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Monday, September 15, 2008

The Manifesto

My friend Nick Edwards is dropping knowledge son. Read it and weep haters.

Hello Friends and Family,

As a faithful member of the LDS church, I feel that it is my obligation and opportunity to speak up about our current national situation. Throughout my experiences both on my mission and here at BYU, I have been appalled at the way in which we, as Americans, and as believers in the atonement of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel, can sit idly by, sustaining a president that continually and consistently misleads his country. I recall one experience during my mission in North Carolina in which a member of the church blatantly said to me, "You cannot be a good Democrat and a good Mormon." This seems to be a common notion among members of the church. Well, I disagree. It's far too easy to judge our political beliefs on two issues: abortion and gay marriage. We are led to believe by the right wing media that if we take upon ourselves progressive ideals, we are supporting infanticide and sodomy. Nothing could be further from the truth. We like to talk about VALUES when it comes to politics. Republicans often refer to themselves as "values voters". Well, let's examine some of our Mormon and Christian values and see how they hold up in political thought:

1. "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus saith unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord the God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:36-39). The most important commandment behind loving God, is to love those around us. In our current politics, which political party has supported equality and fairness for all people? (That was a rhetorical question). Since the 1930's, the Democratic Party has championed the causes of all minorities, including women, African-Americans, and yes, even homosexuals. After all, did not Christ sit and eat with the publicans and sinners? (Matthew 9:11-13).

2. "Whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given you a knowledge and he hath made you free" (Helaman 14:30). As members of the church, we know that agency is essential to the plan of salvation. In order for us to return to our Father in Heaven, we must use that agency for good. Even further, after having tasted the goodness of the fruits of the gospel, it is our duty to share that joy with others. But, is it our duty to compel others to live their lives the way we live ours? For was it not Satan that "sought to destroy the agency of man"? (Moses 4:3). In the church, I've heard people say "I hate the sin, but I love the sinner." But, in his conclusion of the sermon on the mount, the Savior commanded us, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). In my view, this extends to abortion. The church even sanctions abortion in special and unfortunate situations. I may not be fully pro-choice (i.e. partial-birth abortion), but I am most definitely pro-agency.

3. "And Jesus went about all Galilee...healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people" (Matthew 4:23). This one is especially important to me, and I guess it's the main reason I started this email. We brag about America's health care system. Sure, we may have the best doctors in the world (or at least the most expensive). But what good does quality health care do if it isn't affordable? Increasing cost and privatization of health care in America is tearing at the hearts of millions of Americans. People with pre-existing health conditions are at a standstill. What happens to the man with cancer, who gets laid off from his job? Or the small, struggling family without insurance, not expecting to be "expecting"? These people have virtually no blanket. Don't worry though. The Republicans have a plan (only because the Democrats have a real plan and the Republicans want to save face). They hope to further privatize health care and encourage prevention. While I agree that prevention is a very necessary part of health care, there are still people who are past the prevention stage. Obama plans to regulate the insurance industry with lower costs and more coverage. His universal plan will provide coverage for more people, therefore further reducing premiums. Even further, he promises to make insurance portable from one company to another.

4. "But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of this world. For because they are rich, they despise the poor, and persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures" (2 Nephi 9:30). I know what you're thinking. Money does not make a person inherently evil. But, "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). For the last eight years, our government has consistently been approving tax cuts for the top 10% of the population, while forgetting about the poor. Not only is that evil, but it's irresponsible! You can't cut taxes during a time of war. The Republican Party has a long-time track record of funneling money to the rich at the detriment of the poor. And now, we have a presidential candidate who talks about continuing the lowering of corporate taxes in order to help small businesses. Excuse me for being too direct, but isn't that the same way George W. Bush masqueraded his tax cuts?

5. "And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there were no poor among them" (Moses 7:18). We talk of Zion and how it will be a community where people will work together for a common good, "and there will be no poor". Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not advocating socialism. America is rightfully founded upon the idea that anyone from any circumstance can achieve anything into which they put everything. Does that idea of a meritocracy hold true? Does everyone really have the same chances? Not without necessary social programs instituted by government. We like to look at issues like they are black and white. But what about the whole spectrum of grey in between? Everyone knows that there are a lot of people out there relying on the government to bail them out of life. But there are also plenty of self-reliant people that can achieve amazing things with just a little bit of assistance. Think about social programs like the New Deal and Equal Opportunity laws. The New Deal pulled America out of the Great Depression and into a robust economy. And thanks to Equal Opportunity laws, we are on the verge of having either a black man or a white woman in the White House. While these programs do not always work out ideally, government intervention is necessary in some circumstances.

5. "Yea, all things which come of the earth...are for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and gladden the heart...And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess" (D&C 59:18-20). We have been given stewardship over the earth as a gift from God. With that gift, we have determined to destroy the earth God gave us. I'm not about to put myself to the task of proving the existence of global warming. I don't care. Regardless of whether or not climate change is a fact, pollution, deforestation, and overall selfishness are not good for the planet. We should take all possible means to preserve the integrity of the earth. Drilling in America may or may not help the economy in the short term. But do we really want short term solutions? Our goal, rather than saving a few pennies here and there at the pump, should be to make the world a better place for those who come after us. This can only be accomplished by investing in alternative fuel technology.

6. "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). Of course I wasn't going to leave this out. But I'll make it short. In my mind, there was nothing wrong with pursuing a terrorist organization that poses a threat to our national safety. But we gave that up a while ago when we changed our focus from Afghanistan to Iraq.

I really didn't mean to go on for that long, but I've been pretty bored with Kim out of town for the weekend and wanted to get my mind off some other things. Hopefully this doesn't offend anyone, and if it does, please respond and let me know where I'm wrong. I'm always open for new insight. Thank you for reading my rather long rant. In response to the man who once told me that I could not be a good Mormon and a good Democrat, I would say that I'm not voting Democrat despite my values; I'm voting Democrat because of my values.

"And they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church; having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need" (Alma 1:30).

Nick Edwards

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