One point I wanted to hit on was from BYU political science professor Ralph Hancock who is paraphrased as saying that we, as Mormons, have three choices when it comes to politics: "claim to be a part of the mainstream, beg tolerance or work to change the mainstream." I take this to mean that if we join the mainstream we do so at the risk of our own principles and beliefs. If we beg tolerance we maintain our integrity but do nothing to become a positive force for good in the nation. That leaves us with the option of going out and trying to change the mainstream.
He went on to say:
We cannot shrink from the challenge of inflecting the majority in as wholesome a direction as might be possible. Neutrality is a lure; it's a trap. There cannot and will not be such a thing. Our task ought to be: make as many of the best kinds of friends as we can to affect the best direction of our … public discourse.The question, I guess, is whether there is only one way, politically, to be a positive influence on the "mainstream." Do we have to stand together as members of the Church on every political issue to make a positive difference? I've noticed ever since I starting writing this blog how divisive politics is, even among members of the Church. Check out the comments section to newspapers that mix religion and politics to see just how nasty and inhuman and unChristian we can be towards each other over politics. Then remember this commandment: "I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine."
It would be nice, for me, if every member of the Church adopted my politics and was one with me. Unfortunately, I don't believe this was the commandment. I also don't believe that this commandment requires that members of the Church all espouse the same politics. Remember, our Church leaders have expressly encouraged political plurality. What we want is to be unified in love and respect for each other, and unified on "points of doctrine."
So when we flex our political muscles as members of the Church I don't think we all need to be flexing the same muscle in unison. I think we can disagree on politics and still remain "one." I also think there can be issues that members of the Church from all political persuasions can stand behind. Freedom of religion comes to mind. Otherwise it is up to us as individuals to understand the points of doctrine, live them, and then decide on our own how to best influence the "mainstream" to change for the better. I don't think there is a single, simple way to accomplish this goal, and it probably affirmatively requires voices from many different points of view.
But we are Mormons first, and liberals and conservatives somewhere further down the list. We have to stand together as members of the Church before we can stand with our separate political parties. This Church has never been affiliated with one political party over any other, and I'm not sure why there is a desire to do so now.