Recently, the Sutherland Institute posted an article regarding LDS Democrats “trying to reconcile opposing values” between our religious and political beliefs. One commenter boiled it down to what I believe many feel is the core reason members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot also be members of the Democratic party:
One of the great, unsung projects is Health & Human Services' Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In addition to working on responsible fatherhood and anti-obesity initiatives, it hosts trainings to provide faith leaders with evidence-based resources on public health issues, including mental health.
On September 17th, they're hosting a one-hour webinar for faith leaders on suicide prevention. From the release:
"The HHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Faith Communities Task Force present this webinar for faith leaders who are often on the front line for people (and their families) dealing with spiritual, mental, or emotional distress or illness. Studies show that persons in need are more likely to go to a faith leader than a therapist, at least initially. Moreover, faith communities, through their traditions and teachings and also their commitment to care for one another, are resources for people (and their families) dealing with distress or illness. Local faith leaders are also often connected to wider community resources that can be of help. Therefore, faith leaders play an important role in addressing this preventable public health issue that affects the lives of millions of people each year. Over 38,000 suicides (2010) and one million suicide attempts (2009) create ripple effects among families, friends, co-workers, and communities.
"This webinar will provide information that faith leaders need to know in suicide prevention (e.g. warning signs, how to help). It will also offer ways faith leaders can help educate their communities about suicide and mental health issues and provide support for persons whose loved ones have completed or attempted suicide. In addition, it will help faith leaders understand and strengthen the resources they have in their own faith tradition that promote mental and spiritual health and/or can help in suicide prevention."
As we Latter-day Saints are all faith leaders of one sort or another, if you want to watch the training, sign up here, and please pass it along to anyone you think might be interested. These webinars tend to be excellent, evidence-based trainings, and sadly under-attended. So if you want to know more, sign up!
When I got married at the tender age of 22, I was politically informed, wanting to get more involved, and attracted to the good I saw in both major parties. Although I wanted something that fit with every single one of my Mormon values, I understood that both parties also had their drawbacks, and that the accomplishment of political good requires the building of diverse coalitions. My top priority: public policies that would help young people settle down and establish families. When I moved from Utah to Florida and the DMV asked for my party registration, I told them "Republican."
Being a Latter-day Saint in mid-00s, I watched the career of Governor Mitt Romney with great interest. And I was absolutely fascinated with MassCare. Using the power of the free market to help everyone get insurance while also guaranteeing a basic level of access to medical care, supported by Mitt Romney and Ted Kennedy? This will help families, not just those starting out, but all families. Go Governor Romney!
As the 2008 primaries got underway (in 2007...) I looked for someone on the Democrat side who looked like they would approach health care with the same pragmatism and grip on reality. I eventually settled on that new senator from Illinois with the funny name, and I sent off for the bumper stickers seen above: one on the right, and one on the left. (Much to the amused bewilderment of my neighbors and ward members for some time to come.)
Fast forward: Gov. Romney lost his primary. But that guy from Illinois won the general election, and then he did an interesting thing: he took the basic structure of Gov. Romney's plan (originally developed by the far-right Heritage Foundation) and turned it into a system for the whole nation. I was overjoyed: my wife and I would always, always be able to purchase health insurance, the options would be clearly laid out, and all plans would include basic care: all crucial things for families.
And like any policy proposal, the opposing side (in this case, the congressional Republicans) had issues with the law, but instead of working to make it better, they fought it, and continue to fight it. Despite all the campaign talk about strengthening and defending families, Republicans in Congress and in Washington are trying to break one of the biggest things that will help mothers and fathers raise their kids, work, and provide.
And then this week. Oh, boy. Top Republicans have unveiled their plans . . . not for campaigning against the law, or making it better, but doing what they can to make it fail. Reuters reports:
"With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage."
"Dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage." Wow. I have issues with how health insurance is generally run, and the new law doesn't fix everything I see wrong, but to actively tell people not to buy the insurance that will help them stay healthy or recover when they're sick or injured . . . As a historian, it's easy for me to get cynical as so much of what happens is a repeat of things that have happened in the past, but this, this is a new one.
Men and women in their 20s hear a lot about how they need to settle down, marry, and have kids, and generally speaking, this is what many of them want to do. The main reason many of my fellow youngsters don't: jobs are tough to come by right now, by which I mean real jobs with benefits, ones where a parent can earn enough to support a family. This is a crisis for small-c conservatism, where family formation and the continuance of society into the next generation is (I'm pretty sure) priority number 1. So what's FreedomWorks, that bastion of right-wing activity doing?
"The group is designing a symbolic 'Obamacare card' that college students can burn during campus protests."
I ended my membership in the Republican Party a few years ago, and even though I'm chairing an organization called LDS Democrats of America, I still want our representatives and thinkers in both parties spending their time working on supporting families and individuals and making our communities stronger. I had some hope, with the Senate taking a commonsense approach to immigration a few weeks ago, that we were getting there. Looks like we've still got a ways to go.