Note: I’m sure I will lose some readers over this. I kinda understand. I’ve been at this for over a decade, and would hope that you know me by now.
Here we are: Election time. What a mess.
I have been a political junkie my entire life. At one point, I even thought seeking political office might be in my future – which lead me to degree in Political Science in college. Thank heavens I didn’t choose that path! It has become such a toxic wasteland that I’m glad I did not subject myself or my family to that corrupt world.
Now we find ourselves at the brink of what many, myself included, feel is the most important presidential election of our lifetime. Never has the contrast between sides been more obvious, contentious and dishonest. It is a sad, stressful time, and it is doing great damage to our Nation, communities and even families.
At the top of the two major party tickets we find two very flawed men. Many have dubbed it “choosing the lesser of two evils,” and there is some truth to that. One candidate spent his life becoming wealthy by exploiting business practices and tax laws. The other spent his life enriching himself by leveraging his elected office.
One has a terminal case of narcissism, the other a case of cognitive decline. One has vulgarity issues, the other has anger management issues. Both of them lie. A LOT. One spent his private life as a philandering playboy, the other spent his professional life at the public trough, advocating for wars and pushing racist legislation.
Both have troubles with the truth. Both have their extremists supporting them. Neither is what I would call a “noble” man. The “Virtue” that our Founding Fathers called for is simply not on the menu this go-around.
Because of this, we all seem to spend our time demonizing our “opponent” by cherry-picking facts and quotes to bolster our “side.” In the new world of memes, tweets and sound-bites, passions are enflamed, truth and logic are suppressed. Too much anger, too much passion, too much hate.
What to do?
In my opinion, this election is about much more than two flawed men. Personally, I find that the only way I can even look at it is to step back and take in a much larger picture than what the personalities and character of the candidates represent.
Why? I believe that the influence and/or consequences of a President’s tenure far outlive the term of office. For example:
• We are still litigating Obamacare that was put into play by President Obama ten years ago.
• We still have troops in Afghanistan that were sent there by President Bush twenty years ago.
• The impact of President Trump’s SCOTUS picks will still be felt when my grandkids are voting thirty years from now.
I feel that fixating on a single four-year term without looking at the “long-game” is myopic and can lead to short-term solutions that lead to long-term problems. Sure, it would be great to be able to pick a “nice man” to be President, but to me, that is hopelessly naïve and short-sighted.
This requires a broader view than just the men at the top of the ticket. It requires me to step back and look at the Vice-Presidential nominees as well, and what they believe in – since there is a very good chance than either might be called to step up. Equally important are the party platforms, the groups they endorse, and the policies they advocate. Basically, who, and what the candidates surround themselves with. It is about much more than two men – especially when they are in their 70s.
Fixating on who has the worst personality and character when there is so much at stake is, to me, the ultimate example of “Straining at gnats, while swallowing camels.” I saw a quote that summed this up perfectly, “I’m ready for a no-drama president again, and I really don’t care which party he comes from.” Seriously? No-drama, but at what cost?
So where to go for answers? Some look at the world through an international prism, some through an economic prism, others through a social justice prism. Me? I tend to look at politics through a religious prism, because that is where my deepest values are held.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have an advantage when it comes to analyzing politics. I subscribe to what the Lord taught when he said, “all things unto me are spiritual.” I believe this includes politics as well.
Personally, my political decisions are heavily influenced by holding them up to the light of the gospel to see how they line up.
While some like to cherry-pick old out-of-context Ezra Taft Benson quotes to justify a position, I would rather rely on established Doctrine.
(I define doctrine like the Church does: “This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.”)
When I look at a political or social issue, and hold it up to the doctrines that the Lord has revealed, it helps me to see it from a less passionate, long view – even an eternal view.
I do believe what is taught in the Book of Mormon, that this, “is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them.” (Ether 2:9) I think we are already seeing the fruits of a nation that is gradually abandoning God.
I also believe that “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130:21) This goes for anyone – inside the Church, or out. A society which draws closer to God will be blessed whereas a society that sets God’s laws aside will be punished. (The entire Book of Mormon in a nutshell)
While I agree with the Founders that we should not have an established State-run church, (Like the Church of England) I believe that religion plays a key role in society and has a place in the public square. (Religious virtue is really the only true cure for the political and societal woes we are experiencing.)
Another important thing I believe in is the Gift of Agency. I can believe what I want to believe, you can believe what you want to believe. You have every right to make the choices you do, as do I. The following is how I view the political/doctrinal challenges before me. You might disagree, and that is fine. You do you.
Note: Please do not misconstrue MY opinions as anything other than MY opinions. Everyone is entitled to their own, and use different methods of how they arrive at them. If your takeaway from this article is that you cannot be a worthy member of the church if you disagree with me, then you are mistaken. That kind of judgment is well above my pay grade. (And yours.)
That said, here are eight examples of how doctrine, (not memes, passion or biased media,) impacts my political decisions:
Note: These are not general things like “Jesus said love everyone, and Trump is mean.” Again, this is not about the men, it is about policies and doctrine.
Here we go:
1) I cannot support a ticket or platform that supports the #BLM organization and their stated goal to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement…”
…unless I distance myself from the doctrine taught in the Family Proclamation: “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
2) I cannot support a presidential candidate who just this week said he supports allowing eight or ten year-old children to undergo gender transition…
…unless I distance myself from the doctrine in the Proclamation that says, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”
3) I cannot support a candidate whose party supports Sanctuary Cities and turns a blind eye to immigration laws…
…unless I distance myself from the 12th Article of Faith that states, “We believe…in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.”
4) I can’t align with a party or candidate who supports elective or late-term or partial-birth abortion…
…unless I distance myself from the simple doctrine, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it.” (D&C 59.6) and literally decades of prophetic warnings about the evils of unfettered abortion. President Oaks recently summed it up this way, “mortal life is sacred to us. Our commitment to God’s plan requires us to oppose abortion and euthanasia.” Pretty clear.
…or unless I distance myself by going beyond the Church’s quite liberal abortion stance, “when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”
5) I can’t vote for candidates or a party who feel that the founding of our Nation is illegitimate and immoral, and condones the defaming of those who did that heavy lifting …
…unless I distance myself from the Lord’s involvement: “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (D&C 101:80)
6) I can’t support parties, groups or candidates who foster dissent and advocate for the “Defund the Police” movement and unfettered “peaceful” protests that damage billions in personal and public property and kill and injure so many people…
…unless I distance myself from the doctrines found in D&C 134:5 “We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly.”
7) I can’t support an administration or party who would support the decriminalization of marijuana…
…unless I distance myself from the Word of Wisdom – especially in the context of the Church’s recent push against legalization.
8) I can’t support those who encourage a giveaway culture. (Reparations, income redistribution, guaranteed income, etc)…
…unless I distance myself from the 2nd Article of Faith, “that men will be punished for their own sins,” (reparations.)
…or unless I distance myself from one of the lord’s earliest directives, all the way back to Adam,”to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him.”as well as the basic concept of individual accountability and responsibility. Summed up by President Oaks here: “The growth required by the gospel plan only occurs in a culture of individual effort and responsibility. It cannot occur in a culture of dependency. Whatever causes us to be dependent on someone else for decisions or resources we could provide for ourselves weakens us spiritually and retards our growth toward what the gospel plan intends us to be.” (guaranteed income – not to be confused with earned entitlements or welfare)
That is eight. There are a lot more, but you get the idea. To me, it is pretty clear who I need to vote for to maintain what I consider personal “doctrinal integrity.”
Is being a “Political Doctrine-ist” a thing?
Others obviously have different value systems, and they are entitled to them. For me, doctrine outweighs individual personality or character. I believe that the Lord’s wishes for His voice to supercede the politics du jour.
There are tons of other issues and policies that I feel strongly about, but they don’t belong in this missive. I acknowledge that most of the preceding examples are social in nature, but there is a case to be made for looking at other areas with the same filters.
For me, voting for the Biden/Harris ticket would require me to distance myself from many doctrines I hold dear. Too many. Part of my responsibility here on earth is to draw near unto Christ, but I can’t figure out how to do that if I am distancing myself from His doctrines. Personally, I am not willing to swallow doctrinal camels in order to strain at political gnats.
Note: This is written with a simple hope that you will understand what is in my heart. These are some of my deeply-held religious beliefs, please treat them with respect. I am not afraid of discussion or disagreement, and believe that our ideas and ideals can stand on their own. Feel free to engage – or not, but keep the vitriol to yourselves.