Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day and Founding Fathers

Lest Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman call me un-American after my last post, I thought I'd clean it up and maybe share some thoughts as we go vote for a new president.

The point I was trying to make, and maybe it came across and maybe it didn't, is that I don't think we can point to one form of government or one political party and say, "That is God's." Governments and political parties are made by imperfect men and women for imperfect men and women. As to Democrats and Republicans, their values and platforms shift from year to year and decade to decade. The Republican Party today in no way resembles the progressive and liberal Republican Party of which Lincoln was a member.

So when I hear someone say that a good Mormon must be a Republican, or ask how I can be a good Mormon and a liberal, it is like fingernails scratching a blackboard. I count to ten, take deliberate breaths, give that person an open-handed slap in my mind to ease the tension, and then try to explain. If you are 40 years old, have been a member of a certain political party all your life, and have always just followed the party, your views have shifted a lot over the years. You can't just blindly follow a party. I don't align myself 100% with any candidate's views. I disagree with Obama on abortion, I think he should reveal the names of all of his donors, which he hasn't done, and I wish he had more foreign policy experience, and there are others. But his views generally line up with mine.

I am belaboring the point, as I often do. I've got a little of the Biden in me.

Anyway, as I said, to get Palin and Bachman off my back, and to assure that President Bush's last action in office is not to wiretap my phones, I wanted to talk about the Founding Fathers for a minute. I went through a phase where I really wanted to read a lot of books on the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary War period. I gained, of course, a deeper understanding of their sacrifices and virtues, as well as their faults and imperfections. It should be no surprise that some of them had terrible vices and flaws. Some were slave owners, some were adulterers, johns, liars, some had uncontrollable tempers, and the the like. If you think we are partisan now, look back at how vitriolic they were. But despite these imperfections, we know they were inspired to do the things that they did.

Here is a fascinating account of their temple work being done in the St. George Temple. My favorite line is Wilford Woodruff's assertion that they were "best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth." That doesn't mean that they were perfect, it just means that at the time, without the Gospel on the earth and gift of the Holy Ghost, they were the best. God needed a nation in which he could reveal his Gospel and used these men to establish it.

What they did in forming this government was something truly new. Not many people in all of history have done something truly new, but they did. They stood up to the greatest military power on earth to create a nation that, for all intents and purposes, should have either never won that war or collapsed very soon after. There are so many close calls and lucky breaks that it defies all logic unless you believe there was a greater force driving it forward.

Clearly we live in a world they could not possibly comprehend or could have predicted. I guess that is what is so amazing about what they did, that the constitution they wrote in 1787 survived the Civil War and end of slavery, the Industrial Revolution and urbanization, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the nuclear age (and President George W. Bush, the greatest accomplishment of all). So, we vote, we argue, we threaten to move to Canada, but in the end we are in awe of what the Founding Fathers created and how it is still thriving today and how, no matter who wins this election, it will continue forward and meet the next great challenge. We can be proud of our country and its foundation no matter who leads it. Hopefully Obama, though.

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