Post by Joseph M -
President Obama finally did it: he ended Tuesday evening's debate by calling out Governor Romney (to his face!) over the 47% comment. Romney set himself up for it; he answered the last question by declaring that he cares about 100% of America. This proved a temptation too great to for even Obama to resist, and Obama responded by referencing the behind-closed-doors 47% comment.
But on one point, Romney is correct: the Obama campaign has painted a picture of Romney as out of touch with the poor and the middle-class. But Romney has also done a lot of this to himself; when he attempts to be candid, he invariable says too much, and this ultimately signals open season on the fields of (class?) warfare. Romney's wealth, elitism, and disconnect from ordinary Americans have become his most salient features, and therefore this image of privilege has supplanted the real man.
And it seems that conservatives are getting rather testy about all this negative talk of Governor Romney's wealth - and also of rich people in general. This also is the case with some members of the church as well, and I'm not sure when the shift began; it used to be that we were concerned about not speaking ill of the poor, but now the super-wealthy seem to be deserving of our charity and sympathetic glances.
Two examples: some months back, our Elder's Quorum lesson devolved into the semi-annual discussion of how should we respond to "pan-handlers" on the street; one comment from the group asserted that we should be cautious because homeless people are often hyped-up on meth and might kill you. And then the next Sunday, another good brother commented on how there's such hostility towards wealthy individuals these days, and that he was surprised by the poor opinions that many people have of the rich. (Yes, he used "poor" and "rich" in the same sentence as if to say, "those poor rich people.")
In an extreme case of political-correctness-hijacking, the wealthy are no longer referred to as "the rich," but now they are part of the protected class of "job creators," "entrepreneurs," and "innovators." I'm guessing that congress might even enact laws shielding them from hate crimes. This is necessary because all of them own small businesses and hire lots of people to do lots of things; money trickles down from these wealthy folks like water flowing towards a floor drain after a long shower at the gym.
In a recent column, David Brooks extolled the virtues of a wonderfully ambitious job creator, Elon Musk, one of the minds behind PayPal. He writes, "Government can influence growth, but it's people like Musk who create it...A few ridiculously ambitious people can change an economy more than any president." Romney reiterated this when he reverted to his high school cheerleading days and attempted to lead a chant towards the end of Tuesday's debate, "Government does not create jobs! Government does not create jobs!"
So if David Brooks is correct, we shouldn't be looking to tear down Romney and his financial success - even if he did eliminate jobs in order to make companies profitable and more efficient. The goal of a business is to make money; when a company makes money, its workers will benefit - the company can hire more workers. (Wait, is that what Romney meant when he said 'corporations are people?')
So this just begs the question: why all of this class warfare anyway? and when did this feeling of animosity towards the wealthy begin? and who decided that it was okay to criticize someone just because of their riches?
Well, let's start here:
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Matt. 19:23-24)"
Or Matthew 6:24: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days (James 5:1-3)."
The Book of Mormon is also rife with admonitions as well; I'll just give the first one I found:
"Wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are set upon their treasures; wherefore , their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also (2 Nephi 9:30)."
So I guess when people ask where all this rich-bashing came from, I'll just say, "well, it's Biblical."
Of course, being "rich" is relative; with the advent of the middle class, most people would not think of themselves as "rich," but might feel like they're somewhere in the middle. However, I wonder what wealth looked like during the time of Christ, a time when money changers were cast from the temple? And for the young man who received Jesus' condemnation, what made him rich? We are told that he had "great possessions," (but so do many of us, and we are clearly in the middle class.)
These questions are particularly hard for many of the super rich, who tend to view their "great possessions" with a sense of pride. Chrystia Freeland, the author of Plutocrat: the Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Downfall of Everyone Else, said on NPR on Monday that "in America we have equated personal business success with public virtue. And to a certain extent, your moral and civic virtue could be measured by the size of your bank account."
Freeland goes on to say that the "super rich" are angry because President Obama is pushing the idea that "what is good for the guys at the very top is not necessarily good for the people in the middle." They see this as an "existential threat," because people don't just want to be wealthy and successful, they want to be good. Therefore, any suggestion from progressive thinkers, Obama, or Jesus to the contrary is met with disappointment: "Wow, I'm not as full of virtue and goodness as I thought I was?"
Freeland notes that the numbers of plutocrats has increased, and the gap between them and everyone else is huge; ultimately, they can be expected to "rig the rules in their own favor," while convincing themselves that what is good for them is in the interest of everybody else, (i.e., cut entitlements and shrink the national debt, while reducing taxes for the wealthy.)
However, I am not interested in pointing fingers at Romney - or to imply that any church members with several fancy cars and a horse are not going to heaven until they learn to thread a needle. I guess I am more interested in understanding America's relationship with money. Capitalism has become our national pastime - and I am not sure what this says about us. But alas, that is also another post.
I think our prophet Brigham Young's fears for the Church and the Saints is of particular note:
"The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution and be true. But my greatest fear is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth."
What did President Young see of our future when he said this? The implications for America (or even for me and my own life) will make my head hurt if I think on it too long. Clearly this is a truth that is hard for all of us (including the rich) to take in. The pursuit of wealth is truly a moral conundrum; for what is so powerfully connected with self-worth in the American context is defined as a burden that drags one to hell in the scriptural sphere.
So I will end this for now. I have the new episode of The Walking Dead saved on my DVR, and I am really excited to watch it on my 48-inch flat-screen LED TV with my Bose speakers! (And my TV is a Samsung, because everyone knows that is the brand second to none when it comes to flat-screens!)
The townhall debate is tonight. I've been watching President Obama for eight years and Governor Romney for 10. I favored them for their respective parties' nominations back in early 2007. President Obama has exceeded my expectations; Governor Romney has consistently failed to meet them. If I had the chance to ask the Governor some questions tonight, here are five that are on my mind:
1) Your work on healthcare in Massachusetts was the first thing, after our shared faith, that attracted me to your candidacy. President Obama instituted a national version of this private-market based reform. You've repeatedly pledged to repeal Obamacare. If you become president, what happens to people who can't afford insurance coverage out-of-pocket but can't get it through their employers? What happens to people with pre-existing conditions? What happens to seniors who fall back into the Medicare prescription coverage "donut hole"? Why should we kick young adults who get married off of their parents' insurance, but let people who just "shack up" stay on?
2) You frequently discuss the need to balance the budget, but you're also pushing a tax proposal that completely eliminates the estate tax, lowers cap gain taxes, and cuts income tax rates by 20% across the board, while also continuing all of the Bush tax cuts and giving the Pentagon another $2 trillion over the next 10 years (which they say they don't need). Wouldn't this explode our deficit and make it impossible for you to balance the budget? Or would you soak the middle class to give a tax cut to the rich? Isn't that what we tried, without success, 10 years ago?
3) What will you do if the Supreme Courts strikes down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits the granting of federal benefits to couples who are legally married in their home state (including Massachusetts)? What is your stance on a federal law that prohibitions discrimination against LGBT in housing & employment, like the one the LDS Church supported for Salt Lake City? Speaking of human rights, if you're elected, what happens to the executive order that grants "deferred action" to people who were brought to this country without papers as children?
4) What will you do differently on Iran or for Israel? President Obama's already got strong sanctions in place that are causing the Iranian currency to collapse, and he's massively increased aid to Israel during his four years. What would you do differently? What happens to the executive order banning the use of torture in U.S.-run interrogations?
5) Your central claim is that you'll create 12 million jobs during your first term. Independent forecasters say that's already going to happen during President Obama's second term. When pressed, you gave a clarification that the Washington Post said "doesn't add up." So, why do we need to elect you?
Mormons for Obama hosted a national conference call for LDS voters this past Tuesday evening. We heard some terrific reports, had a great conversation about the presidential race and key senate campaigns, and unveiled our plan of action for the final four weeks. Our greatest strength as "Mormons for Obama" comes from our ability to talk with fellow Latter-day Saints and others of strong religious belief about how President Obama represents our values in his policies and personal life. These neighbor-to-neighbor, friend-to-friend conversations are what really makes the difference, and are absolutely crucial to winning this election on the ground. For this reason, our three main initiatives for the final stretch are:
1. Flooding Nevada and Colorado with LDS volunteers. Folks in UT are getting in touch with the Utah Obama office for phonebanking & canvassing opportunities in NV & CO. People in Nevada, Colorado, (and "Little Provo" in VA) are picking out heavily LDS neighborhoods, finding a friend to canvass with them, and getting in touch with their local Obama office to get a list of targeted doors in those neighborhoods. (We are NOT using ward lists in any way, shape, or form.) If you want to participate or have questions, subscribe to our newsletter or ask in the comments. We also need a snazzy name for this initiative, akin to the "Great Schlep" from 2008, but Mormon-y.
2. Getting even more heavily involved in volunteering with the local Obama for America neighborhood teams. We're finding our local offices and participating in local volunteering opportunities. We're sporting any Mormons for Obama gear we own and otherwise letting our fellow Obama supporters know that at least some Mormons stand with them.
3. Talking to friends and family who live in swing states and are either on the fence or supporting President Obama. We're sharing the President's record with those who are on the fence. We're getting out the vote (early if at all possible) with those who know they want four more years of President Obama in the White House!
Two major themes that came out of Tuesday night's call were the importance of letting our views be known so other Latter-day Saints no longer feel like "the only LDS Democrat" or "the only LDS Obama supporter" and the terrific volunteer skills we already possess & our ability to have an outsized impact as we get to work. We can, and we will, make a crucial difference as we get President Obama elected for another four years!
We can, in short, be these elves.
Post by Rob T.
The website Mormon Dems has long piece laying out the reasons not to vote for Gov. Romney this November. I encourage you to read the whole thing here for the meat of the argument, but here are some key quotes:
"While I admire Romney’s dedicated unpaid service in my church as a bishop and stake president, believe that he is a good family man who also cares deeply about our country, and am thrilled by Romney’s ascension to the GOP nomination in this Mormon moment, I am confident that he is the wrong person for the job of President of the United States."
"I recognize that many politicians shift their positions from time to time, but cannot think of any politician as well-known as Governor Romney who has gone through such seismic political shifts. These shifts are disconcerting not only to me, but also to many GOP primary voters who wondered whether Romney was as “severely conservative” as he said he was. Governor Romney’s GOP Primary opponents were often frustrated by Romney’s flip-flops and had difficulty cornering him on any particular issue. How do we know how Romney would govern as President? While I suspect Governor Romney may not be as conservative as he appeared in order to clinch the nomination, no one really knows. This is why I do not find Romney to be trustworthy as a politician."
"While Governor Romney’s candidacy is exciting for Mormons and has done a tremendous service for our church by helping to bring it out of obscurity and to generate a national and global conversation about Mormonism, a Romney presidency would be wrong for our country in many ways. Even if Romney is more moderate than he seems, many of his party members in Congress are 'severely conservative' and would put tremendous pressure on him to pass right-wing legislation and appoint right-wing officials and judges. For these reasons and others, I cannot support Mitt Romney for President."
We are pleased to announce that Mormons for Obama is hosting a national call for LDS voters this Tuesday, October 9th, at 8:30 PM Eastern/5:30 Pacific. It will feature presentations by Scott Howell, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate from Utah, Rev. Derrick Harkins, head of faith outreach for the Democratic National Committee, and Robert Taber, national director of Mormons for Obama. The call is expected to be about 45 minutes in length. RSVP details will be available in the next edition of the Mormons for Obama weekly newsletter.
Note: this is an off-the-record call and not open to the media.
Let's just admit it now and get it out of the way: Romney looked strong in tonight's debate, and President Obama seemed as if he didn't want to offend anyone. Well, the Presidential race may have gotten a little more interesting - especially because the undecided voters (those who tend to have no idea what is going on in politics) may have been watching this evening. And if they tuned in to this debate without the back story... then maybe Romney came out ahead?
The next two debates will both cover foreign policy, and the final debate is focusing exclusively on this topic. And it is here that Romney may have found an opening: there is strong indication that the American officials at the Libyan consulate made several requests for extra security before the attack on September 11th that killed the US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans there. Additionally, the State Department is reversing its former statements that the attack on the consulate was a result of popular protests due to American-made anti-Muslim video, "The Innocence of Muslims;" the State Dept now confirms that this was actually a coordinated terrorist attack.
Romney is rumored to be planning a coordinated attack of his own on President Obama's foreign policy record in order to assert that Obama is weak on terrorists. This would be a much-needed boon after his "shoot-first-and-aim-later" statement on the evening of the attack in Benghazi and then his 47% comment that caused some Mormons to cringe. Romney will need to continue to boost his image after the debate this evening, and maybe this is it.
Yes, Romney needs to seize upon this Muslim Moment.
But I wonder what is really going on here. Maybe this is an area that Romney should avoid altogether. Seriously folks, this is the President that killed Osama bin Laden. I mean, is it possible that the only voters who might respond to the idea that President Obama is weak on Islamic terrorism are those who believe that Obama is himself a Muslim?
Of course, Obama supporters do not require convincing that the President is the man for the job; it's just like tonight's debate - if one already supports Obama, then Mitt Romney's red-bull-infused attack did nothing more than cause a slightly irritating rash on the proverbial backside of listener's intellect. (And poor poor Big Bird. As one tweet asked: "doesn't Big Bird live on the street?; Romney hates the homeless.")
Anyway, I am amazed by how many questions still abound about Obama's religiosity and faith, and many come from our fellow Mormon brothers and sisters. Interestingly enough, some of these same Mormons also question the faith and commitment of us here at Mormons for Obama, as evidenced by the constant trickle of hate mail we receive. (One would assume that since we Mormons are often challenged regarding our Christianity, we would be careful not to level the same charges at someone else.) Alas, this is not so.
We recently received a comment that expressed a considerable amount of disdain for President Obama and our support for him. The commenter disparaged Obama as a "lover of Islam," and went on to say that she would not allow him to watch over her dog, "less (sic) alone my grandchildren." (To which I ask, did Obama even ask to babysit her grandchildren?) But she does have a point about Obama watching her dog, although I would add that both Romney and Obama carry baggage in this department; Romney's baggage is on the roof of his car, while Obama's is on his plate.
In the end I deleted the comment, seeing that it did not follow our guidelines of civil discourse. Obviously, this begs the question as to why I would review its content here - giving it more prominence than what it possibly deserves.
Well, first I wish to correct the assertion that Obama is a Muslim. Clearly, this woman, like many others, believes every anti-Obama email forward she receives in her inbox (which, I will add, is producing another convert to Mormons for Obama. Read this hilarious piece by Mark Saal.) She also must have arrived late to the town hall where John McCain rebuked a woman (and a member of the Blood gang?) for saying something similar. If Obama says he is Christian, why would it behoove us Latter-day Saints to question this?
But this leads to an even a more important aspect of this whole debate: it does not matter whether our President is Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, or even a Mormon. In fact, I would vote for Obama even if he was Muslim, and I am pleased that Minnesota elected our first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison. We are a country of many cultures, ethnic groups, and religious affiliations. If I feel I cannot trust a Muslim to properly represent my views and interests on a national or local level, then why should we expect an American Muslim, Buddhist, or Jew to accept a Christian president?
Many people became very upset when a mosque was proposed at a site near Ground Zero. This hostility seemed to imply that all Muslims are somehow responsible for the events of 9/11. However, this public battle failed to acknowledge or demostrate the proper respect for the lives of the many innocent American Muslims who were lost in the World Trade Center attacks. Of course, my argument is not new.
Regardless, many people continue to assert that Islam is a violent faith; however, I caution that we don't need to look too far to find violence in Christianity - and I am not just speaking of the Holy Wars: bombings of abortion clinics, Jones, Koresh, Northern Ireland, and Mountain Meadows, all happened under the banner of heaven.
I don't know everything about Islam, but I am unconvinced that Muslim Americans are somehow less American than Christians, or that consequently, a Muslim is somehow less qualified to be President of the United States. The Christian Right often states that America was founded on Christian principles, but one only need to watch the season finale of Sorkin's The Newsroom to know that this is not exactly true. Maggie spent all evening to find the supporting quotations from our founding fathers - but it took me 30 seconds: Top 5 Myths About America. (Will MacAvoy, hire me please? --and where were you tonight? The tired Jim Leher could've used your crib notes.) See this article on Wikipedia as well, because Wikipedia is always correct.
But I will quote one of our founding fathers here:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people who declared that their "legislature" should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
And by the way Fox Newsies, the Pledge of Allegiance had its famous line, "one nation under God," added to it in 1954 by our other founding father, President Eisenhower. See this article.
In the end, I believe that Obama is adept at handling our troubles in the Middle East. Romney might possibly attempt to seize upon this anti-Muslim Moment and use it (as Bush the W. did before him) to stoke fear in the more bigoted hearts of America. But as this article explains, it is high time we separated church and hate. Obama has demonstrated how to do this; far from being the great apologizer as Romney accuses him of being, President Obama has exhibited true Christianity time and time again. As Eric R. pointed out in his post:
(B)eyond the common sense reasons to be culturally sensitive to the Muslim faith..., there is another reason, an even better reason, for being thoughtful. That reason, of course, is because it is the right thing to do. Rather than subscribing to Krauthamer’s ‘only do good unto others when they have done good unto you’ worldview, I am more inclined to go with another philosophy, something more like ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’
So Romney can debate on and on and on; some may listen and believe. However, a quick tongue and a smart retort in tonight's contest doesn't obscure the fact that President Obama understands this country (beyond its capitalistic leanings) and its extremely important place in the world at large. And yes - even the Muslim world. Once again, I affirm my support for the President in 2012.
This is wonderful advice from Joanna Brooks - I also am amazed by the emails and comments that we receive on the Mormons for Obama website using similar condemnatory language. Of course, for us here this kind of thing may be a little easier to deal with because the emails are coming from strangers rather than our "friends" on Facebook. So I appreciate Joanna's comments and admonition that we try to understand Mormon Republicans and where they are coming from, and also that this goes both ways. So let each of us speak gently with our Mormon brothers and sisters during this political season, and we ask the same thing of them as well. We hope that no one would feel "out of place" in their ward congregations because of political divisiveness or something that we said, and thus we must remember to have compassion and understanding for those who may believe differently than us.
Admittedly, I am also very excited to see a picture of my car on Joanna Brooks' website. This makes my car more famous than my car ever dreamed it would be.
The Seahawks beat the Packers last night in this amazing down-to-the-wire knuckle-biter, (the finger nails were all gone by the end of the third quarter,) where Russel threw a 24-yard touchdown to Golden Tate. Clearly, there were angels in the endzone to solidify this miracle of epic proportions. (For optimum effect, reread that last line imagining Sean Connery's voice.) Of course, this wasn't without controversy: football fans all over the country called foul (baseball?) in that M.D. Jennings maybe/probably/most-likely had a hold of the ball before Tate got his hands on it, making the play an interception, not a touchdown, as it was called by the high-school-football-type referees called in to replace the striking professional refs.
After the call, all of us in Seattle jumped, cheered, and high-fived each other, and even if us Hawks fans acknowledged that it might have been an interception, we sang together in one unified harmonious chorus: "We'll take it."
And President Obama also jumped into the fray, calling the outcome "terrible," and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan tried to score a political touchdown of his own by comparing the amateur-refereeing to the Obama administration.
Well, Ryan's comments seem to further the assertion that the Romney campaign is struggling and desperate. The way I see it, Mitt Romney is running out of ways to get himself to the White House. While all roads lead to Rome, there's only one or two that'll get him to D.C. With a series of missteps in the past few weeks (admittedly, no-apologies-Romney doesn't publicly refer to them as that,) Romney's image as an out-of-touch, privileged, and somewhat surly rich man continues to surge in inverse proportion to his chances of winning the election.
I am starting to think that he really only has a few ways to win at this point:
1.) Voter suppression. I used to be unconvinced that this was a real thing. However, I can no longer pretend this isn't actually happening. Read here for an article on its effect on Latino voters. We even have reports of people trying to register ONLY Romney voters. See below:
But I have to admit that my heart goes out to this cute little girl - I swear she looks like a Mia Maid I knew growing up. And plus, the woman with the camera is so mean! She yells at her and calls her honey bunch! My opinion (although patronizing and sexist) is that we should give this poor girl a pass because she seems so nice and sweet, and I think that her father probably made her do this.
2.) Money. Now that Romney and Obama are the nominees, spending on the part of both candidates is astronomical. According to PBS News Hour yesterday, the rates of spending on TV advertisements has doubled the amount of what was spent in 2008. Both candidates are after that (unbelievably) undecided middle-voter, and these ads target them without regard to truth or reality. And of course, this says nothing about the Super-PAC money out there. Michael Moore predicted a Romney win for just this reason: "Mitt Romney is going to raise more money than Barack Obama. That should guarantee his victory." True enough; he does have a lot of dough to spend, and if Romney ever needed his wealth to buy something, the time is now.
3.) A miracle. I believe in miracles, but I don't know that the Republicans should wait for seagulls to swoop down and gobble up the elderly and minority voters in those states that have overturned the voter-suppression laws. However, that doesn't mean that some other natural disaster or man-made calamity couldn't set the president off of his stride. Just look to Bush (W.) in 2000. A bunch of hanging chads and that Michelle Bachman look-alike handed him the election - and of course, this was subsequently confirmed by the Supreme Court. But all of that refers back to point number one. So could more poor job numbers or an uptick in the Middle East conflict send voters fleeing for Romney?
But alas, pondering on a Romney win causes me to think about that wonderfully awesome football game from last night with its game-winning Hail Mary pass; while Republicans would celebrate if Romney was elected in November, somewhere deep in their heads they might recognize that it came about through happenstance, a bad call, or even nefarious means. And just like in 2000, when the presidency was given to George W. Bush by the Supreme Court, the Republicans will intone simultaneously, "We'll take it."
Post by Rob T.
Wednesday, in the Huffington Post, LDS historian and author Dr. Gregory Prince wrote a piece that, in some ways, I've been waiting to appear since Governor Romney said we should "double Guantanamo" back in May of 2007. The newly revealed remarks dismissing 47% of the country (including many Mormons), prompted Dr. Prince to write in part:
"The very basis of Mormon community, stretching back to the earliest years of Mormonism nearly two centuries ago, is that the more able have a sacred obligation to assist the less able. That sense of physical community was institutionalized in the Church's Welfare Program, which sprang out of the Great Depression as an exemplary and effective means of combining church and government assistance not only to give to those in need, but also to help them to help themselves . . . Judge Mitt Romney as you will, and vote for or against him as you will; but do not judge Mormonism on the basis of the Mitt Romney that was unveiled to the public this week. He is not the face of Mormonism."
Dr. Prince was on the Lawrence O'Donnell show on MSNBC Thursday evening to discuss his column, Mitt Romney, and Mormonism. I encourage you all to watch it here.
(Picture: pass-along cards used to invite people to see Mormons discuss their faith at Mormon.org.)
Post by Rob T.
One of my lengthiest discussions about Mormonism happened with a high school friend who had just finished his first year at a top-25 dental school.
It started with his question: "Why do so many of you become dentists? Half of my class is Mormon: they're all from Utah, they're all married, and they all have two or three kids."
While I never answered that particular question, I've had many Mormon friends go to dental school. My wife completed professional school, I'm almost done with a doctoral program. We Mormons are told to get married, have children, and get all the education we can. This leads to a simple fact: despite the fact that we've settled down, we're raising the next generation, and we're working very hard to secure a stable future, we fall into Governor Romney's 47% who pay no income tax, who can't be convinced to "take personal responsibility and care for [our] lives."
There are two broad reasons we pay no income tax (though, of course, we still pay sales, gas, and payroll taxes). First, as Ezra Klein lays out, Republican tax cuts have reduced the income tax liability for poor and middle-income Americans, even as that reduced liability is now being used as a reason to cut services to pay for new tax cuts for our wealthier fellow citizens. Second, as FactCheck.org explains, over the last few decades, presidents from both parties have supported and expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. This is because they've believed that it was good to encourage people to work and to have children. There's that personal responsibility again.
We don't consider ourselves victims for choosing to marry young, go to graduate school, and have a daughter. We've had incredible opportunities, and done our best to only use as much of the social safety net as we needed, and not begrudging others who used more. (If anyone out there doubts the general eligibility of young Mormon student families for government benefits, check out this thread from Mormon Mentality in 2007. It's one of the most epic discussions that has ever graced the Bloggernacle.) We do our best to take responsibility for our lives, both in the here and now and in planning for the future.
Four years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to hear Michelle Obama speak at a rally in North Carolina. She talked about how she and Barack only managed to finish paying off their student loans in 2004, as sales of Dreams From My Father started to take off. The President's also talked about this. Sitting in those bleachers back in May of 2008, listening to the future First Lady as we faced graduate school and having kids, we said to one another, "She and Barack get it. They know what we're going through. They're going to pursue policies that help young families who are just starting out." And so they have.
We Mormons are taught to take responsibility, to make choices that can lead to getting an education, to marriage, to children. Many of us are part of the 47%, and many of us are voting for President Obama, because we know he's got our backs.