Republican National Convection, Day 1
So as McKay Coppins pointed out on BuzzFeed, "Within minutes of Mitt Romney officially winning the Republican nomination, the Facebook page for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a blunt reminder that it is “politically diverse.” And so I will attempt to express that political diversity with my own comments about the first day of the Republican National Convention. See below for the LDS Church's new video.
In case you didn't happen to watch the RNC's first day, (yesterday having been scrapped for fears that Hurricane Isaac would wipe out Tampa Bay like what Vesuvius did for Pompeii,) then you didn't miss nothing but a lot of hot air blowing around. A bunch of people spoke including John Boehner who proved that the swirling special effects behind his head can be more interesting than all his "a guy walked into a bar" jokes that never got to the punchline. And then the pink governors on parade began: the Governors of Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Virginia all got up there as if to remind their constituents, "You voted Republican once, why not again?" Also we heard from Santorum, and he was only interesting because everyone knew he'd say something crazy. They also showcased the engaging Mia Love - (have you heard of her yet?) But then there was turncoat Arthur Davis. He is an anomaly to me. But considering how he flipped from being an Obama supporter to stumping for Romney in just four years, maybe he is the perfect speaker at a convention to nominate the biggest flip-flopper of them all.
Well, if you wanted to hear what Ann Romney had to say, it started like this, "This is gonna be so exciting!" And I wondered... what? the convention? a Romney presidency? or her talk? (She is Mormon, so it was most definitely a talk.) But let me get all my snark out of the way: I couldn't decide if Ann Romney sounded more like Sarah Palin (I LOOOOVE YOU WOMEEN!) or a second counselor in a bygone-era RS Presidency. (Have you noticed that some of the women speakers in General Conference smile all through their talks? Ann Romney sure has.) But her smiling laughter and awkward guffaws aside, I am bothered that she spent so much time talking about the poor and the downtrodden of America, when her husband's plan to help these people is to raise taxes on the poor and middle class and slash taxes for the rich, with some expectation that these wealthy Americans will hopefully create more jobs (or give to more charities) and trickle that wealth on down like rain water through a sewage ditch. (Click here to see my last trickle-down economics metaphor.)
However, Ann Romney appeared to be genuine in her praise for her husband. Of course, she has an incredible amount of love and respect for him. She has seen his hard work and dedication as a leader in church and as governor of Massachusetts. At one point, she said of Romney, "No one will work harder, no one will care more, and no one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live." She also spoke of Mitt's passion for serving, and how he doesn't brag about it: "Mitt doesn't like to talk about how he's helped others, because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point."
Clearly, Ann Romney was on the stage to humanize her husband and to show America the side of him that only she might see. Well, I guess I wasn't expecting her to seem so awkward herself. I guess that both Mitt and Ann are a little on the socially inept end of the spectrum, (hence, their "real marriage"). I will be interested to see how "America" (whoever that is) views her address.
The night closed with Governor Christie, who proved he isn't as likable as he you'd imagine him to be, and who also proved that he was running for the President of New Jersey (or of the USA 2016). But I'm not complaining; his speech spurred the instant-classic moment of the evening: a guy in the convention hall gets projected onto the screen behind Christie while yelling, "YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!" Wrong convention, wrong candidate. (Watch for him at 17:17.)
And Condoleezza Rice looked so tired. Did somebody force her to be there? By the way, if you check back tomorrow, you may or may not find a review of day 2. We may want to go to bed early, and unlike Condi, nobody is forcing us to show up.
It's Time to Get to Work
We're less than 75 days away from the presidential election. Early voting in Iowa starts in just over a month. With the Romney campaign & allies outspending President Obama 2-1 on the air, we must talk to our friends and our neighbors about why we support President Obama and why he's the best choice to lead our country for the next four years. Read Hannah's post on becoming anxiously engaged in the campaign. Join the Facebook group if you can. And enjoy this top 10 on canvassing vs. tracting:
We've found new friends! Catholics Democrats are following us on Twitter - and we in turn are following them! Please check out their website here - and notice the bannerhead "Catholics for Obama." Also read this article here that details their efforts.
When you find a new friend it is usually because you both have something in common - and I mean something beyond the Blake Edward's film, Breakfast at Tiffany's, although for some people that's enough to keep a relationship together. I read this week that Mitt Romney has a penchant for Cherry Coke Zero and McDonald's pancakes, and I was floored because those (and brown paper packages) are two of my favorite things as well. So now, beyond our common religious affiliation, Romney and I share Cherry Zero and MacDoughs, and this is no small thing for me... especially because I'm trying to distance myself from Romney as the election draws closer.
But I am moving forward. And to further this effort, I am giving up Cherry Zero until the election (and I hardly eat McDonald's pancakes anyway; you have to be there by 11 am on Saturday before the switch to lunch, and that is way too early.) So instead, I am taking up Obama's favorite drink, which is... oh wait... black forest berry iced tea. That might pose a problem.
Well, no matter - I found 50 Facts You Might Not Know About Obama, and I've already discovered 8 things we have in common:
1) I have read every Harry Potter book also (and then turned around and listened to them all on CD.)
2) I too have eaten dog, snake, and grasshoppers - and found them all to taste like meat.
3) I sometimes try to write with my left hand (when disguising my handwriting for ransom notes.)
4) I also like Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (but edited for television only.)
5) I like Scrabble too. (Qat is my favorite word, because I don't like u.)
6) Like Obama, I don't drink coffee and rarely drink alcohol (only in cough syrup and desserts - but mostly it cooks out.)
7) I've read the dedication page for Moby Dick; (it's written for Nathaniel Hawthorne - before Nathaniel unfriended Herman on Facebook for posting too much political stuff.)
8) The Wire.
And I will add one more thing to my list that wasn't included in the article: Me and the President will be voting for the same candidate in November. That is some common ground to start from.
Talking with His Mouth Full
I am so happy that all this back and forth between the two Mormon political super-celebs (Mitt Romney and Harry Reid) officially ended today when Romney finally announced that after thumbing through his old tax forms, he discovered that he'd "never paid less than 13%" during the past ten years. He went on to report, "I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that." I say it's over because Reid, as far as I can tell, has not volleyed back at him yet.
But let me back up to the beginning and explain how this all went down: it started with a simple sit-down interview between Reid and the Huffington Post and turned into a three-week-long brawl between the two most recognizable Mormons in the American political arena. This battle is worthy of Brigham Young and Orson Pratt back in the day - only unlike Brigham, Reid hasn't told any of Romney's wives to divorce him yet; (one can only speculate what a fast and testimony meeting might look like with both of these men in attendance.)
In the interview, Harry Reid speculated that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for the ten years that he was at Bain - hence Romney's refusal to release the tax records. He even went so far as to say, "His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son," apparently in a reference to the elder Romney turning over 12 years of tax records during his bid for the presidency. This even provoked the ire of Jon Stewart, who told Harry Reid that he should "shut-up" while introducing the segment, "You, Harry Reid, are Terrible." (I guess I could pile on to Reid's accusations towards Romney by including the speculation we received from M.W. in the comment section of this website: "Wow! It just hit me – Romney doesn’t want to release his tax returns because he doesn’t want the church to find out that he has not been tithing his full 10%.") But Stewart is right, as well as the mass numbers of commenters on our website who took issue with M.W.'s comments - we shouldn't accuse Romney of dishonesty without any proof.
Governor Romney sure does agree - read this article from the LA Times to get more details of the squabbling between the two.
But Senator Reid isn't apologizing. This isn't the first time Reid has used "choice" words to describe a political foe. In fact, in addition to Harry Reid's statements about Romney a few weeks ago, the Huffington Post also reported that he'd had time to disparage fellow Democrat, Bill Magwood, calling him a "'treacherous, miserable liar' and 'first-class rat,'" (and he also used a word that would have cost me a severe licking if I'd said it as a child.) Harry Reid is not unacquainted with harsh words. In the first few pages of his memoir, The Good Fight: Hard Lessons from Searchlight to Washington, Reid writes about George W. Bush,
"I believe that the current President is an ideologue who has done incalculable damage to the government, reputation, and moral standing of the United Stakes of America. His vaunted "CEO Presidency" has...been incompetent in the face of grave challenge at home and abroad..."
[caption id="attachment_1578" align="alignright" width="300"] Harry Reid's boyhood home in Searchlight[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1675" align="alignright" width="300"] Mitt Romney's boyhood home in Detroit[/caption]
Harry Reid grew up in Searchlight, Nevada, and although it may sound trite, his experience of coming "from a mining town" where "the leading industry...was no longer mining, (but) prostitution," might explain a something about this high-ranking Mormon politician. He is known for being soft-spoken, but even words of condemnation can be spoken softly (whether it's saying that the USA Olympic uniforms should be burned or repeating the call to release tax forms.) This of course is in stark contrast to Romney's upbringing. In fact, the two have little to nothing in common in that respect, and I'd guess that this speaks volumes to their different opinions, ideas, and presentation in regard to their politics.
But despite it all, Harry Reid seems to relish the criticism he's received for his attack on Mitt Romney. So I will do Senator Reid a favor and give him some criticism of my own. I don't know how much more time I would waste on this tax thing. Personally, I don't think it strange that Mitt Romney would refuse to release more taxes. With talk of tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and Swiss Bank accounts, America can't help but be reminded of a half-dozen James Bond movies and a recent episode of Breaking Bad. (And that can't break good for Romney.)
So instead of the intense scrutiny of the Romney taxes, let's consider the ridiculousness of Romney's statement today about his taxes: "I just have to say, given the challenges that America faces — 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty — the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small-minded."
Beyond Romney's taxes, (which only point to the inequities of our tax system,) I am troubled that Romney would point to poverty in America as something he is seriously concerned about. I appreciate the logic that if you give the wealthiest Americans a tax break that they will then invest that money, and this will spur job growth; inevitably these investments would trickle down like crumbs falling under the table of America for the one in six people in poverty to eat up. But I just don't believe it is true. Statistics do not back it up. If tax cuts for the wealthy really helped eliminate poverty or even created jobs, then why did the Bush tax cuts fail to do that? According to PolitiFact, job growth under Bush was a sluggish 4.5% while the previous Clinton administration posted double-digit job growth numbers.
In the article, Myth Romney: Tax Cuts Spur Growth, Ernest Dumas writes,
Not once has (a tax-cut spurred job growth), but the theory never loses its shine. Ronald Reagan cut lots of taxes in 1981, and it was followed by the deepest recession since the '30s — 10 straight months of double-digit unemployment and soaring deficits. When the economy began to recover, he raised taxes over and over until the big 1986 tax increase (revenue enhancement, they called it) was followed by the growth spurt that got him the reputation as the wizard of economic growth. George W. Bush passed successive tax cuts, which produced ballooning deficits, virtually no job growth and, finally, the longest doldrums since the Great Depression.>
So Senator Reid, if we are going to call out Romney on something let's bring it back to this: please don't discuss unemployment anymore. Please don't talk about poverty. It's like talking with your mouth full. Because in the end, Romney cannot honestly talk about poverty when the other words twisting and turning around his mouth leave no room for the American poor. Nothing in his (which really is Paul Ryan's) plan helps this particular group of people. And although we are only 80 plus days until the election, I am just getting started here. I am supporting Obama for very specific reasons, and issues of poverty and inequality are at the top of my list. More to come...
A Presidential Vice
I won't even go into the details of how or what or why I disagree with Paul Ryan (and not just in one area - but in so many many ways.) I don't feel the need to; just do a google search on "Why Paul Ryan is Wrong" and you'll see an explosion of articles and links describing the problems with this congressman.
This is what I don't get: why Representative Paul Ryan? I don't understand how the formerly moderate Governor of Massachusetts could pick such an extremely right (meaning wrong) conservative as his running mate. Maybe I really bought into the Etch-a-Sketch comment. I somehow believed that Mitt Romney would right his boat into the political center after he won the Republican nomination. There is an oft-stated idea that the Romney of yesteryear (Governor of Massachusetts) would not have voted for the Romney we see now running for president - and the VP Ryan pick really bears that out. So I do apologize for my naiveté on this one. It's not like I would have voted for Romney regardless of who he picked, but I did find myself caught off guard by his Vice President choice.
In fact, a friend of mine has been pranking me with random text messages these past two weeks proclaiming fake Romney VP picks; the first one said, "Romney picks Sarah Palin as his VP!" I paused for a moment, and then realized it was a joke. The second one even came with a fake abcnews.go.com link: "Romney picks LDS President Thomas S. Monson as VP." I knew that was false - but I clicked on the link anyway just to make sure. So when I got his latest text message on Friday night, I figured "Ryan selected as VP" was leaning towards the ridiculous just like the previous two texts. Alas, this is not the case.
But still I can't help mulling it over in my head: what is Romney hoping to accomplish by picking Paul Ryan? Is he not convinced that he has the conservative vote in the bag? Well, maybe this is Mitt Romney's vice (if we can call it that): his willingness to do anything and everything to please the conservative wing of his party. Because if there is some middle ground of voters still to be won over - or the undecided - (is that another word for people who don't pay attention to politics until the week before the election?) - how does Ryan help them choose Romney? Clearly Romney really likes the guy - and maybe he'll just adopt Ryan's fiscal plans as his own since that would be easier than coming up with one - (or maybe he'll just adopt Ryan as another one of his sons, since he kind of looks like them anyway.) Regardless, I don't get how Ryan's politics will do anything more than alienate a large majority of the electorate.
Maybe I'm wrong. But my bet (and my vote) is on Obama for 2012. It feels good to be on the right side of history on this one (again.)
A Brief Explanation of Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama
There are many, many reasons why I support President Obama. Here are just a few of them.
When a Choice is Placed Before You...
Seeing that we at Mormons for Obama are not without sin, I don't want to be the first to cast a stone at another; (so can somebody else please do it for me, and then I will surreptitiously cast the second stone?) And then there's that thing about a glass house; (is that even biblical?) Well, Buzzfeed caught wind of this and put it out there - (the media is running out of Mormon stories to run): some Romney Mormons have co-opted the "Choose the Right" slogan and slapped it underneath the Romney logo to drum up Mormon fervor for the Mormon candidate. (As if they needed to do that.) Click on this link for the Buzzfeed article.
Clearly, we have riffed the "I'm a Mormon" campaign with our bumper stickers - and so legally, I can't find fault with these people too much, except to ponder, "why didn't we think of making buttons?" Although Buzzfeed does make a good point: Isn't Romney trying to distance himself from the religion discussion, and isn't this unhelpful in that regard?
Well, regardless of their intent, I feel I should respond in this way: instead of being upset because my childhood CTR ring (that would invariably leave a rusty-brown line around my finger not unlike the ring circling the inside of a dirty commode,) has now been connected with a political candidate who just might begin spewing white oil any day now, I have produced my own version of their bumper sticker... and then all associations with happy memories of my youth are washed away. And please, no need to ask! Feel free to use this graphic in all your Romney campaigning this fall:
Mormons for Obama T-Shirts!
Mormons for Obama Say Kyle Blaine's Article Doesn't Represent Them
Kyle Blaine's abcnews.go.com piece entitled, Mormons for Obama Say Romney Doesn’t Represent Them, gets at least one thing right: we do say that Romney doesn't represent us. Laura put it best when she said, "just like Mitt Romney is not your average American, he’s not your average Mormon, he doesn’t represent every Mormon in America.” In putting this website together, we wanted to demonstrate the diversity of the people, ideas, and opinions within the church, especially in regard to the upcoming election. Our intention is not to get people upset (although you might wonder after seeing the comments posted after our last guest article by Steve Warren.)
However, Kyle missed this when writing his piece; in fact, he may have been looking for something a bit more controversial than what is really embodied in this website. Kyle wrote, "while there may be no written rule within the church demanding political purity within the Mormon community, there is one big issue where the Mormons for Obama split from their church. On the issue of gay marriage, they side with the President, who affirmed his support for its being legal in May of this year."
This website has no official position on gay marriage or Obama's support of it - and we definitely are not splitting from our church. Conversely, we posted four different pieces on the subject in order to demonstrate the wide-range of views among Obama-supporting Mormons. We did this because we received (and continue to receive) genuine queries from our conservative Mormon brothers and sisters about this issue: "So, as a practicing member of the LDS Faith, please tell me how I determine when not to follow the Prophet. Apparently the views of many who are voting for Obama include support for same-sex marriage. Seems that is contrary to what we are taught. I know we have agency; I am just not convinced using it to go against the teachings of the Church is a wise use of such a blessing."
This (and abortion) are lightning rod issues for Mormons when it comes to supporting a Democratic candidate for public office. For those who feel strongly about these issues, please read Eric's post to understand how a Mormon can support Obama without standing for gay marriage. Also, read Ruby's post to understand how one person might support gay marriage and also stay true to their Mormon faith. The other two posts discuss the Church's waning political involvement in respect to same-sex marriage after the Prop 8 campaign and the ever-changing positions of both Obama and Romney on gay marriage.
But the important thing to understand here is that for many Mormons for Obama, this is not the central issue that defines our support for the President. And with Mormons holding public office as Democrats and Republicans, this should be clear by now.
Now on to my personal grief with the article -- Kyle quoted me thus:
"One of the blog entries, posted by Joseph Mills, holds up Harry Reid as a good example of a liberal Mormon.
'Just think of Harry Reid – the supreme example of Liberal Mormondom – (I have his action figure on my desk at work) – and tell me if he doesn’t have a glow like a gleaming lighthouse? He fights the good fight, shines like a sunbeam, and literally comes from Searchlight, Nevada,' Joseph writes. 'I know what the Primary Hymn instructs, (Trying to be Like Jesus,) but in case that is too high of a bar for me right now, I’ve decided that at the very least I am trying to be like Harry… and we’ll call it good at that.'"
So is that really the only quotation from me that Kyle could find? I have written a couple dozen posts for this website, and he chose something from one of my satirical posts that suggests that Mormon Democrats must shine like "Edward from Twilight as he's standing shirtless in the sun." Also he didn't preserve any of the meta-links, and that somewhat mutes my whole joke. (Sorry for my whining here, but in interest of my own self-promotion, please read The Gleam in Thine Own Eye to see the full post with meta-links.) Maybe if I'm quoted in another article, I might suggest something from my post, An Oppostion in All Things. I like that post better.
Also, the name of the Church is as follows: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I would expect that a journalist might research this to make certain they are using the correct name of our church in their article. I realize that the name of the Church is long, but the media has the responsibility to use the correct title, even if only in the first reference and then subsequent references are abbreviated after that. Consult the Church's Style Guide for more information on this. (And in case anyone is wondering, Kyle referred to the Church as "The Church of the Latter-Day Saints," omitting Jesus Christ, and capitalizing the D in Latter-day.) While Kyle is not the only one who makes this mistake, I bristle at the frequency of these occurrences and thus can't help but feel that it's sometimes done deliberately. It's almost as if we've become the "Merry X-Mas" card of Church names: Christ is crossed out and forgotten, and the media just mumbles something about Latter-day Saints, Mormons, or Salt Lake City, and then they bumble on impatiently, expecting to find a present under their holiday tree on the 25th of December.
Lastly, we are not just a small group of Seattle-based bloggers, although we did start out that way. Presently, we receive input from across the country - (and Canada) - and have posted comments and articles from contributors in Washington D.C., California, and Utah.
Alas, we are grateful for the press. We spend a lot of time putting this site together because we feel that this is important, and Kyle Blaine's article brought new eyes to this site.
A Little Less Fear, A Little More Faith
Brothers and sisters, there is nothing more dangerous than fear. We learn about that in Sunday school all the time. I want to talk with you a little bit about the fear of being open about political opinions. I am not suggesting that anyone is wrong or ignorant for being quiet about their support for President Obama, and I certainly am not giving expert advice on the topic. But I want to point out a few things on the topic of fear of sharing political opinions. Here’s why:
1. This is America. You are entitled to freely express your political opinions without fear of repercussion from the federal government. Oftentimes in our culture we extend this to mean that you shouldn’t fear repercussions from anyone simply because of your beliefs. This security to state your stances freely is fundamental to our identity as Americans engaging in the political dialogue of this nation.
2. The concept of declaring your beliefs freely is also deeply engrained in Mormonism. From the oft-quoted Romans 1:16 (For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ) to the brave and heroic examples of our pioneer ancestors, we have a strong tradition of actively making our true convictions known, even when to do so puts us at odds with those around us.
3. Even if, after boldly admitting that you support President Obama, someone were to react negatively such to make you regret being open about it- their intolerance is their problem. As Mormons, we are told to surround ourselves with good people. There are plenty of good people who may not share our political beliefs but appreciate civil discourse and sharing opinions with an open mind. If someone you meet is going to give you a hard time about your beliefs purely because they disagree with you, it might be a good time to evaluate if they will be a good influence on your life in the first place.
Granted: there may be people already in your life, such as friends, family, and coworkers, who may be intolerant and unavoidable. How you handle those relationships is of course a personal decision. Additionally, I am not suggesting that we should risk death or any other extreme outcome in exchange for openly supporting President Obama.
What I am advocating for is a little less fear and a little more faith.
I openly admit that I relish the occasional dirty looks from people who are anti-Obama when they see that I support our President. It reminds me that "there must needs be opposition in all things," and that there is still a lot of work to do to re-elect him.
Every day that goes by when another person finds out that I’m an Obama supporter (it usually becomes known pretty quickly- as I said, I’m extremely open about it) and they get excited to find someone who shares their passion, I am grateful that I put on that Obama shirt or brought my Obama water bottle with me. I cherish the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and to express my deeply held opinion that Barack Obama is the best candidate for President. No amount of insult, derogatory gestures, or rude glances can invalidate that belief. I'm not suggesting that my commitment to Obama is deeper than anyone else's- simply that I choose to risk negative encounters because I value finding those few people in Provo, Utah who do also support the President, and those positive encounters are worth the risk for me.
If we all stood a little taller, spoke a little more freely in the appropriate settings (i.e. not at church), opened our minds to the possibility that those who we thought previously would brazenly disparage our opinion might not be as churlish as we had imagined- who knows what deeper relationships and more significant connections we might develop.
Conversely- for every opportunity we pass up to share our convictions about supporting our President, we’ll never know which voter we may have reached, directly or indirectly, who might have cast the deciding vote for President Obama.
So perhaps now would be a good time to take a minute; think about how you represent yourself and your beliefs. Heading into the heated and controversial campaign season this fall, we could have a little less fear and a little more faith that the benefits of being open about our support for the President will far outweigh the potential for push-back.
106 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION 2012