Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why I'm Politically Liberal BECAUSE I'm a Mormon, Not in Spite of It

It's somewhat of an anomaly to be an actively believing Mormon, and an actively voting Democrat, but we do exist. I've been asked, "How are you a Democrat even though you're Mormon?" I'm not politically liberal even though I'm a Mormon. I'm politically liberal because I'm a Mormon. The ideals and beliefs of the Democratic party align more closely with how I interpret and believe the doctrine of Christianity and Mormonism. In essence, we are here to take care of each other, to love each other, to worship how we would like to, but "allow all men the same privilege." I would rather over-serve than under-serve the needy, rather too much of my money goes toward helping others than not enough.

I'm not writing this to convince the other 90% of Mormons out there to vote Democrat. I know better. I don't know everything about politics, and I'm not going to go head to head with angry commenters. I'm just writing this in hopes of having my voice heard, so that maybe there are a few people out there who might think of "liberals" differently, more lovingly, more gently - maybe realize we're not so different from you. The leaders of the church constantly plead with the members to be civil with each other in the area of politics, yet I have been told by members that I should not have a temple recommend, should not hold leadership callings, and that I am amongst the "lowest of the low," all because I lean liberal politically. I'm serious - it's so ridiculous. Just.... be gentle. You use your vote, and I'll use mine, and let's just respect each other.

Here are the primary reasons I feel that the Democratic values and ideas align with my Mormon/Christian ideals:

There's a phrase most people are familiar with - a "bleeding heart liberal." This is how I would describe myself in every sense of the word, and proudly. Do I believe in taking care of others maybe too much? Yes, if those are the options. Jesus Christ taught us to love and take care of one another, and despite the flaws in the welfare system, that is what it's there to do. Is there abuse in the welfare system? Of course. But that's between them and God. But I believe that it is my job to give some of my material "wealth" to others so that they can make it through a tough time. I love these scriptures in Mosiah 4:
16 And also, ye yourselves will asuccor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the bbeggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
 17 Perhaps thou shalt asay: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
 19 For behold, are we not all abeggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

Yes, people abuse welfare. Of course they do. But guess what? Many people might view it as welfare abuse when a Mormon family accepts welfare so that the husband can go to school and the wife can stay at home with the children, when she is otherwise perfectly capable of working. Or when a woman drops out of college to get married at 19 because she believes God wants her to be a stay-at-home-mom. If you get to decide those things are okay for your family, then go right ahead - BUT you have to allow that other families are making the best choices for them, even if it doesn't make sense to an outsider, just like your choices might not make sense to someone else.

I don't believe that Christ would stand at the border between the United States and Mexico and turn people away. "Sorry, you were born in the wrong country. Bummer for your kids." No. And I definitely don't think that the Christ I believe in would spew the kind of hateful diatribes toward "illegals" that I have heard so many times from members of the Church.

Although I know that not every immigrant into this country is a good person, all the illegal immigrants I have met personally have just wanted a better life for themselves and their families, and I don't think we should be denying that to anyone. While my ultimate dream would be open borders, full amnesty for immigrants working and/or attending school would be a great start.

I think for many members of the church, this is where the disconnect lies - how an active member of the Mormon church can align with a political party that generally supports abortion and gay marriage. It is my view that when you choose to live in a country that is governed by a democracy, you are choosing a life where the morals of the country are governed by the majority. If the majority of this country feels that abortion rights and gay marriage should be protected, then I am fine with that. Just as I get to choose my set of morals, so does everybody else. Sometimes they coincide, sometimes they do not - and that's okay with me. I often think of the 11th Article of Faith here: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." If I want my vote on moral issues to be respected, I have to respect others'.

I whole-heartedly support health care reform. I don't believe that there is a perfect solution for a country the size of the United States. However, I do believe that everyone should be able to access health care, that people should not be denied because of pre-existing conditions, and that the President should be taking steps to actively change the way that health care functions in this country. Again, I believe this falls under the umbrella of taking care of our fellow man. No one should have to go without health care, especially children.

When we were young marrieds, we could not afford to pay out of pocket for the type of health insurance we needed to have babies. Without a trace of guilt, I signed up for a state program for middle-income families that allowed us to pay a percentage of our income for maternity and childbirth costs, and we were able to have three beautiful children. We also could not afford several hundred dollars for their private health insurance, so there was a period of time where they were also on state insurance. Do I regret using those programs so that we could have kids? No, not for a moment! And now that we're in a better place financially, I don't begrudge my income going toward state programs for other people. I believe that we should take care of each other.

 Obviously there are so many issues here I'm not even touching. But these are the issues that matter the most to me, and I appreciate you reading my thoughts on them. As we go into the election this week, and deal with the ramifications of it in the weeks, months, and years to come, it is my hope that we can all keep in mind the words of President Hinckley: "Political differences never justify hatred or ill will. I hope that the Lord's people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties."

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D said...

Just wanted to say that while we are voting differently and our methods may be different, our goals are the same. Thank you for your well thought out ideas and your respect for the whole process. I am sorry that there are those that have told you that you are unworthy because of your stance. They are wrong.

T said...

Thank you thank you thank you! This was wonderfully well-thought-out and echoes many of my thoughts exactly. It can sometimes feel lonely being a Mormon who votes liberal.