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:
- Funding for education, and support of public schools
- Social Security/Medicare
- Health care for those too sick to work
- Sex education
- Compassionate Immigration Reform
- Anti-discrimination laws
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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Our electoral system is set up in a way that promotes extremism and discourages moderation, especially in Utah. I have chosen to follow counsel from current church leadership and to be politically active and have chosen the party that I think has the best ideas.
Honestly at this point I’m not sure what we’re arguing about. We agree that there should be some sort of safety net. You say for “the most dire of circumstances.” So if someone is going to die due to lack of medical care, food, or shelter. We both agree that government funds should be used to take care of them. To me that’s the same as saying someone has a right to health care, food, and shelter. We might disagree about at which point the government should get involved, but it seems we’ve just been arguing semantics.
My comparison about slaves comes from a few quotes like this one:
Marrion G Romney – Oct 1976 "Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens.
We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even though we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice in self-respect and in political, temporal, and spiritual independence."
Unfortunately we live in a political environment when both major parties are going to extremes. On one side, we have the idea that all taxation is theft and everyone should completely take care of themselves. On the other side we have the idea that everything you need should be provided by the government and others. Anything that is a good idea to have should be provided for all by all.
God’s original plan was that we had choices, and we used those choices to decide and act, for good or evil. People would be allowed to fail and be lost. Satan’s plan was that not one soul should be lost. Whether that was because we would be forced to act, not allowed to make bad choices, the consequences of our actions would be done away with, or agency would be taken away from us completely, I don’t know.
I don’t think either side of the political aisle is doing very well right now. But I think it is more important to give people their choice, their ability to succeed for fail as they choose, to help or not help others, even if some people are lost in the system. Some will choose not to help, and others will choose to help. And this choice is what provides spiritual growth. The closer we get to politically ensuring that no one is lost in the system, and doing so by force and coersion, the closer we get to Satan’s plan. There may be temporal security in what the Democrats do, but there is no spiritual growth or progress according to God’s plan.
So if we talk about the issue of education. I believe government should provide every resident a comprehensive education that will all that individual to be a productive member of our society. Now this would be something the government would actively provide to an individual by taking money from others. This makes sense to me as an educated work force is beneficial to the over all economy. So we each benefit. This also feel rights to me. The though of everyone having an education makes me feel good. Whether we call education a “right” or simple a good idea is semantics to me. What specific policies should we adopt is a far more interesting discussion to me than what English word we choose to call that policy.
We can take the more extreme example from before. We have many people in our country who can not take care of themselves. Historically they have lived in asylums, prisons, and on our streets. What is the best government policy for these people? Given the proper support many of them can contribute economically, so it makes sense to provide that support as we’ll all benefit. Many of them will never be able to contribute economically, but there is evidence that supporting them through government programs reduces crime and other issues that adversely affect society. It feels good to know that these people are being taken care of. The church issued a statement supporting these efforts, and sold land to the city to support a shelter. When I pray about about it I feel good about supporting these policies. So I support policies that help those that are not able to take care of themselves.
Slaves were held in captivity. They were forced to work at specific jobs. They were forbidden freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. They were often sold away from families. Their marriages were not recognized. They could be killed by their owners.
My taxes are used to fund Medicaid. My labor(or at least the money that my labor generated) is being used to provide health care for someone else. That doesn’t come close to making either me or the doctor who provides the treatments a slave. The comparison is terrible. You have a right to vote for politicians who oppose Medicaid. You have a right to organize protests against Medicaid. You have a right to post in blog comments about why you think Medicaid is bad. If you end up disabled and unable to work you would be able to benefit from Medicaid. The distinguishing difference between having a portion of your pay taken from you to provide for someone else and being a slave is that slaves had no rights. They didn’t choose their jobs, they didn’t choose where they lived, they didn’t get to vote, they were often denied church attendance and education. They were often killed with out consequence. Contributing to Medicaid is nothing like being a slave.
I have another question that bothers me if you don’t mind. You state in that same last post to JB, “I believe these people have rights to health care, enabling technology, education, food, and shelter.”
I think this is where Democrats are going wrong, in their definition of a right. Before I assume too much, what is your definition of a right? Where does a right come from, and what obligation accompanies that right?
You say you do not 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.” I assume you would say that because you see health care as a right, and not being harmed by my as a right.
For most Republicans, a right is something that the government does not grant and cannot deny (ignoring extreme circumstances). I have a right to speak freely, but I do not have a right to make you listen, or for you to buy me a microphone. I have the right to live my life as I want, but not have you support my lifestyle. I have a right to travel freely, but not to have you buy me a car or plane ticket. And I have a right to seek health care, but not make a doctor treat me.
In your example, you do have a right to keep me from attacking you, to defend yourself. Government can assist you in protecting that right. But if you have a right to health care, does that mean you have a right to make a doctor treat you? Do you have a right to make people work for your benefit? What is the distinguishing concept between you having a right that makes others work for you or provide you their labor, and the right that a slave owner claims to have a slave work for them and provide the slave owner their labor? On a spectrum between one extreme and another, how far along that spectrum does it go before it no longer becomes your right to ask for my labor and support?
We do get a lot of die hard libertarian commentators on here so I tend to make that assumption. I should know better, and should have sought to clarify your beliefs before making assumptions. As my post states, I come from a family of moderate republicans, and still share most of the same beliefs about public policy with my parents. However I feel like the modern republican party is not some place for someone like me.
You are focused a bit more on one side of the equation that I was not really worried about. I’m not a die hard libertarian that says all taxation is theft. I understand the need for taxes, and I am not completely opposed to taxes being used, especially if it is being used to help people that are in the most dire of circumstances.
If government assistance is necessary, and it is in some situations, then OK. It’s not the optimal situation, but it happens. As I said, there are people that need to be clothed, fed and sheltered, and the receiver does get a benefit from having those things provided. It just needs to be done carefully with an end goal in mind of returning to self-reliance.
But I wanted to know your thoughts about my main point. That when someone is compelled to give, there is no benefit to them. There is no change of heart, no sacrifice, no blessings, and no increase in charity and love. And that should be of utmost consideration when applying the gospel to political matters.
Bishops are counselled to be familiar with what government resources are available. People should be encouraged to work when they can, but using government assistance is not contrary to modern teachings.
“Question: Is it appropriate if an individual is receiving governmental welfare assistance to use Church welfare assistance as well?
Members may choose to use resources in the community, including government resources, to meet their basic needs. The bishop should become familiar with these resources."
The Church specifically states they applaud the measures taken help the homeless become self-reliant and avoid criminal elements preying on them. As I mentioned, I have no problem with the government taking steps to prevent crimes from being perpetrated.
Then the Church goes on to state how they have voluntarily supported these actions and encourage members to choose to help. They donated land to use for the shelters, talked about the support they are giving, and it almost seems like they are talking about how the Church is doing this in order to take as much of the burden off the tax payers to do this as possible.
I see no praise of government forcing these things or an encouragement for government to use tax money to do this. Yes, you can assume tax money is being used, and you would probably be right. But this is not the focus of what the Church is saying here. They neither objected to tax money being spent, or encouraged it. Either of us could read between the lines and make assumptions, but that does not help either of our points.
And like you said, being taxed to pay for a homeless shelter does not make you a better person, or a worse person for that matter. There is no test of character there. There is no sacrifice or turning to the Lord. There is nothing. That is my point. Yes, these things may help the receiver, tho we may disagree on how much. There are an abundance of quotes from Church leaders talking about how government actions like this create dependence and a sense of entitlement.
If the end goal were to have people fed, clothed and sheltered, then yes, lets go all out on government taking care of those needs. But that is not the main goal. God can clothe, shelter and feed people. He cannot change the heart of someone that is being compelled to give. We need to focus on helping God do what he cannot do, not what he can.
Thanks for your response. I read through your other responses to JB, and I can tell you want to have an honest and sincere conversation. I hope I can do the same.
Kyle, you say the following in your last post, “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.”
I think this touches on a significant difference between democrats and republicans, or progressives and conservatives. I do see a significant difference between the two.
There are basically 2 types of active actions we can take (ignoring passive actions for now). The first is an action that actively harms others. Do not kill, steal, speed, cheat, lie, etc. These actions are actively harmful to others. A vast majority of people on all sides of the political spectrum agree with these types of laws.
The other type of active action is something that helps others. Giving to charity, treating others nicely, spending time with others, etc. A vast majority of people on all sides of the political spectrum also agree that these are good things to do.
If the whole focus of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless, then why does God not do that? Why does God not come down from Heaven and do all that good? It is certainly within his power, and if that were the end goal, it would be done and everyone would be saved. In other words, why is God letting those people suffer when he could immediately relieve their suffering?
As members of the LDS Church and access to prophets and a fullness of the gospel, we know the answer to that question. Because the goal is not to alleviate suffering alone, but to change hearts and minds. To make the giver and the receiver into a godlike person.
There is no benefit to the giver when they are compelled to give. No heart has ever been changed by someone being compelled to be good. God’s plan for charity, giving, and benevolence is to accomplish something he cannot do himself. Have his children learn love and charity of their own free will. He cannot compel that. And no one learns that by being compelled.
If being compelled to help were enough to change hearts, Trump would be the most charitable president we have had in years. His 2005 tax return alone, where he paid $38 million is possibly more than any president in history. Exxon Mobile would be the most charitable and benevolent corporation in history, as they pay more taxes than any other corporation.
If you force me to pay for the health care of a 3rd person, there is no charity or love that is learned by either of us. In which case, God could just as well have healed that 3rd person and spared them suffering. It is not the end goal of having people fed, clothed, and sheltered that is of utmost importance. It is the lessons I learn and the test of this life that is observed by God and Jesus as to whether I will make the choice to help, or turn a blind eye to that suffering.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
So help me out. Is my obligation to the poor a moral obligation or a legal obligation?
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.
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.