Why I'm a Mormon Democrat - Redux

I grew up in a Republican household. I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh and even taped his TV show so I could watch it when I got home from school. In college I had a friend who convinced me that Democrats weren’t evil, but just had different experiences that made them look at things differently. Eventually he convinced me to do more research and I realized I had been misled to about many things. I still wanted to do my civic duty so I started going to meetings of both Democrats and Republicans. I quickly found that I was more comfortable with the Democrats. This doesn’t mean I agree with every Democrat on everything, just that I agree with more Democrats more often than Republicans.

For example here's a short list of things I agree with Democrats on:

Many people try and convince me that I should be a Constitutionalist. These people claim that the U.S. Constitution is inspired and lays out a limited role for the federal government. I support the U.S. Constitution, but I recognize that it wasn’t perfect and never will be perfect(Alexander Hamilton said the same thing in the federalist papers). The U.S. Constitution is much better than it was when it was adopted. The Constitution now blocks slavery, blocks state sponsored religion, and grants universal suffrage. I believe the Article I Section 8 Clause 3 combined with modern technology has given the federal government great authority. Many interpret it differently, which is fine, the founding fathers didn’t even agree on it(look up A Bill For Manufactures in the Americas). The important thing is that we have all agreed to abide by the Supreme Court's interpretation.

I feel the idea that Republicans support more local control and Democrats support more national control is a false narrative. It's one I believed during the Clinton years, then I began really paying attention to politics during the Bush years when the Republican had control of both chambers and the White House, very little power was returned to the states. Instead we got laws like the RealID and HAVA act micro managing the states even further.  I often observe Republicans using their dominance in the state legislature to micro manage local governments.

Teddy Roosevelt supported many policies being moved to the national level. Some of this was because of how trains had made interstate commerce so much more common, but mostly it was because he believed a good law is a good law no matter what level it is passed at. Then along came FDR who was allowed to expand the federal government because people were desperate and then because of war.  We allowed many of those expanded powers to stay, some for good reasons others for not so good reasons. While I may agree with some arguments about the role of the federal government being reduced, I think those decisions should be made on a case by case basis. Rather than throwing them all out because some one who's been dead for over two hundred yours supposedly wouldn't agree with it.

I could say since I don’t always agree with the Democratic party, I don’t belong to it, but I believe participating gives me greater influence than throwing stones. In the last decade I have participated in neighborhood caucuses, served as a delegate(five times), participated in party leadership(precinct chair, leg sec, leg chair, regional director), ran as a candidate(twice), and currently serve in caucus leadership(LDS Dems executive commitee member).

My decision to become a Democrat was not one I made lightly.  It took several years for me to accept it.  I'd much rather belong to the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, but it is not the party it used to be. Fortunately the Democratic party is not the party it used to be either.  I have found a comfortable home here.  I hope you will join us at an LDS Dems social sometime and see what we are really like.

This was adapted from a response given to a comment on a previous post.

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  • commented 2017-03-20 16:03:38 -0700
    Federalist 42 explains why regulation of interstate commerce can not be left to the states. States levying tariffs against each other was THE SINGLE BIGGEST REASON for the constitutional convention, but I don’t see anywhere in the text where Hamilton claims it should be the only involvement of the federal government in commerce. If you look at his policies positions as treasurer you can see he didn’t believe that at all. Look up “A Bill for Manufactures in the Americas” read that then tell me that Hamilton believed the federal government should play a large role in the economy. Some founding fathers believed in an extremely limited federal government, others did not(they called themselves federalists for a reason). We could argue about who said what and what it meant all day. Smart people disagree about these things. There’s a reason the supreme court reverses itself from time to time.

    A point I’m frequently trying to make to other Democrats is that their is a misunderstanding on both sides about what the other side is about. What their reasons and motivations are. There are racists and selfish people in both parties, who are motivated to vote based on those traits, but I think most people vote based off of misinformation about the OTHER party. Unfortunately many leaders and allies of both parties have decided the best way to get ahead is to tell lies about the other party. So I appreciate your willingness to read my posts and give me chance to explain my thinking. This is what we have been counselled to by by the brethern:


    If I speed I might get a ticket. This does not remove my agency. I am free to act and make decisions. I don’t see a significant difference between a law compelling me to pay for health coverage for the sick versus a law that compels me to to not cause harm to others. Both are government interference in my life for the benefit of others and myself. The vast majority of spending on welfare in the US is Social Security and Medicare. Recipients of these systems have been productive and paid into these systems. Most recipients of Medicaid and SNAP are employed. You are making untrue assumptions about the people who benefit from these systems.

    You spend a lot of time talking about the rights of those who are able to find work, and have health care. You don’t talk about the rights of those who are sick, disabled, uneducated, impoverished children, or victims of domestic. I believe these people have rights to health care, enabling technology, education, food, and shelter. I believe we all benefit economically by providing these people access to these things. My support for Democratic policies are both economic and moral.

    I was taught that Democrats get elected by promising voters that if they vote for them that the voters will be given money with out having to work. That this money will be provided by them by taxpayers. I have met every elected Democrat in this state, I have ran for office myself, not once have I ever heard any Democrat make such a promise. We are focused on funding education for EVERY child, not just those who’s parents are involved in their education. We are focused on providing health care to those who are too sick to work(including mental health issues), not just those currently holding full time jobs. We are focused on providing support to those who are victims of violence.

    The last part of your post is true. It is easier to have more of a say in things that take place at a local level. How ever on my ballot I could pick between Republican Congressman Chaffetz who uses his position as my federal representative to dictate to the residents of Washington DC what they can and can’t do, or Steven Tryon who would not do such things. As I said previously Republicans elected officials, do not vote in a manner indicating they support local control. State official often claim to support local control while demanding more control from federal officials while at the same time stripping cities(especially Salt Lake) of power to make decisions for themselves. In the end there are trade offs between local and federal control and I think we need to find the right balance for each issue.

    For the record my state rep is the leader in cutting funding to education and blocking health care access for the working poor. For this reason I have ran against him twice. I have lost twice. I believe the reason I lost is because people believe lies about me as a Democrat. That is why I contribute to this blog, inorder to set the record straight. I believe individuals should be as self reliant as possible, but that we all benefit economically by helping them when they can’t.
  • commented 2017-03-19 09:59:51 -0700
    J.B., Jesus busted out a whip one time, so sometimes a little passion is a good thing. You started by saying I was coveting your property, which is quite an accusation, and explains why I described your view as self-righteous. Maybe I am human too, and I react sometimes instead of just stating my views. I humbly acknowledge I can do better there and am will.

    I will add that Article 1, Section 8 says Congress can tax and spend for the general welfare. You’ll notice though that most welfare programs are actually legislated and governed by the states, and just subsidized by the federal money. The Supreme Court agrees this is all acceptible.

    The Mormon principles you mention are separate from the legal issue, but are equally important. In a recent statement about providing healthcare to needy families, they state both the importance of self reliance, and the need of helping families who don’t have access to adequate health care. That asked for thoughtful approach:

  • commented 2017-03-19 09:19:31 -0700
    I will admit, that when I started replying to this site as a conservative, that I took some defensive stances. Those were a result of my face to face confrontations with progressives that I did not solicit. But Kyle Waters was able to calm me down a bit and get me to open up about some of my doubts. The last couple of responses I got, made me feel good. I think my last post was pretty heart felt, and I had no intent on pissing anyone off. It was my perspective on the Gospel and some of the doubts I had. Kyle has shown good charity toward me, and I think he and I could be friends. Justin on the other hand, you are just a jerk. Instead of mocking me and what I wrote, how about taking a couple of my points and use some persuasive language and Christ like charity to show me where you think I can be corrected. But no, you have to name call and mock. That shows the depth you are willing to think. I hope you feel great taking the sacrament today. So, I’m done. I will participate no more. Kyle on the other hand, I will seek you out on Facebook. I’d like to take you to lunch sometime.
  • commented 2017-03-19 08:19:33 -0700
    Anyone else other than Justin. Name for me the one thing that the poor have that triggers my legal obligation through government taxation and regulation, because I’m not seeing it. Discussing Gospel Principles, the words of the Prophets, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Commandments should not elicit such a response from a fellow member of the Church. It is not over simplification(the Gospel is simple), it is not asinine and it is not a warped perspective on reality. If you don’t want me to try seek understanding here and try to get answers to my questions, let me know, and I will go on my merry way.
  • commented 2017-03-19 08:06:43 -0700
    I triggered Justin. All I have done is look at this from the perspective of the commandments, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Priesthood. You are a Mormon right? Commandments and Gospel Principles should not be in dispute. How is that twisted? Your regulation and taxation still steals a portion of the fruits of my labor to pay for someone else’s “woman’s health”. All I asked from a legal standpoint, If I have not participated in the activity or activities that requires a woman to seek birth control, pre-natal care or an abortion, how to I owe her to have dollars taken from me through taxation and regulation? Where is the origin of my legal debt to her? I love President Monson’s three R’s of choice. But according to you, rights are separate from responsibility and they are separate from the results. She has the right, I have the responsibility. So following the Prophet, following the commandments and Gospel Principles is over simplification. Here we are again, I’m simple minded. Well, the Gospel is simple. Believe me, I’m far from righteous. I fall like everyone else. But I don’t understand the progressive Mormons telling me I need to pay for other peoples stuff, by force no less. You aren’t coming from a position of coveting by saying I need to be taxed and regulated for the benefit of unproductive citizens? That’s not self righteous? All I want is to choose not to support the things I don’t support rather than through the coercive forces of Government that acts outside of its boundaries. You think government is justified to regulate my health insurance. Be specific, Article and Section, where does this authority come from? Your specific on what I should pay for. What is the one thing the underprivileged have that triggers my legal obligation? How do I benefit when you force yourself on me? Limited principles, the Gospel is full of them. Yet you want unlimited government. It’s common defense and general welfare, which is defined by the enumerated powers. The programs you love are not listed as a power. We do belief in the line of authority as Mormons.
  • commented 2017-03-16 11:09:55 -0700
    J.B. we have a system of representation that gives the state authority to regulate, tax and perform other acts for security, and the general welfare of the people. Politics is the process of deciding who gets what, when and how. It’s that simple.

    My politics, as a Mormon, may differ than yours without your self-righteous indignation. I don’t look at your property and decide I want to give it to harlots so they can have sex. That’s an oversimplification on an asinine level. What I do decide is that as a matter of saving society money, making sure women don’t get pregnant and have babies who don’t want to might actually be better for everyone… so requiring insurance companies to provide birth control as a part of health is good. It can also be used to regulate other aspects of women’s health!!’ Wowzers!

    So frankly, you are looking at this from a warped perspective on reality.
  • commented 2017-03-16 10:44:10 -0700
    I like truth. On the legal/government point of view, there is a Bill of Rights, that would be true. The Bill of Rights outlines the rights of the people and the states, the things that the Federal Government is not supposed to violate. That would be true. Article I section VIII outlines the enumerated powers of the Federal Government. That would be a true statement. There is no where in Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Enumerated Powers nor in Tax law anywhere that legally obligates one citizen to support another. That is a true statement. There is no specific clause in the Commerce clause that states government can force a citizen into commerce. That would be true. Federalist 42 defines the regulation of commerce as not allowing the states to charge each other tariffs and to create harmony and proper intercourse between the states. That would be true. According to Article III, the judicial branch has no power to interpret or change the definition of words. That would be true. Were not going to agree on that, fine, but it’s out there. What is also true, the Ten Commandments and the Arch and Covenant of the Priesthood, being honest, being self sufficient, staying out of debt and the Law of Chastity. Progressiveness takes these principles of light, and calls them darkness. Progressivism and Progressives, including the Mormon ones, habitually look at the property of others. If one follows President Grant’s council on being self sufficient, that person can live up to that, to the point of living a modest lifestyle, yet still have money, the progressive will look at that and scream “social justice”, as if he has done something wrong. Light to dark. We aren’t supposed to bear false witness, yet if you have a man that obeys the law of chastity and lived the right way, gets married and has kids, the progressive will point at that man with their social justice view of the and say that he has a legal obligation to pay for a woman he doesn’t know for her “woman’s health” in the form of birth control, pre-natal care or an abortion. Taking light and calling it darkness. If a couple strives to stay out of debt by following President Hinkley, they have all their possessions payed off, the progressive will look at that with their social justice glasses, and petition government, then government will tax that couple and create a never ending debt between them an some other unknown person that most likely is not producing. Same thing. Doctrine and Covenants 101:79 states that it not right for one man to be in bondage to another. Yet, that is what progressives seek to do. It bothers me that the Mormon progressive likes ambiguous wording, in order to twist the law into somehow making plunder legal. It is one man defining the rights of another, and frankly, I don’t trust. It’s smelly. It stinks. If you want specific power over me, you better be able to specifically site where you get this power, not site a short sentence and say “see there.” Progressives want the law to be this flexible thing to equalize outcomes. Guess what? There will never be equal outcomes on this Earth. Not every member has a temple recommend. If this life is the time to prepare to meet God, then why does the Mormon progressive seek to take so many decisions out of the hands of free individuals and have Government (which are just people) make those decisions for them? I don’t see it. Anyone reading this, needs to rethink, do I covet, do I lie, do I bear false witness, do I care about debt, should people really be self sufficient, if citizen A has never met citizen B, how did citizen B fall into citizen A’s debt and have a legal obligation? You can justify your stance that Elder Faust was a democrat. He wasn’t a social justice warrior. I doubt highly he would support Planned Parenthood. When the law seeks to be charitable, it is not equal to the citizens. That is a true statement. When the government breaks the law to create a law, its only legitimacy is its monopoly on its exclusive use of force by threat of the armed agent of government to threaten the citizen. Then law would be whatever is the whim at the time. That is also a true statement. There is nothing unrighteous in my desire that the federal government be whittled back to Article I Section VIII. Then, according to the 10th amendment, which is a right under the bill of rights, all other responsibilities would fall to the states and to the people. Then rather trying to get through Orin Hatch’s office with no result, Kyle, you and I could drive up to the Capital in Salt Lake and seek out our state representatives. I’d even drive and buy you lunch. But I can’t accept this national social justice view of the law and reconcile it with the Commandments,Gospel, Priesthood and a free society. That is what was intended for our nation.
  • commented 2017-03-02 15:55:32 -0800

    You have a legal obligation to pay your taxes. These taxes are used for many different purposes, some of which are to benefit the poor. So under current US law you have a legal obligation to the poor. We have also been told in scripture and from modern church leaders to help the poor. So I would say you have both a legal and moral obligation. I have heard arguments that legal obligations prevent voluntary donations and deny people blessings. I don’t believe those argument, and think they conflict with current church doctrine. If that were the case church leaders would have condemned “Healthy Utah” rather than commending government officials for their efforts at providing health care to individuals and families through out Utah.

    I’m not saying you can’t oppose Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, TANF, SNAP, Housing Assistance, Utility Assistance, ACA, FHA Loans, Student Loans/Grants, etc. I just don’t believe God is punishing people because those programs exist.

    This blog exists largely to counter myths that are told about the Democratic party among the Mormon faithful. One of those myths is that one can’t be a Mormon Democrat. Elder Faust was a Democrat(he even served as state party chair at one point), Elder Renlund is a registered Democrat. I recommend this talk by Elder Oaks where he talks about the importance of looking at the apostles’ example when one has been confused by President Benson’s words.

  • commented 2017-03-02 14:57:14 -0800
    Hey J.B., if I were you, I’d feel the same way. People shouldn’t judge you for what kind of car you have, or pass judgement on you for any reason. I respect your views, and think they make a great deal of sense. I understand one way to look at taxation is theft or coercion, especially when it’s used for purposes you don’t agree with. I believe that is why our democratic system is inspired, because it enables us to participate in those decisions.

    I sometimes feel like oil companies envy my money when they charge too much, get subsidies from the government. I sometimes feel that my money has been used to kill millions of people all over the world, like in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I do believe it would be wise to ensure that people have jobs, health care, food, shelter, an education, and a dignified retirement. FDR called it a second bill of rights. I view it as an investment in a stable, educated, and prosperous society. I think people are free to have different opinions about what the legitimate functions of government are without being accused of abandoning their faith.
  • commented 2017-03-02 14:34:36 -0800

    So help me out. Is my obligation to the poor a moral obligation or a legal obligation?
  • commented 2017-02-28 17:47:59 -0800
    I move back to Utah after living outside for 8 years. Liberal progressive Mormon number one says that I should be taxed at a rate that would allow the government to confiscate ALL of my income, because I work for a global company and “my CEO is a selfish, guy and I’m selfish too.” I have an old car that I bought back in college. I couldn’t get $200 dollars by selling it if I tried, but it runs great. I decided to let is sit on the side of my house, behind a gate for a couple of years until my oldest reached driving age. Liberal progressive Mormon number 2 says that car should be confiscated from me, by the Bishop no less, and I should lose my temple recommend because “I am living in excess and denying someone that really needs a car the opportunity to have one.” As if there is a shortage of used cars. A year after the birth of my 5th child, I sold my minivan and bought a low mileage, used Ford Excursion, which I paid cash for. Progressive Liberal Mormon number three tells me the government should confiscate that vehicle from me and destroy it because of the negative impact on the environment. Well, I do the calculation, I used as much fuel in that SUV in a year as Al Gore’s private jet does in an hour. Yet, I’m not the good steward. He told me I should have gone into debt like he did for a $42,000 Toyota all wheel drive van. I would have been as good has him. I haven’t met a Utah Liberal Progressive Mormon that doesn’t wag a finger.
    Here is where I come from. You can put any adjective in front of the word abuse in the domestic sense, that is what I lived in my early years. As an adult, I have a firm belief that that NO MAN should act over me unless he can site where he gets this authority. I don’t care if it is work, my neighborhood, or government. Man A placing himself over Man B to define the rights of Man B just because he says so or can twist the law into his favor is not a thing that I can accept. More times than not, the liberal progressive democrat will exempt himself from his own liberal progressive democrat views. So, no. I don’t have a good opinion of Progressives. They make immediate judgement on me, they covet my income or my things, bear false witness to the government that I have committed an injustice or that I owe someone money that I have not met, do not have a contract or verbal agreement with a portion of my income for their purposes, and the steal through taxation. Then progressive liberal Mormons want to mix progressivism in some charitable sense of the Gospel. I can’t find where Christ went door to door with the publicans and Roman soldiers demanding charity. All I believe in is the maximum absence of coercion from government and it restrained to its legitimate functions. If this life is a time to prepare to meet God, I don’t want to be lectured on why I need to be taxed so the women bent on breaking the law of chastity can get free condoms, I would rather choose not to support that. But I can’t. The Lord made his statement in Doctrine and Covenants 101:80. Take your slavery question up with Him.
  • commented 2017-02-22 09:32:42 -0800
    I did not mean to call you foolish. I did word my sentence poorly and strung two claims together. Only one of which I disagree with. I’m not denying that inspiration was involved in creating the constitution(I am disputing that the framers all supported the same limited federal government). I think the inspiration was in how they framed it in such way to get enough approval for it to pass. They did this through compromise and ambiguous wording that allowed them to continue to debate the proper role of the federal government while using the new frame work. I think very smart people can disagree about the proper role of the federal government. If you want to discuss the proper role of the federal government I’m happy to do so, but D&C 101:80 does nothing to convince me that the Medicare should be eliminated.
  • commented 2017-02-22 08:37:41 -0800
    Is the slavery part “inspired”? And J.B., Jesus said love everyone. I’m not feeling a lot of love from you. But I know you are a smart person capable of understanding anything I can. Don’t judge prolifically. Liberals can be good people too! :-)
  • commented 2017-02-22 08:16:33 -0800
    Kyle, thanks for the extra bit if attention.

    The modern day liberal progressive democrat has two problems in my view. The first problem is arrogance. They have that because they are liberal progressive democrats, they are just smarter and more enlightened, and because I’m conservative, well, I’m not smart enough to comprehend the nuance of the liberal progressive democrat mindset or even the basic functions required to live my own life. I’m related to them, I work with them, I have learned that from experience.

    So Kyle, address one thing for me. You say as a conservative, I have a “claim” that the Constitution was inspired. It’s only a claim. I must be foolish to believe such a thing. You are smarter, because, I only have a claim. But when I read Doctrine and Covenants 101:80 and find that the Lord himself declared He established the Constitution, that it is truth. I know of no other way the Lord establishes things on Earth, save through inspiration. So, how is it merely a claim when I say, “the Constitution was inspired from God?” The only way to argue that I only a claim would be to discredit Joseph Smith.

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