Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Mormon Obama Mania will End

I admit that I jumped on the vote for Obama to get back at the GOP (especially Evangelical Christian) bandwagon. This has Mormon Democrats and liberals giddy. However, there are some serious cracks in this floor that will ultimately prove Mormons will walk a path most taken. In the end, ideology will trump anger and revenge. The realization came from reading more than one blog that stated reasons Mormons should vote for Obama. My conclusion was there weren't reasons enough.

For those interested, you can read this Obama mania here, and here, and here to get an idea of what is going on. It sounds plausable enough until you read behind the words. There are still some serious issues that divide mostly conservative Mormons from Democrats and especially liberals.

My first clue to the lack of support Obama will get from Mormons is in the wildly positive Behive Standard Weekly. It starts out persuasive enough. It talks about the Mormon and Evangelical split that occured and the anger of Mormons that one of their own wasn't supported enough. Even worse, the less than hidden anti-Mormon attacks that even the MSM, perhaps as a victory dance, talks a lot about. There is an open pledge by some that they will vote for Obama to remind the Republicans that they can't do without them.

The second half was a huge reminder of why this isn't going to happen. It states, "If Obama moved a small step towards the middle, he could also persuade Mormon right-wingers that he is their candidate as well." Some things are less a step to the middle than an obfuscation or re-working of words and terminology. Others are so seriously different from what Obama's liberalism is right now that the change would be a "flip-flop" that would make powerful Democrats angry. For instance:

Allowing the states to make their respective choices allows the fight to be made at the local level as long as he would support the notion of avoiding one state from having to recognize the more liberal policies of states that might expand rights to their respective gay communities


and then:

On the issue of taxes, simply a pledge that he would allow the markets to work themselves out and not attempt to recreate the "Great Society" policies of the past would easily calm the concerns of Mormon conservatives.


followed by:

Assurances that he would counsel with his generals in making a wise choice on how and when to pull out would not offend many if it was measured and did not waive a white flag of defeat.


It sounds like from these few suggestions is that Mormons would vote for Obama if he was to become Republican. Much of what the quotes above represent is Republican conservative ideals that Obama has proven in the past he doesn't support. The chink in the mail is a voting record that the conservative Mormons would reject:

In the Senate, Obama's liberal voting record belies the centrist themes he strikes on the stump.

The liberal lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action gives Obama a 100 percent voting rating - 5 points to the left of Sen. Ted Kennedy, who gets a 95 percent grade.

Obama backed a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, supported international funding for groups that provide abortion, and opposed reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

And a Congressional Quarterly review found Obama has a near-perfect partisan voting record, casting his lot with the Democratic Party line 97 percent of the time - higher than Clinton and dead even with Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).


Among some of his votes that would have Mormons look again, he:

*Voted against extending the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends.

*Voted against the bankruptcy abuse bill.

*Voted against confirmation of Sam Alito AND John Roberts as chief justice.

*Opposed any bans on partial birth abortions.

*Voted against prohibition of state funding for abortions.

*Voted no on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.

*Opposed prisoners paying court costs for frivolous lawsuits against the state.

*Voted against having school boards install software on public computers accessible to minors to block sexually explicit material.

*Voted no on paying down federal debt by rating programs' effectiveness.

*Opposed constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

*Voted yes on factoring global warming into federal project planning.

*Voted no on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

And the list goes on. Now, these are among the most liberal stances. However, they are still ones that are important to conservatives, and many Mormons. A more comprehensive list shows what he has said on topics and not just his voting record. A second look by Mormons at Obama will prove the end of the mania for the man. As one person said, they might think he is a nice guy and could be friends depsite disagreements, but they wouldn't want him as President.

And so in conclusion I predict that Obama will not get Utah or a large portion of the Mormon vote. That will reluctantly go to John McCain who at least has a conservative record on some things, no matter what he did on others. At most what will happen is a lower than normal Mormon voting turn out. There might even be a minor Romney write in that gets one percent of the votes. Sorry Mormon Democrats, but you have to do better than photo-op and point out how awful the other team has treated the religion. That is a discussion for a later time.

46 comments:

Steve M. said...

Nearly every time you use the word "Mormon," what you really mean is "conservative Republican." Your underlying assumption is that "Mormons" will not shift from the far right to more moderate grounds. That's probably a safe assumption; I doubt that Romney's rejection by evangelicals will be a sufficient impetus to trigger a dramatic paradigm shift among many Mormon Republicans. However, the assumption should be pointed out.

What binds Mormons to the far right? Are they theologically compelled to vote in the same manner as evangelicals? I don't think so.

Even when it comes to hot-button social issues like abortion and gay rights, Mormons are more moderate than evangelicals. As for other issues, from Intelligent Design to environmentalism, Mormon doctrine allows a high degree of flexibility and is fairly easily reconciled with moderate or liberal politics. Although Mormons have a cultural tradition of voting on the right (which is undoubtedly resistant to change), this trend is not deeply rooted in their theology. Therefore, we can't discount the possibility of a shift in Mormon voting patterns. Such dramatic rejections of Mormonism as that suffered by Romney underscore, in a very public way, the fact that evangelicals really aren't our political allies, as much as we might think (or wish) they were.

Ironically, despite his best efforts to portray himself as the "candidate of faith," Romney was most popular among the least religious Republicans, and least popular among the most religious (Mormons excepted). A Pew Research study revealed that mainline Protestants, Catholics, and religiously unaffiliated voters have more favorable opinions of Mormons, are more likely to vote for Mormons, and are more likely to view Mormons as Christian. Given the relative moderateness and flexibility of our theology and the fact that moderates and secular voters are apparently more welcoming of Mormons and Mormon politicians, I don't think an eventual shift toward the center (or the left) is out of the question. Mormons tend to vote as a bloc, but have switched parties multiple times in their history. They react favorably to parties and politicians who are friendly to them and appear to have their interests in mind. Increasingly, it's looking like the Christian right is not a good home for Mormon voters.

A blue Utah may still be unlikely this time around, but I don't think it will be out of the cards for long.

Doc said...

It should be pointed out that with the exception of Abortion and Gay rights, your list of dealbreakers has nothing to do with whether or not a person is Mormon or not. While a laundry list of potentially problematic votes may be easy to come up with, you could just as easily list votes Mormons have no problem with. Obama is a moderate to anyone left of George W. I don't see how in an election between two moderates you can really think that he has to be the lesser of two evils. The difficulty you have untangling that probably lies with some confusion between what your religion and your party is.

Jettboy said...

You have a point, and not one that I have dismissed out of hand. You are also correct when I use the word "Mormon" and "conservative Republican" the assumption is that they are the same thing at least for now.

The problem with Obama leading the Mormon change into moderation or even the Democratic camp is he is no more with them then the Evangelicals. If anything, McCain is perhaps more likely to shift the moderate stances of Mormons than Obama or any leading Democrat can at this time. You say there isn't a compelling theological reason for Mormons to be part of the far-right. I disagree, as there are a whole host of reasons starting with belief in traditional family values as eternal. It is also true that Mormonism has the seeds of moderation that evangelicals do not seem to have. As for the left, they have been as equally negative about Mormonism as any Evangelical Christian has been. They go at least one step more and reject Mormon values and sense of morality.

My own conclusion is that Mormons don't have any political allies. That doesn't mean they don't have shared values with those who don't like them. It means that they will have to accept second class citizenship as long as larger goals are fought for and upheld. Mormons are going to be conservative even if they become Democrats. That is what fundimentalist religions are, and that is what I count Mormonism as religiously.

Jettboy said...

"It should be pointed out that with the exception of Abortion and Gay rights, your list of dealbreakers has nothing to do with whether or not a person is Mormon or not."

True, but yet they are HUGE! After all, they are dealbreakers. At the end of the day I could have listed just those two points and won my argument.

Christopher said...

In the Senate, Obama's liberal voting record belies the centrist themes he strikes on the stump.

The thing that people ignore when criticizing obama's voting record is that while he has consistenly voted on the democratic party line, he has drawn republican co-sponsors and supporters to support his proposals. That's not only politically astute, that's downright impressive.

And I'm not convinced that abortion and gay rights (a rather vague term to describe a very complex issue) are the dealbreakers you make them out to be. Obama's position on "gay rights" for instance, is fairly moderate. He is not in favor of recognizing gay unions as marriages, but does favor civil unions.

I'm a politically-moderate Mormon, and neither abortion nor "gay rights" are the deal breakers you insist they are.

Christopher said...

P.S. The offical "Mormons for Obama" group has doubled its membership in the last two weeks. I think your predictions are premature.

Dennis said...

Jettboy,

Very good post.

Check out my rebuttal here: http://denniswendt.blogspot.com/2008/02/mormons-and-obama-yes-we-can-no-you.html

Dennis said...

It cut off my URL. Just go to:

http://denniswendt.blogspot.com

Steve M. said...

Jettboy,

The problem with Obama leading the Mormon change into moderation or even the Democratic camp is he is no more with them then the Evangelicals.

I think you missed the point of my argument.

First of all, I conceded that we probably won't see a blue Utah this November. I think the shift in Mormon voting patterns will be more gradual. Second, I didn't say that Obama would be the one to lead Mormons into more moderate territory.

But as far as Obama goes.... You are correct in saying that Obama, a fairly liberal Democrat, is not "with" most Mormon voters, if by that you mean that his political views are different from those of your average Mormon voter. But that's not an extraordinary observation. What's interesting is that although most LDS Republicans (and other conservatives) probably disagree with some of Obama's liberal policies, a substantial number are nonetheless willing to overlook those and support him. Obama's history of pragmatic cooperation with Republicans and "unifier" image have definite appeal (that, and the fact that he's not Mike Huckabee, John McCain, or Hillary Clinton).

The main point of my earlier comment was that since Mormon voters don't have a theological anchor in far-right Republicanism, a political shift to the left is not out of the question (and let's face it, there's nowhere to go from here but left). As the divide between Mormons and evangelicals becomes increasingly evident, I believe that Mormons will begin to appreciate the flexibility inherent in their religious beliefs and accordingly gravitate toward the center.

I believe we may be seeing the first intimations of this shift. That President Bush enjoys less than a 50% approval rating in Utah indicates that even hard-line Republicans have experienced some degree of disenchantment with their party's leadership over the past 7 years. Romney's rejection by the evangelical bloc (whose candidates Mormons have supported for years) only exacerbated and added to any underlying dissatisfaction with the Republican party. As a Deseret News poll showed last week, 65% of Utahns indicated that they would not support any of the remaining Republican candidates (notably, evangelical Mike Huckabee received the least support--a mere 2%!). As the sting of Romney's defeat fades, many will come around and vote for McCain. But for the first time in recent years, a substantial number of Mormon Republicans are at least reconsidering their vote. If Obama wins the nomination, he will likely enjoy more success in Utah than any other Democrat in recent years, although he probably won't take the state.

As for the left, they have been as equally negative about Mormonism as any Evangelical Christian has been.

Care to substantiate that? According to a December 2007 Gallup Poll, 18% of Democrats indicated that they would not vote for a Mormon candidate. By comparison, in the Pew poll I referenced in my earlier comment, 36% of evangelicals expressed reluctance about voting for a Mormon. That's twice as much! Also, we must remember that one additional reason a Democrat might be hesitant to vote for a Mormon is the fact that Mormons are so notoriously conservative--a Democrat's objection might not have as much to do with religion as with a concern that even a Mormon Democrat might be rather conservative. Evangelicals don't have that excuse.

You say there isn't a compelling theological reason for Mormons to be part of the far-right. I disagree, as there are a whole host of reasons starting with belief in traditional family values as eternal.

If you are insinuating that those not on the far-right are not "pro-family," then I'm afraid you're resorting to an empty (albeit common) criticism. If you're referring specifically to gay marriage, then I should remind you that neither of the Democratic front-runners are for gay marriage. If your argument is broader, then please elaborate. Which "traditional family values" are incompatible with moderateness and liberalism? And what other reasons support the idea that Mormonism is theologically grounded in far-right conservatism? You claim that there is a "whole host" of reasons, so let's hear 'em.

Mormons are going to be conservative even if they become Democrats. That is what fundimentalist religions are, and that is what I count Mormonism as religiously.

If we are a fundamentalist religion, then God help us. I don't believe that's the church Joseph Smith intended to establish, and I have no interest in fundamentalism of any sort. I prefer to think of Mormonism as dynamic and even progressive (despite its recent cultural history on the far right).

Andrew James said...

Steve M -

Thank you for your insightful and thoughtful response to this blog post. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

Why Jettboy, do we as a culture, tend to vilify liberalism? Being liberal is not against our doctrine. I reject the notion that family values only matter to the right and that the left has been antagonistic to Mormons. On the contrary! The left is far more tolerant of us than the right. This recent election has totally proved that.

I am a filmmaker and I interact with the left quite often. Being Mormon, I also interact with the right quite often. Guess which camp is more tolerant and more kind? That's right, not my fellow Mormons I'm afraid. You are buying into right-wing hate rhetoric when you make assumptions regarding liberalism as not supporting family values and not accepting our faith.

Todd Wood said...

Andrew,

In Southeastern Idaho, I think evangelical conservatives tolerate, and even value the Mormon republicans in office more than liberals.

Yet there are many evangelicals in America that are becoming more liberal. There is change in the air.

Andrew James said...

PS -

Jettboy,

You didn't win your argument at all. Steve M. has a stronger argument and facts to back them up. Stop acting like abortion and gay rights are deciding political factors. They just aren't.

What about social issues, gun rights, and even War! The right supports all kinds of policies that I find offensive as a Mormon.

Stop getting hung up on abortion. It just doesn't make sense. Look at the bigger picture. Why is pulling our troops out of Iraq not in-line with the gospel? Why is granting amnesty to illegal immigrants not in line with the Gospel? This is a religion of peace and love. Have you forgotten? Shouldn't our political system try to reflect tolerance and peace?

You should read a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune regarding immigration and how the church feels about it.

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_8094431

You should also read the recent official stance by the church on homosexuality. I think you might find that the Church is far more moderate, even liberal, than you care to recognize.

www.lds.org/topics/pdf/GodLovethHisChildren_04824_000.pdf

Dennis said...

steve m.,

Amen. Amen.

Visit my blog sometime, if you haven't already: http://denniswendt.blogspot.com

Drew E said...

jettboy,

I don't think the democratic nominee, whether it be Obama or Clinton, will win the state of Utah and its electoral votes.

But its impossible to not point out a noteworthy trend of conservative members willing to cross party lines to evaluate a democractic candidate.

While many conservative members will find their way back to the elephant after wounds heal, I do believe there will be a percentage of LDS members that will not view the Republican party in the same light they once did. Even those that do end up voting Repbulican will have the most difficult time casting a ballot for that party's nominee than ever before.

I am proud to say that I have supported Obama from the beginning and the crumbling and implosion of the Republican party in this election has only strengthed me in my decision that "family values" is the Republican scape goat for big business and the military complex.

Anonymous said...

Todd,

I read your blog.

Evangelicalism is far, far more fundamentalist than the LDS faith, both in doctrine and culture. Mormon doctrine is very unique, perhaps flawed, but not fundamentalist.

I find some of your critiques of the Mormon faith very interesting - some I totally agree with. But why spend so much time trying to denounce the Mormon faith when you should be defending your own?

Evangelicals are a powerful force, but a force that many across the world resent. You should spend more time with your own faith, helping others be more tolerant, rather than attack another religion that has no interest in attacking you.

Steve M. said...

Andrew, Dennis, Drew--Amen!

Since this will probably come up, let's get this out there. Mormons, while condemning elective abortion as immoral under most circumstances, have a very moderate view of the issue (especially relative to the Christian right):

From the lds.org Newsroom: "The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion."

David O. McKay said: "As the matter stands today, no definite statement has been made by the Lord one way or another regarding the crime of abortion. So far as is known, he has not listed it alongside the crime of the unpardonable sin and shedding of innocent human blood. That he has not done so would suggest that it is not in that class of crime and therefore that it will be amenable to the laws of repentance and forgiveness." (quoted in an April 1973 First Presidency statement, issued shortly after and in express reaction to the decision in Rowe v. Wade)

From Religious Tolerance: "The official stance of the LDS Church reflects a relatively liberal position within the pro-life movement. It allows abortion if the woman's life or health is threatened, if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest or if the fetus is severely malformed and would not live long after birth." (This stance is substantiated on the LDS Newsroom page referenced above.)

According to Super Tuesday exit polls, Utah has the lowest portion of Republicans that believe abortion should always be illegal (10%) of any Super Tuesday state. By comparison, 37% of Arkansas Republicans, 33% of Tennessee Republicans, and 32% of both Alabama and Missouri Republicans indicated that abortion should always be illegal.

JC said...

I won't go into the minute details of party beliefs, but my family is entirely active in the Church and tends to vote Democratic. We all go to church every Sunday, we are all temple worthy, we all pay tithing, we all pray and read the scriptures daily, most of us (all the men anyway) have served missions, and yet a good majority of us have voted primarily to the left as of late. I have talked to others in my ward and LDS friends and they are similarly disenchanted with the conservative right. I'm not going to say I am Democrat, but I'm certainly not Republican! I used to be a Republican, but now I'm more like a recovering Republican. I'll let you guys hash out the details, but based on personal experience in my Utah/California wards, friends and family, I'm taking the conclusion that an eventual shift to the middle is inevitable.

Drew E said...

Steve,

Great information on abortion!

I have strong feelings about abortion. I believe that our society has far abused it to ridiculous and gross extents. I tremble to think about the millions of innocent lives that have been ended by selfish and self serving acts of abortion.

But with all of these acts come the personal choice, and its that choice that concerns me, not so much the legislation.

If more conservatives spent time educating youth with practical sex education and offered better resources for abortion counseling I feel that would curb the abortion rate quicket than drawn out legislation. But again, sex education appears to be taboo to convservatives.

The republicans had the majority for nearly 8 years and Roe vs. Wade was not overturned and not enough legislation has been passed to set a downward trend in abortion.

So why should I base my political alliance to a party that couldn't make headway on their "family value" platform with a senate and house majority because they were too busy passing motions to win future elections and make millions off of corporate lobbyists?

(steps off soap box)

Steve M. said...

Sorry, I just realized that I wrote Rowe v. Wade as opposed to Roe v. Wade. I used to have a Professor Rowe, and I confused the spellings.

Andrew James said...

Steve,

Great info on abortion. Thanks. I used to be a Republican. It is easy for me to see why people feel like liberalism is evil, based on how we (as a culture) are raised. We regularly encounter myths at church, that are perpetuated by culture, not doctrine. Culture is a powerful force and I think Church members should become more educated on doctrine. Regular people run the church and thus, regular ideas get perpetuated. Sometimes, they are deeply flawed.

Also, when is your blog going to be back up? I used to read it regularly.

Steve M. said...

I can definitely understand why Mormonism is often equated with political conservatism (both inside and outside the Church). I grew up thinking that Mormons were supposed to be Republicans. Thus, when I turned 18, I registered as a Republican without even thinking. "Liberals" were bad.

I've been hanging out at VSOM lately, and I've been thinking about getting another blog project going, but we'll see what happens...

Oh, and as far as this post goes.... McCain may become more popular among Mormons in the days to come. According to cnn.com, Romney is to endorse McCain.

Titus Todd said...

Many Mormons are conservative Republicans for deeper reasons than abortion and gay rights (both family values issues to an extent). It is about personal responsibility and keeping government from taking control of our lives.

That President Bush enjoys less than a 50% approval rating in Utah indicates that even hard-line Republicans have experienced some degree of disenchantment with their party's leadership over the past 7 years.

Yes, but the disenchantment is due to Bush's moderate policies. He has not been conservative enough for many. This is not a sign of Mormons moving towards a more moderate position.

What has happened to Romney will do little if any to shift Mormons to become any more moderate than they already are. We already know evangelicals don't like us and haven't and we're not going to let that fact shift us away from our political positions anymore so than in the past.

What we have here is opportunism. More moderate and liberal Mormons are trying to take advantage of what has happened to Romney to gain support and to promote a shift. The voices being heard are not new and the cause will gain little. Many of those who proclaim their former "Republicanism" really weren't all that Republican to begin with and many of those haven't moved left but are looking to the likes of Ron Paul and Libertarians or Constitutionalists.

Steve M. said...

Titus,

It is about personal responsibility and keeping government from taking control of our lives.

Need I remind you that the Bush administration has presided over one of the most invasive governments in U.S. history? Warrentless wiretapping, the Patriot Act...ring a bell?

And to imply that Democrats are against personal responsibility or that they want a government that takes control of people's lives is another empty criticism. In fact, for the past several years, Democrats have been trying to undo the Bush administration's extensive claims to power.

Yes, but the disenchantment is due to Bush's moderate policies. He has not been conservative enough for many.

Utah's disenchantment with Bush is due to his "moderate policies"? I'm sorry, but you're going to have to substantiate that one!

Bush has drawn criticisms from some conservatives on issues such as immigration, but on the whole, he's quite conservative (particularly on the social issues that matter most to religious voters, be they Mormon or evangelical). For instance, thanks to Bush appointees, we've got one of the most socially conservative Supreme Courts the United States has seen.

What has happened to Romney will do little if any to shift Mormons to become any more moderate than they already are....

What we have here is opportunism. More moderate and liberal Mormons are trying to take advantage of what has happened to Romney to gain support and to promote a shift.


Have you stopped to think that maybe Mormonism is inherently more moderate than you think? I reiterate the point I made above: Because Mormonism is not theologically tied to far-right conservatism, it is free to gravitate to the left, and that will become increasingly likely as Mormons suffer public "betrayals" by the Republican party's conservative base.

I've already shown that Mormons are quite moderate with respect to abortion. I've shown that Utah voters, by and large, do not support any of the remaining Republican candidates, and that they especially don't like Huckabee, the paradigm evangelical candidate. Two days ago, Elder Jensen (a Democrat), speaking on behalf of the First Presidency, raised a warning of moderation to the Utah legislature as it mulls over immigration legislation. The LDS Newsroom indicates that the Church is neutral on issues such as stem cell research and capital punishment. LDS scripture can easily be read to support liberal policy as it can conservative policy (for instance, the Book of Mormon Anti-Nephi-Lehi narrative can be read to support anti-war or pro-gun control sentiments). In 1998, the Church actually had Elder Jensen come out and say that "It's not in our interest to be known as a one-party church," and that the idea that a Mormon can't be a Democrat should be "obliterated." Even Dallin H. Oaks, who is widely viewed as being pretty conservative, concedes, "As for me, I find some wisdom in liberalism, some wisdom in conservatism."

As these facts and those raised in my other comments indicate, Mormonism is politically more moderate and more flexible than you give it credit for. It is at least as amenable to centrist and liberal politics as it is to conservatism (if not more so). Insisting otherwise is to place far-right conservatism on an undeserved holy pedestal and make of it a false god.

Titus Todd said...

Need I remind you that the Bush administration has presided over one of the most invasive governments in U.S. history? Warrentless wiretapping, the Patriot Act...ring a bell?

Those are security issues that the government actually has a responsibility over.

And to imply that Democrats are against personal responsibility or that they want a government that takes control of people's lives is another empty criticism. In fact, for the past several years, Democrats have been trying to undo the Bush administration's extensive claims to power.

Again, you're getting your security issues mixed up with domestic issues. The constitution actually gives our government the responsibility of protecting the populace but not to tax and redistribute wealth as those in power see fit (usually to many who don't take personal responsibility over their own affairs).

Sure, Mormons may be moderate with some issues, but that does not mean as a whole they can be viewed as moderate. In actuality, most people in this country are closer to being moderates (from either side of the fence) rather than far right or far left.

Steve M. said...

Titus,

You try to draw a distinction between "security issues that the government actually has a responsibility over" and "domestic issues," but you don't define the distinction, offer any justification for it, or articulate how it helps your argument. What are you trying to say? That if an issue is related to "security," that government intrusion is justified, but that if it's "domestic," then it's not?

With respect to warrantless wiretapping, it's very much a "domestic" issue, even if its purpose is "security." The Bush administration claims that it can eavesdrop on phone calls and other communications between people inside the U.S. and people outside the country, without procuring a warrant (as would normally be required). Thus, according to President Bush, each time my wife calls her mother in Canada, he is justified in listening in without going through warranting procedures. How's that for intrusive?

We can't forget that while national security is an "issue[] that the government actually has a responsibility over," we must distinguish between different branches of the government. Since 9/11, Bush has sought to consolidate power in the Executive branch, arguably overstepping the bounds that the Constitution places on him as Commander-in-Chief. For example, in addition to warrantless wiretapping, Bush has insisted that it is legal to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens in the United States as "enemy combatants" without due process (see Hamdi v. Rumsfeld). How's that for a government that, in your words, "tak[es] control of our lives"?

The constitution actually gives our government the responsibility of protecting the populace...

Well, yes, but with certain limits and functions assigned to each of the branches of government.

...but not to tax and redistribute wealth as those in power see fit

Actually, according to the Constitution, "Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States" (Art. 8, Sec. 8, Cl. 1). The Taxing and Spending Clause is interpreted broadly, and a high degree of deference is accorded Congress in deciding what whether a tax or expenditure is for the "general Welfare." So, actually, the Constitution does grant Congress the power "tax and redistribute wealth as those in power see fit," so long as it can rationally be said to be "for the general Welfare" (and courts have not struck down the government's welfare program).

(usually to many who don't take personal responsibility over their own affairs)

That's a subjective and personal judgment. And in any case, the effectiveness of the current welfare program is a separate issue from the one you raise--whether the government has power to enact a welfare program to begin with.

Sure, Mormons may be moderate with some issues, but that does not mean as a whole they can be viewed as moderate.

True. But I have never insisted that Mormons are moderate voters. I have only argued that their doctrine does not mandate that they vote in a strictly conservative manner, and that change may be on the horizon.

So, I guess my question is this: What's your point?

colleeeen said...

wow, steve m., thanks for doing such a bang-up job of arguing for we LDS who aren't conservatives. i greatly appreciate it, as my pro-liberal arguments tend to get very esoteric and meandering and require lots of patience to get through. although living the law of consecration has always sounded pretty darn liberal to me.

LifeOnaPlate said...

Jettboy: Your post seems to have precious little to do with Mormons, and much to do with conservative Republicans. As a Mormon who strongly supports Barack Obama's candidacy I defer to the very able Steve M, and add my voice as a matter of "me too."

Especially lame was your list of what Obama voted for or against. This is a typical trick of the soundbite which does not take into consideration the implications of the bills in question. Such a list can be composed on any politician who has ever voted for anything ever. This is called "spinning," a shock-and-awe tactic, and is poor argumentation. This sort of list belongs in one of the tacky e-mails sent out to frighten people.

One example:

*Voted against having school boards install software on public computers accessible to minors to block sexually explicit material.

In other words, Obama supports minors in their search for pornography. He is a crazy liberal who doesn't have morals, who thinks it's fine to allow children to look at porn etc. ect. No detailed discussion on why he voted against the bill is given here. Could the bill have been unconstitutional? Could the bill have been severely flawed? Was there a better bill being constructed? Did the bill have any additions making it a bait-and-switch maneuver to pass some other difficult legislation? Come on, JB.

*Voted no on paying down federal debt by rating programs' effectiveness.

*Opposed constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

*Voted yes on factoring global warming into federal project planning.

*Voted no on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

Cory C. said...

Maybe Utah LDS are reliably "conservative republican." But I'm from California, now going to grad school in Boston.

Mormons outside Utah aren't always as conservative politically. Remember here in Mass. Romney ran as a pro-choice, pro-gay, proudly LDS Republican. I voted for Romney in the primary, and I'm going to vote Obama in November.

So my point is that Utah won't flip to blue, but many LDS in other states will go for Obama.

JC said...

I am a Mormon from California (SF Bay Area) who is a "Christian Democrat." Seriously, there is such a thing. Not in this country there isn't, but in Latin America and Europe there is.

Broadly speaking, Christian Democracy as an ideology is a form of communitarianism. It is a political philosophy focusing on the health of the community in all areas of community existence. This community orientation is often considered conservative (or right-leaning) in regard to moral and cultural issues and progressive (or left-leaning) in regard to social justice, labor and socio-economic issues. More specifically, Christian democratic parties generally claim a strong social conscience, in the sense of great respect for the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death (that is, a pro-life stance), emphasizing the alleviation of poverty, and maintenance of a basic level of societal protection (and a limited welfare state if necessary) keeping the weak from abandonment and destitution, and the incentivising of (and if necessary the restraint of) market forces for the common good.

I find Mormons, like myself, can relate to this ideology very well. I feel that here in the states, we are forced to choose the "best of two evils." I really feel like I can identify with 90% of Christian Democracy Ideology.

Anonymous said...

Hey I don't understand why any mormon would be upset on basically all your points besides abortion and gay marriage. And that's pretty sad that anybody would let two non-issues set their mind on who is going to run the country. Also not letting someone make their own decisions is robbing them of their free agency is it not? Oh and just admit it....you don't like Obama because he doesn't want to put as much money into the space program as McCain and this upsets you because you want to find your large moon men who live on the dark side of the moon dressed in pilgrim outfits.

LifeOnaPlate said...

anonymous:

As a Mormon and supporter of Obama, I don't think you are serving the interests of his presidential campaign well by treating the religious beliefs of others with such contempt. Oddly, this is something Obama himself would emphasize, so it seems unfortunate that you make light and warp my religious beliefs in an attempt to score political points for a campaign that would decry such tactics. Please reconsider your comments and tone. You do not represent our candidate well in the least by acting this way.

-BHodges

spydyee said...

I am a Christian. I am a Latter Day Saint. I am not a Republican. I am also not a Democrat. I am voting for Barack. I voted against George W. Bush in both of his elections and exactly who I voted for is none of anyone's business but I will say that "my President" spoke at the DNC in Denver. I am an independent because I have my free agency guaranteed to me by my God and that is what is deeply rooted in my theology. How can I vote for someone that supports a woman's right to choose abortion while at the same time feeling that abortion is morally reprehensible? Simple! That woman has her free agency given to her by her God and if she chooses to abort a baby then the only person with the right to judge her is her God. Let the one who is without sin amongst you cast the first stone. Well let me be the first to say I would have to walk away from that stoning because before I became a Latter Day Saint I was a WILD CHILD that grew up in the 60's and 70's. I am a independent I am a "Mormon" and I am for Barack Obama and this is not a phase or a craze and I, like the owners of the many cars in our church parking lot with "Mormons for Obama" bumper stickers have no intention of voting for John McCain. You see I have my free agency not to vote for an adulterer and I don't care that he chose little miss goody two shoes who chose to keep rather than abort her disabled child as his VP because she is not going to be our next president. HE IS!

spydyee said...

Or rather he wants to be!

Unless the republican party pulls off another FLorida Barack Obama is going to be the next President and this "Mormon" is going to help him get there!

LifeOnaPlate said...

I am a still-enthused LDS supporter of Obama.

Nancy said...

Wow! It has been fascinating to read all of your comments. My husband and I are the 'black sheep' on both sides of our family because of our 'liberalness.' A lifetime of very faithful activity in the church has me feeling that for the majority of Mormons, gay marraige and abortion are still 'dealbreakers'. I think at heart they have the potention to swing into more moderate ground, but they simly ARENT getting that information. They don't look at both sides of the issues, and even if they don't all listen to Rush, the rhetoric of far right-winged groups gets out there.

We live in Washington state, a pretty liberal state, and in our experience, Mormons here are just as conservative, if not more so than in Utah.

I voted for John Kerry, though I disagreed with his liberal morals, because I just couldn't stomach any more death and destruction in the Iraq war. I'll probably vote for Obama, since WAR is my deal-breaker, and he will restore the world's public opinion of our nation.
I do so a bit reluctantly though. One thing (maybe I'm wrong) no one has mentioned about Obama and gay marraige is this: even though he is against gay marraige, he supports giving 'civil unions' the same legal rights and benefits as those from marraige.

If you call a rose by any other name..........

I welcome your comments. Hey, I'm somewhat open-minded and I don't mind a good argument..... (Just not at a family reunion :)

Aspen_08 said...

I can relate. I feel like the "black sheep" in my family because of my support for Obama and my moderate beliefs. I feel so liberal and left-minded when I'm around my family. Then when I step back and enter the midst of true, blue liberals, I relize that I'm really not all that liberal (just more liberal than my ultra-conservative family).

I am very liberal when it comes to the environment. I believe we should be stewards of the Earth God entrusted to us. I'm not fully convinced of the whole Gore-version of Global Warmming, but I do ask myself "what if?" I mean, we only have one Earth, we don't have a second chance if we screw it up. Besides, minus the global warmming factor, can you imagine a world without pollution, smog, or a foreign strangle-hold on our country and economy? Imagine not low gas prices, but NO gas prices!

I'm fairly liberal regarding fiscal policy and tax reform (more government programs to assist the poor and less-privliged and the bottom-up method of empowering the lower and middle classes with tax breaks and incentives rather than big business and the wealthy). Is it just me, or does anyone else feel the Republican party uses "family values" as an excuse for big business and the industrial-military complex?

I am moderately conservative regarding moral issues.

I do support civil unions because I believe gays have their agency to choose that lifestyle if they so wish and be able to care for and support eachother legally and financialy. I do, however, draw a fine line between that and gay marriage!! Gay marriage would blur the definition of marriage and open up the door to pedifiles, polygamists, etc. Then, if gay marriage was passed, the Mormon Church would be sued for "dicriminating" between homosexual and hertoosexual marriage in our temples. Our orfanages would be shut down for the same reason when they refuse to entrust the care of a child to a homosexual couple. The couple was able to choose their lifestyle, but the child would not have a choice. That child would be made fun of in school, possibly rejected by peers, and would not be understood. Not only that, but s/he would be lost and not understand him/herself or the situation. The emotional trauma would be more than I'm willing to allow.

As much as I support people's agency, I do not believe one's agency should trump another, unborn person's. I second the LDS Church's view of opposing abortion at all times except for in times of incest, rape, or when the health/life of the child or mother is severely threatened.

I am pretty moderate on immigration. I support a path to citizenship for those illegals who are already here, but also to secure the boarder and higher the standards for letting immigrants in.

I am fairly conservative on labor issues. I believe we should have labor unions, but they should be much weaker than they are. I believe there are enough Federal and State laws in place (in the US anyways) protecting worker's rights that we don't need powerful unions.

As far as the war goes, I did support it at first, but I turned against it when we the people of the US were decieved by the government to hide its shady, sefl-serving motives. I appretiate all the work that has been done there and I'm glad a democratic government has been set up (not to mention a leader more wicked even our most wicked leaders was captured, tried, and sent to the judgement seat of the Lord.) However, I do question the "success" of the war the Republicans lead us to believe. I mean, there are still unstable parts of the country and the entire region that are beyond our power to stablize. Then there's the fact that the whole thing could implode and revert to entire instability when we do finally decide to pull out. Then there's the billions of tax dollars being poured into the country when they are making plenty of cash with their oil revenues. I do believe Bush has dug us into a deep pit.

Well, I think that covers most of the hot-botton issues. That pretty much sums up my political views in a single blog comment post :)

Hendricks Family said...

I am shocked at the amount of Mormons that fall into the trap that it is the governments responsibility to do everything. The redistribution of wealth is crap. They take from everyone and give it to many who wont take care of them selves. People need to learn some basic economics and realize we would be better off if we let those businesses have their money so they can provide more jobs etc. Since when is is bad to have money. These are all socialistic programs. I won't vote for Obama simply because he is a Marxist. I don't want to live under that kind of regime. Are half of the people who want to vote for him even realize the kind of change he will bring? It will be very bad for all of us.

Here is a great quote from Norman Thomas that sums up why I wont vote for Obama.

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened."

LifeOnaPlate said...

I presume you are in favor of completely abolishing taxes then?


ps- You misrepresent Obama.

Jettboy said...

I print this, because I am not sure if my response worked at another site:

Here is the thing, I have always considered the Democrat's economic theories (practice is another thing altogether) as a possible good. The problem is that they hold what I consider such abominable social theories (abortion and gay rights the vangard) that any redeeming qualities are swallowed up. Even the economic theories are too much based on force of state then true charity. And, opposition to war seems less Anti-Nephi-Lehi and more Kingmen.

So, what are my feelings about Mormon Democrats? I know that some of them don't agree with the more "morally repugnant" aspects of the party, but not all of them. Many I have found are Democrats just because it feels rebellious. Those that don't hold to the social beliefs of the Democrats are castigated and told to shut up. For an example, both Joe Lieberman and Democrat Orson Scott Card, have been "excommunicated" from the party because they don't toe the party line on some significant areas. My more charitable response to Mormon Democrats are that they know not what they do. That goes doubly for Obama supporters who I think are mostly uninformed about who the man really is as a politician. Probably the best response to both sides, although I personally can't hold this position because I am unapologetically partisan, is that there is good in both sides.

I think the best party for a Mormon (if it existed) would be social conservative and ecomonically liberal, although the latter more of a focus on personal charity than state programs. I am willing to concede that the Republican Party is too materialistic, but that doesn't say anything about Republicans who believe charity should be private.

As for ETB as the reason so many Mormons are Republican, I would have to disagree. They were Republican long before he had enough influence to change minds. Actual studies have shown, just like other socially conservative Churches, Mormons turned strongly Republican during the social revolution of the 60s. particularly the passage of Roe vs. Wade. The Democratic Party is still seen as carrying the torch of that era and they seem proud to be seen as such.

LifeOnaPlate said...

gee, I don't feel condescended to at all...

Voting for Obama makes one a Democrat, it seems. Regardless of party affiliation. A brilliant stroke, old bean!

LifeOnaPlate said...

signed,

bleeding heart pinko.

Aspen_08 said...

I feel rather degraded and condescended to. Being judged and pitied by one of your own. When you go out into the world and assert to church members who hold wide varieties of political views your "Mormon=Republican" opinion, they feel distanced and different from church members. People like you (those who accuse different political view holders of "know[ing] not what they do") really hurt those of us who can not staple ourselves to the Republican Party with the "family values" label. I know this from experience within the church.

I encourage you to look inside the Republican Party and find the evils within. They are as great as those of the Democrats. You must realize there is good and bad with each party.

Imagine this conversation taking place 50 years ago. Just because you'd identify yourself as a Republican wouldn't mean you were a racist. Yes, the party has made great strides in overcomming and distancing itself from it's racist past, but, talking to you just 50 years ago, would you feel comfortable with me saying one with your political views couldn't possibly be Republican because of that evil. There were many other good parts of the party. But because of that one, you couldn't be Republican according to your logic.

With only 2 options available in the US, it's a rather difficult dicision to make. I chose to be a conservative Democrat. Yes, I don't agree with the party completely, but I can relate to them on many more issues than just "family values." Don't get me wrong, family values are very important. But I can't support a party that I disagree with on most other issues than that one alone.

Please keep your political views political, don't mix them into the Church.

Anonymous said...

'"It should be pointed out that with the exception of Abortion and Gay rights, your list of dealbreakers has nothing to do with whether or not a person is Mormon or not."'

"True, but yet they are HUGE! After all, they are dealbreakers. At the end of the day I could have listed just those two points and won my argument."

Gay rights and abortion are really moral issues than political. I do not agree with gay marriage or abortion. But, that is not enough to stop me from voting for a candidate whose policies I mostly agree with. The thing that memebers of the church need to realize is that there are more important things to worry about. The economy, environment, war, taxes, health care...etc. Choose that candidate whose policies you most agree rather than just one or two topics.

Rochelle Beach said...

What is at stake here is far more important than party affiliation..or who said what about our faith. What really is at stake is saving the consitution. It is upholding the ideals of that sacred document. It is a very simple choice for me. I choose to uphold the consitution to the best of my ability.

I consider this political sitution to be similar to the war in Heaven we either vote to have the right of agency or we vote for the party that chooses to take that right away from us...hmmmmmm that seems to be the spoilers plan. The real issue is agency either we keep it or turn it over the the government. Not my fathers plan or mine.

If you want to know how far to the left our country has gone read the communist manifesto it is an eye opener. Read the words of Pres. Benson, Cleon Skousen etc.
Read some of the writings of the founding fathers and thier vision for America it will make you cry and wonder how things got so far out of hand. Read what the Lord has to say about the consitution....now where do I ever read where it says we should spread the wealth around.

I want the right of choice to spread my wealth according to my inspired ideas not have the government do it for me. Wake up.......whenever someone challenges those in the Obama camp they start a smear campaign......this happened to Joe the plumber and now to a gutsy news anker in Florida.......that is how communists countries operate they suppress the news media that does not agree with thier world view

Whenever govenment tells you they will take care of you beware they will take care of you all right by making sure they limit your right of choice.

Wake up the secret combinations are in control and thier guy is Obama

Jettboy said...

Rochelle Beach, Amen and Amen. I used to be not for Obama, but have gone beyond that to being absolutely against the monster! and the more I hear the less I feel the U.S. will survive past the man if the Democrats win both houses with him. That the fork tongued smooth talking devil has grabbed the hearts of so many Mormons is a disgrace.

The calamities of the End Times are here and "Obama False-Messiah" is a sign of them coming full force. I have never said that about anyone ever! My only hope is that in destroying the righteousness of this nation it will mean Christ will return sooner.

To Vote for Obama is to Vote for the destruction of the United States of America. That is the final message of this post.

Jettboy said...

Against my better judgment and out of show of some respect I quote the following in full:

Aspen 08 wrote,

"PS: I noticed that you disabled comments on your Obama blog (which is why I am posting here). Was this possibly because you feared some discussion about your radical tirade on the "false massaih" who is the obvious sign of the "end of days"? I hope that you will re-read what you wrote and realize how extremist, radical, and conspiracy theorist-esque it sounds.

Just because a man can give inspirational speaches that move a nation doesn't necessarily mean that he is the "false messiah". I supported him about a year before he became a national icon, so there's obviously more to him than meets the public eye.

When anti-Obama LDS people call me a "mindless sheep" following the "false sheppard", it really pisses me off because I have been a supoorter long before the masses. It's not my fault he became so popular, nor is it his! You are mocking his supporters when you mock his popularity, you're not mocking him.

Why can't you just celebrate this wonderful moment in our nation's history? He is the perfect emobodiment of the American Dream. He went from being raised by a working-class single mom living on food-stamps to the leader of the free world. He experienced racism from boths sides. Black people disowned him and deemed him "not black enough" whlie white people spit on him and hurled racial epithets at him. His world-view has been shaped through both lenses, both lenses so evident in America. He can understand these tensions like not many other can. He is the perfect blend of "White America" and "Black America".

I think you should see this picture in the LDS Newsroom from the church's website. Beware, it might make your stomach churn to see the wife of the "false messiah" smiling with both arms out-stretched around Elder Cook and Elder Ballard ;)

http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/michelle-obama-visits-church-hq

May I remind you that Obama was the only 2008 presidential candidate besides Romney who sent a letter of condolance to the Church when Pres Hinkley died? Not to mention canceling a rally at the Delta Center (I mean Radium Stadium lol) that would have drawn tens of thousands scheduled the same week of Hinkley's death out of respect for the prophet...

He at least deserves your respect, even if you don't agree with him. I don't agree with Bush, but I still respect him as our democraticly-elected president. I never accused him of being the downfall of humanity (like you do with Obama) when I could have."

All future comments about Obama on any other posts that aren't related directly to the man will be deleted.