I’m a Latter-day Saint. I’m progressive.
I didn’t put qualifiers of religion or politics on either for a reason.
I believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God, was visited by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John and others to restore God’s power, and was the vessel by which the Lord’s kingdom and the pathway to achieve full salvation was restored.
Those beliefs have provided a lens: We are in a temporal world, where the Lord expects us to be good stewards and – more than anything else, other than loving the Lord – actually realize this commandment:
“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Thus, I believe in education for all, non-warfare foreign policy, environmentalism, health coverage, education for all and equality. (And I believe in markets!)
Putting aside the lower law, if you will, of Machiavelli and all of the other philosophies of men found in political theory and instead emphasizing the fullness of the gospel, here’s a sampling why:
Before you go all Obamacare this, Obamacare that on me, consider: What did the Savior say of the actions of those who would “inherit the kingdom prepared… from the foundation of the world” who would not be among “the goals on the left?” He said: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt. 25: 34-40)
I don’t know how this mandate is answered any more strongly than by making sure folks have health insurance.
Obamacare is certainly problematic. So was the New Deal.
Non-warfare foreign policy
The work in the final dispensation is meant to prepare the world for the Millennium, when the Prince of Peace will reign. We know that Isaiah saw our day – the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, the final dispensation, and the very-soon Millennium.
What did he say about it?
The Lord “shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4)
As an example of the Lord’s wisdom of peace, why did the George W. Bush administration blitzkrieg a nation when their reason (weapons of mass destruction) didn’t even hold water? No weapons of mass destruction were found, and even right-wing pundit Bill O’Reilly apologized about it, less than one year into an eight-and-a-half year war. Since those in the media who are his allies were so quick to apologize, didn’t President Bush make up an excuse from the outset?
Why did Americans need to lose thousands of their husbands, wives, children, brothers and sisters? Why did thousands of Iraqis – the seed of Hagar blessed with a good portion of the gospel (Gen. 16 (see CES manual), 2 Nephi 29:7) need to have the same thing happen to them?
It’s because of this thing called the military industrial complex. That means that weapons manufacturers have powerful lobbies that push politicians hard to go to war because then they stay in business. What did the Lord say about greed? He didn’t just say “seek not for riches,” but added to seek “for wisdom.” (D&C 6:7)
We all know that the Vietnam War was an atrocious mistake. With Iraq, it repeated itself.
In our modern day, the Lord has repeated the mandate that he told Isaiah: “Renounce war, and proclaim peace.” (D&C 98:16) Out of two or three witnesses. The Prince of Peace is urgent about this.
This is the definition of stewardship for the Earth the Lord created and gave to us. One scripture passage that has always stuck out to me on this is in Moses 3, where we read the Lord created all things “spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” (Moses 3:5) I’m not going to say that Pocahontas’ song is in step with that principle, but Pocahontas’ song is in step with that principle. (“I know every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name…)
There’s also this wonderful piece from the Church titled “Environmental Stewardship and Conservation.” And do we really want our brothers and sisters in Utah who have the trial of asthma to literally be requested not to step outside on a significant number of days during the year? They are, because of red air days caused by output of lobbyists’ clients. (Of course, that means the state legislature doesn’t do anything about it – not even propose tax breaks to incentivize these mega-corporations from being responsible.)
Education for all
We know that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36), that we must “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), that you learn “in your mind and your heart” (D&C 8:2), and that you “study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you” (D&C 9:8). Because I know that God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and that “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33), these blessings of gaining intelligence, learning and critical thinking are meant for all of God’s children.
Thus, in Heavenly Father’s plan, schools are established for this purpose. Yet, many of our brothers and sisters struggle for this opportunity, particularly when it comes to college. For tens of thousands, it’s still simply not affordable, and even if they do get in, the loans they pay will burden them for the rest of their lives. Not to mention that the cost of college is continually rising. We should be open to any idea that would mean affordable education for all.
We know that the Lord “established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.” (D&C 101:80) This Constitution established a congress by which further laws would be established and a system by which it would be quite difficult for congress to change the constitution. There have been 17 since the first 10, which were passed rather immediately after the Constitution was ratified essentially by the same inspired Congress. Thus, those 17 amendments have been miraculous. One of those is the 14th amendment, which provides this guarantee:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
So if our inspired constitution and the miraculous provisions that it has wrought, equality is inspired. And the Lord has said as much in His revealed word. “God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) “All are alike unto God.” (2 Nephi 26:33)
And “...love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 22:39)
Admittedly, I’m a bit angry about the quite-judgmental culture I in which I grew up. It made me feel like a movement that should have led to greater empathy, compassion and tolerance – in other words, love – instead made me feel like it was more like Darth Vader stepping through the doors of the Rebel cruiser for the first time and choking people the further he swept across the galaxy.
What I know now: It was the spirit of love of God moving upon the face of the nation. Much like that spirit of love moved upon Abraham Lincoln as he performed the gutsiest act of presidential history in fleeing the slaves – an evolution that he called “a process of crystallization” in his relationship with Heavenly Father. And much like the spirit of love that moved upon Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Lord’s true principle that “all are alike unto God” took greater hold in the hearts of millions.
I only wish that I had escaped that culture and gained that understanding while that spirit was cutting through a chorus of tension.
Now, if we could just be fair to women (equal pay and maternity leave, to start a long list…) The Savior must understood women’s issues a lot, besides His feeling their pains in the Atonement. Remember how much time he spent with them and that they followed him everywhere? (New Testament)
Does the Republican Party believe in markets, or corporations? Markets allow us to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” as “agents unto ourselves” (D&C 58:27-28). Corporations?
So many of all of the aforementioned issues have been made worse, made difficult to fix and even created by those whose “hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men.” (D&C 121:35) This especially includes those lobbyists representing monolithic corporations that are often built upon the backs of the humble and the politicians who listen to lobbyists before the people. That’s because lawmakers have proven to listen to lobbyists before constituents on an industry forged merely through face time. (Check out this Harvard study.)
Oh, and Barack Obama, our president, is rather awesome.
Who wanted to expand health care coverage for the needy? (Compared with a candidate who disparaged 47 percent of the nation over a related issue?) Who is getting an Iran resolution passed that might just keep us from global nuclear warfare?
The Brethren have repeatedly said that “principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties.” Let’s ask questions about that. Including this one: Why would the Brethren feel the need to add that to a letter that had to do with a different topic in areas that were overwhelmingly Republican?
I know that the fullness of the gospel is true. I know that it espouses progressivism. Because we are the “Lord’s hands,” as the Savior told Isaiah, we can be for others the answer to this prayer:
O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us. (D&C 121:4)