Proper Mormon Against Mormon Politics

Senator Reid and Governor Romney are not friends. That much is clear. What is more disconcerting is less what they have said to each other, but they should know better. It seems the allure of partisan politics is slowly destroying them.

Release the taxes, Reid demands in his position as the leader of the Democrats. According to him, some unnamed sources say that Romney hasn’t paid any taxes in ten years. Worse yet, he proclaims, “your father would be ashamed,” becoming judge of both Romney and his father. In reply, Romney challenges, “put up or shut up,” with evidence of who makes those claims. The political has become personal.

What has come of this? Non-Mormons are now making religious judgements of Romney that he is possibly a bad Mormon hiding a lack of paying his tithing. Reid is seen by others as starting a “Mormon-on-Mormon war” based on innuendo and flimsy evidence. The justification for all of this is seeking and defending mortal power. Latter-day Saints running for office against each other, or at all, should be much more circumspect and careful.

The position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on politics is outlined as follows:

The Church’s mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to elect politicians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in matters of party politics. This applies in all of the many nations in which it is established.

The Church does not:

Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.

Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.

Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to. This policy applies whether or not a candidate for office is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

The Church does:

Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.

Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.

Request candidates for office not to imply that their candidacy or platforms are endorsed by the Church.

Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.

Notice that one of the requests is that Mormons who run for office are encouraged to be civil. In this day and age of soundbites and talking heads, what constitutes “civility” depends on who is pointing fingers. Each side accuses the other of not acting in civility, but rarely does someone question those of the same party or position. Its a free for all and everyone knows it; not that there has ever been a time this wasn’t the case.

Rejecting government is not a solution. Not only can we not get away from those in charge of nations, but the importance of law has been declared by revelation. This includes statements by the ancient Saints, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”(Romans 13:1). We are commanded to obey and sustain the laws, principalities, and governments of the lands where we live. This is especially the case where, “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”(Doctrine and Covenants 134:1–2).

When a Mormon runs for office or participates in politics, religious principals cannot be ignored. This includes both behavior and positions. The Lord will hold us accountable always. Seeking His peace and righteousness is still a priority more than party loyalty:

“President George Albert Smith observed, ‘There is nothing in the world more deleterious or harmful to the human family than hatred, prejudice, suspicion, and the attitude that some people have toward their fellows, of unkindness.’ In matters of politics, he warned, ‘Whenever your politics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethren, know this, that you are upon dangerous ground.’ Speaking of the great mission of the latter-day kingdom, he counseled: ‘This is not a militant church to which we belong. This is a church that holds out peace to the world. It is not our duty to go into the world and find fault with others, neither to criticize men because they do not understand. But it is our privilege, in kindness and love, to go among them and divide with them the truth that the Lord has revealed in this latter day.’ ”

Elder Robert S. Wood, “Instruments of the Lord’s Peace,” April 2006. (emphasis added)

Probably the most destructive form of political disagreement is demonization. Individuals become objects of scorn and derision. They are no longer humans, but the symbol of all that is wrong with the world. At worst these negative feelings can lead to wars. Even at best it builds walls and produces contention. As every Mormon learns, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, such things should be done away.”(3 Neph. 11:29-30).

We must be careful not to cause or take offense. It doesn’t matter how much we think we are right. Arguing for a position is not the same as making personal accusations. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf powerfully said:

“But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt . . .

. . . My dear brothers and sisters, consider the following questions as a self-test:

Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?
Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?
Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?
Do you secretly envy another?
Do you wish to cause harm to someone?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to apply the two-word sermon from earlier: stop it!

In a world of accusations and unfriendliness, it is easy to gather and cast stones. But before we do so, let us remember the words of the One who is our Master and model: ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone’

Brothers and sisters, let us put down our stones.”

By President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy,” April 2012.

Politics can get any blood boiling. It doesn’t matter what side takes a stand, right or wrong. The temptation to get angry must be suppressed. Nobody is perfect in this, but that is no excuse to attack or get personal. Each of us can decide how to react at any given time:

“To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible.

Anger, Satan’s tool, is destructive in so many ways. . .

. . . May we make a conscious decision, each time such a decision must be made, to refrain from anger and to leave unsaid the harsh and hurtful things we may be tempted to say.”

President Thomas S. Monson, “School Thy Feelings, O My Brother,” October 2009.

There are legitimate discussions that can and must take place in politics. Each person must decide if the disagreements are fair and honorable, or merely demeaning the person:

“Now a word on politics. This is an election year, and there are many strong and strident voices incident to political campaigning. It’s a wholesome and wonderful system that we have under which people are free to express themselves in electing those who shall represent them in the councils of government. I would hope that those concerned would address themselves to issues and not to personalities. The issues ought to be discussed freely, openly, candidly, and forcefully. But, I repeat, I would hope that there would be an avoidance of demeaning personalities. Said Shakespeare in Othello, the Moor of Venice:

Who steals my purse steals trash. …
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
(Act 3, sc. 3, lines 157–61.)”

Perhaps there is more than disagreements between Mormon candidates. A real grievance or offense has taken place that cannot be ignored. If this is the case, there is still no excuse to bring matters to public examination. We learn from 1 corinthians 1-2, 6-8 ecclesiastical judgements come first:

” 1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? . . .

6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.”

How grievances are taken care of depends on the situation, as Doctrine and Covenants 42 outlines. Any legal issues can be taken up to the law of the land, and not by public opinion. Other concerns should be private or at least contained to those involved:

” 88 And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled.

89 And if he or she confess not thou shalt deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world.

90 And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many.”

Sadly, history proves that the Romney and Reid confrontation will only get worse. It is a sad commentary that two Mormons of political prominence have gotten so personal in the name of Party. Stop it!

51 thoughts on “Proper Mormon Against Mormon Politics

  1. Harry Reid’s accusations against Romney are a new low for his political career. I predict that, when he looks back at his life, this will be the moment he most regrets. This was not just Harry Reid saying something mistakenly. He made the charges on the Senate floor as well as in several interviews. For what? So the person he supports could be president for another four years? Harry Reid is a good man and a good latter-day Saint who has been completely corrupted by politics. A very sad tale indeed.

  2. I think Reid is being motivated on two ends, both religious, and political. Of course, he has to lead his party into battle against Romney, so he’s just out their on the front lines, advancing the Obama agenda of engaging in class warfare. Because all politics is ultimately hyperbole, I don’t think this is really that unexpected or bad.

    But Reid’s manner seems so aggressive, and so hypocritical, I can’t help wondering if he’s motived by something deeper and personal, which is clouding his ability to think clearly. By putting a very public, personal fight between two Mormons, Reid may be trying to show in a dramatic way, that Mormonism is not equal to Conservativism.

    Romney’s Mormonism is publicly perceived to be part of his conservative identity. As a liberal, I find it very frustrating to always be pegged as a conservative, whenever someone hears what my religion is.

    In an underhanded way, Reid may think he is doing Mormonism a service, by showcasing the diversity within Mormonism, that he doesn’t kowtow to conservativism, or to Salt Lake, and he’s not afraid to be extremely aggressive towards a fellow Mormon. Mormons are not 100% conservative. Even conservative Mormons should recognize the value of at least some diversity of Mormon political opinion.

    If Romney gets elected, Mormonism will suffer four years of the most brutal prejudice from the 50% of the country that leans to the left. Reid is the only hope out there for those 50% to see that Romney’s politics can be separated from those of his religion.

  3. Nate, the more I think about it, the more clear it is to me that Romney’s election will be, overall, bad for the Church. So, we agree there.

    If he wants to point out there are Mormon Democrats/liberals, there is a much better and honorable way to do it, which is to build an intellectual case for liberalism as a Mormon. You and many others have been doing this. I disagree with your results, but there is nothing wrong with your attempts. Making slanderous false claims about his co-religionist is really a slimy thing to do, and there is no way to paint this any other way.

  4. I agree with both of you: Romney’s election would be a disaster for the Church. However, Reid’s accusations and bitter attacks are way out of line for someone who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ. All political debate must be accompanied (when Latter-day Saints are doing the debating) with a feeling of love and respect.

  5. Interesting that we can all call out Reid because he’s taking the offensive against another member of the church, but there is no mention of Romney’s offensive stances against others- members or no.
    I don’t expect it to be any different because they are both mormons. Followers of Christ should be civil to ALL their fellow men, not just those in the same church or same party.
    I don’t love Reid, even if I am a liberal. But my biggest reason for not wanting to vote for Romney from the start, even in 2008 when I was much more conservative? If someone is going to represent my religion on such an international level under such scrutiny, he better be a shining example of Christ-like behavior, and I’ve seen none of that from Romney. He plays the same dirty campaigning tricks as everyone else.

  6. Jenn, it is completely legitimate to call out Romney for his “offensive stances” against others (whatever that means to you). Personally, I have criticized Romney’s foreign policy and immigration policy, both of which I find problematic morally. In the latter case, I don’t think Romney’s immigration policy is even in line with the clear policy adopted by the Church.

    It would even be correct to point out that Romney’s campaign tactics do in fact sometimes cross the line into “dirty campaigning.”

    But that is not what Sen. Reid is doing. He is literally making up a false charge and then asking Romney to prove it is not true. This is exactly like the famous question, “when did you stop beating your wife” when you have no proof that the person even beat his wife. This is truly the lowest form of campaigning policy, and Reid has been criticized by many liberals, including principled Mormons.

    If Harry Reid wants to go after Romney on policy, or on his campaigning tactics, fine. Making stuff up and accusing Romney of committing felonies without any proof. Not fine.

  7. To me the biggest difference is if Reid is wrong, it is easy to disprove. I don’t approve of Reid’s tactics (at all) but I do approve of what he is trying to do: get Romney to be forthcoming about his financial past. I highly doubt he didn’t pay taxes for 10 years, but I do suspect there is something fishy going on, or else Romney could easily get everyone to be quiet and focus on more important things by just opening his records a bit.
    When you’re running for POTUS, the burden of proof is on you.

  8. PS, Romney does the exact sort of stuff in return: “So I’m looking forward to have Harry reveal his sources, and we’ll probably find out it’s the White House.”
    …with no evidence we know of, he insinuates that Obama is behind Reid’s attack. It’s up to Obama to prove he isn’t.
    Welcome to politics.

  9. The difference is Romney isn’t accusing Reid of a felony. Besides, Romney has nothing to hide from a legal standpoint as he has released the two years of taxes required by the law. Guess what was found? He paid taxes.

  10. Oh, I never interpreted it as a felony accusation, but rather that Romney, through tax loopholes (legal but perhaps not ethical) did not have to pay taxes. Which is feasible, if his tax rate is low to begin with, much of his money is tied up in either foreign accounts, or his money was in domestic stocks that did poorly during the recession. Get a darn good accountant, claim every deduction, offshore your money, and you too may (legally) not have to pay taxes.

  11. Regardless, we know that Romney did pay taxes so the whole accusation is, even as speculation, baseless. Its bearing false witness.

  12. He has released information about his assets for certain years, some of which contradict each other (especially in 2002). Plus, assets disclosure is not the same as tax disclosure. My assets do not reflect my tax rate (since I work from home and qualify for various deductions, we pay much much less than one might think).
    Honestly, I don’t think it is a huge deal- we ALL try to get the lowest tax rate possible. I just think if he wanted to, he could clear this all up very easily. The offshore accounts but me a bit, but it’s pretty low on my list of reasons I’m not voting for Romney.

  13. we ALL try to get the lowest tax rate possible.

    Speak for yourself. Some of us view taxes as a citizen’s duty and responsibility and don’t look for or exploit loopholes that only exist to benefit special interests.

  14. So I take it you didn’t claim any deductions last year?
    I do view taxes as a citizen’s duty, which is why the offshore thing bugs me. But if I get a deduction for working from home, I will take it, because using my home as a workplace is good for the environment and the economy. If I get a deduction for charitable giving, I will take it, because it means I can give that much more to charity. We’re buying an electric vehicle and you can bet the tax deduction played into that decision- which is why the deduction exists, to encourage people to make decisions that are good for our economy.

    A few years ago we could usually get by paying little or no taxes, living on a single public school teacher’s salary. We make over twice that much now and you won’t hear me complain if this year I pay much much more. But that doesn’t mean I won’t use a deduction that applies to me. The difference is I’m not “taking advantage” of loopholes; I’m using them for their intended purpose. And I’ve never once lobbied for such loopholes to exist in the higher tax brackets.

  15. And Romney would not be using loopholes for their intended purpose? Tax policy tends to go easier on those who risk money of those who merely collect income from wages. This is an expression of the political will of the people. Capital gains are somewhat protected and some kinds of losses can be carried forward. Income from municipal bonds is not taxed. Who benefits from these policies? We do. This ostensibly frees up capital for investment or reduces the cost of local government borrowing. People who ethically take advantage of these strategies should be extolled.

  16. It seems to me that Reid is taking a play out of the very same book the Republicans used before against John Kerry. That is, painting the candidate as an out-of-touch rich old white guy.

    It also seems to me that it is only of interest to Mormons that this is a Mormon-on-Mormon political attack. Very, very few news articles on Reid mention the fact that he is a Mormon, and I’ve been surprised how few of my associates are even aware that Reid is Mormon.

    Reid is taking part in politics as usual, that’s all. I really don’t expect that someone who will say “something nice or nothing at all” will be able to make it as a politician.

  17. Jettboy – How do we know Romney paid taxes? Am I missing something, or has he released his tax returns?

  18. Romney has stated that he did pay taxes all these past years. Reid’s accusation that he didn’t is based on anonymous hearsay. It also defies probability–no matter how skilled your lawyers and accountants are, its going to be very, very hard to reduce your liability to zero. So when we have the man’s own statement on the subject, when his word is plausible and the accusations are implausible, and when the accusation is weakly sourced and obviously political, we can probably conclude that Romney paid taxes.

  19. I think what Reid is doing is wrong. But I’m a partisan in the middle of heated political campaign. I notice that the Democrat types here like Jenn and Emily U seem to be very untroubled by his behavior. So either partisanship is making some of us see iniquity in Brother Reid where there isn’t much, or else its making some of us excuse his sins so long as he sins against the political opposition. Disquieting either way.

  20. I’ve said multiple times I don’t approve of Reid (on this action or just in general)- I guess I didn’t dwell on it because, being in agreement, there isn’t much to discuss there.

    I’m just saying in a discussion on Mormons playing dirty in campaigning, it was interesting Romney’s own dirty techniques weren’t mentioned. I get that for both of them, they’re just doing what politicians do, but I’m ashamed of them both- perhaps a little more for Romney because he is under such scrutiny and has prompted the “Mormon moment”.

  21. If you notice in this OP that I do point the finger at both of them; read the first and last paragragh. I just think Reid is in the bigger wrong in the current battle.

  22. You’re right, and I did notice that it was mentioned vaguely but the OP was definitely Reid-focused. Which is fine. Truly, I’m not really disagreeing with anything in the OP; just found it interesting that Romney’s actions were barely part of the conversation. But I get that we can’t talk about all sides and all player all the time, so I’m not complaining.

  23. Reid has a long history of similarly scummy political hacking, so I don’t this this is much of a new thing for him.

    Mitt is pretty serious and earnest about not releasing his returns, which opens the door to all kinds of wild speculation. Of course, he doesn’t have to release them, but he inherits a difficult context – recent presidential candidates and even his own father were far more forthcoming. Reid’s tactic has been successful by political standards not because the content of his statement was shown to be right or wrong, but because it has focused attention on Mitt’s own lack of disclosure. So it is Reid’s anonymous hearsay against Mitt’s self-serving undocumented assertions. They both fail the standards of evidence.

  24. If it turns out that Romney paid no taxes for some years, it will be interesting to see how he tries to get out of the strong statements and denials he has made. From what I have heard him say, that would be a death-blow to his campaign. So, he will never voluntarily release those tax returns. But, I won’t be surprised if they somehow are released by someone with access to them.

  25. Geoff, the White House is backing off because they got what they wanted: several more days of media exposure about “What’s Mitt Hiding?”.

    It is indeed fascinating how partisanship warps everybody’s perspective. Reid gets a shoulder-shrugging free pass if you tilt left; Romney is pure as snow innocent if you tilt right.

    For the sake of Party, it’s ok to accuse a fellow LDS of unethical behavior (at a minimum) to felony tax evasion (at the maximum). It’s ok because it’s for The Cause. Or The Greater Good.

    I knew that this kind of politicking would happen when Mormons got to the Big Leagues; I just wasn’t prepared for how disappointed I feel.

  26. That’s why I’m independent. I can freely label all politicians as scumbags, LDS or not.

  27. Let’s pretend that Romney relents and releases his tax records. And let’s pretend, just for the sake of argument, that they show consistent 14% tax rates for the past 10 years. In other words, Romney has literally paid tens of millions in tax to Uncle Sam over the past 12 years. (After all, 14% of a Very Large Number is itself a Rather Large Number).

    If the records do show this, and proves Harry Reid to be a false witness bearing liar and political hack, how many of you Reid sympathizers will continue to give him a free pass? I am truly curious.

  28. Harry Reid has not claimed any personal knowledge about Romney’s tax returns. What he’s said is that he’s heard from some Bain people that Romney hasn’t paid taxes in ten years (and there’s nothing illegal about not paying any taxes if your accountant can legally find a way to show that you don’t have enough income to have to pay taxes). If Reid made up the Bain story, then you could call it false witness, but if Reid is just repeating what he’s been told, then there’s no lie involved, at least not on Reid’s part. Maybe his Bain source is lying, but I would imagine that Reid is not going to put an accusation out there that he doesn’t find credible based on his source. To do so would be pretty stupid on Reid’s part.

  29. So at a minimum, if the allegations prove false, we should all expect a hearty apology from Mr. Reid, Senator from Nevada and Senate Majority Leader?

    I get the impression that lots of people think this kind of political gotcha job is sleazy at worst, but ok in general.

    I guess I just thought that we LDS had better standards than this. Turns out, we’re just as partisan, shady, and corrupt as everyone else.

    Yes, I’m mad.

  30. Jettboy,
    This is a very well-written and much-needed post. You have done a very good job of leaving partisanship out of your argument and have instead focused on the need for civility, whether Democrat or Republican, Occupy or Tea Party.

    Thank you for being a voice supporting the “Mormon ethic of civility.”

  31. Reid is just doing a normal hack job which is part of a political campaign. This is just another part of the Obama team’s plan to try to get mileage out of Romney’s riches and off shore accounts. Maybe Team Romney can get someone at Harvard to whisper that Obama flunked out, but got a pass (C or D) from a liberal affirmative action type. Or they could look at his school papers for plagiarism or communism/socialism.

    It is still a little surprising that Reid was the hack man, but that’s politics.

  32. I’m trying to think of a single LDS politician in the national spotlight (Lee, Reid, etc) that meets the standard set forth in this post,and can’t come up with a single one. All of them do it to a certain degree, which I believe has more to do with what kind of person enters politics than anything.

  33. To be honest jjohnson, that has been on my mind since I wrote this thing. Part of the problem is that we the people, no matter how much we complain about politicians, love a good fight. On the other hand, there might be enough people who hate politics where the numbers who actually go to the polls are low; though I chalk that up more to laziness or apathy.

    Can a good Latter-day Saint be a politician? We might be better off not getting involved, but we are close to commanded to be. Its a catch 22 of sorts.

  34. Of course, many bright people with a clue understand that the loopholes exist and it’s not necessarily unethical to take advantage of them… but many of those same bright people think maybe the loopholes should not exist or should not favor only those with the money to lobby for the loopholes to exist. After all, if I, in the middle class, had a few more tax loopholes, maybe I could invest more of my money into the economy.
    The loopholes frequently exist NOT because they are good for “trickling down” but because the rich can afford to lobby for them.

  35. I doubt that 50 percent or more of people who don’t pay taxes are rich. The loopholes have become such that just about anyone can get away with it, apparently. You just have to hire the right people to do your taxes. The problem with that is it might cost more to pay them then to pay the taxes.

  36. In case anyone cares, PolitiFact, a fact-checking organization, had the following to say about Reid’s allegation:

    “Reid has made an extreme claim with nothing solid to back it up.”

    They gave the accusation a “Pants on Fire!” rating. As in, “Liar liar”.

    Now my question really becomes: why did Reid go out on a limb like this? Is Obama that desperate? (Reid wouldn’t have made a crazy allegation without clearing it through the Obama campaign).

  37. Mark N, I think you and I would agree on a LOT of stuff. But trying to defend Harry Reid on this issue is a losing position. He is guilty of McCarthyism, plain and simple. A lot of liberal/progressive commentators have recognized this and are rightly worried about the precedent of a Senate Majority leader making such claims without any proof. What goes around comes around, and I hope we can both agree that we don’t want this to become a common tactic in American politics.

  38. Of course, any old time Brother Romney wants to put an end to the speculation, he can. But for some strange reason, he seems highly resistant to doing so.

  39. I know, Mark N. Just keep feeding the narrative that it’s not really about gutter politics, but about Romney’s taxes.

    I’d like for you to just simply acknowledge that what Reid has done smacks of McCarthyism. A person of high office, making dark claims about someone else, with absolutely no proof to offer. That is what McCarthyism was all about, and that is what Reid has done here.

    The fact that some fellow LDS see no problem with this speaks volumes about where we are as a church culture in the body politic. It’s disgraceful, and I’m ashamed that it’s come to this point in such a prominent and national way.

  40. ““Reid has made an extreme claim with nothing solid to back it up.”

    They gave the accusation a “Pants on Fire!” rating. As in, “Liar liar”.”

    Keep in mind that Romney has more than one statement rated as “Pants on fire” right now. Which goes back to me not believing any Mormon politician (or ant politician period) can meet the standard set forth in the post.

    “Can a good Latter-day Saint be a politician? We might be better off not getting involved, but we are close to commanded to be. Its a catch 22 of sorts.”

    Well then tell me this. Is it possible in present day America to be a successful national politician without telling a single lie? Just look at the percentage of money spent on negative adds(I read 70%) a little while back.

  41. There is not a person reading this who has not told a minor lie in the last week. I guess I would distinguish between minor and major lies. It is possible, although very rare, for politicians to be mostly honest and to be seen as mostly honest. Ron Paul is seen as mostly honest, and there are probably many others in Congress. Just to name a few Mormons I know, Jeff Flake in AZ seems to be mostly honest, as does Raul Labrador in Idaho. I think Matheson in Utah is seen as mostly honest, right? Anyway, my personal opinion is that Harry Reid really crossed an important line with this issue. But Mitt has shown some weird inconsistency that perhaps could be construed as dishonesty. If you look at his position on gun control, he was generally for it 10 years ago and now is staunchly against gun control. That seems to be a major change that shows a bit of dishonesty, imho.

  42. I disagree with the McCarthyism-ness of this. With McCarthy, you had to prove you weren’t a Communist. You can’t prove a negative.

    With Romney, he can disprove Reid’s source at any moment. Why doesn’t he?

  43. Mark N, the point of McCarthyism is that it involved a powerful national figure making claims without any proof. As you may know, the country was in a tizzy about Communism in the early 50s, and McCarthy took advantage of this for his own political purposes. Right now, the country is in a tizzy about taxes and “the rich,” and Reid is trying to take advantage of this for his own political purposes. The comparison is apt.

    It is actually pretty easy for people to prove they are not Communists. But the point is that, in a free country, they should not have to prove this. It is not a crime to have certain political beliefs. It is a crime to commit treason, be a spy, etc. So, the point of McCarthyism is that McCarthy turned political *beliefs* into a thought crime without any proof.

    There is no requirement that Romney release his taxes to run for president. It is not a crime for him not to release his taxes. Reid has no proof of any kind. He is demonizing Romney for political purposes, and many people on the left see the direct comparison to McCarthyism.

    This is not a good thing for the left or the right. If we suffer another Islamist terrorist attack, there will be people on the right who want to demonize people for being Muslim or for being “Muslim sympathizers.” This is not a road we want to do down, and the Senate Majority Leader should know this.

  44. Well, I like to think that both Mitt Romney and Harry Reid are doing what they think they should. I can see where they may think it is what is needed to reach the end. I don’t this type of discourse as a general rule. However, it can be helpful with relatives of mine who are not Mormon and who equate certain Republican philosophies as evil and certain Democrat philosophies as good. So it may be good in the long run for Harry Reid to take the stances that he does.

    But how I wish they could be friends. Well, I’ve heard politicians of bygone eras on different sides of the aisle were good friends when it came to golf.

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