Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I've been a little blog-weary these days; I'll spend time coming up with stuff to post on, only to find that either my position isn't consistent enough or that the issue is too complicated to write a paltry 100 words on it. False starts aside, I've had somewhat of an crisis lately. For some reason, I've taken this election pretty seriously even though I know my vote doesn't count for much here in New York. I've done my homework too, researching issues and candidates apart from their rhetoric and making a serious attempt to choose the right candidate.

On October 19th the Church (the LDS Church) issued a statement on same-gender marriage just in time for the election and the referendum in Utah. This statement comes out only a few months after the Church re-issued a statement from the 2000 election reminding church members of its political neutrality and that we should "study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully and then vote for those they believe will most nearly carry out their ideas of good government. Latter-day Saints are under special obligation to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are "wise," "good," and "honest" (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:10)."

I feel frustrated and confused. I feel like my vote has been, in a way, hijacked. I want to make clear that I support the leadership of the Church, they are inspired men and women. But how do you reconcile political neutrality with the statement on same-gender marriage?? Can I remain honest with my beliefs and still vote for a candidate that supports same-sex unions/marriage? When the Church says it "favors" a particular stance, what does that mean?


At 10/26/2004 04:27:00 PM,

I have often thought about the same thing. As far as I know, the church has always remained constent in its view regarding same-sex unions/marriage. Why would they issue a statement declaring neutrality between political parties, but at the same time feeling the need to bring up this particular issue.

I think that if they were to leave that part out, but still emphasize the need for each person to research where the particular canidate/party stands, it would just as effective.

Have they put out a subliminal message? If we vote based on this one concept, is that signaling that either the church agrees with that party in all other issues, or that this one issue takes priority over anything else, and any other underlying stance doesn't really matter?

I would like to know, at what point do you compromise? When do you cross the line and vote for the canidate that you mostly agree with?

With that said, I will be running for office in the next election. Please let me know if you are interested in joining the campaign for the
"red party" (not a communist, just red hair) As I will be doing my best to please everyone-thank you. 

Posted by isaac

At 10/27/2004 10:16:00 AM,

"If we vote based on this one concept, is that signaling that either the church agrees with that party in all other issues, or that this one issue takes priority over anything else, and any other underlying stance doesn't really matter?"

If the Church leadership wanted this issue to predominanate over all others, they would have said so.

We obviously can't vote based solely on a candidate's position on gay marriage or abortion or other family-related issues. If a candidate who sides with the church on these issues is incompetent, corrupt, or misguided in some other way, we would be violating other doctrines (e.g. D&C 98 as cited above) by voting for him/her.

So I'll go out on a limb here and be specific: There are a number of things Bush is doing that go against doctrine. For one thing, his reckless spending habits, which are getting us into a lot of unnecessary debt, clearly stand against the teachings of the latter-day prophets. And he has shown no sign that he plans to curtail said spending; he's totally unrepentant about it.

For another thing, I'm very much bothered by his Stalin-like disregard of the Geneva convention and his related attempts to detain people for life without any sort of trial or due process.

Third even as he lavishes tax cuts upon the well-to-do, he ignores the less fortunate. Granted, nongovernmental welfare agencies generally serve the most basic needs of the poor better than the government can, but not in every case. Bush has stubbornly refused to pass any sort of law to get the spiralling costs of healthcare under control - and when you look at how strongly the HMO and phramaceutical industries support Bush, and how intimite their relationship, and you put two and two together, the President seems to lose some of his luster. In short, something like a million people have lost their health insurance in the past year, and Bush mumbles something about allowing people to tax-defer some of their health spending. That's like trying to stop a forest fire with a thimble of water.

More importantly, we have to realize that the President just doesn't have that much control over abortion and gay marriage. We've had a number of conservative presidencies since Roe v. Wade and it still stands. And gay marriage was legalized (briefly, in a few states) for the first time, under the watch of the most conservative President in 70 years. What the President DOES have control over is some of the other issues I mentioned above, such as spending, human rights, health care costs, or foreign relations.

Also, no matter what the stance of the President at any given time, the latter-day prophets also tell us that we are personally responsible for standing up for what we believe in. Voting is a good start, but it's just that - a start. Some of the most sweeping changes in our country - like women's rights and civil rights - came about not through the initiation of forward thinking legislators, but through overwhelming grassroots movements that pressured recalcitrant legislators into action.

Yes, we're always going to have to vote for the lesser of two evils. But we need to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's - e.g., vote for someone who can produce positive results for the country. 

Posted by Chris Potter

At 10/29/2004 09:59:00 AM,

Chris P. -

Okay, I agree with most of what you said, but "he lavishes tax cuts on the well-to-do and ignores those less fortunate?" Oh, come on. Do you really believe that political propaganda? Everyone benefitted from Bush's tax cuts. Even I got a check back in the mail after the cuts and I'd only made like $5,000 that year.

My father is a professor of accounting and tax at Columbia University. He knows a LOT more about taxes than you or I and though he definitely doesn't see eye-to-eye with Bush on a LOT of issues, he thinks his tax policy is right-on.

So do your research before buying everything you hear in a debate.

Posted by Janelle

At 10/29/2004 11:43:00 AM,

Ah, politics... The only domain of human interaction (other than soccer) that I was unable to discuss with investigators on the mission. And why? People tend to get pretty worked up about it. Not that getting worked up is a bad thing-- I think we spend far too much of our lives in lukewarm indifference-- but it all depends on the spirit in which we do what we do. So, while I'll be direct in this post, I'll also try to do it in a way that is respectful and not engendering of a spirit of hostility.

While I agree very much with the issues that Chris Potter outlined, I still have some unresolved concerns. I would love to be convinced by someone, and have been discussing this line with all of my good LDS friends in the hopes that someone can show me where I'm wrong, so, here goes:

There are any number of things that I strongly dislike about President Bush-- for me one of the biggest are his environmental politics. I think it's unconscionable for a president to allow his personal business associations to block our country (and transitively, the world) from shifting to the desperately needed and entirely technologically possible hydrogen economy. I think that doctrinally, our stewardship of taking good care of the earth trumps almost any other political issue I can think of. One of the very first commandments God gave to Adam instructed him to "dress this garden," and to "take good care of it." I think most Saints (especially in Utah) are horifically negligent in their observance of this commandment, both personally and politically.

There is, however, a snag. One of the few commandments that the Lord gave to Adam before the commandment to take good care of the earth was one regarding his union to Eve, and his posterity, as the Family Proclamation reminds us.

The Proclamation also brings up another point, which I find to be the most crucial in the whole debate. It says (paraphrasing) that "the dissolution of the family will bring upon the world the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." Wow. Anyone read the Book of Revelation lately? Isaiah? Daniel? 2 Nephi? Mormon? Moroni? Matthew 24?-- Not to mention Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's end-time prophecies?... To speak colloquially, it's some pretty heavy stuff. If the prophets have signaled out the dissolution of the family as the direct antecedent to such catastrophy, then, no matter what our opinion on a candidate's environmental stance, or his tax policy (informed, mis-informed, or mis-mis-informed, I don't think it makes a difference), I don't see how they could trump the marriage issue.

Granted, Chris Potter makes a good point that we recognize the limitations of a President, and cites good precedent with Roe vs. Wade (which I won't get into discussing here; should be the subject of another post, perhaps). However, a president's effect on Roe vs. Wade (right or wrong, I'm not coming down on either side) after the fact is entirely different than a president's capability to influence FUTURE Supreme Court decisions with his administration. The next President will apoint up to 4 Supreme Court Justices, which will have a huge impact on how marriage is defined over the next two decades. This, to me, is the real issue. I can't see voting for a president who will appoint justices who's policies would hasten the coming of the conditions the prophets describe. Even though these conditions are inevitable, I don't want to be the one who has brought them about.

Do I think that this "hijacks" our vote? Absolutely not. I think The First Presidency simply wants us to be aware that they see this as an extremely important issue. As many of you may know, Utah was the deciding swing state in the decision to repeal prohibition-- largely due to Saints' political apathy at the time. I think we bear a certain responsibility for that. The same goes for the issue of Homosexual Marriage.

That said, nobody has been hijacked. We are now, as always, free to choose, free to weigh facts as we see fit. I see them this way, I understand if you see them differently. I beg you to convince me that I'm wrong, so that I can, in good conscience, cast a vote against a man with whom I disagree on almost every other issue.

Much Love,
J.D. Payne 

Posted by John D. Payne

At 10/29/2004 12:11:00 PM,

So I tried to sound combative and get some political debate going, but since I don't like Bush very much either, i just can't take myself seriously. Oh, well. It was worth a try. :) 

Posted by Janelle

At 10/29/2004 04:49:00 PM,

Janelle, you bring up a valid point, but in absolute terms, about half of the tax cut is going to the top two percent of earners. People with low paychecks like you and me are getting... what, enough for a few trips to the grocery store? Yes, it's nice to stimulate the economy in some instances, but in the face of the recovering economy and the mounting budget deficits (ever seen a projection of the deficits between now and 2010? It ain't pretty), it seems logical to rescind the tax cuts. Bush has zero intention of doing so and in fact is fighting to make the cuts permanent.

Caveat, I am obviously not the expert that your father is, and I would actually be interested in hearing what his analysis is (layman's version of course).

JD brings up a very good point about Supreme Court appointments, which I hadn't considered when I made my original post. In an ideal world we would have a bunch of clear-headed impartial legal analysts on the Supreme Court who were interested in strictly interpreting the law and not in legislating from the bench. In practice, it seems to be the opposite of that most of the time. So indeed, we have more to chew on here than I orginially thought. 

Posted by Chris Potter

At 10/31/2004 11:09:00 PM,

Two more thoughts:
The first came up in a sacrament meeting talk today; the second popped into my mind just a few hours ago.

"The family is the main target of evil’s attack and must therefore be the main point of our protection and defense." - M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2003. (The quote is available at http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/2003.htm/ensign%20november%202003.htm/let%20our%20voices%20be%20heard.htm )

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." - Matthew 6:33

Well, I know that the latter quote has not failed me yet. Nor will it ever.

I also can see that having one's vote "hijacked" (which is one way to look at this) is far less difficult than having one's life "hijacked," a la Joseph Smith, and in no way does that diminish the fact that it's the right thing to do.

In conclusion.... whew.... I'll be glad when this whole election business is over.


Posted by Chris Potter




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