Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election thoughts

So I'm sitting here watching the election results on the AP's cool interactive map which allows you to look at every major race (presidential, governor, senate, house, & voter initiatives) and so I'm seeing an obvious win for Obama and the Democrats. While I'm, of course, disappointed in that outcome for obvious reasons, I do respect democracy and thus, the voters have spoken. It's exactly what I thought in 2006 when voters gave Democrats the majority in both houses of Congress. What I find intriguing is the fact that Congress currently has some of its lowest approval ratings ever, yet voters have decided to increase the majority of the party in power. Hey, I respect the choice even though I think its misguided and shortsighted. Oh well. Come January the Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves when things don't work out since they will have the White House and both houses of Congress for at least two years. Somehow I think they'll still manage to place blame elsewhere since that is what politicians do. I imagine every problem the country faces for the next 20 years will still somehow be President Bush's fault, even ones he wasn't president for when they started (like the banking deregulation!). I find it funny too how when gas was over $4 a gallon just a month ago that too was the fault of President Bush, but now that gas is below $2, of course it had nothing to do with him. I saw a graphic the other day that said "before Bush gas was $1.46 a gallon." I had to roll my eyes at what it was implying. What's even more amusing to me is how quickly people seem to forget history when it suits them and how little most Americans know about presidential policies and budgets.

Little history lesson: I don't remember the price of gas when Bush took office, but let's say it was indeed $1.46 in late 2000/early 2001. I recall a time not too long before that (late 1998 or 1999 or so) when gas was 72 cents a gallon. I also remember driving out west and being horrified at the price of gas being $1.20 a gallon since the highest I had seen in Ohio was around 99 cents. In other words, the gas prices were already climbing quite rapidly before Bush even took office, not to mention the fact that when a president takes office, he begins his part of the process of formulating a budget for the following fiscal year (that process has already begun), which begins in October. In other words, the current budget just began for fiscal year 2009 and will be in effect until the end of September 2009. All new presidents inherit the budget of their predecessor for the first 9 months of their presidency as well as the beginnings of a budget plan for the following fiscal year. So, when people blame Bush for the economic hard times and paint Clinton's presidency as some sort of economic dream, they fail to remember that the economy was in a downturn during 2000 as Clinton was leaving office. The events of September 11, for those who don't remember, were the nail in the coffin as far as a recession was concerned then, the airlines in particular, but few seem to remember that. No Bush policies had been implemented by September 2001, nor was his budget in place by then. Not only that, but Clinton inherited a recovering economy in 1993; he didn't just magically turn it around on his own anymore than Bush Senior personally ran it into the ground. I get tired of people blaming or congratulating the president for things he has little control over. While he certainly has a great deal of influence, he is not God.

Anyway, I'm also watching several of the voter initiatives and am really happy so far with the results. Granted, I have no influence on their specific outcomes, but I'm interested in them nonetheless. Three states have marriage definition amendments on the ballot: Florida, Arizona, and of course California. At this point, all three are passing and it looks for sure that Florida's and Arizona's will pass. California's definitely looks hopeful, though I won't assume anything until all the votes are counted. It's been a bit unnerving witnessing the absolute hate that has been directed at the Church in response to their support of Proposition 8, like the Church is somehow solely responsible for it even being on the ballot. I saw a Youtube video this evening that was a commercial in California urging a "No" vote on 8 and it was just pure evil making it look like the Church was out to "take away rights" from poor defenseless gay couples. Sorry, Mormons don't make up anything close to a majority of California residents, so even if every Mormon voted yes, it still wouldn't pass if there weren't others who also believed the same way. I did see a great Youtube video that featured Elder David Bednar (thanks for the links Rochelle!) talking about the effects of Proposition 8 and why the Church believes as they do. He mentioned a concept he called the "tyranny of tolerance," that is basically us being told to "tolerate" homosexual behavior but in turn, they do not have to "tolerate" our views or beliefs. I've never been a huge David A. Bednar fan, but he explains this really well. It can apply to anyone who supports the belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman and is an institution ordained of God.

How sad that those who are opposed to Proposition 8 accuse the Church of "hating" so their way of expressing that is by using hate directed at the Church. Guess those accusing the Church of hating know all about being hateful! I'm hoping it passes not because I have some sort of vendetta against gays or anything of the sort; I simply believe that God has ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman and I believe in modern-day prophets who have reiterated that as well as the will of the Lord.

Another great item my friend Rochelle posted was a talk given by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who served in the Quorum of the 12 Apostles until he died a few years ago. Elder Maxwell was an incredibly intelligent and wise man. I always enjoyed hearing him speak, particularly about the "cosmos" which seemed to be a favorite topic. Well, one of the talks he gave not too long ago was about following the First Presidency. For those who aren't familiar, the First Presidency in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is composed of the President and usually 2 counselors. They constitute the leadership of the Church directly under Jesus Christ. Members regard the President of the Church as a living prophet equivalent to Moses or any other Old Testament prophet who speaks with God and acts as his mouthpiece just like in Biblical times. So, when members of the First Presidency, especially the prophet (who is currently Thomas S. Monson) speak, we listen. That doesn't mean we blindly follow, but it does mean we "take heed." Prophets are tools for the Lord to give us counsel, guidance, and general advice. How we apply that counsel is up to us. Well, Elder Maxwell spoke of a time that it would become increasingly more difficult to follow the counsel of the Prophet as the world continues to accept ways and ideas that are inconsistent with scripture, so in following the counsel of the prophet would be less and less popular with those outside the Church. That couldn't be more true today, especially with Proposition 8. I give major "props" (no pun intended!) to all the members and fellow supporters who have had to endure obnoxious chants and harrassment simply because they have a deep-rooted belief in what marriage is and should be and in following the counsel of the prophet. I guess the last days will really "weed" the Church out separating the wheat from the tares. In seeing how Prop 8 has unfolded, I am reminded of the scripture in Isaiah 5:20: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

We still have a long ways to go in learning that to love someone does not mean we condone everything they do. On the flip side, not approving of choices or lifestyles doesn't mean we cannot love someone or be a part of his/her life. And yes, while I don't doubt the feelings are not choices, how we act on our feelings most certainly are choices we make whether those feelings are sexual in nature or not. That said, God loves all his children despite their choices; he does not hate gays. It is certainly possible for all of us to be more loving and understanding without compromising our beliefs.


The Mathews said...

Beautifully written. I think I am going to put a link to your (and others) blog on my facebook. I have some friends who like reading what I put up, though they may disagree. Thank you for your thoughts.

BriAnne said...

I really enjoyed this post. Thank you!

Jessica said...

I really like this post Jon, it really said what I had been thinking, but I don't feel very politically educated to really voice concerns or opinions, but you had some great points. And this is Jessica by the way, not Travis.

Kelly Most said...

Very cool thoughts. I especially love your thought process about gas prices and people's uneducated perspective. Thanks for sharing them!

Enough Already said...

Well written. I am right with you regarding the "Fairness" or should I say "Censorship" Doctrine.