October 18th, 2008

The Lesser of Two Evils


photo credit: Daniel Fardin

Individuals who cast their vote based on some predefined strategy weigh their options based on which candidate they think is the best option. This relative analysis compares the candidate not with any principle, but with their opponent. The ultimate deciding factor in this situation becomes which person is better than the other.

A common manifestation of this “strategic voting” is the oft-heard line that one candidate is the “lesser of two evils”. While at times people phrase this statement in a more positive manner, such as “candidate A is better than candidate B”, the widespread dissatisfaction of most people in the political process results in the far more common “candidate A isn’t as bad as candidate B”.

Not only is this method of casting one’s vote ineffective and chaotic, it’s also antithetical to divine command. After the Lord discusses the importance of Constitutional law and the negative impact an evil politician can have, He says the following:

Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:10; emphasis added)

In this verse we note three qualifications the Lord gives for political office: individuals must be honest, wise, and good. The obvious lesson here is that in no way does the Lord sanction strategic voting. Rather, we are specifically instructed to support leaders whose actions demonstrate a proven commitment to basic principles: honesty, wisdom, and morality. Further, we are told that anything less than these traits is evil.

A common critique against the “lesser of two evils” mantra is that the lesser of two evils is still evil itself. The Lord appears to agree. This is nothing to be trifled with, as the Lord continues in the following verse by explicitly commanding us to shun all evil (including the “lesser”):

And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:11; emphasis added)

Imagine if the Saints collectively upheld this rule, did their homework, and proactively supported the campaigns of those candidates that applied (after all, the Lord says to diligently seek for such people, not wait until the primaries and caucuses have decided the candidates for you). We alone would be a great force to be reckoned with, as would the worthy individuals we support.

But instead, the good candidates are largely passed over with an excuse that if a person voted for them, they’d basically be voting for “the other party” whose candidate would win. Herein lies the basic strategy: Saints cling tightly to the two-party system and fear that should they not vote for whoever the Republican candidate is, we’d be in for a tough time with a winning Democrat.

But imagine if everybody did proactively and enthusiastically support whichever person (whether in a “third party” or one of the main two parties) was right for the job. If all those who voted out of fear instead decided to pool their support behind the good, honest, and moral individual running for office, the “lesser of two evils” would fade from the spotlight and not have ascended so easily through the primaries.

It is to the Saints’ condemnation that we do not participate in the political process from its inception through its conclusion. Instead of seeking for the right people diligently, we sit by idly while the decisions are made for us, and then work ourselves into a frenzy as we approach the final election, throwing our support behind the lesser of two evils.

The Lord continues in verse 12:

For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:12)

We are being tried and tested to see if we can shun all evil and refuse to support those who do not meet the basic standards the Lord has set. Sadly, we are horribly failing this test, as evidenced by the propensity of the “lesser of two evils” ideology and the caliber of candidates currently in and running for office.

67 Responses to “The Lesser of Two Evils”

  1. Kathryn Skaggs
    October 18, 2008 at 9:43 am #

    I’m concerned… it seems to me, that you are assuming that members of the Church, have not applied this process, throughout the current elections. Perhaps, I misread you?

    I would assume, that most members are registered to vote, and have exercised these principles, thus far. However, I do not believe that many others, who are registered to vote – have been so committed to having their voices heard, on the principles of integrity… until now.

    I say this, because I would imagine that many members of the Church, stood firmly and passionately behind Mitt Romney. A belief, that their vote for Mitt, was a vote for the principles of which you bring forward today; and should be applied to whom we cast our votes.

    Now that we have the decision, between the final two candidates, that have risen from the remains – we must apply these same principles – to the choice before us. I have heard too many say, that now as they feel there are perhaps only “two evils” remaining, that they do not even want to vote in the end. This is a crime, IMHO.

    For those who have fought, with the voice of their vote – to this point, I still believe that the Lord will direct our final decision, as to who best – can we cast our vote, and then trust in Him.

    This is not a perfect world, therefore our choices in the world – can only best be made, trusting in His ways…

    tDMg

  2. Connor
    October 18, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    I’m concerned… it seems to me, that you are assuming that members of the Church, have not applied this process, throughout the current elections. Perhaps, I misread you?

    I am indeed assuming that. My conversations and observations reveal to me widespread ignorance among the Saints regarding Constitutional principles and the application of these three requirements to political candidates.

    I say this, because I would imagine that many members of the Church, stood firmly and passionately behind Mitt Romney. A belief, that their vote for Mitt, was a vote for the principles of which you bring forward today; and should be applied to whom we cast our votes.

    I would argue that the vast majority of Latter-day Saints supported Mitt Romney not because of his qualification of these three standards (indeed, few Saints are probably even aware of these verses and how they should apply to politics), but instead because he was a fellow Mormon. I heard this quite frequently, with people saying that since he’s also LDS, he must be a good guy and therefore the right person for political office.

    But this is far from the truth: not only do there exist wolves within sheep’s clothing (thus nullifying the argument that any Latter-day Saint in supposedly good standing merits our political support), but being a member of the Church is not on the Lord’s list.

    Even if members of the Church did support Mitt Romney based on principle (something I doubt holds true for the majority), he does not meet the Lord’s simple qualifications. In the verses preceding the ones I shared above, the Lord discusses Constitutional law, and how it is evil to deviate from it. Romney in many instances has done just that: advocating policies, programs, and ideologies that clash with this divinely-inspired founding document. Wisdom, one of the three qualifications shared in this post, implies in my mind the proper application of true principles. Romney’s failure to adhere to the Constitution and be bound down by its restraints demonstrates to me his unworthiness for office.

    Now that we have the decision, between the final two candidates, that have risen from the remains – we must apply these same principles – to the choice before us.

    Please don’t forget that there are more options (for the Presidential election and most other elections) than the two parties. Might I suggest looking into Chuck Baldwin, running for President on the Constitution Party ticket. Few other individuals actively running for office come as close to meeting the Lord’s basic criterion.

    But again, the fact that 99% of individuals wait until the end of the political process speaks to their failure to apply the verses cited above. At my local caucus we had five people show up, out of the roughly 2,000 individuals living here (in a heavily Republican area). Waiting until the end and professing to rely upon the Lord’s guidance is folly, in my mind, simply because we have not done what He asked us to do to begin with: diligently seek after and uphold the right people.

  3. Jeff T.
    October 18, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    Fortunately, Kathryn, there are more than two candidates running right now. That fact is, most people I know are voting for McCain because he is “less bad than Obama”, but not because they actually respect him.

  4. Inthedoghouse
    October 18, 2008 at 10:07 am #

    Completely thought provoking post. I have even said the very statement about “lesser of two evils”. That statement could certainly define this election, as the media has presented only two possibilities, evidenced by the debate coverage. This call to repentance has not fallen on deaf ears for me. I wish that this concept, and way of teaching this principle was more available to the members of the church, perhaps once true doctrine is understood, behavior would then change.

    Thank you for the beautiful way you have taught this principle.

  5. Kathryn Skaggs
    October 18, 2008 at 10:08 am #

    I will concede, in that I believe that Mitt Romney, the “Mormon” candidate – was most likely a lazy way for many members to cast their vote, and feel as though in doing so, it was the right thing to do.

    However, I am not saying that for many – it was not the right vote at that time.

    Thank you, for bringing up these very important principles – of how we are to exercise this great privilege to vote. Therefore, I will now re-consider my own choice on Nov. 4th – with these principles laid clearly before me, and will invite others to do the same.

    I love choice, and when we feel that perhaps we have lost a true option, of which to progress — apathy ensues for many. Looks like it is time to stop feeling damned – and exercise that God-given agency with a little bit more passion.

    I’m in:-)

    tDMg

  6. Carissa
    October 18, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    Connor- I’ve been patiently waiting for you to write a post like this and you did a great job :) When the statement about voting was read from the pulpit recently, I couldn’t help thinking how important it is to really DO what they suggest:

    Political Participation, Voting, and the Political Neutrality of the Church

    As citizens we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future.

    Latter-day Saints as citizens are to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are wise, good, and honest. Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties.

    Therefore, in this election year, we urge you to register to vote, to study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully, and then to vote for and actively support those you believe will most nearly carry out your ideas of good government.

    The Church affirms its neutrality regarding political parties, platforms, and candidates. The Church also affirms its constitutional right of expression on political and social issues.

    Sincerely yours,

    Thomas S. Monson
    Henry B. Eyring
    Dieter F. Uchtdorf
    The First Presidency

    Nowhere does it advise us to make sure that a candidate is popular or has a good chance of winning. If you can honestly attribute the qualities of integrity, wisdom, goodness, honesty, and committed to good government to the person you plan on voting for, then you have made a good choice. For me, that person is without question, Chuck Baldwin.

    I think we have a duty to help what is right become popular; this is true with every other principle in the gospel. We don’t wait for what is right to first become popular before we choose to support it.

  7. AmoreVero
    October 18, 2008 at 11:00 am #

    A vital thing to realize is that if we are deceived to support someone not good, wise & honest & worthy of the office, because of our lack of study of Constitutional principles or candidates records, etc., then we are accountable for falling for them & incur penalties because we chose to not have the light & Spirit sufficient to discern good from evil. Allowing ourselves to be deceived is usually our choice & thus we are responsible for it.

    All those who were deceived to support “Korahor” in the BoM, received the same punishment as he did…death, if they did not speedily repent.

    Ignorance will not save us or be an excuse. All those who want to know can know good from evil & if they are deceived they catch themselves quickly & repent.

  8. clint
    October 18, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Great article, I do believe you have hit the nail right on the head. And as thing`s stand right now, The only one still in the race I can support is Baldwin !

  9. John C.
    October 18, 2008 at 1:06 pm #

    Connor, et.al.,

    I don’t understand how you are intuiting the goodness, honesty, or wisdom of these politicians (including the Constitution candidate). Just because they don’t agree with you regarding how the Constitution should be read, why are they bad, dishonest, or unwise? Can’t good people disagree on the application of the 4th ammendment or the Elastic Clause?

  10. Connor
    October 18, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    Just because they don’t agree with you regarding how the Constitution should be read, why are they bad, dishonest, or unwise?

    See this thread for a discussion on that topic.

  11. John C.
    October 18, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    Okay, I read the post and skimmed the thread. I still don’t follow. Why is your authoritative reading of the Constitution superior to someone else’s? Why is it just to call people with whom you disagree over an interpretation of the Constitution bad, dishonest, or unwise?

  12. John C.
    October 18, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    Or how about we try a different tact? What do you believe the purpose of the elastic clause is?

  13. Carissa
    October 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm #

    John, this is about voting FOR someone rather than voting strategically. Each person, including you, is free to compare the candidates against the qualifications the Lord has given and come to his/her own conclusions. Of course there will be differences in what our ideas of good government are based on our individual understanding and our experience. Connor expresses his ideas of good government on his blog and that makes his opinion authoritative and superior? Anyone else is free to do the same.

  14. John C.
    October 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    Carissa,

    If Connor was expressing himself in the following manner, “I have chosen to not support Obama and McCain because I believe that their interpretation of the Constitution is flawed,” I would likely not much care about what he said. But he didn’t. He said that these folks were bad, dishonest, and unwise, which, due to the objective nature of the statement, indicates that he believes that they are much more deeply flawed than just being constitutionally-clueless in his eyes.

    Further, based on the thread he cited, I’m guessing that he believes that both McCain and Obama are enemies of the state (or the Constitution); that certainly seems to be his justification for selecting the Constitution party candidate. Further, and perhaps coincidentally, the Chuck Baldwin is the only good, honest, and wise candidate, as indicated by the fact that the Constitution Party candidate agrees with Connor on all the important stuff. If we only find those with whom we are in agreement good, honest, and wise, we should start to worry about ourselves, I think.

  15. Charly
    October 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    We are all responsible for the CONSEQUENCES of our decisions. Each and every vote cast for a third party candidate is a vote FOR OBAMA. He will enact laws, take away freedoms, and appoint Supreme Court justices who will permanently mar the landscape of our judicial system. DO NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA BY CASTING YOUR VOTE AWAY. Your idealism is laudable, but you are jumping out of the Titanic into the ocean, when we could have a rowboat to keep us afloat a while longer. IT IS NOT RIGHTEOUS (not even superficially) to ALLOW AN EVIL MAN TO TAKE OFFICE. Do not vote for Obama. Unless you cast a vote for McCain and the Republican party, you have helped Obama get into office.

  16. John C.
    October 18, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    Charly,
    I will ask you the same question I’m asking Connor. What is your evidence that Obama is evil? Does it only have one possible explanation?

  17. Carissa
    October 18, 2008 at 4:40 pm #

    Each and every vote cast for a third party candidate is a vote FOR OBAMA

    It’s true. All those Democratic Party defectors who’ve decided to go third party are somehow still voting FOR Obama (even though they technically aren’t). Don’t ask me to explain… you all know it’s true :)

  18. Connor
    October 18, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    John,

    Why is your authoritative reading of the Constitution superior to someone else’s?

    I’ve not claimed any authority. However, as was discussed on the thread I pointed you to, it’s easy in many cases to understand what the Constitution does and does not allow for—and thus, what is Constitutional or not.

    For example, if the Constitution says that Congress shall make no law about item A, yet a candidate talks about the need for legislation regarding item A, it’s safe to conclude that that person is an “enemy of the Constitution”, or, as God puts it, evil.

    The popular method, however, is not to openly contradict specific Constitutional mandates (though that’s done as well), but to advocate for government power over portions of the law the Constitution does not explicitly mention. You yourself have cited the Necessary and Proper Clause in support of Constitutional relativism, not mentioning the truism that is the tenth amendment, a simple declaration that the federal government has not been granted authority to act in the spheres not outlined in the Constitution.

    So when a political candidate actively supports (or does not oppose) things like universal health care, federal oversight over education, or trips to the moon, he is usurping authority that is not his to act on, and thus fails to meet the standard set by the Lord. He is not good, for he is seeking power that should not be his to have; he is not honest, for he fails to admit that the Constitution restrains him from such advocacy; and he is not wise, for he has failed to understand the founding document of this nation and apply it to his platform.

    Charly,

    Take a deep breath and read the post again. Your assertions are the very one I have invalidated.

  19. Charly
    October 18, 2008 at 5:21 pm #

    Your assertions are the very ones I have invalidated.
    =============

    You have invalidated them only in your own eyes. The consequences of your casting a vote for an admittedly seemingly admirable man WILL BE to cast a vote for Obama. The Lord knows the difference between living in an imperfect world and living in a perfect one. He adjusts and makes adaptations for us all the time. There is no inflexible “one right way” to vote. The CONSEQUENCES of putting Obama into office will be to topple the US economy, emaciate the US military defense system, greatly expand the power of the government and its intrusion into private lives, to confiscate capital and usurp individual and states rights in a chaotic but almost unheralded descent into Socialism or worse.

    DO NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA. In addition to his economic policies, other crucial issues are ABORTION and SUPREME COURT NOMINATIONS, which will impact our country for decades. The next president may appoint as many as four Justices. Don’t put that power into the hands of Obama.

    I understand your ideological and somewhat naive reading of the scriptures. I don’t disagree with your interpretations that the Lord wants good men to lead us. But let me ask you something. If Joseph Smith were in Liberty Jail, and a convicted cattle rustler came in the middle of the night to set him free and allow him to escape, do you think Joseph would draw back and firmly state: “No, thank you. I’ll just wait for someone more righteous than you to come and permit me to escape. You are just too evil for me to associate with.” Well, if you think he would, I’ll bid you good day and be on my way. I think he would be pragmatic and compare his options of freedom or captivity, and take the help offered.

    Make no mistake. Our freedoms are being abridged. We will lose more of them if Obama gets into office. If you do not vote for McCain, you are voting FOR Obama, the confirmed abortion-supporter who wants to decimate American military defense and socialize our government “redistribute the wealth”. Beware, beware the consequences of your choice.

    No one disagrees that there should be good men in office. But you are turning your back and letting an evil man waltz into the White House and destroy our country.

    My assertions are not invalidated at all. You assume you are right. But your choices will lead to a greater evil. Beware your position.

  20. Connor
    October 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    The Lord knows the difference between living in an imperfect world and living in a perfect one. He adjusts and makes adaptations for us all the time.

    Perhaps you’d care to back up your claims with scripture? What adjustment or adaptation has he given to this explicit commandment I’ve cited in the post?

    Well, if you think he would, I’ll bid you good day and be on my way. I think he would be pragmatic and compare his options of freedom or captivity, and take the help offered.

    Your example is quite inapplicable to the current topic. The Lord is not here speaking about association, but about elected leadership.

    Beware, beware the consequences of your choice.

    Charly, you need to look at the image I chose to use for this post. Therein lies a great lesson you’ve apparently yet to learn: the two parties are different heads of the same beast. While you kick and scream about Obama and thus encourage people to support McCain, you fail to realize that McCain is a horrible candidate himself. While he might take us down the path of socialism and destructive government policy more slowly, with him we would still be on the same path.

    All of your claims rest upon the very argument I’ve described here, namely, that McCain is the lesser of two evils. Nowhere in the scriptures do I find the Lord justifying such a rationalization of strategic voting. Indeed, he has commanded just the opposite

    But you are turning your back and letting an evil man waltz into the White House and destroy our country.

    I suppose your arguments were the same when referring to Al Gore or John Kerry, and yet look at where George Bush has taken this country. If anything, he has provided a clear case study in what happens when people vote the “lesser of two evils”.

  21. Curtis
    October 18, 2008 at 5:37 pm #

    A vote for McCain is a vote for Obama! Go Nader!

  22. Charly
    October 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    John wrote: I will ask you the same question I’m asking Connor. What is your evidence that Obama is evil? Does it only have one possible explanation?
    ================

    Even if I were not HORRIFIED by Obama’s economic policies (straight out of Marxism – his policies would derail our
    entire economy), and very concerned by his connections with ACORN, and Ayres, Wright, his Marxist mentors (including his father), and character and background in general – for me, the election would turn on two issues:

    -abortion
    -Supreme Court nominations

    If you have a little time, maybe you could sit down and watch these videos I pulled up for you. The Supreme Court nominations of the coming presidency will shape our country for years to come, maybe for our lifetimes. Much will hang in the balance that will determine our future, maybe even our freedoms (the ones that are left to us). Please listen and watch. None of them are very long. I’m aware that this is a weak means of communicating very important ideas – but these
    are crucial ones. Obama is staunchly pro-abortion, McCain is “proudly pro-life”. I think the stance of the church (and the Lord) is clear on that one.

    Another very important issue is our national defense. I’ve included one video on how Obama feels about that.

    Without further ado:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFM0DEbN1cQ
    Future Supreme Court nominees

    http://www.catholicvote.com/
    Vote for life

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYRpIf2F9NA
    Obama & Live Birth Abortion / Induced Labor Abortions / Infanticide
    Pro-Life Anti-Abortion Video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO46Qc1vMJo
    “Conservatizing” the Supreme Court

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy3mdh9f3ws
    Supreme Court Preview

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRGru2CPC4E
    Obama – Yes I Can Make Us Defenseless, Just Like Dec 7, 1941
    (humorously titled by a Harvard Law grad)

    Don’t think your vote does not matter! Vote your conscience, as they say. Pass this on, if you want. See you on Nov. 4!

  23. Carissa
    October 18, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    naive reading of the scriptures

    Charly- When did taking the words of the scriptures literally, become a naive thing to do?

    Instead of just assuming what Joseph smith would do, let’s look at his actual words on the subject:

    “..we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that we have acted conscientiously, and have used our best judgment. And if we have to throw away our votes, we had better do so upon a worthy rather than an unworthy individual who might make use of the weapon we put in his hand to destroy us” Times and Seasons, Nauvoo, IV, 441

    Joseph Smith was not naive when it came to knowing what evil was, and yet he is a good example of someone who stuck to principle when faced with the worst of it. There is something to be learned by his example.

  24. Charly
    October 18, 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    Charly, you need to look at the image I chose to use for this post. Therein lies a great lesson you’ve apparently yet to learn: the two parties are different heads of the same beast.
    ========

    Yes, I saw it, and thought it rather clever. And guess what? I don’t disagree with you that both parties have enormous problems.

    This is your blog, and I’m not going to derail your conversation any longer. But I have just one question for you.

    How will your choice to vote for a third party candidate help to preserve our freedoms in this country?

    You know that given current circumstances (reality), that your guy will not win the election. I WISH A STRICT CONSTITUTIONALSIT, very honest, good, clean, brave, thrifty reverent leader WOULD WIN. I really do. But I don’t think it is enough to sit back and congratulate ourselves on “casting our righteous and good vote”. I say – work toward that day. I fully support the concept. It’s just that in the meantime, we’ve got reality to deal with, and things could get a whole lot worse before they get better. We are responsible to do something to better the world /now/, and if by our actions we open the door wider for a misguided presidency that digs us further into slavery and captivity, then we haven’t done the good that we could could, while we could.

    So my question is, how will your vote help preserve the freedoms of this country?

    “Today two mighty forces are battling for the supremacy of the world. The destiny of mankind is in the balance. It is a question of God and liberty, or atheism and slavery. ” (D.O. McKay)

    President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. said:

    “Reduced to its lowest terms, the great struggle which now rocks the whole earth more and more takes on the character of a struggle of the individual versus the state. . . .

    “This gigantic world-wide struggle, more and more takes on the form of a war to the death. We shall do well and wisely so to face and so to enter it. And we must all take part. Indeed, we all are taking part in that struggle. whether we will or not. Upon its final issue, liberty lives or dies. . . . The plain and simple issue now facing us in America is freedom or slavery. ”

    The battle we are in is for our freedom and our liberties. I believe the Lord expects us to try to make a difference in the world.

    I wish you well, and godspeed.

  25. Carissa
    October 18, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    I just found a talk by Hartman Rector Jr that I think applies to this topic. Here are some excerpts:

    “[Satan] cheats us by trying to limit or destroy our alternatives.”

    “So must we now choose between the lesser of evils? No!”

    “There are other alternatives. There always are. We never have to be limited to undesirable alternatives because Lucifer says so.”

    Here is another applicable quote:

    “Rationalization of sin is one of the adversary’s most successful tactics in today’s society. It is frequently used to excuse what some see as lesser degrees of evil.”

  26. Charly
    October 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    I suppose your arguments were the same when referring to Al Gore or John Kerry, and yet look at where George Bush has taken this country. If anything, he has provided a clear case study in what happens when people vote the “lesser of two evils”.
    =======

    George Bush appointed two of the most conservative Supreme Court justices in decades. It is for this he will be profoundly remembered. Thousands, millions of lives will be saved if they manage to overturn Roe v. Wade. And they are helping to preserve many other constitutional freedoms for us as well.

    In Mosiah 29, the Lord gives us a lesson on the importance of righteous judges to rule the land. The laws set forth by the Supreme Court greatly magnify either righteousness or wickedness among the people. The only way we have power to “choose judges” is through the executive position of President of the United States. If we want to strengthen the constitution and its application throughout the land, then we must do what is in our power to “choose righteous judges”. The Supreme Court justices will have far greater impact on the constitutionality of our laws than will the inhabitant of the White House. But he will be The One to appoint them.

    Mosiah: “Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly *** rejoiced because of the liberty *** which had been granted unto them. Alma did walk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did *** judge righteous judgments ***; and there was *** continual peace ***through the land.

    “And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, [in other words, if they choose iniquitous judges who do not judge righteously] then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction.”

    I am trying to get some righteous judges to rule the land.

  27. John C.
    October 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm #

    Connor,

    The problem being that I believe that the original intent of the elastic clause was to allow for the interpretation of clauses and the authority inherent in the Constitution to expand and retract as necessary for the running of the country. I believe the Fathers foresaw the limits of their imagination and so they decided to write in the option of adjusting the Constitution as necessary. So, I can imagine an occasional necessity for the Executive to have the power to initiate a military action without the approval of Congress; an occasional necessity for Congress to demand exceptional oversight over the Executive branch; and for the Judicial Branch to invalidate both of the actions of the other branches, even when those branches are acting with the support of a national majority. I suppose I think that such things should be saved for extraordinary moments; but I believe they are justifiable in a manner that doesn’t allow for the language of enemy and bad, unwise, and dishonest.

    There is a lot in your rhetoric that reminds me of Protestant Christian inerrantists. While I appreciate that you believe that the Constitution is relatively easily understood, I believe that there is a large number of Constitutional scholars who would describe it as complex and worthy of more consideration than your simple if-then reasons allow.

    Charly,
    I don’t believe Barack Obama is looking to turn us over to the terrorists, nor would I describe his position as pro-abortion. Also, I’m personally a socialist, having been raised in a socialist nation (the USA). I don’t have much of a problem with it.

    That said, I am curious as to how you believe live will improve once Roe vs. Wade is overturned. What outcomes do you foresee?

  28. Allie
    October 18, 2008 at 7:57 pm #

    I’m still voting for Obama.

    :)

    (Nice post Connor- My Mister was out knocking doors the other day and had one guy stop him before he could say anything, something to the effect of, “I can’t vote for you because you’re a democrat and I can’t get around the abortion issue, it doesn’t matter if you don’t support abortion, (or if it’s not really a state issue, but whatever).”)

    Attitudes like that are frustrating, because instead of looking at what my Mister believed in, he wouldn’t even consider him because of one issue (an issue that some big player republican candidates around the country also support…).

    We’d be much better off if we voted for the person not the party.

  29. Connor
    October 18, 2008 at 9:23 pm #

    Charly,

    The battle we are in is for our freedom and our liberties. I believe the Lord expects us to try to make a difference in the world.

    Thank you for making my point. Supporting anybody that does not uphold the Constitution is, as God says, evil. Such individuals jeopardize our freedom and liberties, no matter how much more slowly they would do it than their opponent.

    George Bush appointed two of the most conservative Supreme Court justices in decades. It is for this he will be profoundly remembered. Thousands, millions of lives will be saved if they manage to overturn Roe v. Wade. And they are helping to preserve many other constitutional freedoms for us as well.

    And this somehow compensates for the thousands, millions of lives he has sent to the next world through military conflict? I’m not sure that George Bush’s nominations to the Court will be what he is most remembered for.

    If we want to strengthen the constitution and its application throughout the land, then we must do what is in our power to “choose righteous judges”.

    And so we ignore all the other atrocious actions in office, so long as the President installs a conservative judge to the Court? This is horribly naïve, in my opinion. When Jesus said “by your fruits ye shall know them”, he didn’t limit such fruits to Court nominations.

    I am trying to get some righteous judges to rule the land.

    …while apparently ignoring the commandments God has given us in the verses cited in this post.

    John,

    I believe the Fathers foresaw the limits of their imagination and so they decided to write in the option of adjusting the Constitution as necessary.

    I agree: a method was put in place to adjust the Constitution as future generations saw necessary. That method is to amend the document itself, not to allow its interpretation to be so broad as to render the original written document useless. Granting exceptions to the rule, as you suggest, mean that the original restrictions are void, since we allow them to be subjectively circumvented as certain leaders see fit. That’s how tyrants are made.

  30. Carissa
    October 18, 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    Hi Allie!

    Haven’t you heard by now that the best way to get Obama elected is to vote third party? :)

  31. Allie
    October 18, 2008 at 9:36 pm #

    Yeah, but I like to be difficult sometimes.

    :)

  32. Carissa
    October 18, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    On abortion- the republican party is giving a whole lot of lip service to the idea of overturning Roe v Wade right now, but it’s a “big tent” party when it comes to this issue so there’s no guarantee it will happen.

  33. Connor
    October 18, 2008 at 9:55 pm #

    Charly,

    In Mosiah 29, the Lord gives us a lesson on the importance of righteous judges to rule the land.

    Your comparison here is also misapplied, since you’re comparing different political systems. Nephite government consisted entirely of judges, whereas under the Constitution, the judicial branch is one of three (and the weakest). To magnify its importance over the other two, or to misunderstand the Book of Mormon’s application to our modern political system (by only applying it to actual judges, and not to all political leaders in general), is incorrect.

  34. Sisterlisa
    October 18, 2008 at 11:57 pm #

    Oh my !! Someone else with the same thoughts as I. Kudos to you for this article! Here is one I wrote the other day:
    http://www.agministries.org/2008/10/do-we-have-another-choice.html

  35. John C.
    October 19, 2008 at 5:54 am #

    Connor,
    What do you believe the purpose of the elastic clause is?

  36. vontrapp
    October 19, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    Charly

    You know that given current circumstances (reality), that your guy will not win the election. I WISH A STRICT CONSTITUTIONALSIT, very honest, good, clean, brave, thrifty reverent leader WOULD WIN. I really do. But I don’t think it is enough to sit back and congratulate ourselves on “casting our righteous and good vote”. I say – work toward that day. I fully support the concept. It’s just that in the meantime, we’ve got reality to deal with, and things could get a whole lot worse before they get better. We are responsible to do something to better the world /now/, and if by our actions we open the door wider for a misguided presidency that digs us further into slavery and captivity, then we haven’t done the good that we could could, while we could.

    Here’s a reality for you. The only way a strict constitutionalist is going to win the election is if PEOPLE VOTE FOR HIM. That’s reality. Insisting you won’t vote for him because he won’t win is simply running yourself in circles. Besides, is McCain really that much better than Obama? Is he even a little better? Obama would destroy us from within, McCain would destroy us from without. The end result is still destruction.

    So my question is, how will your vote help preserve the freedoms of this country?

    My vote _will_ help preserve the freedoms of this country because it will stand as an example, even if my third party candidate doesn’t win, it will stand together with the growing army of those who would choose right above fear. This army will grow, and it’s example will become ever more seen, and the more people embrace the vision, the faster it will happen. So I will make a stand! I will have my voice be heard! If I vote for McCain because I don’t like Obama, then all my voice gets to say is McCain is less evil than Obama. The same holds vice versa. I want my voice to say more than that, to mean more than that. I want my voice to tell the world who I believe IS a good man, and wise, and honest.

    “Today two mighty forces are battling for the supremacy of the world. The destiny of mankind is in the balance. It is a question of God and liberty, or atheism and slavery. ” (D.O. McKay)

    President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. said:

    “Reduced to its lowest terms, the great struggle which now rocks the whole earth more and more takes on the character of a struggle of the individual versus the state. . . .”

    Indeed. I’m not going to say liberty == Baldwin, but I WILL say that McCain AND Obama both represent slavery. Both represent the state side in the struggle of the individual vs the state. Both parties are the established system, and both will continue to keep us locked into a fruitless struggle unless we break out and choose real liberty, real choice, and real freedom. Of course it’s not always bad to vote Republican or Democrat. (That’s right! It might conceivably not be bad to vote Democrat!) The point is, if you vote for a Republican candidate, you do so because you truly believe that candidate to be honest, wise and good, at least to some acceptable margin. If anyone railing against Obama can honestly tell me they believe McCain to be a GOOD choice (WITHOUT that goodness depending on how bad Obama is) then by all means, vote for the good man. The point is, he is NOT a good choice and you all know it. I know you know it because the ONLY justification you can muster for voting for him is how BAD Obama is.

  37. vontrapp
    October 19, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    Speaking of voting for a Democrat. I was considering voting for Despesorio, until I saw a yard sign, “Despesorio, a Democrat for McCain!” lol. Oh well.

  38. Charly
    October 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm #

    If you were The Enemy, and you wanted to put good people into slavery, how would you go about it? Would you put the very worst candidate in the spotlight, and expect them to walk toward the light in a hypnotic fashion to vote for The One and vote themselves into slavery? Unlikely. But there is another way to exact the high cost of human freedom. Very simple, really, when you think about it.

    Just convince good people to throw their vote away!

    Then they will not be able to stop or derail any of the nefarious and evil plans that are laid for their captivity by voting in opposition to stop your nefarious evil designs. With no one standing guard, or providing opposition, evil plans can be executed to their maximum potential.

    Lately I have heard an increasing number of people saying that they believe “it is Much More Righteous to throw their vote away” by voting for a third party candidate than to (gasp) vote for “the lesser of two evils”. After having read quite a few of these impassioned theories, and having thought deeply about it, I have come to the conclusion that this is a very effective ploy enacted by The Enemy in order to neutralize and obliterate any opposition to his on-going evil intention to cost us our freedom and the peace of the land.

    These people invariably use a quote erroneously attributed to Joseph Smith to justify their actions and in the process promote their righteous superiority over their fellow voters, to wit: “if we have to throw away our votes, we had better do so upon a worthy, rather than upon an unworthy individual.” The context of that statement is the Times and Seasons. This is /not/ a JS quote, rather Joseph Smith was the one upon who the wasted votes were to be cast. The article is an announcement of his candidacy for president, written by a third party.

    http://www.centerplace.org/history/ts/v5n04.htm

    A fuller quote is this:

    “Under existing circumstances we have no other alternative, and if we can accomplish our object well, if not we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that we have acted conscientiously and have used our best judgment; and if we have to throw away our votes, we had better do so upon a worthy, rather than upon an unworthy individual, who might make use of the weapon we put in his hand to destroy us with.”

    The existing circumstances referred to were the on-record persecutions suffered by the members of the church at the hands of, or at the behest of the two other candidates. — I do /not/ think we find ourselves in that predicament today. Furthermore, they knew that either one of the candidates would continue to persecute the church, so there was no real “lesser evil” – to to vote for.

    The author of this statement said that “knowing that [we] have used our best judgment” is a good consolation. Note that he did /not/ say “it is better to throw our vote away.” He said “IF we have to throw away our votes”… I do not think we are in that circumstance, either. And the people advocating that it is more righteous to throw one’s vote away by voting third party, universally do not have a hard time distinguishing which of the alternative candidates is, in actuality, the [quote] “lesser of two evils”.

    Read carefully: But the most salient point in the Times and Seasons quote is that the options deemed “unavoidable” (ie, throwing away their votes) were ** designed specifically to /prevent/ an unworthy individual from making use of
    “the weapon we put in his hand to destroy us with”. ** Therefore, this entire concept does /not/ apply to our present circumstance, either, because the *most direct way* for us to put “the weapon into his hand to destroy us with” is to allow evil to triumph by electing the GREATER of two evils. There really is no middle road. Throwing away our vote means we neutralize our power and ability to help stop the tide of evil.

    Does it solve all our problems to elect “the lesser of two evils”?
    Sure wish it would, but no, it doesn’t.

    But isn’t it better than electing “the GREATER of two evils”? We know from simple arithmetic and from prior election results that a third party candidate will draw away votes which would have helped elect the LESSER of two evils, and ushers in the reign of the GREATER of two evils.

    I caution all of us to make the BEST use of our votes this November. Do not throw away your votes! It is not a gospel concept! Wake up before it is too late!~

  39. Connor
    October 19, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Charly, you have completely avoided the main source used in this blog post, while failing to supply any scriptural or prophetic support for your own stance. Until you can demonstrate how your position is in harmony with the scriptures I have cited, please stop advocating the very policy the Lord here says is evil.

  40. Charly
    October 19, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    And you, Connor, are on a gospel hobby. It is your self-righteousness that tells me you are wrong.

    It is not my desire or my style to be confrontational. And as I have said previously, I do not disagree with your stance, in principle. It is just that I believe the course of action you advocate is counter-productive, /at this time/, because if the GREATER of two evils triumphs now, we will find our freedoms even more greatly abridged, down the road, and the road back even harder to navigate.

    And the Supreme Court will have an /enormous/ impact on our social fabric, far longer lasting than you will admit to. Or perhaps you do not understand.

    You may be interested in this article quoting a General Authority of the church talking about politics. I’m a Republican, but I post this because I believe in seeing both sides of an issue. I learn more that way.

    http://www.donjarvis.org/?page_id=11

    Elder Marlin Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy said “major national political parties may take stands that do not coincide with teachings of the 10 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that should not put them out of bounds for members.”

    “The Democratic Party in Utah has in the last 20 years waned to the point where it really is almost not a factor in our political life,” Jensen said. “There is a feeling that that is not healthy at all — that as a state we suffer in different ways. But certainly any time you don’t have the dialogue and the give-and-take that the democratic process provides, you’re going to be poorer for it in the long run.”

    “This is the second dramatic time in the history of the state when forceful signals have been flashed from church headquarters calling on Mormons to choose up political sides more evenly,” said J.D. Williams, retired University of Utah political scientist.

    “One of the things that prompted this discussion in the first place was the regret that’s felt about the decline of the Democratic Party [in Utah] and the notion that may prevail in some areas that you can’t be a good Mormon and a good Democrat at the same time,” Jensen said.

    “A former attorney and lifelong Democrat, Jensen was careful in his comments not to suggest an official LDS preference for any political party but to maintain the church’s traditional stand of partisan neutrality. ”

    You may be too young to remember that a letter from the First Presidency was read over the pulpit about this same time urging members to seek elective office.

    I prefer to take the long view, and I feel you are taking the short view. The time is not right when we can have an “ideal candidate” win (which would be a subjective evaluation on the part of each individual, anyway). Should we work toward it? Yes, most certainly. Should we allow things to deteriorate in the meantime? Most certainly not. It is a matter of using the resources we have been given in the most appropriate way possible.

    And the bottom line is (per Elder Jenson’s remarks, which came from church hierarchy) — perhaps both views are needed – the one I hold and the one you hold – in order to bring to pass good works on the earth.

    You will go farther and be more convincing by promoting your own views than by criticizing and picking apart the views of others. We were warned about the Rameumptom for a reason.

    That’s all I have to say.

  41. Carissa
    October 19, 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    Charly- thank you for your clarification on the quote. I still think it’s good advice though ;)

    I have to believe that every good person would eventually get to a breaking point, where the “lesser” evil is still too evil. Maybe that point has not arrived yet for you. It has for me and for many others. I can’t even tell which one is lesser anymore! They’re just bad in different ways- I sincerely don’t know which one we’d be better off with.

    As was pointed out earlier, voting for a third party candidate who represents your views, is one way to “work toward” something better, to send a message of what you expect. Perhaps it is not the way you would choose to do it and that is fine. But please stop trying to guilt others into doing what they feel they must do by accusing them of being neutral in the battle against evil. This is so far from the truth.

  42. Charly
    October 19, 2008 at 7:37 pm #

    >>doing what they feel they must do by accusing them of being neutral in the battle against evil.

    ==========
    NOT neutral – neutralized. Their good efforts and intents negated because of other, more powerful forces that have yet to be undone. I have only tried to point out possible consequences. The guilt anyone may feel is their own. Everyone needs to vote according to the dictates of their own conscience. And we need to cut each other some slack and be less judgmental. We all have good to do in the spheres in which we are placed. It is a mistake to believe there is only one kind of good, one road, one means to an end.

    Why would a General Authority hold a press conference (see above) and say that the “hierarchy of the Church” is concerned that the members of the Church not be members of the same party? Is it because one party is right and one is wrong, therefore, some should be in the “wrong” party, so that the Church appears to be more balanced politically?

    No – I think that two possible reasons (among others) would be (1) to remain inclusive, so that people do not feel that because of their political beliefs they do not belong in the church. Trying to define only one right way is not being advocated by CHQ.
    (2) Because good people are needed in both parties (and in third parties) to help stop the tide of evil. We cannot turn our backs and expect things to get better. They will only get worse without some force of opposition.

    Of course we all want good people in office. Let’s hope we get some. The sooner the better. But there is not only one right way. Any good attack on evil must come from multiple fronts to be most effective. A one-weapon attack is easily extinguished.

    Keep doing the best you know how to do and the Lord will bless you.

  43. Connor
    October 19, 2008 at 8:36 pm #

    And you, Connor, are on a gospel hobby. It is your self-righteousness that tells me you are wrong.

    I echo the sentiment of one of Carissa’s comments above: a literal interpretation of the scriptures is not naive (nor is it “hobbyish”, or self-righteous). I do not claim that may stance is the summum bonum, only that God’s is. I have used His words here to demonstrate why we are to always support good, honest, and wise men, and you, who casts aside the thought as idealistic and naive, cannot support your own claim. If anybody is being self-righteous in this discussion, I think it is you. Again, since you have failed to respond to my invitation above, I’ll extend it again: please provide a scripture or prophetic quote supporting your stance, and I’ll consider it. Until then, the one with a hobby or agenda seems to be you.

    And as I have said previously, I do not disagree with your stance, in principle. It is just that I believe the course of action you advocate is counter-productive, /at this time/, because if the GREATER of two evils triumphs now, we will find our freedoms even more greatly abridged, down the road, and the road back even harder to navigate.

    Tell me, Charly, when has evil ever not existed? When is the right time to stand on principle? You’re doing the very thing I describe in this post—namely, praising a principle while refusing to heed it. Principle exists to be practiced; it will never see the light of day if we don’t let its light shine.

    And the Supreme Court will have an /enormous/ impact on our social fabric, far longer lasting than you will admit to. Or perhaps you do not understand.

    Nowhere have I discounted the importance of having judges. All I did was rebut your inaccurate comparison, wherein you used the Book of Mormon to inflate the importance of having good judges in our day, all while ignoring the the fact that the Nephites had a completely different type of government. Again, you have yet to address this comment, instead trying to incessantly drill in your own agenda. If you can’t respond directly to the rebuttals and questions offered, then I fail to see the integrity of your position.

    You may be too young to remember that a letter from the First Presidency was read over the pulpit about this same time urging members to seek elective office.

    This happens frequently and regularly. As I have noted, few members seem to take heed.

    I prefer to take the long view, and I feel you are taking the short view.

    Is not following the scriptures and obeying God’s specific commandment on the subject the “long view”? Is not supporting whoever is the “lesser of two evils” constantly in flux, always depending on who is running in the election, the real short view? A long and eternal view is one in which we implement and obey God’s will—my stance adheres to that policy, yours does not seem to.

    The time is not right when we can have an “ideal candidate” win (which would be a subjective evaluation on the part of each individual, anyway). Should we work toward it? Yes, most certainly.

    As I’ve noted above, the time will never be right unless you make it happen. You seem to want to wait around for ideal conditions, but those will never come about unless, as vontrapp suggested, we begin today, rally others, gather support, and make our voice heard. Continually supporting evil candidates (only because they are “less evil” than the next) will never allow an ideal candidate to win. If you want to work towards that lofty goal, you cannot continually capitulate and dismiss God’s specific words on the subject.

    You will go farther and be more convincing by promoting your own views than by criticizing and picking apart the views of others. We were warned about the Rameumptom for a reason.

    These are God’s words, Charly, not my own. Until you demonstrate support for your opposing argument, I will continue to promote God’s views. Remeber, those at Rameumptom worshiped God with words only, but their deeds were hypocritical and hollow. Only when we align our deeds with God’s commandments will we avoid the patronizing self-righteousness you allude to.

    Keep doing the best you know how to do and the Lord will bless you.

    The best I know how is explicitly following God’s will. We sing “choose what is right, let the consequence follow”; perhaps it’s time we actually practice what we preach.

  44. Charly
    October 19, 2008 at 9:48 pm #

    Voting for a 3rd party candidate helps increase funding and attention, so that next time around more people might realize there is a choice.

  45. Fair Voter
    October 20, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    Uncontested* state legislative races in Utah in 2008 (Incumbent-Party)

    Senate 14 (Valentine-R)

    House 2 (Ferry-R)
    House 19 (Allen-R)
    House 22 (Duckworth-D)
    House 56 (Sumsion-R)
    House 67 (Painter-R)
    House 70 (McIff-R)
    House 75 (Urquhart-R)

    *Uncontested by both a Democratic and a Republican

  46. John C.
    October 20, 2008 at 12:11 pm #

    Connor,
    I don’t mean to be a bore, so I am happy to discuss this off thread if you like. But I am interested in what a strict constructionist, like yourself, does with the elastic clause? Could you answer, please?

  47. Connor
    October 20, 2008 at 12:21 pm #

    But I am interested in what a strict constructionist, like yourself, does with the elastic clause?

    Sorry, I forgot to respond to your same question earlier.

    Here’s my take on the Necessary and Proper (“elastic”) clause:

    The clause itself makes specific reference to the powers granted under the Constitution. In other words, the clause says, in effect: “Congress shall have the power to do what this Constitution says it needs to do”. So, the clause really becomes a truism like the tenth amendment, tossing in a little redundancy, as it were.

    The Constitution is a positive document, not a negative document—meaning that the powers mentioned there are the only ones granted to the federal government (hence the reason that the tenth amendment is a truism). So although some interpret the Necessary and Proper Clause to mean that Congress is somehow granted more powers, they cannot Constitutionally assume any power they have not been delegated by the people in the document—which specifies a few specific powers only.

    To take the “elastic” analogy at its face, let’s examine a rubber band. The nature of the rubber band is such that it can stretch back and forth a limited degree – within the tolerances it was engineered with. In that sense, it can be elastic and take various shapes while retaining its overall integrity and function.

    But a rubber band cannot duplicate itself, cannot be in two places at once, and cannot alter its shape to perform some other function. It is elastic and can adapt as necessary, but only to a certain degree. Similarly, the Congress has the power and authority to do what it wants with the powers it has been given (say, to regulate commerce with foreign nations or coin money), but cannot magically use its elasticity to take on a new function (say, NASA, the Department of Education, the FDA, etc.).

    So, that’s my take on the elastic clause. It’s a truism that doesn’t add any powers to the positive, limited, and explicit powers Congress was granted under the Constitution.

  48. Adrien
    October 20, 2008 at 2:32 pm #

    Of the two front-running parties, neither are wise to handle the situation in which we find ourselves today with respect to the economic climate. In terms of honesty, can we all agree that neither are forthcoming on their position on every issue? In terms of being good, we only know for sure that someone is not good if they have been caught. We can never affirm that this person is good, whatever that would mean.

    So what is a voter to do if the masses have selected marginal candidates for the issues of today?

  49. Connor
    October 20, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    So what is a voter to do if the masses have selected marginal candidates for the issues of today?

    Emigrate?

  50. Joe
    October 20, 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    If McCain truly is way behind, then is a vote for McCain a thrown away vote?

    I just read John Quincy Adams’ quote, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

    I still don’t know if he truly is all that behind, and I don’t know how I’ll be voting on the 4th, but your post made me think harder about it.

  51. Adrien
    October 20, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Emigrate?

    I’m talking about for the election cycle. There are candidates that fit the bill out there – such as Ron Paul. What if, through the process, they are eliminated and there are no candidates that you really favor? Are you not to pick the least of two evils at this point since you cannot choose the candidate you favor?

    To Joe’s point, it is a shame for people to vote the poll. What do the polls really mean? I saw a headline today that said Obama was ahead by 6%. Is this of the total population or of the battleground state where it really matters? I don’t think he is ahead by that much here in Arizona. Also, the poll has a margin of error of 2.9%. So he is ahead from anywhere between .02% to 11.8%. These articles sway voters negatively by causing underdog fans to stay home or even vote the other way.

    Joe, does it really matter if 6% more of the American population prefers Obama if less than 100% vote and the president isn’t elected by a simple majority?

  52. Connor
    October 20, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    Are you not to pick the least of two evils at this point since you cannot choose the candidate you favor?

    I believe that we can always choose, no matter what artificial limitations are proposed. You can vote third party, or write in whatever candidate you want.

    Strategically, that’s not an effective vote. But I believe voting is more than playing a game—I think it’s a declaration of who I support, who I think is worthy of office, and who I think will do a good job.

    When we vote on strategy, politicians use strategy to their advantage. They’ll use negative campaigning, leak information, pander to specific audiences, keep an eye on polling, etc. This, I believe, leads them to abandon principles and craft their message in the most appealing package, in order to win the votes of all those who are looking for the person who has the “best chance” of winning.

    That’s not my America.

  53. Adrien
    October 20, 2008 at 3:16 pm #

    well stated

  54. ajax
    October 20, 2008 at 4:41 pm #

    The only strategy I would consider is to vote for deadlock, ie the Democrats control the legislative branch, I will vote for a Republican to maintain a valid check. Oh, wait a minute, Bush and the Democrats…. :-| never mind.

    Principle it is!!

  55. Brian Mecham
    October 21, 2008 at 10:56 pm #

    Another great blog post Connor. It’s sad to see how many people only see two choices (Republican and Democrat) and don’t even stop to consider that if enough people stopped participating in the two-party system that they could in fact elect someone like Chuck Baldwin or Ron Paul. I believe that ‘we get what we ask for’. If the majority of Americans are ignorant and uneducated about the Constitution then we get socialsim… Education is the key. Check out my video on voting based on principles rather than party/politics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMpPPN_ILEo

  56. Curtis
    October 21, 2008 at 11:19 pm #

    Who would you all have chosen between Coriantumr and Shiz? As for me, I would have chosen the cave.

  57. Marc
    October 22, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    Shiz Happened…The Book of Mormon is true!

  58. John C.
    October 23, 2008 at 8:11 am #

    Sorry it has taken me so long to back to this, Connor. I guess the question is whether the bailout can be seen as an extension of power that can be legitimately tied into the powers of the congress/executive branches. I would think that regulation of interstate commerce here might apply and speak to the constitutionality of the bailout, under use of the elastic clause.

  59. Connor
    October 23, 2008 at 8:22 am #

    I would think that regulation of interstate commerce here might apply and speak to the constitutionality of the bailout, under use of the elastic clause.

    The Cato Institute, with whom I don’t always agree, put out this article a few days ago, addressing the issue:

    The federal government has no constitutional authority to spend taxpayers’ money to buy distressed assets, much less to take an ownership position in private financial institutions. And Con­gress has no constitutional authority to delegate nearly plenary legislative power to the Treasury secretary, an executive branch official.

    Congress can proceed only from legitimate authority, not from good intentions alone. That means we must find a constitutional pedigree for each proposed law.

    One possible rationale for the bailout is the all-encompassing commerce clause. As the country grew and some people came to believe that most of its problems required national regulatory solutions, Congress sought to find a specific constitutional power that would justify an ambitious federal agenda. The commerce clause became the vehicle of choice.

    Yet that is not why the clause was written into the Constitution. Under the Arti cles of Confederation, the national government lacked the power to regulate interstate commerce. Each state was free to advance local interests and to create barriers to trade without regard to possible prejudice to out-of-state interests. That process devolved into what Justice William Johnson, concurring in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), characterized as a “conflict of commercial regulations, destructive to the harmony of the States.”

    The solution: a constitutional convention at which, according to Johnson, “If there was any one object riding over every other in the adoption of the Constitution, it was to keep the commercial intercourse among the States free from all invidious and partial restraints.”

    Instead of serving as that shield against interference by the states, the commerce power has become a sword wielded by the federal government in pursuit of a boundless array of regulatory programs. That financial markets are interstate does not authorize the federal government to do anything and everything to manage those markets. The commerce power is to “regulate,” but commerce is not regulated by eliminating private risk and substituting tax-funded handouts to favored economic actors. The Framers who crafted the commerce clause could not have intended to empower Congress to give an executive official virtual carte blanche over all financial institutions.

    Moreover, it is not a commerce clause argument to say that Congress created the mess and, therefore, Congress can do whatever it wants to fix the mess. Legislators’ misdeeds do not ipso facto justify the socialization of private banks, brokers, mortgage companies, and insurance companies-and who knows where it stops.

    Even if Congress could defend the bailout as a means of preventing interstate impediments to commerce, that would not legitimize any and all means.

    We would do well in such circumstances to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson:

    On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

    Looking through Madison’s Notes, I doubt you’ll find any advocacy in the debates for using the commerce clause to nationalize a portion of the financial industry, prop up private companies, socialize the losses, and privatize any gains.

  60. John C.
    October 23, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    Well, of course Jefferson was opposed. He spent a great deal of time fighting Hamilton’s National Bank.

    Having the division between Hamilton and Jefferson before us, is it reasonable to say that there was a variety of approaches to the Constitution and the meanings to be derived therefrom from the very beginning? Why must we create “one, true meaning” today?

  61. Connor
    October 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    Having the division between Hamilton and Jefferson before us, is it reasonable to say that there was a variety of approaches to the Constitution and the meanings to be derived therefrom from the very beginning?

    I don’t know that even Hamilton would have supported what the government is doing today. Regardless of the variety of opinions in crafting the Constitution, we are left with the words that ultimately were agreed upon. As Jefferson said in that quote above, it becomes our responsibility to understand why those specific words were chosen.

    Different delegates to the convention may have wanted one thing or another, or may later have been more persuaded to promote a specific ideology (as evidenced by the Hamilton/Jefferson clash), but what matters is the specific words they agreed upon, and the debate that happened around those words.

    Why must we create “one, true meaning” today?

    Simple statements have simple explanations. Again, I think there is stretching room in application of those specific provisions, but it becomes absurd to try and expand the definition of a word or clause to apply to something radically different from what the Founders ever intended.

  62. John C.
    October 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    Hamilton supported the creation of a National Bank in order to protect the interests of the landed elite. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have a great problem with the bailout if he was convinced that was necessary and proper.

    I may be wrong but Hamilton and Jefferson disagreed over the interpretation of those very words from practically the time that they were written. There isn’t any doubt that the elastic clause was a compromise which implies from the beginning that there was a variety of interpretations.

    I suppose my point is that your “simple” explanations are just as much an interpretation as anybody’s “complex” explanation. So I don’t see why I should value yours over mine a priori.

  63. Adrien
    October 23, 2008 at 4:58 pm #

    Thomas Jefferson said a lot of neat things.

    “The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & What country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

    We should have thought of Tommy Jeff before reacting to 9/11 the way we did.

  64. John C.
    October 23, 2008 at 7:43 pm #

    Adrien,
    I don’t have a clue what you are referring to. How does the quote relate to our reaction to 9/11?

  65. adrien
    October 23, 2008 at 8:02 pm #

    Sorry, I was at work when I posted that and didn’t have time to elaborate.

    Anyways, Thomas Jefferson wrote that quote in reference to Shay’s Rebellion, a small uprising in Massachusetts. The point is that we can find tidbits of what the founding fathers have said and twist them to many different meanings. This quote by Jefferson suggests that every twenty years or less, we ought to have little rebellions that spill the blood of patriots and tyrants to bring injustices to attention. This would be justification for small attacks that bring attention to injustices.

    In Timothy McVey’s case, he was putting the spotlight on an injustice he saw. The planners of 9/11 are in the same boat. Jefferson was saying that the majority of citizens cannot be fully informed about everything and these skirmishes must happen to bring attention to injustice. If we would pay attention to why people do what they do rather than escalate the violence on the premise that they hate us for our freedoms, we might have a different outcome.

    Or. . . we can see that the founding fathers’ words can be interpreted to justify many objectionable actions by the government or anyone.

  66. Jim Davis
    January 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    “We engage in the election the same as in any other principle; you are to vote for good men, and if you do not do this it is a sin; to vote for wicked men, it would be sin. Choose the good and refuse the evil. Men of false principles have preyed upon us like wolves upon helpless lambs. Damn the rod of tyranny; curse it. Let every man use his liberties according to the constitution. Don’t fear man or devil; electioneer with all people, male and female, and exhort them to do the thing that is right. We want a President of the U.S., not a party President, but a President of the whole people; for a party President disfranchises the opposite party. Have a President who will maintain every man in his rights.”

    -Hyrum Smith, History of the Church, Vol.6, Ch.15, p.323

  67. DavidM
    November 10, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    So my question is, how will your vote help preserve the freedoms of this country?

    Charly, when I am brought to the feet of our Lord for my judgement I am confident that he cares greater towards what I voted for, above who I voted for.

    It’s self evident from the scriptures that it’s greater to vote on princple than popularity.

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