Monthly Archives: July 2015

Am I Really Hanging Out With The Best Crowd?

I grew up in an extremely political home and from my earliest memories, I have identified as a Republican. To my point, I think I might have been the only second grader who watched with extreme interest the presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Interest in politics and identifying myself as Republican has always just seemed second nature.

However, as we gear up for the presidential election next year, I am looking around and wondering where the heck am I? I thought I belonged to a party that stood for lower taxes, not just for lower taxes sake, but for the improved environment it creates for entrepreneurship and capitalism. I thought I belonged to a party that didn’t look to welfare as a long-term solution, but rather as a short-term stepping stone to improving one’s self and becoming a positive force in society.

In short, I thought I belonged to the party that still believed in the American Dream.

As such, I would expect that the issues my party would be focusing on as we head toward 2016 would be say…I don’t know…restructuring or outright battling regulations that discourage rather than encourage economic growth. Another idea might be coming up with solutions to address the decaying infrastructure of our country by exploring partnerships between government and the private sector that would both lead to the improvement of our roads, bridges and national parks and provide jobs to thousands of people still struggling through a slow economic recovery. (I know some might equate this idea with the New Deal and liberalism, but frankly, both of these issues need addressing and coming at it from a conservative perspective rather than moaning about the solutions the liberals come up with seems so much more productive to me. I’m just sayin’.)

Lastly, since so many of us on the right view Obamacare with suspicion and disdain, shouldn’t we be crafting plans and policies of our own that would address the huge boondoggle that is healthcare in our country. Because, as we all remember, the issues regarding skyrocketing costs and insufficient affordable coverage did not begin with President Obama. They simply provided him a platform to present his own solution…which we hate…to the point that it was almost all we talked about for nigh unto four years. So shouldn’t having a plan of our own to present to the voters be our number one priority?

Apparently not.

Instead, the primary issues that seem to be driving the GOP conversation these days are as follows:

1. Defending a flag that represented a traitorous rebellion against our nation mostly in the name of keeping slavery alive and well.

2. Decrying a Supreme Court Ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

3. Donald Trump

Let me address each of these separately, may I? Thanks.

I find it interesting that so many people want to cloak the Confederate flag and its continued presence in our society in the argument of free speech. Especially since so many of the people making this argument are the same folks who twenty years ago were the ones apoplectic over the National Endowment for the Arts providing funding for art shows that presented, among other things, a crucific upside down in a glass of urine or the American flag in a toilet. Admittedly, I find both of those examples repulsive and agree that tax payer money should not be used to fund such “art”. However, I would also argue that a flag representing one of the most abhorrent practices in our history should not be flying over taxpayer funded buildings such as the South Carolina capitol building. To me, it’s the same thing. And I don’t want to hear ridiculous arguments such as, “It is a preservation of our culture and history.” Bull Crap!!! Let’s ask just about any African American citizen in South Carolina and see how they feel about that memorial to their culture and history being displayed atop a building they pay for with their tax dollars.

Bottom line, if somebody wants to have a Stars and Bars license plate on the front of their vehicle or a Stars and Bars blanket that they purchased from a booth in the parking lot of Walmart, so be it. That’s their right. But for any political movement that wants to be taken seriously to suggest that we need to defend the flying of the Confederate flag over a state capitol is ridiculous. And for this issue to be given any serious consideration within the party of Lincoln is irony at its most extreme.

As far as the Supreme Court ruling, I understand how vital to the Republican Party the religious right is. I can also relate to the fear and concern that this ruling creates regarding religious freedoms in America. I do believe this part of the debate is legitimate. However, there is a very fine line between debating the future of religious freedoms and dredging up old slurs and stereotypes in an effort to discredit your opponents. And frankly, in the political climate in which we exist, crossing that line could be fatal. Regardless of the beliefs of any group or individual, the truth is that the winds of change are upon us. Social acceptance of the LGBT community, and by extension same-sex marriage, has become the majority thought in this nation and those on the right would be wise to recognize this. Trying to scare voters against the “evils of the homosexual” might whip up a small minority of the base, but it will just as easily engender disgust and anger on the part of independent and moderate left. You know, the people Ronald Reagan wooed in order to win the presidency in 1980 and ’84.

Now I know that many will scream out that it is the moral obligation of all Christians everywhere to call attention to those who would “Call Evil Good and Good Evil,” but as I have expressed in a previous post, I think they are wrong. I think debating homosexuality itself is pointless and unbecoming of a people who profess to follow a God who loves everyone. Rarely do those debates remain civil and even more rarely do they accomplish anything. For Republicans, this debate has to stay focused on religious freedoms and protecting the constitutional rights of everyone on both sides of this issue.

And finally, how is it possible for one political party to be so incredibly tone deaf when it comes to single fastest growing voting block in this country. The fact that Donald Trump is being given any credibility at all is mind-boggling. Did people not hear him when he basically called everyone who is or has come here illegally a drug runner or a rapist???…or maybe some of them are good people…he’s not quite sure on that one. OH MY FREAK!!! What is wrong with us?

First of all, did no one notice that the GOP lost Nevada (a state they had carried with ease in the past) in 2012? Why do you think that is? Polling data was very clear. Republicans got slaughtered among Hispanic voters which could be traced back to the Republican primary and their nasty rhetoric regarding immigration. I know everyone wants to argue that it was only directed toward illegal immigration, but when you make it easy for your opponents to paint that rhetoric with a wider brush, it doesn’t help your cause.

But more importantly, as mentioned earlier, aren’t we supposed to be the party of Christian values? I’m sorry, but labeling an entire population as rapists and drug-runners doesn’t sound very Christian to me. I’m sure a criminal element exists within the illegal immigration population, but c’mon, saying what he said was absolutely stupid and frankly, in my eyes, makes him unfit to be considered a candidate for president.

However, the larger point is this: the GOP, and specifically the tea party, has got to take a more realistic view towards immigration from Mexico. To claim that illegals are stealing jobs is ridiculous. It is not even remotely that simple. One, most American citizens do not want to do many of the jobs illegal immigrants do nor would they even consider doing them for the wages offered. Two, Americans are not willing to pay the price of what things would cost if they were produced by fully compensated legal American workers. That’s why everything we buy is made somewhere else…including Donald Trump’s clothing line which is ironically made in Mexico. Republicans should be talking about ways to make manufacturing cheaper in this country so that American made goods could be more affordable. And if that includes guest worker programs made available to Mexican citizens, then…Awesome!!!

Don’t get me wrong. I understand there are issues with illegal immigration that need to be addressed. But denegrating an entire society (which, like it or not, has a spill over effect with the entire Mexican-American population) is not the way to go about it. In fact, I have yet to hear Donald Trump correctly address any issue as a candidate for president.

And yet, if you believe the polls, he is currently in second place. (Sigh!!!)

What makes this all so sad for me is that I used to believe that belonging to the Republican party made me someone who was interested in providing a solution rather than being part of the problem. However, as I look over the political landscape today, I can’t see how I can make that claim any longer. Today’s Republican party seems to be far more interested in debating innocuous issues that better the lives of no one. I hope that changes before November of next year, otherwise I will find myself preparing for four years of another Clinton presidency. And quite possibly looking for a new political home.

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Now You’ve Done It! (One Mormon Guy’s Reluctant Response to THE Supreme Court Ruling)

Okay, now I’m offended. I was going to avoid this topic altogether because of the high emotions and opportunity for offense on both sides.

But then I made the mistake of checking my news feed on Facebook this morning and now I’m irritated.

So, I have several things to say about the recent ruling on gay marriage. And I realize that at some point, I am bound to offend everyone, but screw it. All the self-righteousness spewing from every corner is getting overwhelming and I just have to add my own to the mix. So here goes.

  1. The thing that set me off this morning was someone using the Jeffrey R. Holland quote—the one about the contest already being decided and the final score already being posted and now it just being about which side’s jersey we want to wear—as a gauntlet to any church member who might be sympathetic to the gay marriage ruling. HOW FREAKING DARE YOU!!! I know which jersey I’m wearing and I know which side I’m on. In fact, it is that belief and faith that demands that I approach this entire subject and debate with extreme caution and care. I CANNOT JUDGE WHAT I DO NOT EXPERIENCE NOR UNDERSTAND. In fact, assuming I have read the rule book accurately, it is not my job to do so. So to all those who would deem themselves worthy of speaking for God directly on how every Church member should feel on this issue, I kindly invite you to suck it not.
  2. I have seen and heard the argument repeatedly that this ruling is single-handedly the greatest assault on the family and all that is virtuous and right and that it marks the true beginning of the end. REALLY??? Allowing two people who happen to be of the same gender to enter into a marriage contract so that they may be recognized in society as a family unit—thereby receiving the same benefits, financial and otherwise, as a heterosexual married couple—is worse than a ruling that allowed the widespread annihilation of millions of unborn babies? Sorry, I don’t see it. And by the way, that ruling—otherwise referred to as Roe v. Wade—occurred in 1973, the year I was born. So apparently these rulings that “signify the end” take a while as here we are 42 years later and still going strong.
  3. Meanwhile, now that I’m up and going, let me vent on a couple of items on the other side that get my blood boiling. I absolutely despise the NO H8 campaign. As I have stated before, from a strictly biological point of view, you can see how an argument for marriage being between a man and a woman would make sense as opposed to same sex marriage. One furthers the species, one does not without help from an outside source. Furthermore, marriage between man and woman has been a religious institution for thousands of years. If one holds to the beliefs of the Bible, it is very clearly demonstrated that God instituted marriage when he created Adam and Eve for each other. A man and a woman. It is that Bible, by the way, that ultimately played a critical role in establishing this country which has allowed its citizens unprecedented freedoms—and which now grants the freedom of marriage to same-sex couples. So it seems incredibly mean-spirited and vicious to brand anyone who holds reservations about same sex marriage as a hater. At its very core, the message NO H8 is filled with intolerance. It is a message of you are either with us or against us, and that is not a message designed to engender good feelings and healing in the aftermath of what everyone has to admit was a controversial decision with far reaching affects we don’t yet fully realize.
  4. Speaking of far reaching effects, I do express my congratulations to those who have long awaited this day. It is a day of affirmation and one I wouldn’t begrudge anyone. And I further believe that for the majority of us both in the Christian and LGBT communities, the battle is over and the time for reconstruction has arrived. However, I understand that this is not true for everyone, and that makes me incredibly sad. There are going to be those on the side of Christianity who are going to only up their rhetoric and make healing all the harder. I also know that there are those within the LGBT community for whom this battle was never about “Love”. There is no denying that society has treated the LGBT community poorly in the past. And I am not naïve enough to believe that poorly even comes close to adequately describing the wrongs inflicted on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. But now, there are going to be those who want payback. It is a perfectly understandable human reaction. Unfortunately, in situations like this, the people truly responsible for the injustices are rarely the ones who pay the price. Instead it will often be individuals who want no part of this fight, but find themselves caught up in it none the less. It will be Christians, or maybe individuals of other faiths, that are struggling to find a balance between the new reality and their belief system. It is going to take time, but sadly, there will be those who aren’t given any time. They will be metaphorically drug out into the streets by the new social media mobs and be forced to watch as their livelihood is destroyed and their names ruined. It’s already happening. And the cold and cruel messages being delivered to these people carry no love in them whatsoever. Sadly, dark days are ahead for far too many innocents on both sides and love will have very little to do with it.

Finally, I have to comment on the questions this ruling raises within my own faith. It has never been lost on me that there is a disconnect in our advocacy for marriage between one man and one woman and the history of the LDS faith, as well as the still standing policy of marriage beyond this life through temple sealings. This ruling brings that disconnect directly into the forefront.

Polygamy and the Mormon faith go hand in hand. Get outside of the Mormon belt (Utah, Arizona and Idaho) and it is still a practice with which we are heavily associated. And it is also a practice for which many of us in the faith have very few answers and even less desire to find any.

Which is what makes this ruling so troubling.If one reads Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine and Covenants, a book considered scripture by those within the LDS faith, it states that polygamy was ended as a practice because the United States Congress declared it illegal and the Supreme Court had upheld that declaration. In short, the implication is that had the United States not made the practice illegal, it would have continued.

Which brings us to today and this question: is plural marriage truly a doctrine of God? And if it is, should the leaders of our faith be asking if He wants it reinstated on the earth?

Now back up Rapier. If God wants this practice reinstated, He will make His will known.

Except that when it came to blacks and priesthood, it took Spencer W. Kimball months and even years of asking before everyone got on board for reversing a practice that church leaders now admit wasn’t even a doctrine. So apparently, asking is part of the process. So I ask again, should they?

Furthermore, polygamy isn’t even a practice we have fully walked away from. Men can be sealed to more than one woman should their first wife pass away with the understanding that both sealings are in effect. The same is not the case for women. So are we truly advocates for marriage being between one man and one woman or not?

Now one argument I have heard in justification is that each marriage ceremony that occurs is between one man and one woman even though the man may already have additional spouses and that is how we have been consistently for traditional marriage throughout history. To that I would say, let’s run that argument by just about any woman (including our wives) and see if she thinks it passes the smell test.

Look, I am not bringing this issue up to cause problems (although I can easily see how it could be construed as exactly that.) My point in doing so is this. Maybe those of us within in the LDS faith should slow down on the anti-gay marriage rhetoric and go about our faith the best we know how. Because one, there is plenty about our own history with marriage that we don’t understand. To me, it would be nice to gain a little clarification and understand what is and what isn’t within my own house before I go condemning someone else’s.

But further, I bring this up because of my own experience. You see, I do personally believe that God’s divine plan for the family is for every child to have a mother and a father who cares for them in a loving and nurturing environment. I also believe that in a perfect world, that option would be available to every child born. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Furthermore, I have been blessed to see first-hand a child being raised in the loving home of two same sex partners. And frankly, he’s doing great. I can say without any equivocation that my brother and his husband are amazing fathers. In many ways, they are better than me. My nephew is loved, and he is cared for more than any child I have ever met. Which is so much more than can be said for hundreds of thousands of children who find themselves being raised in a more “traditional” setting.

Or, if you would like me to put it more bluntly, I think in some respects, we are chasing a paper tiger. Gay marriage is not the problem when it comes to the deterioration of traditional families. The problem is selfishness and bad behavior on the part of adults who should know better. And that is the case regardless of sexual orientation.

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