Monday, March 20, 2006

Don't Read Too Much into a Quote

A few Sundays ago the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued an interesting statement. From The Salt Lake Tribune:

From pulpits around the state on Sunday, Mormon bishops and other local leaders read a statement urging members to participate in next week's neighborhood political caucuses, and reaffirming the church's neutral stand toward candidates and parties. But the statement, which is traditional in general election years, had this added twist that excited Democrats:
"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties."
More can be read on this statement by clicking on the link above or by going to a similar article by BYU's NewsNet.

Also, for an excellent opinion on the issue, read this article that's also by the Salt Lake Tribune.

I take issue with these types of articles because it seems as though many Mormon Democrats take too much validation from statements like the one given by the First Presidency of the Church. While it is certainly encouraging, it shouldn't just be encouraging to Democrats because it certainly wasn't meant just for Democrats. The Church takes a neutral stand on politics, therefore the statement was obviously meant for Republicans as well as Dems.

Other than this, perhaps it will be a wake-up for some few Republicans who believe that the Democrats are all Satan worshippers. Perhaps it will be a wake-up for some few Democrats who believe that Republicans are a bunch of heartless bullies.

Beyond this, I believe that it's time that both parties stop politically capitalizing on moral issues. When politicizing morality happens people will often become too emotional therefore abandoning reason. This sort of "reasoning" is very common in politics and it serves as the basis for a large portion of modern advertising. Most political speeches are aimed at generating feelings in people so that these feelings will get them to vote or act a certain way.

In short, rhetoric that incites the emotions can be meant to cause the target audience to abandon reason.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Change in the Disclaimer

In the comments to the post "Great Job Hannah," Joe Strickland accuses me of "spinning the truth". To me, I feel like I've been called a liar. So, in order to be more responsible I've added a line to this blog's disclaimer basically saying that although we try our hardest to provide accurate information, these blogs are only opinions and that it's up to readers to confirm the information presented.

Also, Joe had a great suggestion for us, that we voice our stance on issues a little more. So, in an effort to do that I've decided to post a bi-weekly issue oriented subject. I think that Joe's right, this will be a great time for us to really evaluate what we believe and stand for.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Great Job Hannah!

Today, Scroll, the BYU-I campus newspaper, published a side by side comparison of the two major political parties represented at the university.

I thought that Hannah did a great job of representing our group. I was also quite pleased that she did not feel the need to negatively refer to the College Republicans. I was also glad to note that she refered more to us as a group than to the national party. Although the National Party does great work, we as a local group have our own identity and we do not march mindlessly to the drum of the National Party.

I also feel that Hannah's article did a great job in showing that we are incredibly hopeful for the future and that we have a great willingness to "reach across the aisle". I would also like to mention that it has been 31 days since I have formally extended an invitation to the leadership of the College Republicans, through email and this blog, to have dinner with us and we have not yet received a response.

I will make only one mention of the College Republicans article. I believe that it was poor form for them to constantly refer to abortion and gay marriage as though those two issues are the only ones that keep the Democratic Party around. It's poor form because it perpetuates a myth about Democrats. Also, it's important that when you make comparisons that you compare ones best to someone elses best, not ones best to someones worst. Hannah could have easily mentioned some "Republican 'dirty laundry'." I'm glad that she didn't. I could go on, but if you have more questions on how I feel you can email me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Great War

Perhaps because it was so ugly, we as a society spend little time thinking about the First World War. Of all the wars fought by modern man, it was perhaps the most chilling. Tens of thousands would die in massive battles. One such, the battle of Verdun, lasted ten months at the cost of 700,000 men dead. There were many reasons for this immense slaughter, one of which was because both sides had entrenched themselves so well. Using massive trenches, the two sides would watch each other. Between them was the “no man’s land”. Should any one venture into this land, the other side would promptly use artillery fire, machine gun rounds, chemical agents, barb wire, and snipers to exterminate them. Tens of thousands would be massacred in suicide stampedes against the other trench, all for the gain of a few hundred yards, which were often lost a short time later from a counter attack.

Looking back, it is easy for us to wonder how supposed civilized cultures and people could allow themselves to act in such ridiculous behavior. It absolutely boggles the mind that men could behave in such a way, that no one ever thought “there must be a better way”. And yet, in a not so far future those same questions will be asked about our day, about our time. The issue this time isn’t a physical war, but an ideological.

The two parties of our system have been increasingly at each other’s throats for the last decade, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Both camps have drawn lines in the sand, and are striving to rally support to them. In discussions with both sides, the ideas that one can by size, influence, or public image “crush,” “defeat,” or deal a “death blow” over the other is rampant.

There are some few that try to stop the madness, they venture into the “no man’s land” between the two goliaths and are promptly cut down (politically). Those few who survive (usually by sheer name recognition) find themselves not really part of the group they were reaching out too (other wise they would be one of them), but alienated by their former colleges who consider them as “softies”, “traitors”, or “fence sitters”.

This “them or us” mentality is causing event he most basic of legislation to be inflamed by partisan rhetoric and bias, and the political process is suffering. When the line between healthy debate and bitter close mindedness is crossed, any legitimacy that existed is extinguished. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given said, “it’s not a matter of who is right, but what is right.” No one needs to give up their party or belief, just be open minded.

The point behind having two parties isn’t so that they can fight it out, and whoever wins is right. That’s like saying that the CEO of General Motors will wrestle the CEO of Ford, and who ever wins has the best car. The true measure of civility, of nobility, and of character isn’t which side can man the machine guns the longest, it’s which one is willing to let go first. When the trenches are abandoned, only then can progress be made.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Spring Cleaning

While many people say they have skeletons in thier closet, I actually do. They are from a 1987 british expedition that went in to cataloge indigenous wildlife, and never made it back out. I still find pit helmets from time to time. My closet isn't really that bad (they all made it back alive), but I always thought it was funny how in my home everything would be nice and clean except for the closet and the garage.

It was odd, we had a living room, family room, and a kitchen that would be spotless; but the closet and garage would give a fire marshall night terrors. The answer for why is really a simple one: company doesn't go into the closet. They don't look in the garage. Since no one would see it we made no effort to manage it, and any previous attempts at order and civility quickly were overrun with the ease of irresponsibility; since the mess was already there, no one felt worse for adding to it. If we had glass walls, I 'm sure it would never have gotten that bad, we would have been too ashamed of it.

Unfortunitly, this same attitude has taken root in our country. There seems to be growing sentaments that actions taken in the war on terror need to be kept out of sight of the world. Secret prisons, unwarrented wiretaps, withholding the right of habeas corpus, these are things that we are now threatend by. Are they truly neccesary? Are they worth it?

The beauty and tragic flaw of our society is our openess, liberty by nature provides an opportunity for evil men to do evil things. But of all the flaws for a society to have, few, like this openess, are more noble. We have an opportunity to show the world that even when we are threatend, we can respond with the same values, concerns, and integrity that we have shown throughout our history.

By drawing a black curtain over what we do, by blanketing our efforts against terrorism in secrecy, we cut ourselves off from our greatest strengths, accountability. While certainly there are some secrets that need to be kept (how to build bombs, security around vital installations, etc.) the more open we are, the better job we will do. Why? Becuase if we as a people, and the world at large, see how we treat our citizens and how we treat enemy combatents, we will work far harder to be more responsible and more accountable.

Honestly, were they not required to report numbers, how many people would be home taught each month? How many would do homework if the teacher never collected it? How much time would you spend preparing for the day if you KNEW no one would see (or smell) you?

The government derives it's power from the people, and so, we the people are responsible for it's actions. We have a duty to ask questions, we have a duty insist that the higher ground is taken. Just like a garage that keeps getting more stuff piled in, the longer we let this go, the harder the task and bigger the mess we will have to clean up. And no one will be to blame but ourselves.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Brady Seeks Interns

Jerry Brady visited the BYU-I College Democrats today and I'm happy to report that he is a great and humble man. I just had to put this post on, but I'll report more about his meeting with us later.