The Spiritual Roots of the Democratic Party: Why I Am a Mormon Democrat

by Todd M. Compton

[This paper, originally given as a talk at Sunstone Symposium, Summer 2001, was not definitive; I had much to learn about politics, and still do. If Republicans have arguments or information that counter the opinions expressed here, I would be interested in hearing from them. In addition, as readers will quickly see, this paper is out of date. For example, Harry Reid has been Senate Majority Leader since January 2007. Nevertheless, my general views on politics have not changed significantly since 2001, so I’ll keep it on my website. If anything, the Republican Party has gone further to the right, is more extremist, than it was ten years ago.]


I began writing this paper as a result of a number of stimuli. First of all, I should state that I am not an expert in politics, economics or political history. I have become seriously interested, to the extent of reading about politics, only in the last few years. The impeachment drama, the Florida electoral struggle, the resulting Supreme Court decision, and George W. Bush’s administration, have all tended to mobilize and liberalize me. Also, after the Florida standoff, I had some talks with my sister-in-law, during which she stated that the church and gospel, as she viewed it, caused her to vote Republican. I thought it would be interesting to try to explain to her why my view of the gospel causes me to vote Democrat.

Finally, one of my sisters told me that a Representative of Utah County in the State Senate, named Bill Wright, who also had been a stake president, had been making statements to the effect that a person could not be a good Mormon and also a member of the Democratic party.[1] I think it is strange that so many Mormons agree with Wright, when to me, at least, the Democratic party holds many positions that are central to the gospel, and many Republican principles, if taken to extremes, are opposed by the gospel. Hence I began to think about and write this essay.

Before we start, some preliminaries.

First, all politicians are imperfect, both Democrat and Republicans. While I heartily support democratic, elected government, there are some aspects of that process (campaigning, for instance) that reward severe bending of the truth, or elaborate efforts to avoid the truth, in politicians. So I am the first to admit that you can find specific instances of Democratic politicians who have been profoundly flawed. However, I believe politicians on both sides of the aisle tell untruths—ranging from subtle spinning of the truth, distortion of truth, all the way to the big lie. In the dramatic recent administrations, Republicans have repeatedly accused Clinton and Gore of being dishonest, while casting a blind eye on less than truthful statements by their own politicians. As Democrats and Republicans, we need to seek a nonpartisan spirit in recognizing the lack of integrity in political figures and calling them to account for it.

Second, no political party, Democrat or Republican, is perfect; and no political party, Democrat or Republican, is the church. Both parties contain typical elements that are at odds with the church; both parties contain typical elements that are aligned with the church in some ways. So one major mistake Bill Wright made, in my opinion, was in equating a political party completely with the church and gospel, and characterizing the other as completely anti-church, anti-gospel. He may feel that one political party is a better fit with the church on the whole, but he should see that even his own political party has elements that are not directly equivalent to the church.

Therefore, I am not arguing that the Democratic party is always correct; but I will argue that, in my view of the gospel, the national Democratic party, as it exists today, is closer to the core elements of the gospel in many of its base principles than is the national Republican party, as it exists today (which is leaning increasingly to the far right).

Third, the Republican party and the Democratic party have changed over the years, and will continue to change. On certain issues (civil rights is the obvious example), they have seemingly traded places. I will generally refer to the parties as they stand now, but I will also look at some patterns in the parties that have held true over time.

Fourth, even now, neither the Republican party nor the Democratic parties are monolithic, cohesive entities. You have Republicans on the far right, and you have moderate New England Republicans. You have southern Democrats who are more conservative than many Republicans. To a certain extent, both parties are at war within their own ranks, and both parties are always changing. Most people are mixtures of conservative and liberal elements, including myself.

Fifth, individual Mormons view the gospel differently; some of them will emphasize certain issues, while others will focus on other issues; and depending on your view of the gospel and the scriptures, you will respond to characteristic Democratic or Republican issues in different ways.

Finally, there are many Republicans I admire; as I stated, some moderate Republicans share some key philosophies with typical Democrats. I have Republican friends who describe themselves as fiscally conservative, socially liberal. I admire their authentic concern for the less fortunate in our society, and I salute them for their generosity, which I’ve sometimes seen firsthand.

So following is a brief, horribly oversimplified overview of Democratic and Republican philosophies, which I wrote after talking to a number of Democrats and Republicans. My brother- in-law, a Republican who has been in the Utah state legislature, was especially helpful. Republicans stand for as little government as possible. Therefore, they tend to want to cut taxes. Republicans typically want to protect capitalism, as defined by the owners and management of companies, and they typically want to minimize federal regulations that affect business. Republicans emphasize states’ rights, rather than the power of central government. They emphasize self-motivation to solve problems, rather than giving people financial help. Republicans typically support a strong military, and are against gun control (but tend to want to be tough on crime). They support education, but have not made it a signature issue. Republicans generally are not ardent environmentalists, partially because that means more federal regulations applied to states and corporate entities. The Republicans are often allied with the religious right, and therefore Republicans sometimes seek to legislate religious values. This element of the Republican party somewhat conflicts with the libertarian tendencies of the Republicans (as for instance, in the religious right’s support for the drug war). In recent years, the South and West (except for California) have moved toward the Republican party. Because of the Republican party’s support for management and against labor in business, it has benefitted from massive corporate donations, and not surprisingly is typically against campaign finance reform. (But once again, it is worth noting that a “moderate” Republican, McCain, has crusaded for campaign finance reform, and deserves full credit for that. But to do this, he has bucked the leadership of his own party.)

Democrats, on the other hand, typically feel that one of the federal government’s primary responsibilities is to help with social problems, such as poverty, bad education, pollution. Therefore, they often ask for more taxes. Though the Democrats support capitalism, they generally side with labor, rather than with the company management, with the people, not with the financial elite. Education is a signature issue for the Democrats, and they most often ask for more education money than do Republicans. Democrats support the military, but other issues also have great priority. Democrats are typically strong on environmental issues. They are also the party most concerned about civil rights, at the present time, so minorities, blacks, and Latinos typically support the Democratic party. Though the Democratic party certainly has raised large amounts of money from corporate donors, it has characteristically been on the side of campaign finance reform.

These are all complex issues. One could demonize both sides on these trademark issues. For instance, you could demonize the Republicans for siding with the rich and turning their backs on the poor and minorities. On the other hand, you could demonize the Democrats as wanting to set up a socialist, communist state where people are paid for not working. But I think on both sides of this philosophical divide, there are extremist positions that should be rejected. (For instance, while Republicans typically want tax cuts, they typically do not want to abolish taxes completely. And they do not want to do away with the federal government, as do some extremists.)

Before beginning work on this paper, I read an essay in which the author argued that both the Republican and Democratic tendencies are necessary in the American political life. In his view, Republicans provide the motivation for self-improvement, self-motivation; Democrats provide the tendency to help those who are less fortunate. Both are valid poles in a continuum.

For instance, I agree with the Democratic tendency to help the disadvantaged; however, I fully agree with Republicans who object to programs that are wasteful and do not really help the recipients of the program. Sometimes poverty can be a cultural problem; simply pouring money into the problem does not help, and can even make matters worse. Welfare programs that reward people for not working are actually harmful to the recipients.

Another example: while I see the Republican’s emphasis on smaller government sometimes to be a ploy for supporting questionable policies (for instance, states’ rights have been repeatedly invoked by conservatives on the Supreme Court to oppose civil rights), I fully agree that a centralized bureaucracy can be an inhumane thing—wasteful, arrogant, unworkably complex, unresponsive to local concerns.

So, I will not argue that either party is completely right or completely wrong, in terms of the gospel. I will argue that either party, when it goes to extremes, can be dangerous. So this talk is in some ways merely an argument against extremism in either party. And when I criticize Republican attitudes below, I am usually criticizing extreme Republicanism. I will often praise moderate Republicans.

However, I do believe the typical, present-day Democratic party, in its typical present character, is closer to the gospel on the most central gospel issues than is the typical, present-day Republican party, in its typical present character. I believe we’re living at a time when Republican leadership is moving toward extremes, both in the White House and in party leadership in Congress. Bush, I believed, campaigned in the center; but as soon as he and his advisors came to the White House, their far right colors showed quickly. Bush and his allies opposed legislation promoting workplace safety for workers,[2] struck down summarily many laws protecting the environment, and have favored positions advocated by wealthy special interest lobbyists who contributed to the Republican campaign. They have opposed meaningful campaign finance reform, and a meaningful patients’ bill of rights, developing a foreign policy that many have interpreted as isolationist and unilateral (until September 11th). Bush has thus moved aggressively away from the center in a way that has raised questions about his basic integrity, given his centrist, bipartisan rhetoric while campaigning.[3]

However, some moderate Republicans in Congress have resisted Bush’s anti-environment, isolationist, pro-corporate positions. I think one of the most interesting questions in politics today is whether the Republican party will continue to move to the far right, or if it will be able to take an authentic centrist position. But in my view, the leadership of the Republican party—Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Hastert, Lott, Rehnquist—are all on the far right. McCain is a moral leader, but has been shut out of any actual party standing. If you disagree that the present leadership is quite far to the right, the case of Jim Jeffords shows how moderate Republicans have felt marginalized under the present Republican party leadership.[4]

Rich and Poor

The first theme is compassion for the poor, which I think is a core gospel principle. Hugh B. Brown wrote that when he came to the United States from Canada in 1927, there was “a question in [his] mind” as to “whether I should be a Democrat or a Republican. I spoke to several people about it. President Grant at the time was an ardent Democrat, as was his counselor and cousin, Anthony W. Ivins, and B. H. Roberts. Each of these men told me at different times and separately that if I wanted to belong to a party that represented the common people I should become a Democrat but that if I wanted to be popular and have the adulation of others and be in touch with the wealth of the nation, I should become a Republican.” Brown, of course, became a Democrat.[5]

Nevertheless, there are valid aspects to the Republican argument for supporting capital—the argument that healthy business sector benefits the whole fabric of society, including poor and middle class, providing jobs, helping people help themselves, that healthy business keeps the economy running. One can easily admit that many Democrats are wealthy, and that Democratic politicians also accept donations from corporate sponsors. In addition, rich and poor are relative terms (compared with mountain peasants in the Andes, I am rich). I also agree that money thrown at people in poorly administered programs can develop unhealthy dependence and stifle initiative. There are many wealthy people who have unselfishly used their resources to help others. Some of the finest people I know are wealthy.

I recently read an autobiography by Zadok Knapp Judd, Jr., about early attempts to implement the United Order in Kanab.[6] According to Judd, the less industrious members, instead of going to work, would lounge around their homes, keeping a sharp eye on the bishop’s storehouse, and when the bishop received goods, they would be there first to get their share. When the hard workers came home from the fields at night, they would find that the goods were already gone. Though I still believe in the United Order ideal, in many ways it does not work with flawed humans.

Granted all this, the scriptures are full of cautions about the dangers of being rich.[7] Sometimes riches come to the righteous, but wealth is dangerous even to the righteous. We know Jesus’s statement: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”[8] There is a folk interpretation popular in Mormon circles that the eye of the needle is merely the name of a gate (which means the camel would have to stoop a little to get through), but there is no reliable evidence for this interpretation. Scholars instead have indicated that this is a proverb for impossibility, like a similar proverb of a elephant going through the eye of a needle.[9] Jesus goes on to say that God can enable a rich man to enter heaven, but it is not an easy thing.

Jesus made this statement after his interview with the wealthy young man, who asked Jesus what must he do to have eternal life, and Jesus questioned him about the ten commandments. The young man said he had kept them from youth. “And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.” Analyzing that interchange by the standard of modern politics, Jesus is not advising doctrinaire Republican programs. Sometimes the rich need to give to the poor, and the poor need to receive. This concern for the poor and warning that the rich are often the unrighteous can be found in other teachings of Jesus: the parable of Lazarus and rich man (Luke 16:19ff.), in which the sore-ridden Lazarus does not receive even cast-off food from the rich, and receives no health care. Also, in the Lucan version of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-26), Jesus does not spiritualize the beatitude on poverty. Instead, he says: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” And in the woes, he says bluntly, “Woe to you that are rich.”

Yet in orthodox Republican philosophy, there is almost a tendency to view wealth as a moral good, while poverty is a result of lack of morality. For the Republicans, the rich can say, I earned this wealth through my efforts, my risks, my hard work, my moral worth; I deserve it; no one should take it away from me. Yet the emphasis in the beatitudes of Jesus was just the opposite of that. The doctrinaire Republican philosophy does not recognize that sometimes people gain wealth in ways that are unrelated to moral virtues. Sometimes people inherit wealth. Sometimes people inherit the opportunity for wealth. Sometimes people gain wealth through luck, not through any great moral insight, or even through hard work. Sometimes people even gain wealth through unethical practices, by taking advantage of more ethical people. Often, the playing field is not level—in fact, there is never a completely level playing field, even in America. Republicans have a tendency to ignore that fact. Theologically, the Bible often emphasizes that wealth is given to us from God, as a trust; we should not think that it is entirely due to our efforts. (Deut. 8:17.)

The scriptures sometimes portray the wealthy as gaining riches by taking advantage of the poor. For instance, in Psalms 10, the wicked “hotly persecute” the poor. This wicked man is “greedy for gain.” He lurks like an animal of prey “that he may seize the poor.” “The hapless is crushed, sinks down, and falls by his might.”[10] Again in the New Testament, James uses language more extreme even than I would use, but I quote him as an example of how dangerous wealth can be, and how we often find the perspective in the scriptures that wealth is not a positive good, but often leads to moral failings. James addresses the rich: “Your riches have rotted and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire . . . Behold the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” “You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure . . . You have killed the righteous man.” (James 5.) This is not a pro-management position—James’s sympathy is entirely with the laborers, unless you employ a bizarrely contorted interpretation. Financial selfishness is not just a private failing; it hurts others, and it corrupts the social fabric. This scripture speaks of the wealthy killing the poor, which may seem melodramatic. But what if an employer withdraws health insurance from an employee? What if an insurance company denies coverage? What if the poor cannot turn to their government for insurance? A person without resources can die in misery.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can think of no milder term to apply to . . . the general prey of the rich on the poor.”[11] Nibley, in his classes, used to tell us stories of wealthy industrialists using child labor in mines in England and Scotland in the nineteenth century. I quote from a British Parliamentary Report published in 1842, and cited in Nibley’s book, Approaching Zion: “Children [male and female] are taken into these mines to work as early as four years of age . . . often from seven to eight, while from eight to nine is the ordinary age . . . The employment . . . assigned to the youngest Children . . . requires that they should be in the pit as soon as the work of the day commences, and . . . not leave the pit before the work of the day is at an end . . .” The children worked completely in the dark, and often would not see the sun for weeks at a time. The common task was for the children to carry coal up shafts on their backs. I quote again: “The regular hours of work for Children . . . are rarely less than eleven; more often they are twelve . . . and in one district they are generally fourteen and upwards.” Safety conditions were, naturally, almost nonexistent, and accidents were frequent, but mine owners and managers refused to install safety features. Wealthy mine owners knew about the children workers, but looked the other way and pocketed their profits. The extreme Republican argues: but these workers were getting paid. The wages were arranged beforehand. Their jobs were better than starving in unemployment. Yes, and the miners died young. Their growth was literally stunted, and their limbs became distorted and crippled.[12] We should note: this was all legal, by the laws of the state. But by the laws of God, these capitalists, who admittedly were helping the economy and providing jobs for those who were desperately poor, should have been in jail for multiple life sentences.

Republicans tend to reject what they call “big government” and want all local concerns (states, corporations) to be able to go their way without Washington’s bureaucracy and often clumsy, insensitive intervention. However, while they may paint an unflattering portrait of “big government,” they seem to have no sense that mega-corporations are also huge entities, which can squash individuals and small businesses; mega-corporations have enormous power by manipulating the political system and legal system. Moreover, the federal government is reined in by elective government, by voters, by a brilliant system of checks and balances, while mega- corporations have no such curbs (unless they are curbed by the government itself; or by organized labor, which is generally opposed by Republicans). Nibley notes how some Republican economic theorists describe laissez faire economics as a sort of Darwinian survival of the fittest: let only the strongest survive, and whatever morality they use to survive is by definition right. And the weak, the sick, the poor will be justifiably removed from the gene pool. Jesus’s parable of seeking after the one sheep that has strayed presents a striking contrast.

Again, this is not a blanket denunciation of all rich, and many companies treat their employees fairly, curb pollutants responsibly, and avoid monopolistic practices. But wealth does lead to dangers. We remember the part riches play in the pride cycle in the Book of Mormon (e.g., 4 Nephi 24-26). Republican principles and action often do not seem to recognize those dangers. While the scriptures emphasize how we often need to protect the poor from the oppression of the rich, extreme Republican principles tend to protect the rich from any danger to their riches. There has been a recent tendency in America for the gap between rich and poor to widen, especially as a result of classic Republican policies, according to Republican analyst Kevin Phillips in his book The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and the American Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath.[13] Phillips is a Republican, but refers to himself as a “populist” Republican from a different era, and regrets that his party is no longer in touch with the common man.

Scriptures offer an ideal of a perfect society in which there is no class warfare, no rich and no poor. (Acts 5:32; 4 Nephi 3.) The Mormon tradition especially has this ideal, in its attempts to implement the United Order in pioneer Utah. It is one of the great ironies of Mormon political history that a church which has such a strong tradition of seeking financial equality—in the United Order movement[14]—should politically become so opposed to solving the social problems of rich v. poor on a collective, national level. Of course, Ezra Taft Benson, and other LDS conservatives have tried to portray the United Order as a free market form of government,[15] but Arrington and May, writers of the best book on the United Order, have strongly denied that the United Order was a “capitalist” system.[16]

So you can see that the Republican traditionally siding with management against workers, Republicans fighting against campaign finance reform, with the rich instead of the poor—if taken to extremes—can put the Republican party on the wrong side of this gospel principle. And we can see that this tendency to champion the rich has colored the Republican party’s policies in other areas. In the area of civil rights, the minorities are usually not found in the upper class, but they are often poor. In the area of the environment, since Republicans favor management, they often would remove environmental regulations that require corporate entities to regulate pollutants.

Here again, we see the Democratic party typically working for health care reform, to help the insured; while Republicans typically want to protect the employer and insurance company. Naturally, they give ostensibly practical reasons for protecting the insurance company (such as predicting that insurance will not be affordable if reforms are instituted). But they often do not combine these ostensibly practical reasons with a passion to help the insureds in constructive, innovative ways.

Here is another example: in periodic efforts to raise the minimum wage, often simply to parallel the rate of inflation, typically Democrats support the change and Republicans oppose it. Note that in this instance, Democrats are supporting the poorest element of society, and they are supporting people who work. And these poorest workers are often not given health coverage by their employers, so would have to provide it for themselves if they are to have it at all.[17]

Wealth does not automatically corrupt; I would like to pause and honor many wealthy people who use their financial resources to help the poor, to contribute to worthy causes, to education, to training programs, to libraries, to hospitals, to medical research, to help artists, musicians, and writers practice their arts. I think it is a burden to be wealthy, and many people have carried that burden honorably, intelligently and morally.

Some have argued that taxing Americans to further social programs is an attack on free agency. According to this argument, requiring money through mandatory taxes is a use of force, which is Satan’s plan. Instead, we should give money individually, of our own free will, and at our own discretion, to charities of our choice.

This argument shows a basic misunderstanding of representative, democratic government - - it is almost a rejection of the idea of representative government. We express a desire for more or less taxes, and our preferences for how those taxes will be used, when we vote and are otherwise involved in representative government. We practice our free agency when we step into a voting booth. We may not agree with how our fellow Americans have voted, but we have agreed to live with the politicians, the executive, legislative, and judicial, that have been legally elected and appointed. This works both ways: Republicans need to live with Democratic expenditures on education, increasing the minimum wage, helping the oppressed in our society, while Democrats need to live with Republican leaders who cut taxes in ways that Democrats believe benefit the wealthy, not the common man.

By the argument that taxes take away our free agency, taxes would have to be abolished completely, with the abolishment of the United States military, the central government, the interstate highway system, and national parks included. No responsible Republican that I know of advocates that. So the question is not whether taxes are justified, but how tax money should be used—and what balance there should be in how the taxes are appropriated. Both Republicans and Democrats (usually) think that tax money should be devoted to education and the military. But Republicans will lean more toward the military and Democrats will place more emphasis on education. However we think tax money should be used, we express our free agency at the voting booth when we choose between politicians who have contrasting philosophies relating to how America’s resources should be focused.

There is in one strain of Republican philosophy—as advocated by Reagan, Gingrich, George W. Bush—a certain anti-government rhetoric that undermines key American ideals. While I agree that any human organization should be watched carefully and sceptically, and that power can corrupt, there also can be a great power in community. And the community of the United States can be a powerful force for good. If we are authentically a Christian community, on a nationwide level, we should be willing and happy to show Christian compassion and generosity on a collective level. By doing so, by voting for politicans who are concerned about helping those less fortunate in our society, we exercise our moral agency in the most pure and rewarding way possible.

I give two examples from recent politics, that I choose intentionally to show the dangers of the Republican point of view taken to extremes. A typical Republican mantra has been “massive tax cut”; and when Reagan came into office, he was able to pass a sweeping tax cut. As a result, here in California, federal funding for social programs helping the mentally ill and those who were homeless because they were not mentally competent, was instantly cut off, and the mentally incompetent were unceremoniously turned out into the streets. These were not freeloaders who did not want to work; they were people who could not cope with normal living—sometimes because of schizophrenic mental tendencies, sometimes because they were veterans who had broken down mentally after the war, sometimes combinations of these and other reasons. Reagan’s plan was to suddenly give them no help—send them out onto our streets to fare as best they could—even though they could not help themselves. Meanwhile, under Reagan, not surprisingly, as we have seen, while the economy was not especially good, the gulf between wealthy and poor became wider and wider.

Among the programs that Reagan slashed—along with a customary Republican target, education—was job-training programs. In other words, these were programs to help people qualify to support themselves and contribute to the community. These programs were not handouts given to freeloaders—once again, we see that extreme Republican values do not even help people help themselves.

In the last interview Reagan gave as president, he stated that the homeless were homeless because they wanted to be (which in many cases, is equivalent to saying that people have mental problems because they have chosen to be mentally ill, and so we shouldn’t help them), and his pronouncement on unemployment was to pick up a newspaper, point to the want ads, and say, “There are thousands of jobs.” Of course, this ignores the fact that many of those jobs require advanced training and experience, and that many other jobs are so abysmally low paying that a parent with spouse and children may not be able to make ends meet with such a job.

Another example. I was surprised to find that in the state of Texas, until recently, teachers were not given health benefits.[18] During the time George W. Bush was in office, during which he helped pass a series of tax cuts, he did not make insurance for teachers a goal. Here was one of the wealthiest states in the nation, but their commitment to education was so low that teachers were treated as third or fourth-class citizens. Not surprisingly, Texans found that many of the better teachers left the state.

In summary, I emphasize that some concerns of Republicans are valid—there is nothing wrong with a healthy economy, helping industry. And there are many Republicans who are authentically concerned about helping their fellow man. But it is possible to stimulate growth in the economy and be concerned about helping the less fortunate in our society at the same time—rather than presenting a false choice between a healthy economy and compassion. Some Republicans on the far right have almost demonized compassion, and have made a virtue of selfishness. Given this fact, it is extremely paradoxical that many conservative Christians are such passionate Republicans. I believe this phenomenon is evidence that many Bible-belt Christians do not understand in depth what Jesus’s teachings really were, but are content with proof-texting a few oversimplified theological ideas from the New Testament.

I have Republican friends whom I admire, who are genuinely concerned about helping their fellow man. I would applaud them if they could get a majority of Republicans to authentically infuse those values into their party. However, the Republicans, of late, have veered to the right. George W. Bush’s sharp turn to the right after he became acting president is emblematic of this continued shift. The continued Republican shift to the far right, toward wealthy lobbying interests, under this administration made one socially conscious Republican no longer able to act even as a nominal Republican—Jim Jeffords. While Republicans since his departure from the Republican party have often treated him as simply a Benedict Arnold, he is a vivid example of how the Republican party has retreated from its center.

So, point one: the scriptures warn us about the dangers of being rich, and denounce the rich’s tendency to oppress the poor. As we consider how the Democratic party has championed the financially disadvantaged, has been wary of concentrations of wealth, has realized the practical necessity of scrutinizing the management of companies, we can conclude that the Democratic party is closer to the gospel on this issue than is the Republican party.[19]

Civil Rights

On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in America and abolished the institution of slavery. In doing this, Lincoln trumped the states’ rights doctrine that had given the Southern States their argument for seceding from the union. After the Civil War, Southern Democrats were often passionately racist and did all they could to keep blacks from having voting rights. Blacks, understandably, typically voted straight Republican when they were allowed to vote.

All of this changed in our century.[20] Lyndon Johnson, a southern Democrat, following the tradition of Missouri Democrat Harry Truman, championed and shepherded through Congress sweeping Civil Rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Policies of segregated schools and buses and denying blacks the vote were discontinued as a result of the intervention of the federal government. After Johnson signed this piece of legislation, he reportedly said glumly, “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come.”[21] Now blacks, along with other minorities, typically overwhelmingly side with the Democratic party. Many southern Democrats, who formerly supported racist programs such as segregation, have turned Republican (Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond are examples). In the last election, the South voted overwhelmingly for Bush. But nine out of ten blacks voted against Bush. This is not surprising considering that Bush allied himself with the segregationist Bob Jones University in an effort to woo the “conservative base” of the Republican party.[22]

Granted, Republicans argue that minorities are better served in the Republican party, but the minorities themselves don’t think so. (Generally speaking; you can always find minority Republican blacks, such as Supreme Justice Clarence Thomas, a confirmed opponent of civil rights legislation.) And unless we have a paternalistic idea that minorities simply do not know what is best for them, we ought to take their choices seriously.

What does this have to do with the gospel? Everything, I believe. As I have mentioned in the preceding section, it is often those who are of a different race, or culture, or religion, who are the most oppressed and disadvantaged, who do not have a level playing field.

Race is also a central theme in the the New Testament. If we turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37), we remember than Samaritans were viewed as “half-breeds,” part Jew and part Gentile, and so were racially despised. Thus Jesus was confronting a Jewish taboo in telling this parable. We also remember Jesus preaching to the village of Samaritans early in his ministry, which amazed his disciples. (John 4).

The Jews often were strictly separatist; they did not eat with Gentiles; they did not even like to tread the same ground as Gentiles, and the ritual of dusting off your feet came from the idea that you should get rid of the earth on your clothes, shoes, or feet that was shared with Gentiles. As a result, in the early Christian church, when Paul brought the gospel to many Gentile cities, it was a major challenge to convince Jewish Christians to eat with Gentile Christians. As a result, Jewish Christians did not want to take the Lord’s supper, communion, the sacrament, with Gentile Christians. Paul fought long and at great length to integrate the two racial communities into one church. He taught that the essence of Christ’s love and grace is that we do not regard racially different people as lesser church members. Jews had to learn to authentically love Gentiles. The Lord’s supper became an important rite of integrating people from different racial backgrounds.[23]

So civil rights is a religious issue, one of the core issues of early Christianity.

First, we can look briefly at one issue involving minorities: Affirmative Action as it is applied to education. The Republican argument against Affirmative Action, I think, is that it is unjust. In giving a scholarship to a member of a minority who has lower grades than, say, a white male, you are doing an injustice to the white male—he has worked hard, he deserves the scholarship. And the argument is that Affirmative Action does a disservice to the minority, because if he or she does not work with the high standards and requirements generally required, he or she will not become authentically competitive, and will be content with mediocre effort and accomplishment.

The flaw in this reasoning is the assumption that there is a level playing field for everyone. Often minorities go to schools which are understaffed, underfunded, with substandard teachers—is that fair or just for the children? In addition, there are special problems in minority neighborhoods that middle class families never have to worry about, such as social networks pushing children toward gangs, toward crime, toward drugs. Because the playing field is not level, minorities deserve help. Some show extraordinary character in their progress and efforts, which cannot be adequately measured by quantitative, mathematical tests.

While the California Affirmative Action decision was being debated, I remember an interview with a white student who had been denied a scholarship, and was angry because minorities with not quite his stellar record had received scholarships. It seemed to me to be a selfish anger. Was he angry about poor schools in minority neighborhoods? Was he angry about children who had to walk to school through crime-torn neighborhoods? Was he angry about children who did not have easy access to good libraries? Who did not have parents who were willing or capable of helping them with their homework? (And it would be only too easy to blame the parents for everything—instead of accepting that parents are part of a child’s playing field, and we cannot blame the children for their parents.) In the University of California system, a conservative Board of Regents, appointees of a Republican governor, struck down Affirmative Action in 1995, over the bitter protests of many students and minorities. In my opinion, it was not a wise or far-seeing or compassionate action. Affirmative Action helps the disadvantaged in constructive ways, with education, leading to productive work.

In recent months, the Bush administration has not had a good record on civil rights. Blacks felt they were disenfranchised during the Florida election, as Bush fought hard to prevent manual recounts in counties with numerous black voters. Bush chose John Ashcroft for a key cabinet seat, attorney general. Ashcroft, like many Republicans such as William Rehnquist, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, has a history of defending segregation; as a senator, Ashcroft kept a respected black judge from taking a federal seat, outrageously labeling him “pro-criminal.” Ashcroft also gave an interview to the overtly racist “state’s rights” magazine, Southern Partisan, in which he praised it: “Your magazine also helps set the record straight. You’ve got a heritage of doing that . . .”[24]

Lind writes, “Modern American conservatism was warped and contaminated by racism from the beginning. The members of the conservative movement led by William F. Buckley, Jr. and centered on National Review spent the 1950s and the early 1960s denouncing federal efforts to dismantle America’s version of apartheid and voicing support for continued European rule of nonwhite populations in Africa and Asia. The National Review conservatives were too genteel, of course, to indulge in blatant racism. Their official opposition was based on their concern for ‘states’ rights.’ That this was a mere pretext is proven by the fact that not a single prominent conservative in those days proposed state (as opposed to federal) civil rights legislation. . . . Having done everything they could to prevent black Americans from voting, the conservatives regrouped in the 1970s and 1980s to form a new nationwide Republican coalition of whites voting against black Americans, using issues like welfare, busing, and racial preferences to inflame passions.”[25]

Though I hasten to emphasize that there are many individual Republicans who have good records on civil rights, the present day Democratic party has a much better record on civil rights than do the Republicans. Once again we can conclude that the Democratic party is closer to the gospel, in this area, than is the present-day Republican party.

The Environment

Protecting the environment is a religious issue, on a number of levels. First of all, on a doctrinal level, creation of the world is one of the great works that essentially defines God. Elohim created the world in stages, and pronounced each stage good—oceans, land, plants, animals, man. Every living creation was autonomous and was encouraged to have joy in its, his or her own sphere of existence, its habitat, ecosystem. (Gen. 1.) If we destroy God’s creations—forests, natural habitats, species—we are destroying the works of God, and thus are becoming, in a way, anti-creation, anti-God.

Nibley, in his classic essay, “Subduing the Earth,” pointed out that God did not create man and woman to exploit and use up all other levels of creation; instead, Adam and Eve are merely part of creation.[26] In his classes, Nibley often would emphasize that God did not make the world only for man, but also for other species, all of which have part of God’s sacrality and blessing. “Multiple use,” he used to repeat. Non-Mormon scholars have developed the idea of stewardship in developing a theology relating to the environment[27]—the earth is not our personal possession to exploit and destroy; instead, God has allowed us to be stewards of its infinite complexity and beauty. We can be greedy, short-sighted stewards, destroying species and habitats at a breathtaking pace for short-term financial profit, harming ourselves in our destructive stupidity; or we can look at the earth and its plants and animals with love, as God did in creation.

Of course, scientists have given practical support for respecting all of God’s creation. We have discovered that all organisms live in ecosystems, in which species are dependent upon each other. The very air we breathe is dependent upon forests. One recent example of the interconnectedness of the environment is the recent floods in India, which according to one analysis were the result of Mango tree deforestation. Even without theology, aggressive environmentalism should obviously be a priority for all responsible citizens. It is a matter of survival.

But those who follow the Judaeo-Christian traditions should be passionate environmentalists for religious reasons. And if Mormons are members of the true church, Mormons should be leaders in environmental issues. One Mormon, Stewart Udall, has been a national leader for environmental protection, serving as Secretary for the Interior under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He was appointed when the environment had not become a major issue, and helped pioneer the movement.[28]

On another religious level, basic ethics will argue that we should not destroy the environment for short term selfish benefit when it hurts others. And among those others it hurts are our children and grandchildren, so this is a family values issue. For instance, if we destroy the air in our generation, it will be our children who will suffer from asthma, cancer, and other diseases. So even on the level of loving our families, our children, a basic Mormon emphasis, we should be aggressive environmentalists.

Now, how do Democrats and Republicans stack up on this issue? Once again, things do not look good for the typical, doctrinaire Republicans. One of the basic tenets of Republican philosophy is that central federal government should not regulate industry – the less restrictions on corporate America the better. Therefore, typical Republicans tend to want to remove environmental restrictions from businesses, and allow pollution of the environment go unchecked. Bush has aggressively moved forward with scaling back environmental programs left by a Democratic president. One of the defining moments in his administration has been when, reportedly responding to an intense campaign from energy lobbyists who contributed to his election campaign, he broke a campaign promise to regulate carbon dioxide. And on the international level, Bush has been crucially defined by turning his back on the Kyoto treaty, which advocated principles of the Rio Treaty of 1992 signed by his own father.[29] This policy, and the Me First way in which the policy has been carried out, has made America look entirely like the Ugly American in world politics. Then, on the day the Kyoto Protocol was accepted by 178 nations, instead of being in the leadership, America was not even involved. I was ashamed of America’s stance on that day.

But even extreme Republicans are sometimes forced to admit that there is a problem with pollution. One solution they have advocated is “voluntary compliance” with environmental standards. This is like putting the fox in the henhouse, telling it we hope it pursues a voluntary regime of suddenly becoming vegetarian, and then turning our back on the henhouse and plugging our ears to avoid hearing the anguished squawks of chickens as they are devoured. Bush, after consulting with business interests who contributed heavily to his campaign chest (rather than with those who had expertise in environmental issues), tried voluntary pollution standards for 760 grandfathered polluting plants in Texas to help clean up the air (Texas leads the nation in polluted air and water); of these 760, 700 did not “volunteer” to clear up their polluting emissions.[30] Now Bush, after a similar consultation with major polluters, wants to implement the “voluntary compliance” policy on a national level. The reason we have gotten in the environmental plight we have is that corporate America has never been willing to pursue voluntary self-regulation. Admittedly, changing your program so as not to pollute can require resources, creativity and ingenuity. But the alternative – rampant destruction of the ecosystem of our earth, with untold consequences to ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and future generations, not to mention the present destruction of the beauty and sacrality of God’s creations—is unacceptable.

So, what Americans desperately need is protection against the polluters in corporate America; instead, typical Republicans are oriented toward protecting CEOs and management who are the polluters. My Republican sister-in-law has freely admitted that Democrats have a much better record on the environment than do the Republicans. The group REP America, Republicans for Environmental Protection, give Bush, and their own party generally, terrible marks. REP is especially scathing on a “greenscamming” organization, Coalition of Republican Environmental Advocates” (CREA), that includes among its membership the present Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, and such “anti-enviros” as Tom DeLay, Don Young and Helen Chenowith. “Among the contributors at [a recent CREA] fund-raiser were many lobbyists for the oil, timber, chemical and other special interests . . . that have pushed lawmakers hard to relax environmental protection and remediation standards that a huge majority of Americans, whatever their political leanings, strongly support.”[31] The REP home screen includes two quotes from Teddy Roosevelt: “Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the nation.” “I do not intend that our natural resources shall be exploited by the few against the interests of the many.”

Of course, our present Republican President and Vice President are both oil executives. Their administration is filled with their friends from the energy industries. They received massive contributions from energy interests during their campaign. The L.A. Times recently published an analysis of how their appointees even to environmental jobs have typically not been environmentalists – instead, they come from energy industry positions, often members of the energy industry who had been working for years to oppose and evade environmental regulations.[32] Reportedly, within the White House, environmentalists are referred to contemptuously as “tree huggers.”

Again, there are moderate Republicans who are sincere environmentalists. But certainly, the balance of forces in the Republican party is going the other way. So once again, as in the issues of compassion for the poor and civil rights, the Democratic party is closer to the gospel on this issue.

I should mention before leaving this theme that Stewart Udall, Mormon Secretary of the Interior, was an Arizona Democrat. Ross Peterson is writing a biography of Udall that should be one of the exciting new books in Mormon history. A fine book of essays by Mormons who are environmental activists, including some General Authorities, is New Genesis: A Mormon Reader on Land and Community.[33]


Mormons believe that the glory of God is intelligence. They have traditionally been solidly behind education. This is a family issue, as Mormon parents, in theory, should want their children to attend the best possible schools, with the best possible teachers. Former Dialogue editor Bob Rees, in describing his early life to me, emphasized what a great impact the church had on him when he was young, and how it inspired him to become fully educated. In third world countries, the church has had a very beneficial impact in encouraging literacy.

While I was discussing politics with historian Newell Bringhurst once, he mentioned that he had a brother, who, like Newell, was a teacher. Newell is liberal, religionwise, and his brother is very conservative, in fact a bishop. But strangely enough, Newell said, his brother, despite his conservatism, votes straight Democrat, because he is a teacher. Newell said his father, also a teacher, became a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat after J. Bracken Lee “gutted funding for education in Utah.”[34]

Education is probably the only issue on which George W. Bush qualifies as a moderate Republican of sorts, in that he feels the federal government should be involved with education to some extent. However, he is moderate only in comparison to the far right of his party; his “massive tax cut” ideology has outweighed his education commitment, as his budget allocated much less for education than one would have expected. Bush’s lack of support for significant education financing was a crucial factor in his alienation of Jim Jeffords, who was senior Republican on the Senate’s Education and Labor committee. This conflict is worth looking at briefly.[35]

In 1975, Congress passed the Education of the Handicapped Act, which now is referred to as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); while the chief financial burden for educating the disabled would be local, the federal government promised to pay 40% of the costs. According to Jeffords, the biggest failure of the law has been the federal government’s unwillingness to pay its share; the most it has ever paid has been 15%. Curiously, Congress has continued to symbolically support IDEA with votes, without making complete payment for it a priority. Jeffords informed Bush and the Republican leadership (who were inheriting a tremendous surplus), that he could not vote for a tax cut unless IDEA payment was included. (It was a given that Democrats would support IDEA.)

This is an issue that one would think would attract a “compassionate conservative,” as Bush had repeatedly styled himself to be. Disabled children are not lazy, freeloading welfare scammers—they simply have the right to education as much as non-disabled children, in order to become productive, working citizens. Yet IDEA did not quite fit in with the $1.6 tax cut which Bush was demanding, and which the Bush administration had made their “holy grail,” in Jeffords’ words. And, writes Jeffords, “Disabled children are not a potent enough lobby to receive their due.”

Jeffords discussed with his fellow Senators his commitment to make IDEA funding (which had already been passed into law) mandatory; and, he writes, “most of my Republican colleagues recoiled.” He explained his position to the White House; but they had carved “$1.6 trillion tax cut” in stone and were not interested in IDEA. It became clear that they simply expected Trent Lott and Dick Cheney to be able to bring Jeffords around. When the White House was unable to “turn” more than one Democrat toward voting for their $1.6 trillion cut, and as time ran down, they began to make “hybrid” offers to Jeffords — none of which included workable mandatory funding of IDEA. As we know, the Senate eventually approved only a $1.25 trillion tax cut (which still, in theory, might be seen as a Republican victory). However, the Bush administration was furious with Jeffords for his stand on IDEA, and for his perceived disloyalty to party orthodoxy. They reportedly had a two year plan prepared to punish him for his support of disabled children.

How unfortunate that a President who had campaigned on the position that he was a new kind of Republican, a “compassionate conservative,” could not have allied himself with Jeffords in helping provide already-promised funds to disabled children. Instead of alliance, long-term punishment for the Vermont senator was the result.

Jeffords writes that he was profoundly disillusioned with the lack of funding for education in Bush’s budget: “It seemed to me that if close to $1.4 trillion could be found for tax cuts, some substantial amount could have been found for education.” However, when he tried to communicate these concerns to fellow Republicans, it seemed to Jeffords that he was “speaking a foreign language.” The Republican leadership’s lack of concern for educating disabled children while these leaders were crusading with religious fervor to increase tax breaks for those in high income brackets highlights the typical Republican philosophy of placing less emphasis on education (and by implication, the welfare of children) than do Democrats, and it also highlights the two parties’ typical responses vis-a-vis minorities and the unfortunate.

Word of Wisdom

One of the great principles of Mormonism is the Word of Wisdom. I am extremely grateful that I was able to grow up without the health dangers of smoking and drinking, and the psychic dangers of alcoholism and other addictions. In addition, there are the purely spiritual aspects of avoiding tobacco and alcohol, not to mention the constant financial drain involved in ignoring the Word of Wisdom.

The Word of Wisdom revelation, D&C section 89, tells us that “conspiring men” will encourage the use of tobacco and alcohol: “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom . . .”

Here is one case where modern scripture explicitly tells us that specific companies and corporations should not be trusted, should be watched with suspicion. And we have seen how tobacco companies have researched addiction, with a view to increasing addictive qualities in their cigarettes; how they have targeted the youngest people possible; how they have used deceptive advertising to further nicotine addiction. Recently a Philip Morris study seriously suggested that a cigarette-induced higher death rate actually helps a nation’s economy. Only after a major outcry developed in response to this report did Philip Morris executives backpedal frantically and retract their study.

Now, Republicans are typically closely connected to the tobacco industry; Democrats have taken contributions from it, but less so. Therefore, Republicans, with their typical philosophy of “protect the corporations and their management,” and because the tobacco industry has been a major campaign contributor, have become its ally. So, instead of protecting us from the “evils and designs” of “conspiring men,” the Republican party is protecting the tobacco industry’s “conspiring men.”

The Clinton and George W. Bush administrations illustrate the Democratic and Republican tendencies in this area. Under Clinton, the administration filed a lawsuit against the tobacco companies, over intense Republican opposition; Clinton also frequently encouraged adding luxury taxes to cigarette use. Under Bush, the attorney general, John Ashcroft, who wears his born again style of Christianity very publicly, quickly moved to drop the lawsuits against the tobacco industry by means of a weak settlement. Chief White House political guru, Karl Rove, whom insiders call George W. Bush’s “brain,” was “a political consultant for Philip Morris from 1991 to 1996.”[36]

And of course, this issue once again show how corrupting the system of campaign finance can be. Even if it was legal for the tobacco special interests to funnel generous contributions into Bush’s campaign, can we really expect the Bush administration to be tough on “the conspiring men” in the tobacco industry after becoming so indebted to it? The tobacco industry donated some $120,000 to the Bush campaign, in hard and soft money; Philip Morris alone donated $100,000 to help finance the inaugural celebration. And we can see how the “conspiring men” would prefer to work with politicians holding to the Republican philosophy of little or no oversight over mega-corporations.

Once again, let me emphasize that the Democrats are not entirely pure on this issue. But just by advocating campaign finance reform, the Democrats are seeking higher ground than typical Republicans on the issue of not becoming firm allies of the “conspiring men” in the tobacco industry. In fairness, I should mention that Republican John McCain has been one of the leading sponsors of campaign reform, so there is a group of moderate Republicans who are on the side of reform in this issue.


On a more doctrinal level, we may look at the concept of grace, and apply it to typical Democratic and Republican philosophies. Grace means a gift of something that is not deserved. According to the Bible, all of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Is. 64:6); we are saved only through God’s mercy and grace. According to the Book of Mormon, we are saved by grace “after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23.) In other words, we do all we can, and it is still not enough to earn salvation. Then God has to give it to us as a free gift, not as an earned gift.

In the scriptures, there is also an emphasis on good works; in fact, there seems to be a continuum between works and grace, where sometimes one is emphasized, and the other at other times. But I think any thoughtful understanding of the atonement will accept the centrality of grace in the salvation of fallen mankind. No matter how important you think works are, you must realize that it is by grace, by mercy, by a gift, that we are saved, after all is said and done.

To state the obvious, grace is not emphasized in typical Republican philosophy. Typically, the idea is, you work hard, you earn your living, you should keep it; this is true both for the lower classes, the middle classes, and the wealthy corporate executive. However, the concept of grace is that people sometimes should receive gifts they have not strictly earned. And also, we should remember that the scriptures constantly warn us that we have not really earned our possessions; they were loaned to us by God.[37]

Jesus’s life and teachings are full of gifts. We remember the feeding of the 5,000, and Jesus’s admonition to the wealthy young man to distribute his wealth to the poor. In the parable of the prodigal son, when he returns to his father after wasting his entire patrimony, his father restores him to a place of comfort and authority (which doubtless includes possessions, represented by the “best robe,” Lk 15:22). The son emphatically does not deserve this restoration, by the standards of justice. This parable does not embody classic Republican principles.

Once again, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan goes out of his way to help a complete stranger, giving him medical attention and financial resources (one Biblical passage showing that the well-to-do can be generous and righteous). In the parable of the lost sheep, one could argue that the wandering sheep does not deserve to be saved, though Jesus’s point is just the opposite, as he argues the value of all souls, whether they deserve it or not.

Indeed, classic Republican principles often emphasize strict justice; classic Democratic principles often embody principles of grace—being willing to give and receive outside of a strict quid pro quo arrangement.

I believe Mormons typically emphasize works, gaining salvation through personal righteousness, and this may be one of our underlying philosophical perspectives that colors Mormon preference for the Republican party. I agree that passages emphasizing the importance of good works are in the scriptures, and the idea of working out your salvation in fear and trembling before God. But works are only one side of the continuum, and the more important part of the continuum is Jesus’s grace. I believe that Mormons typically need to have a deeper understanding of grace, which is the higher law. And in my view, the philosophy of the Democratic party is more in line with grace—the idea of helping, on a collective, political level, the needy, the elderly, the sick, minorities who have never been given a level playing field.

But once again, I believe that the Republican end of the continuum—initiative, hard work—needs to be kept in mind. One of the most valuable things that either party can do is encourage education, work opportunities, work benefits for the minorities and needy, as occurred with FDR’s New Deal, and as occurs in Affirmative Action programs, as occurs in raising the minimum wage. But doctrinaire Republicans are often opposed to such programs, even when they encourage initiative and work.


Some members of the religious right vote purely on one issue: abortion. For them, abortion is the litmus test, and no other issues are important. The Democratic party is perceived as being for abortion; the Republican party is perceived as being against abortion.

Things are not that simple. I talked to one committed Democratic friend of mine, the daughter at the time of a state governor, and asked about her views on abortion. “Everyone is against abortion,” she said. “But the controversy is between those who think it is necessary at times, and those who oppose it in all situations.”

Some conservative Mormons I’ve talked to do oppose abortion in all situations. Therefore, they were completely opposed to Democrats who state that there are some difficult situations where a woman may decide to obtain an abortion.

However, those conservative Mormons who oppose abortion in all situations are sometimes surprised to learn that the church itself takes the position that there are certain situations in which abortions may be justified. In 1988, President Hinckley wrote, in the Ensign, “We make allowance in such circumstances as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have serious defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But such instances are rare, and there is only a negligible probability of their occurring. In these circumstances those who face the question are asked to consult with their local ecclesiastical leaders and to pray in great earnestness, receiving a confirmation through prayer before proceeding.”[38] The current, 1998 General Handbook of Instructions outlines the same general position.[39]

Much more could be said about this difficult, painful subject, obviously. But many Mormon conservatives may find that they are to the right of their own church on this issue. In addition, we should note that there are a number of moderate Republicans who do not hold to the absolute ban on abortion position. A number of Republican appointees on the Supreme Court cast their votes for Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States—five were Republican appointees, only two were Democrat appointees, and of the two dissenters, one was Democrat, the other Republican. So you cannot say that even the Republican party is completely anti- abortion. There is a variety of viewpoints within both parties.

Finally, even for those who do hold to a total ban on abortion, if you agree with the Democratic party on such key issues such as rich v. poor, civil rights and the environment, one might suggest that it would be worthwhile to become active in the Democratic party and work for a more balanced position on abortion. Otherwise, you are taking the position that, Yes, I disagree with the Republicans’ positions on many important things, rich and poor, civil rights, the environment, education, tobacco companies—but I’ll support all that because they’re closer to me on one issue. As was said before, no political party will be a perfect match to the church.

The Politics of Personal Destruction

In modern America, the politics of personal destruction has been used by both parties to attack prominent politicians and appointees on the other side of the aisle. Every time a major appointee has to be voted on by the Senate, the opposing party will relentlessly dig into that appointee’s history and background, which is usually a grueling experience for the appointee. To a certain extent, looking into a prospective leader’s character is a necessary part of all Democratic politics—we must view our leaders carefully before we elect them to office. Nevertheless, the politics of personal destruction has become a typical weapon favored by Republicans of the far right. Republican Joe McCarthy, who supplied us with the noun “McCarthyism,” is a cautionary figure, whose career, ending in his own downfall after he had destroyed the careers of many others, warns us of the terrible consequences of extremism focused toward personal attack.[40] Birchism, which influenced such powerful Mormons as Ezra Taft Benson and Ernest Wilkinson, is a direct descendant of McCarthyism. (In fairness, I should mention that President Eisenhower, a Republican, helped engineer McCarthy’s downfall, when McCarthy began attacking members of Eisenhower’s administration.)

In our generation, Newt Gingrich made the personal attack a central element of his political strategy. Gingrich had a member of his staff whose full time job was to try to find any possible negative information about the private life of Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright. Gingrich would then take any crumbs this staffer would come up with, and contact journalists and repeatedly pressure them to use and publicize the information. He once advised other Republicans to speak of Democrats as “pathetic” “sick,” and “corrupt.”[41]

Because of the Republican party’s close alliance with conservative, Bible-belt Christianity,[42] if sexual scandal can be found in members of the Democratic party, publicizing it is a natural strategy to use. So in the last decade, the great majority of the Republican party tried to remove Clinton from office on a perjury charge relating to an affair. (Gingrich, incidentally, was instrumental in the beginnings of this attempt.) While stating that they were concerned only about the perjury charge, Republicans widely publicized Clinton’s sexual relations with a White House intern. The Starr report was severely criticized for its graphic emphasis on sexual details. (Kenneth Starr has since admitted that this sexual emphasis was probably a mistake.) The votes for and against impeachment and removal from office were very partisan, an example of how polarizing the politics of personal destruction can be.[43]

In the Republican primaries of the last election, after John McCain had won early victories, conservative supporters of Bush carried on a vicious, widespread telephone campaign in which they accused McCain of having an illegitimate black child. (The truth was that McCain and his wife had adopted a child from Bangla Desh.) The profound injustice of this telephone campaign was that McCain and his wife were attacked by untruthful conservative “Christians,” including a professor at Bob Jones University, for the McCains’ Christian, compassionate act of adoption. Bush staffers disavowed any involvement with the rumors, but this telephone campaign was very advantageous to Bush, helping him to win the South Carolina primary and turn back the McCain challenge.[44]

How does this issue relate to Christ’s teachings? Expressing disapproval of sexual sin might seem to be a solidly Biblical religious act. However, those who have read Jesus’s teachings carefully will immediately understand that denouncing sinners was not his central emphasis, though he did preach repentance. The gospels do not record Jesus delivering blistering denunciations of sexual sin. In fact, Jesus was known for his compassion for sexual sinners, and his mingling with sinners, while criticizing religious leaders in Jerusalem who advocated almost a loathing for sinners, and denounced Jesus for associating with them. We remember Jesus saving the adulterous woman from stoning, and his compassion for her contrasts with her accusers’ thirst for public punishment. He stated that he did not condemn her, though he encouraged her to repent.

In fact, Jesus’ most impassioned denunciations were not directed at obvious sinners, adulterers, tax-collectors, Hellenizers—they were directed at solid members of the true religion who often kept the outward commandments quite fully, but who directed their inner religious feelings toward condemning those they felt did not keep the commandments. For Jesus, those who were judgmental in a religious context were much worse than non-religious sinners. Their judgmental nature was a sign of their deep lack of authentic love. (And of course, he taught that the heart of the law was love of God and fellow humans, even of our “enemies.”)

So Jesus’s teachings actually would turn us away from the politics of personal destruction, the tendency to focus on personal attack taken to extremes. This noticeable tradition in the Republican party, linked as it is with conservative Christian groups, paradoxically actually removes it farther from the gospel.

It is worth repeating that some Democrats have also used the politics of personal destruction, and many Republicans have avoided this political strategy. In the Senate, moderate Republicans refused to vote for Clinton’s removal, and because the Senate vote was otherwise so divided along party lines, this prevented him from being removed from office. Furthermore, examination of a candidate’s background and character is necessary. Nevertheless, the politics of personal destruction—and a certain related strain of religious extremism and judgmentalism—has been more characteristic of Republicans than of Democrats.

The Two Party System

One reason for many Mormons’ attraction to the Republican party is a tendency to believe absolutely in the “one true church”—which translates into political terms as “one true party.” Some nineteenth-century Mormon leaders, during the “theocratic” era of Utah’s history, denounced the two-party system, stating that Satan’s plan in the pre-existence was the beginning of the two-party system.

However, when the church assimilated into American society beginning in the 1890s, it changed from a one party church (leaning toward the Democrats) to a church advocating political pluralism, and church leaders pledged not to dictate to its members in politics. Because Mormons were so predominantly Democrat (Republicans had been loathed as anti-polygamy legislators and prosecutors), church leaders had to vigorously campaign to get a recognizable number of Mormons to become Republican. Some prominent church leaders became Republican and openly campaigned for that party, now that polygamy had been renounced. A healthy two- party political framework in Utah was necessary to show that church leaders had withdrawn from trying to control secular politics. The shadow of theocracy had to be banished before many Americans would allow Utah to join the United States.

In Utah, today, though the the church has a policy of political neutrality, there is no healthy, two-party political framework, as church members overwhelmingly support the increasingly conservative Republican party. Among the Church leadership, there are a few Democrats, but only a few; Hugh B. Brown stated that he was almost a minority of one as a Democrat among the General Authorities.[45] There are complex reasons for Utah’s overwhelming allegiance to the Republican party—it is a Western state, generally non-urban, comparatively sparsely populated, and such states have tended to vote Republican in recent years. But Utah’s Mormon conservatism has certainly combined with these factors to make Utah almost the most extreme example of Republican dominance. One remembers Clinton running third in a recent presidential election, before the Lewinsky scandal, for instance.

There are great dangers to Mormonism in this close alliance of Mormons with only one political party (seriously proposed by some church leaders such as Bill Wright as the “the one true party,” with the Democratic party by implication viewed as Satanic). Most importantly, this one party environment makes the LDS Church look as if it is not committed to political pluralism, or to the separation of church and state. When the church does take political stands—as it has in the case of opposing the Equal Rights Amendment seeking to give equal rights to women, or in opposing marriage rights for homosexuals, which many women and homosexuals perceive as civil rights issues—it looks as if it is using the pronounced religious conservatism of its members to further a right-leaning political agenda.[46]

For instance, the last complete presidential administration was Democratic. In the case of the present, Bush, administration, the majority of Americans voted for the Democratic candidate. Crucial, populous states such as California and New York lean toward the Democrats. Let’s say that a tendency toward the Democratic party continues to grow in America, and Democrats recapture the House and the White House. This is not at all impossible. In the case of a state such as Utah, in which there is no seriously competitive Republican/Democratic interplay, Utah would be out in the cold until its Democrats had an authentic presence and voice.

In a recent interview, Democratic Senator Harry Reid spoke of the intensely negative reaction he received from many Mormon Republicans who have attacked him as being disloyal to the LDS faith because of his strong Democratic background and commitments.[47] After mentioning how Democratic legislation has helping the American family, he stated bluntly that during the Clinton administration, when the Church needed some help at the White House, they didn’t go to Orrin Hatch, a Republican, and moreover, a Republican on the far right. Instead they came to him, a Democrat.

And again, we can mention the now-famous interview with the Salt Lake Tribune that Democratic General Authority Marlin Jensen gave in which he stated that church leaders are concerned that there is not a healthy two-party dialogue in Utah—i.e., they would like more Mormons to be Democrats.[48] While some Mormon Republicans have accused Jensen of breaking the church’s policy of neutrality by giving this interview, I have been told that he was directed by highly placed church leaders to give it.

Finally, I should mention the late Eugene England’s wise and insightful essay, “On Saving The Constitution, or Why Some Utah Mormons Should Become Democrats,”[49] which emphasizes the advisability of a strong two party system among Mormons. He quotes an 1891 letter written by the First Presidency headed by Wilford Woodruff : “The more evenly balanced the parties become the safer it will be for us [Mormons] in the security of our liberties; and . . . our influence for good will be far greater than it possibly could be were either party overwhelmingly in the majority.” This unhealthy situation, one party overwhelmingly in the majority, has been realized by modern Utah Mormons. In Utah today, the Republican/Democrat split is dangerously close to the Mormon/anti-Mormon split in 1880s Utah. Unless Mormons create a strong presence in the Democratic party, it is natural that non-Mormons will gravitate toward and control the Utah Democratic party.[50]

While directing Elder Jensen to give an interview advocating a healthy two party political balance in Utah is a step in the right direction, it would also help if the church hierarchy would call a significant number of recognizable, activist Democrats among the highest ranks of General Authorities.

Some might accuse me of portraying the Democrats as the “one true party,” and thus leaning toward Bill Wright’s mistake on the Democratic side. Actually, I am deeply committed to the central issues I’ve outlined here—compassion for the poor, civil rights, preserving the environment, education. I will support whichever party is closest to a strong position on these issues. I believe there are many Republicans who also care about those issues, but I believe that the Democratic party is more sensitive to those issues at the present time. The Republican party could change back toward the center. It has a tradition of reform, of populist, progressive thought that is represented in the present political landscape by John McCain and other moderate Republicans, often from the northeast. McCain consciously harks back to the Teddy Roosevelt tradition of reform. I agree with Republican outlooks on fiscal conservatism, concern for law and order, a strong military, belief that work and self-initiative should be a key element of any welfare system. I support and admire capitalism and the military, generally speaking.

So the Republican party is complex, with contrasting, even conflicting elements. Unfortunately, I believe that leadership of the Republican party today—Bush, Rove and Cheney, Ashcroft, Hastert, DeLay and Armey, Lott, Rehnquist—is not authentically concerned about those core religious issues: compassion for the poor, civil rights, the environment, education. In fact, their strikingly bad record on these issues has created a contrast between Democrat and Republican parties that is particularly stark in our generation, certainly during the George W. Bush administration.

Prominent Mormon Democrats

The Mormon church in Utah today is predominantly Republican. Nevertheless, there have been and are some prominent Mormons who have been or are Democrats. Following is a short, incomplete list of some of them:

Church President Heber J. Grant[51] started out as an ardent Democrat, but came to dislike FDR intensely; however, I do not believe he ever became a Republican.[52] Among Democratic First Presidency counselors have been Anthony R. Ivins, a passionate Democrat[53]; Charles W. Penrose, equally passionate; John Rex Winder; John Willard Young; Stephen L. Richards; Henry D. Moyle; Hugh B. Brown, another ardent Democrat; and his nephew, N. Eldon Tanner (who was instrumental in bringing the church back to financial stability).

Apostles who have been Democrats are poet and historian Orson F. Whitney; Franklin D. Richards; Moses Thatcher; Abraham H. Cannon; Stephen L. Richards; Melvin J. Ballard; and Joseph F. Merrill.

In addition, there was Seventy president, theologian, and historian, B.H. Roberts,[54] whose example greatly influenced Hugh B. Brown; other Democrat Presidents of the Seventy were Edward Stevenson; Jacob Gates; Rulon S. Wells; Charles H. Hart; and Antoine Ridgeway Ivins.

Historian Juanita Brooks was a committed Democrat, and I’ve been told Hugh Nibley is also a Democrat. As has been mentioned, labor activist Esther Peterson and Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, were Democrats.

Among the present-day General Authorities, the following are Democrats: Seventy Marlin Jensen; (and here’s a surprise) Apostle Boyd K. Packer[55]; First Presidency counselor James E. Faust.[56]

Among present day LDS politicians, Harry Reid, from Nevada, is a powerful presence in the Senate, a lieutenant of Tom Daschle, who played a part in convincing Jim Jeffords to leave the Republican party, thus swinging the Senate to Democratic control. As a fellow Mormon, I personally am very proud of his many accomplishments.

I will close with a statement by one of the church’s great orators, Apostle Orson F. Whitney, who in a political rally explained how he chose to became a Democrat: “I sat down a student and I rose up a Democrat,” he said, to cheers and applause. A newspaper reported: “He spoke eloquently of the Democratic theory of the rights of the common people as opposed to the Republican idea of centralized power in the hands of the [upper] classes; and said he believed with all his soul that God formed this government for the whole people and not for a favored few; he believed the great fear of the future was the swollen money power, a tyranny worse to be dreaded than a tyrant king, and it was because he believed that the Democratic ideas were opposed to that tyranny that was one of the first things that attracted him to Democracy.”[57] Prophetic words. I hope Mormons increasingly realize that helping the poor; the cause of civil rights; improving education; and protecting the environment are core moral, religious issues. If they do so, perhaps one day Mormons will be known as predominantly Democrats, instead of as predictably Republican. Some may think I’m being overoptimistic, but I have that idealistic vision. Until then, I would be satisfied with an authentic two party dialogue in the state of Utah. Thank you.



[1] According to Wright, faithful Mormons cannot “in good conscience support the official tenets and substantiated agenda of the Democratic party.” Greg Burton, “A SMALL TENT: Lawmaker Says No Room for Demos in LDS,” Salt Lake Tribune (October 27, 2000); AP Story, Nov. 2, 1999; available online at the excellent “LDS Democrats Online” site (LDS Democrats Online). Of course, Wright was continuing a tradition among politically conservative Mormons; while he was an apostle, Ezra Taft Benson reportedly made similar statements. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (SLC: Signature Books, 1997), 69-72. Other General Authorities, however, criticized Benson for these statements. In response to Benson, Hugh B. Brown, a member of the First Presidency, said that a Mormon “can be a Democrat or a Socialist and still be a good church member.” Ibid. The surprising thing is not that Brown would say such a thing, but that in Mormon culture such a thing would need to be said.

[2] Nick Anderson, “House Kills Worker Ergonomics Rules,” Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2001, p. 12.

[3] For many of these issues, see below. Bush’s tax cut is an example of his lack of interest in seeking serious compromise with Democrats, given that he had a Republican-controlled House and Senate when he came into office.

[4] See James M. Jeffords, My Declaration of Independence (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2001), for Jeffords’ own account of why he became an independent, caucasing with the Democrats.

[5] An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, edited by Edwin B. Firmage (SLC: Signature Books, 1988), 16-18. Later, his grandson, a Republican raised in a strong Republican home, asked Brown why he was a Democrat. “Eddie,” he said, “I’m a Democrat because I believe that party is more sensitive to the poor.”

[6] Zadok Knapp Judd, Jr., Autobiography, typescript, USHS. For further on the troubled Kanab United Order, see Leonard Arrington, Feramorz Y. Fox, and Dean L. May, Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation among the Mormons, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 225-64.

[7] See F.W. Young, “Wealth,” in Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 4 vol. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1962), 4:818-19. According to Young, the Old Testament warns against wealth, but shows that the righteous can be wealthy, when blessed by God. But the New Testament “lays added emphasis on its [wealth’s] dangers.” While wealth is not condemned per se, “there is a strong pessimism over the possibility of its being a blessing rather than a demonic snare to man.”

[8] Mk 10:25 and parallels.

[9] See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke, Anchor Bible series, 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982) 2:1204.

[10] See also Isaiah 10:1-2.

[11] Letter to Edward Carrington, Jan. 16, 1787, quoted from John Balzar, “Executives Get Rich, Workers Get Peanuts,” in Los Angeles Times (July 29, 2001), Opinion Section, M5.

[12] “First Report of the Commissioners: Mines,” in British Parliamentary Papers, 11 vols. (London: Clowes and Sons, 1842; repr. Shannon, Ireland: Irish University Press, 1968), 6:255-58, as cited in Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, ed. by Don Norton (SLC: Deseret Book, 1989), 243-45.

[13] (New York: Random House, 1990). In a 1990 interview, Phillips said, “Well, my sense is that if you go back and you look at the history of the Republican Party—and I don’t think I sufficiently appreciated this back in 1967 or ‘68—that it’s taken power in some of the great cycles of American history. It’s taken power for broad-based reasons: in 1860 with Lincoln in the Civil War; in 1896 when William McKinley fought back the William Jennings Bryan challenge; and then in 1968 when the country was, really, in some ways on the verge of disintegrating from riots in the cities, riots on the campus, a Southern sectional movement led by George Wallace. And the Republican Party has played a kind of nationalizing role. It’s kept things together during these particular periods. But once it’s been in for 10, 12, more years than that, what we see is that it tends to, I think, get it too close to upper-bracket economics, a kind of capitalist heyday, and it does too much for the people at the top and it loses sight of the people at the bottom. And I think the 1980s have had a lot of that.” Phillips interview .

[14] Arrington, et al., Building the City of God, xii. See also, James Lucas and Warner P. Woodworth, Working Toward Zion: Principles of the United Order for the Modern World (SLC: Aspen Books, 1996).

[15] Gary James Bergera and Ron Priddis, Brigham Young University: A House of Faith (SLC: Signature Books, 1985), 221 (for the United Order as purportedly a “free market system”); see also 223-25 and Quinn, Extensions, 66-115.

[16] Arrington and May are extremely emphatic on this point. After citing two books that seek to show that the United Order was compatible with capitalism, they write, at p. xii, “Virtually every line of Building the City of God offers evidence to the contrary.”

[17] For a classic showdown between Republican and Democratic philosophies centering around the minimum wage, see Jim Wright, Balance of Power: Presidents and Congress from the Era of McCarthy to the Age of Gingrich (Atlanta: Turner Publishing, Inc., 1996), 487-88. In 1989 Speaker of the House Wright and Democrats, joined with many Republicans, passed a law providing for the minimum wage to rise in incremental steps rom $3.35 to $4.55 by 1992. President George Bush, Sr. who had recently proposed “a cut in the capital gains tax rate” which would award the top one per cent most wealthy Americans $30,000 each, vetoed the minimum wage increase bill.

[18] Natalie Gott, “Teachers health insurance bill gets governor’s OK,” an Associated Press story dated June 17, 2001 (Teachers health insurance bill ) which begins, “Texas will for the first time help pay for health insurance for public school employees through a $1.24 billion plan Gov. Rick Perry signed into law.”

[19] For the story of one Mormon who fought to help the cause of labor, see Esther Peterson and Winifred Conkling, Restless: The Memoirs of Labor and Consumer Activist Esther Peterson (Washington D.C.: Caring Publishers, 1995).

[20] On this switch, see Michael Lind, Up From Conservatism: Why the Right is Wrong for America (NY: The Free Press, 1996), 121-37, who calls it “the most remarkable paradox in American history.” One can go down the list of oddities: the Republican party originally was the Northern party. It originally was the central government party opposed to states’ rights champions.

[21] See Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times 1961-1973 (NY/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 120; Lind, Up From Conservatism, 190.

[22] Part of Republican Apostle Ezra Taft Benson’s Birch Society-influenced conspiracy theory of American politics included an attack on the Civil Rights movement in America. See Quinn, Extensions, 78, 81, 83-85, 96-101, 113. Benson introduced segregationist hero George Wallace when Wallace spoke at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake, and Benson sought to become Wallace’s Vice Presidential running mate when Wallace ran for President, though President McKay vetoed the idea. Meanwhile, it was Democrat Hugh B. Brown, in the First Presidency, who was an ardent supporter of civil rights for blacks and unsuccessfully fought behind the scenes for blacks to receive full priesthood rights, a tragic but moving story. See An Abundant Life, 142-43.

[23] Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology (London: SCM, 1971), 118, 204-6; S. Scott Bartchy, “Table Fellowship with Jesus and the ‘Lord’s Meal’ at Corinth,” in Robert J. Owens, Jr., and Barbara Hamm, eds., Increase in Learning: Essays in Honor of James G. Van Buren (Manhattan, KS: Manhattan Christian College, 1979), 45-61.

[24] This statement shows that Ashcroft was very familiar with the magazine. Yet the Southern Partisan openly admires the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln: “For years Southern Partisan has celebrated the murder of Abraham Lincoln by selling T-shirts with Lincoln’s image over the words “sic semper tyrannis” (“thus always to tyrants”)—John Wilkes Booth’s cry just after shooting Lincoln. Timothy McVeigh was wearing this T-shirt when he was arrested for the Oklahoma City bombing. . . . New York Times, 6/3/1997.” (as cited on the internet at On the Southern Partisan on Nov. 4, 2001). One Southern Partisan writer has defended slavery from a Biblical perspective: “Neither Jesus nor the apostles nor the early church condemned slavery, despite countless opportunities to do so, and there is no indication that slavery is contrary to Christian ethics or that any serious theologian before modern times ever thought it was.” Samuel Francis, Southern Partisan, Third Quarter/1995, as cited at the above site. Southern Partisan writers have not limited their white supremacist philosophy to disparaging views of Negroes: “The tides of immigration turned negative: were characterized by the losers of political history . . . the Italians and the Irish . . . the dull-spirited and pagan, such as the Scandinavians . . . and by peoples to whom the tenets of our republic were altogether alien, such as the hieratic Jews. . . . Negroes, Asians and Orientals (is Japan the exception?); Hispanics, Latins and Eastern Europeans; have no temperament for democracy, never had, and probably never will...” Reid Buckley, Summer/1984, as cited at the above site. Republican idealogue from the religious right, Pat Buchanan, was a senior adviser to Southern Partisan. Partisan writers have predictably attacked the Emancipation Proclamation and the section of the U.S. Declaration of Independence that includes, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” See quotations at the above site. It was striking that when the issue of the Southern Partisan interview arose in Ashcroft’s Senate confirmation hearings, he refused to criticize the magazine. (See Ashcroft at Senate hearings ).

[25] Lind, Up From Conservatism, 190.

[26] Nibley on the Timely and Timeless (Provo: BYU, Religious Studies Center, 1978), 85-99. See also Approaching Zion, 3, 159-62, 167, 366 (a quotation from President Kimball). Nibley lamented in 1986 that “At the first meeting of Congress under the present administration, it was declared that the delegation from Utah were the most anti-environmentalist in the nation.” Ibid., 480, 471.

[27] For a useful e-book on the Bible and the environment, see Bible and environment . See also Eugene C. Hargrove, Religion and Environmental Crisis (Athens: The University of George Press, 1986); Steven Bouma-Prediger, The Greening of Theology: The Ecological Models of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Joseph Sitter, and Jürgen Moltmann (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995); Robert Booth Fowler, The Greening of Protestant Thought (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

[28] See his bestselling The Quiet Crisis (New York : Holt, Rinehart, 1963); reprinted as The Quiet Crisis and The Next Generation (SLC: Peregrine Smith Books, 1988). On the internet, see his website at Stewart Lee Udall: Advocate for the Planet Earth .

[29] Douglas Jehl with Andrew C. Revkin, “Bush, in Reversal, Won’t Seek Cut in Emissions of Carbon Dioxide,” New York Times (March 14, 2001), Section 1, Page 1, 16. Elizabeth Shogren, “U-Turn on Emissions Shows Big Energy Clout,” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2001, section 1, page 1, 20. Elizabeth Shogren, “Bush Drops Pledge to Curb Emissions,” Los Angeles Times (March 14, 2001), Section 1, Page 1, 11.

[30] See the “A Special Report: The Words and Deeds of George W. Bush,” The Green Elephant (Fall 2000), the newsletter for REP America, Republicans for Environmental Protection. REP America’s Green Elephant .

[31] “GOP Greens and Greenscammers,” The Green Elephant, Summer 1998, REP America’s Green Elephant .

[32] “Bush Environment Jobs are Skewed to Business,” Los Angeles Times (June 24, 2001).

[33] Terry Tempest Williams, William B. Smart, and Gibbs M. Smith, eds. (SLC: Gibbs Smith, 1998).

[34] See Dennis L. Lythgoe, Let ‘Em Holler: A Political Biography of J. Bracken Lee (SLC: Utah State Historical Society, 1982), and id., “J. Bracken Lee,” in Alan Kent Powell, Utah History Encyclopedia (SLC: University of Utah Press, 1994), 320: “His principal target for economy was education . . . and he soon made an enemy of almost every educator in the state.” See Let ‘Em Holler, 92, 109-46.

[35] Jeffords, My Declaration, 74-75, 41-43.

[36] Marc Kaufman, “USA: Bush Cabinet Ties to Tobacco Lobby,” The Washington Post (January 21, 2001), see Bush Ties to Tobacco . Though Ashcroft interestingly has refused to accept campaign money from tobacco companies, he has consistently voted for their interests. Bush Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson might have been handpicked by the tobacco industry: as governor, he worked closely with Philip Morris, a major employer in Wisconsin, and went on three overseas junkets paid for by Philip Morris, and including Philip Morris executives. (Thompson has denied that he knew the trips were financed by Philip Morris, but the presence of Philip Morris executives on the trips, and his thank you letters to Philip Morris executives, do not fit into this unlikely scenario.) Philip Morris, of course, was a major campaign contributor to Thompson. For the close links of the Republican party generally with the tobacco lobby, see “Tobacco PAC Contributions and 1998 Tobacco Votes: Senate Republican Leaders Kill Tobacco Bill: Hooked on Cash Crop,” at the Public Citizen site, The tables at this site show how consistently politicians who accepted large contributions from tobacco companies voted for tobacco interests.

[37] See King Benjamin’s sermon, Mosiah 2:21-25, which emphasizes God’s gifts to us, and how we will always be servants who cannot repay the debt; the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 6:24-34, which emphasizes how God gives us all (humans, birds, flowers) daily nourishment and covering. The idea that we are earning them ourselves is an illusion. Note also “Forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors.” Forgiving debts is not good economy. This part of the Lord’s prayer requires us to receive and give free gifts.

[38] “What Are People Asking About Us?” Ensign (Nov. 1998), 71.

[39] The Church does not allow the Handbook to be distributed to the public, so I will make no conventional citation here, but one may contact a local church leader and ask for confirmation on this issue.

[40] See Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998).

[41] Gingrich’s method of operating has been characterized as “attack, attack, attack.” See Wright, Balance of Power, 431-32, 485; Elizabeth Drew, Showdown: The Struggle Between the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton White House (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 45; Joe Conason and Gene Lyons, Hunting the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 263, 129, 174.

[42] See Duane M. Oldfield, The Right and the Righteous: The Christian Right Confronts the Republican Party (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996).

[43] See Conason and Lyons, Hunting the President.

[44] Paul Alexander, “The Rolling Stone Interview: John McCain,” Rolling Stone (September 27, 2001). Steven Thomma and Ron Hutcheson, “McCain foes barrage voters with rumors: Attacks taking place out of media view,” Knight Ridder Newspapers (February 16, 2000), accessed at Attacks on McCain .

[45] For the history of party politics in twentieth-century Utah, see Thomas Alexander, “Political Patterns in Early Statehood, 1896-1919,” “From War to Depression,” F. Ross Peterson, “Utah Politics Since 1945,” in Richard Poll, Thomas Alexander, et al., eds., Utah’s History (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1978), 409-28, 463-80, 515-30; Dean May, Utah: A People’s History (SLC: University of Utah Press, 1987), 135-200 (with useful bibliographies); Thomas Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 16-59; Quinn, Extensions, 66-115; 314-72; Bergera and Priddis, Brigham Young University, 173-226; Lythgoe, Let ‘Em Holler; Charles Peterson, Utah: A Bicentennial History (NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 1977), 161- 80. Peterson’s generalizations about Utahns generally following the middle of the political road, true for earlier eras of the century, are not true of Utahns today.

[46] I believe churches and church leaders should be involved in politics and should take political positions; but if they do so, they should let their positions stand in the marketplace of ideas, and not require their membership to vote a certain way. Probably the only way the Mormon church could do this would be by encouraging General Authorities to speak out on both sides of any political issue, even if the Church leadership elects to take a position on that issue. There are reasons why the LDS church would not want to do that (considering its emphasis on complete unity among church leaders), but unless it does so, it is mandating its members to vote a certain way.

[47] “Party of One: Harry Reid is a Congressional Conglomeration,” Salt Lake Tribune, (June 21, 1998), which can be accessed at the LDS Democrats Online site ( LDS Democrats Online ).

[48] Marlin Jensen, interview with the Salt Lake Tribune (May 3, 1998) (available online at LDS Democrats Online ).

[49] Sunstone 12:3 (May 1988), 22; reprinted in England’s Making Peace: Personal Essays (SLC: Signature Books, 1995).

[50] See Peterson, “Utah Politics Since 1945,” 518.

[51] Quinn, J. Reuben Clark, 68-69, 73-75, 78, 86-87; Brown, An Abundant Life, 16- 18.

[52] On Grant, see further, Mormon Democrat: The Memoirs of James Henry Moyle, Gene Allred Sessions, ed. (SLC: Signature Books, 1998).

[53] Kristen Smart Rogers, “‘Another Good Man’: Anthony W. Ivins and the Defeat of Reed Smoot,” Utah Historical Quarterly 68.1 (Winter 2000): 55-75.

[54] D. Craig Mikkelson, “The Politics of B.H. Roberts,” Dialogue 9 (Summer 1974): 40-43.

[55] Quinn, Extensions, 112. I’m not sure what kind of Democrat Packer is.

[56] Quinn, Extensions, 112.

[57] “In the Political Arena,” Salt Lake Herald, Oct. 27, 1894, a clipping in Whitney’s journal, available at the Mariott Library Special Collections, University of Utah.