

  53. Very well written. I like what you have to say.

  54. Dennis,you’ve obviously put a lot of time and thought into this post. Your passion is to be applauded. Obama is not my first choice, but I’ve said time and again, we don’t have serious choices anymore.
    Your blog will be amongst my favs. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to get another point of view.

  55. srananburu,

    In what way can you consider Obama to be further left than Clinton? Clinton is the one pushing for universal healthcare.

    Also, what do you mean by “activist Supreme Court justices”? Statistically, the conservative judges on the Court are more activist than the liberals. That’s statistical fact; not opinion. Let’s not use vague negative labels to support our opinions.

  56. How refreshing to hear someone else recognize the desperate need this nation has for change. I agree with a couple of the replies I read; it’s a good idea to circulate this!! If this happens, please let me know so I can get a copy of the newspaper of what have you.
    juliamarriott@msn.com

  57. I think you make a good case, though I am still undecided as to what I will do in November. I do think that the most natural alliance for most Mormons would be Ron Paul, who has sadly been rejected without so much as a glance.

    When we consider the principles of fiscal responsibility and living by the inspired rulebook that this nation set up at the outset, Ron Paul is the ticket.

    When we look at who actually lives by the principles he espouses, Ron Paul is the ticket.

    When we look at fidelity to spouse and family as indicators of integrity, Obama is admirable on this score. And so is Ron Paul.

    As far as the war in concerned, it piqued my interest that Ron Paul has more active-duty military members donate to his campaign than all of the other candidates combined. That is a statistic that should make any thoughtful person ask, “Why…? What do they know about the dynamics of Iraq and Afghanistan that I don’t?”

    Obama has it in his favor that he never believed the war was justified. His rationale isn’t nearly as sophisticated, but he does see that much.

    Another thing that piques my interest in the Paul direction is the fact that the the head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit claims that Ron Paul is the only candidate who gets it — who understands the reasons behind what is going on over there. (If you’d like to start to get it too, try starting with Ahmed Rashid’s 2000 book “Taliban.”)

    When we consider the prospect of taxes and spending, it would be useful to first hear what the Comptroller General of the United States has to say about our finances:

    I know none of us would let our own households operate in this outrageous way. We surely couldn’t get a temple recommend if we did so. I’m not sure why we think it is OK for the government.

    That said, Obama is considerably less guilty of pork-barrel earmarks for his district than is Hillary. I like the fact that he is not a polarizer. I’m so fatigued by the harsh tone of politics, with Reds hating Blues and vice versa. I do note that certain religious groups are pushing the propaganda that Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist, much like was done to Romney with the line that he practically had 666 on his forehead, but oh well. They have a limited audience.

    I do not think I could endure the harshness of a McCain presidency. He is so at war with all the world, as evidenced by the rage that erupts when people disgree with him. I would hope our president could be more refined and dignified — and better educated.

    Obama is pretty good in this regard. Ron Paul is exemplary.

    Well, obviously Ron Paul did not get sufficient traction, whether it was the doing of the media or not. The country is choosing to continue its spiral of irresponsibility. So now what…?

    Though I do worry about Democrats and their propensity to spend other people’s money in order to feel virtuous, Republicans have been equally guilty. Republicans have become quite gifted at stating the conservative case and doing the opposite. Maybe its because a great number seem to think that faith AND works is some kind of heresy….

    So far, Obama does seem to be the most decent alternative.

  58. I have only two things to add to this and I apologize if these have been addressed as it was a lot of comments to read. First off, I have been, since I can remember, under the impression that republicanism is the only way for a Mormon to go. As I have learned more about politics, I have justified this view based on the ideas of some social issues as in abortion and gay marriage. However, I came to a realization that no matter how much I am against these, which I am, it is not my place to force this upon others. They do not benefit spiritually at all from no longer having the choice, because if the choice were there, they would still do it. As sac religious as this may sound, I have come to realize that the whole reason we came to this earth is pro-choice in a larger sense. The plan of Satan was pro-salvation. I’ll end there.

    Secondly, AI would add this small fact that I heard from one of my professors, either religion or sociology, though I have no proof or citations to support it. If this is an issue for you please kindly disregard it. I was told that illegal immigrants are allowed to receive temple recommends. How do they do this if they do not follow the laws of the land?
    They don’t ask illegal immigrants that question in the interview anymore…

    I guess that is all I really have to say…. if you’d like to comment on this, please do as I’ll be checking up on this periodically. Thank you for writing this article.

  59. Matthias,

    Regarding your question about illegal immigrants holding temple recommends, I’m afraid I don’t have a very informed answer. To be honest, I didn’t even realize that leaders normally ask, in recommend interviews, whether one lives the laws of the land (even though, if they do, I must have been asked it many times).

    This topic could make a very good future post on this blog. One thing I would suggest is that we need to reconceptualize what it means to live the laws of the land. One thing to keep in mind is that it is NOT fundamental to Latter-day Saint doctrine to keep the laws of the land. This is something that nobody really wants to talk about, and I admit that I say it here even with some trepidation because it creates an unjustified suspicion that Latter-day Saints are going to be terrorist extremists or something. However, the Lord’s people have a history of violating the laws of the land, even directly by his command. Even the prohibition of polygamy was not really about keeping the laws of the land (it was in fact kept in opposition to federal laws for a time, in the midst of Joseph Smith’s teachings to obey the laws of the land. Right now we are in an almost completely cooperative spirit with U.S. laws (as are other Saints in their respective countries); however, this could certainly change. Imagine, for example, if there was a law that mandated LDS temples to do same-sex sealings. Do we honestly think the Church would comply with this mandate? Of course not (without a really startling revelation, I suppose).

    Another thing to keep in mind is that it is really difficult to talk about violating the laws of the land, when it comes to “illegal” immigrants. Are they violating the laws of the country for which they are a citizen? (I’m actually not sure about this…is it against, say, Mexican law, to cross the border?) In times of war, Latter-day Saint soldiers have broken the laws of OTHER nations (that they were in) left and right without any Church action. And we would certainly applaud, rather than accuse, Church members who might have hid Jews from the Nazi party (contrary to German law).

    You could say that undocumented immigration is against U.S. law, but these immmigrants are not American. Thus, illegal immigrants are never arrested or prosecuted simply because of their illegal status (as far as I know); the most that would be done is for them to be deported, which is not really the same as being penalized via U.S. law. Actual criminal prosecution occurs only if immigrants violate U.S. law after they are already in the country (as far as I know), which of course could lead to prosecution in their OWN country, depending on their country’s laws.

    However, I suspect that at the end of the day, this issue doesn’t have to do with getting nitpicky about what is lawful and what is not. It could have to do with a genuine acknowledgment of the gray area concerned with violating certain laws, especially in the wake of what might be termed greater “laws” regarding human dignity and family providance.

    There are certain laws that are so commonly violated that they are not really laws in a meaningful sense (many cities, counties, and states, for example, still technically have very bizarre laws that almost everyone violates on a regular basis and which are never enforced). If a law is not enforced, you can hardly call it a law of the land in a meaningful sense. Take speeding, for example; how many Latter-day Saints regularly speed (tecnically, not recklessly) on the interstate? Should they be disqualified for a temple recommmend? What if they do it every day? once a week? once in the past year? How is this situation judged? (This question is real interesting in Utah, considering that almost everyone without exception surpasses the 65 MPH speed limits on the I-15 in Salt Lake and Utah counties.) We could also consider the large number of Latter-day Saints who are guilty of very minor copyright infringement. Or littering. Or minor trespassing.

    I like the speed limit example the best. Anyone who drives on the interstate knows that there really are two laws. There is the posted law and there is the human law. Under the posted law, nearly all are guilty. However, under the human law, it could actually be more dangerous for someone to diligently maintain a 65 MPH speed limit. This human law says that you need to stay with the flow of traffic. Or you — or someone else — won’t survive.

    Might we liken illegal immigration with needing to stay in line with the flow of human traffic, so to speak? Yes, technically it is illegal. But some people really have to do it, so the argument goes, or they or their family won’t survive.

    I really don’t know what I think about all this; please know that I am throwing this stuff out as interesting musings more than anything.

    But I think we can be confident with one conclusion: Some laws are more important than others, and certain laws we can hardly punish anyone in the Church for technically violating (technically speeding regularly, occasional littering, certain acts of war, and, yes, even undocumented immigration into the U.S. from third-world countries). I think that Church leaders are simply in touch with these greater human laws.

  60. I recently came to a realization about liberalism and the government. Having lived in former Communist countries for almost four years, I have seen the effects of having people dependent upon the government. The faulty agrument that liberals make about conservativism is that conservativism is inherently anti-poor which it is blatantly untrue. Conservativism is based more upon self-reliance. There are people who need help. Individuals and churches helping others is the way to go. The government has not been effective in the welfare program because it is not based on the principle of self-reliance. Making people dependent on the government is hazardous not only to society but to the individual as well. Government controlled health care would not work. It will fail if instituted and politicans of the future will win based on promises of reforming the system instead of scrapping it altogether.
    I am scared as I see less and less responsibility on the individual and more and more on the government. Like I said, there are people who need help but that help should come from individuals, charities and churches (where they make sure that are helping the needy maintain their self-reliance). Barack seems like a nice guy. I can see how people can be fooled into thinking that he is the answer but government takeover is not answer.

  61. Matthew,

    Based on your assessment of conservatives being about self-reliance, we should definitely be pulling out of Iraq right away. The Iraqi people have relied on American support without doing their part. By your reasoning, we should leave their support up to individuals, charities, and churches. Especially considering they are not even our own citizens, and we have spent half a trillion dollars on them so far.

    Oh, but Iraq’s a different story right? It’s for our own security that we stay in Iraq. I disagree with this argument, but nonetheless may I suggest that it is for our own security and moral welfare as a nation to take better measures to help the poor and middle class out. We’re not talking about a welfare state; far from it. Guess what? There are millions of hard working families without health care. The reason they don’t have health care, then, is not because of their not having made an individual effort. Rather, it is due to a corruptive health care system that is all about putting money in a few people’s pockets while grinding upon the face of the poor. Only the government can do something to truly remedy this situation. You might disagree with this plan, but please realize that we’re not talking about lazy bums here; we’re talking about hard-working Americans. By helping to modify a corrupt system like healthcare, we are not talking about government takeover, but rather implementing means where families have more power to take over their own lives, so to speak.

  62. Fantastic entry.

  63. Sorry Dennis, but I’m not convinced. Anyone who supported Romney because of his actual qualifications/policies/ideals (and not just because he was Mormon) can not in good faith switch to Barak Obama. In terms of healthcare, the economy, the role of the federal government in the lives of American citizens, welfare, they are almost complete polar opposites. Maybe they were both charismatic and good speakers, but they stand for different things. The church does encourage a sense of community and charity, but it also promotes developing a good work ethic and self reliance. Barak Obama’s policies will cultivate government dependence in American citizens. I support providing opportunities (which I think Mitt Romney would have done) but I do not support providing handouts.

    On a different note I also don’t agree with Barak Obama’s campaign message. I think that he creates a hyperbolic feeling of fear for the state of our country and then sets himself up as a “savior” to redeem the USA from its fallen state. It’s a message of despair guised as a message of hope. I’m still waiting for the modern-day Abraham Lincoln to show up, and Barak just isn’t it.

  64. Beth,

    You may be right about the Romney-Obama switch, and I completely agree that a strong-conservative would probably not vote for Barack Obama (notice that there is a C in Barack). But many moderates would and even some slight conservatives might. Most voters are in the middle anyway, and don’t resonate too well with any candidate.

    Tell me, Beth, how is it that Obama is not in support of a good work ethic and self-reliance? How is he interested in “providing handouts”? (If you want to talk about handouts, let’s talk about all the handouts we are giving to dependent Iraqis.)

    I disagree with you about Obama’s campaign message. At any rate, his message will resonate with those who are dissatisfied and want change. I don’t see how he sets himself up as a “savior,” but he is — in reality — the symbolic head of a grassroots political movement. There is a huge difference from a savior-figure and a leader of a movement.

    Also, how would have Romney’s campaign provided opportunities for the poor? Neither his campaign nor McCain’s has addressed what to do — right now — for the millions of hard-working Americans who do not have adequate health insurance.

  65. […] watch history being made yesterday, in the midst of many other Obama supporters. In this article, Why Mormons Should Consider Backing Obama, the author makes an articulate argument to the LDS community. I’m wary of his analogy […]

  66. Incoming SPAM alert:

    Mormons and Everyone Else in Utah for Obama: (Unite for Change gathering)

    Come to our Obamacue! In a predominantly Republican state, many Utahns may continue to vote according to the same old party line. Some Republicans and Independents, however, are beginning to feel that something different is needed in Washington, and wish to join with Democrats in supporting Barack Obama’s presidential campaign for change. We believe members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have compelling reasons to support Obama. Likewise, non-Mormon Utahns who support Obama can unite to make a difference in a state largely influenced by Republicans. Getting together for a summer potluck barbecue is a perfect opportunity to discuss the upcoming election and unite for change. Please include what food you can bring, salads, drinks, buns, etc. when you respond to the invitation or sign up. One more point ought to be made: In calling this gathering “Mormons and Everyone Else in Utah,” some may feel marginalized, discounted, or otherwise overlooked. As a member of the LDS Church who supports Obama I can feel your pain. My reason for including “Mormon” in the event title is to specifically reach out to other Mormons like myself who support a Democratic candidate, running against the current of most Utah Mormons. A little extra nudge is needed, and I hope none feel uninvited based on the event title.

    Sign up here:
    http://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/4lyg

  67. Let’s be careful here. You have some good points here but I think there are some concerns that need to be considered that may be overlooked.

    I’ll start off by saying I am not a huge fan of Bush or McCain. The republican party has screwed up in many ways. This is why many are looking to switch over and vote for Obama. However, don’t forget to look at the other side of the boat before jumping ship:

    1. The war in Iraq. So was it a mistake to go into Iraq?… probably. Most of us were for the war when the invasion occured, partly because we were mislead. However, I am sure we can all argee the world is a better place without Saddam given the fact that he murdered over 300,000 of his own people. Don’t forget about the mass graves full of dead people that were put there at the hand of Saddam. That being said, I agree that we probably shouldn’t have invaded in the first place.

    Here is the problem. Like it or not (I fall on the side of not liking it) we are in Iraq. Iraq has a weak govt. and a weak military because of us. What would happen if we just got up and left? Would Iraq be invaded by another country? It certainly could be. Would Iraq be ran by insurgents? maybe. Is Iraq’s current govt. strong enough to survive on its own? I think we can all agree it is not.
    If we just bail out, we are leaving them in a worse position than we found them in. With the US out of Iraq who isn’t going to want to take over and be the governer of a country full of oil? It would be a horrible thing to do to invade a country, destroy their govt (as bad as their govt might have been) only to drop them on their heads and leave them in complete shambles.
    Yes, being in Iraq is not fun. Our poor soldiers are dying. We probably shouldn’t have gone in their in the first place. But now that we are their I think we owe them enough to at least leave them with a stable govt that can survive before we leave.

    2. Supreme court justice. Any time a president is elected there is a possibilty he will appoint a supreme court justice. This plays a major role in our country. For Example, just last week a DC statute banning hand guns was held to be unconstitutional in a 5-4 decision. Had Kerry been elected in 2004 and appointed a liberal Supreme ct justice to the bench that decision could have been 5-4 in favor of a law saying the second amendment (part of the constitution, the supreme law of the land) does not allow the general public to bear arms (or at least handguns).

    Even if you don’t own or like guns. I body of citizens that cannot protect themselves against the government, criminals or foreign invaders seems like a scary place to live. If any of you have lived in a country where it is illegal to own guns, you know, the bad guys still own guns.

    My point is, it is no secret that Obama is far to the left. If he is president, chances are he will get to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. This could have a huge impact on our country (maybe that’s what your looking for,,, that’s up to you).

    3. Taxes. The republicans have screwed this one up. Lowering taxes is supposed to be done while lowering expenses at the same time. We all know the govt spends money like a bunch of drunken saliors. Can you name any govt entity that actually turns a profit? Or even one that is run efficiently? If General Electric ran their company like the govt does, they would have been BK (bankrupt) years ago.

    Obama is a huge fan of more govt programs and more govt in general. So why are we going to give the govt more programs and more of our money to spend (or waste as I call it). We should be keeping as much money out of the hand of the govt as possible if they are going to refuse to spend it responsibly (which is not ever going to happen with the clowns we have in congress).

    And why tax cuts to the rich? Where do jobs come from? Rich people that own businesses and hire people like you and me to work for them. When the economy is in a recession and the rich peoples companies do poorly, what do they do? Lay people off. Taxes have the same effect. Tax rich man, the rich man hires less people. Tax the poor man and it really hurts. I think Obama is a great speaker and has great energy. But we all know he is pretty far to the left, you can guarantee everyone loses here on taxes because everyone’s taxes will be going up.

    4. Health Insurance for everyone!!! Free stuff, sounds like a good idea. In fact I have been without health insurance and it is not fun. I don’t know what the solution is here, the current system is a mess (although at least you don’t have to get on a waiting list if you need a major operation as in many countries with socialized medicine). But I am confident that putting it in the complete hands of the government is not going to work. First, as I stated before do we know anything the govt runs efficiently? Second, we still have to pay for this healthcare. Where is the money going to come from? Taxes, Taxes Taxes. Sure you’ll have free health care… but can you still afford to pay rent?

    Well there is a few things to think about. I’m not going to touch the moral issues with a 10 ft pole here. I am not sure McCain is the answer. In fact I am not too happy with the republican party, but at the same time, I don’t think I am ready to give the govt. anything else to screw up. At least now I am free to decide if I want to skip healthcare to pay the rent!

    I’m not picking sides (although its probably obvious I am not a fan of big govt until they show me they can quit wasting my tax dollars), but before you jump ship (on either side) make sure you look at both sides of the coin and remeber that everything comes at a cost.

  68. Corey,

    Yes, we certainly need to look at both sides and weigh the pluses and minuses of each candidate.

    I encourage you to take part in our weekly forum, Obama vs. McCain 2008, in which we aim to do this very thing. Many of the issues that you’ve brought up we have already discussed (and I will say that some I think there are a lot of good counter-arguments to some of the arguments you are making here).

  69. This really disturbs me. I see people here insinuating that Jesus would vote for Obama? That LDS faithful should vote for Obama. You must realize you are voting for more than a good image in the eyes of the world. You probably are not aware that the Church is actually starting a campaign to protest the gay marriages in California, with people called in each stake to organize protest groups, and members are encouraged to vote against it. (This is from Salt Lake). Even more disturbing, how any Christian could in good conscience tolerate and vote for partial birth abortion is completely beyond me. For those of you who are going to ignorantly vote for this man because he is in sheep’s clothing, please read this article.

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51121

    Furthermore, read section 98 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses 5, 6, and 7. Please do not let your emotions make this decision for you. The things he believes in are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. How do you justify partial birth abortion?

  70. Mikel,

    I’m not sure who you’re seeing insinuating that Jesus would vote for Obama, but the link you provide says that Jesus would not vote for him, and that disturbs me. The “Jesus card” is pretty silly either way, and is simply used as a bludgeon to scare people. I have simply said that Mormons should consider voting for Obama.

    The broad-stroke claims you make are absolutely things that people on this blog are aware of. In fact, we’ve been discussing the implications of these things for several weeks now. I welcome you to join us, and ask for you to consider the possibility that a faithful Latter-day Saint might vote for Obama (especially considering the Church’s political neutrality). I certainly believe that many, many faithful Latter-day Saints will not be voting for him.

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