The Flight 93 Election: A Gospel Centered Response

I was disappointed to see a recent post on Millennial Star attacking Mitt Romney for his willingness to critique Trump. I strongly disagree with the post’s substantive critique of Romney, but also with the more general moral framework that the post employs. While the specific discussion about Romney, Trump, and Impeachment is important, I think the broader moral debate is even more important.

The post in question’s foundational premise can be summarized as a belief that Romney’s critique of Trump is intemperate or inappropriate because Romney ignores how evil the Democrats and those who oppose Trump are. In light of all of the things that Democrats endorse which the author sees as contrary to Church doctrine such as “new multi-trillion dollar government programs” and the “complete embrace of intersectionality politics,” the author describes Romney’s actions as “willful blindness” and ignorance as to “what the stakes are.” This post appears to share the perspective of a well-known essay which labelled the 2016 election a “Flight 93 Election” and argued that conservatives who failed to endorse Trump were ignoring the great evil that a Hillary Clinton presidency would lead to. That article’s central analogy was that terrorists had taken over the cockpit of America and that any tactics were justified in a last ditch effort to save it.

Another more recent manifestation of this same mentality is the one expressed by Sohrab Ahmari in his article “Against David French-ism,” namely that politics is all about “war and enmity” and that “the only way through” is to “fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils.”

This “Flight 93 election” mentality is I believe a great moral evil, and it pains me to see people that I respect and admire among the Latter-day Saint blogging community appear to embrace it.

In this post, I hope to lay the moral foundations for a gospel centered rebuke of the “flight 93 election” analogy.

 (I note that the purpose of this post is not to argue as to whether Trump’s conduct is impeachable. But I would not be candid if I did not acknowledge that I find the case for impeachment over the Ukraine call and many other matters quite compelling.

I do, however, want to point out that Romney is being criticized not for voting for impeachment or for calling for Trump to be removed from office, but merely for being willing to support an impeachment inquiry. So even a willingness to investigate and discover all of the relevant facts is seen as a betrayal in a “flight 93 election”)

Doctrinal Principle #1 D&C 10 – The Ends do Not Justify the Means

The Tenth Section of the Doctrine and Covenants was written to Joseph Smith after the loss of the 116 lost pages. In this section, God sternly critiques those who took the manuscript and emphasizes that “Satan has great hold upon their hearts” and that he “stirreth them up to iniquity against that which is good.”  One of Satan’s most cunning lies is that he makes people believe that their unrighteous or immoral conduct is not only excused but justified. Indeed, “he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to lie that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him.” In other words, Satan makes people believe that their poor conduct is justified so long as it is done in opposition to something that they see as a greater evil. This is a timeless strategy of the adversary, “thus he goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men.”

But the Lord has a different standard. In this revelation he emphatically rejects Satan’s philosophy that the ends can justify the means: “wo be unto him that lieth to deceive because he supposeth that another lieth to deceive, for such are not exempt from the justice of God.”

Our moral principles must not be relative. Even if we believe that we are opposing great evil, we cannot compromise on our principles and engage in evil or immoral actions. Satan is particularly effective at using this ruse to get us to call “evil good.” He wants to use the pursuit of the “lesser evil” as a tool to corrode our moral judgments and to “lead[] [us] along until he drag[s] [our] souls down to hell.”  All the while, Satan will flatter us and tell us that we are doing the right and moral thing because of the great evil of those on the other side.  

Violations of this principle have led to great evil both in the Church and outside of the Church. The willingness of Church members to avenge violence with violence in Missouri exacerbated tensions and helped contribute to their expulsion. And the Mountain Meadows Massacre, one of the more tragic events in Church history came because the members in Cedar City were willing to throw out their moral principles in response to what they saw as a the evil actions of the approaching U.S. Army and the violence perpetuated against them. Satan scores some of his greater victories when he convinced good and devout members of the Church to throw out principle in pursuit of otherwise righteous goals.

This foundational principle is perhaps even more relevant in our current politically charged environment.

Note, that this principle is universal and transcends political party or persuasion. Satan is pleased when he can stir up contention and cause us to question our moral foundations and bedrock values. (One could also draw an analogy to Russia hackers who supported President Trump in the 2016 election, but were equally pleased with stirring up contention on any fault line issue in American politics such as race.

I should also add one caveat to this point. It is of course possible that a circumstance arises when one is in fact justified in breaking some law or commandment to prevent a great and imminent harm. For instance, I think that those who hid Jews in their homes and lied to Nazi soldiers are great heroes. But it seems to me that the key difference is the imminence and specificity of the harm in question. In contrast, the mentality that an immoral strongman is needed because our foes are so dangerous has been the recipe for a great number of tyrants in human history (Hitler included).

Doctrinal Principle # 2 – Cleansing the Inner Vessel

In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites faced a truly existential threat in the great wars described in the final chapters of Alma. The Nephites fought “for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.” Yet in the midst of this great war for liberty, something went wrong. The Nephite government began to fail to supply the troops that it had promised to send to Captain Moroni to the battlefront. Moroni wrote an angry epistle to Chief Judge Pahoran, unjustly accusing him of treasonous behavior. But something in this epistle rings true to me. Moroni explained that unless the rot and corruption inside his own society could be cured, “it will be expedient that we contend no more with the Lamanites until we have first cleansed our inward vessel.” (Alma 60:24). In other words, fighting with the enemy would be inefficient and futile so long as the inner foe could not be vanquished.

When we are members of a party, an organization, a church, or any other institution. It is natural to begin to gloss over internal problems and to instead fixate on what others are doing wrong. Sometimes those critiques are even 100% justified, as it was with the case of the Lamanite armies.

But it is important to never become complacent or to gloss over flaws that exist in the organizations that we are a part of. Indeed, sometimes it is just as important to “clean[s] our inward vessel.”

The critique of Romney for directing fire at his own party seems to me to ignore this principle. In doing so the critique ignores the possibility that the inner rot of Trumpism is exactly the kind of blot on conservative principles that must be excised before conservative principles and values can once again flourish.

Doctrinal Principle # 3 – It’s Always a Time for Choosing

The “Flight 93 Election” mentality hinges on the notion that this election “is the most critical, decisive time” and that therefore the ends justify the means of supporting immoral or unjust political actors and refusing to speak out against members of your own party.

More than 45 years ago at the precipice of the 1972 election, then Senior Apostle and subsequent Church President Harold B. Lee spoke out against this attitude:

“I believe it is an illusion to say that this is the most critical, decisive time. Write it upon the hearts of all of us that every dispensation has been just as decisive, and likewise that every year has been the most decisive year and time for ourselves, for this nation, and for the world. This is our day and time when honorable men must be brought forward to meet the tremendous challenges before us.”

In this same talk, President Lee set out principles for those in political office that remain as timely as ever. He emphasizes that “we must seek for statesmenlike men who will ask, ‘Is it right and is it good for the country or the community?’ instead of those who may merely ask, ‘Is it politically expedient?’”

Rather than expecting our political officials to “vote for policy sake” or for the love of party, we must expect them to “vote for that which in [their] heart [they] feel is right” and to remain consistent with timeless principles.

What I see in Romney’s actions regarding impeachment is a politician willing to vote what he believes is “good for the country or the community” rather than what is “politically expedient.”

(The post accuses Romney of being “one of the most un-self aware politicians ever” and an “opportunistic flip-flopper.” The author’s primary piece of evidence is that Romney accepted Trump’s endorsement in 2012, critiqued him in 2016, “went on bended knee to Trump for a position in the Cabinet in early 2017” and is now attacking Trump once again. I think Romney’s actions in 2017 can be defended as the actions of a patriotic American seeking a cabinet position where he hoped to prevent some of the disastrous and erratic foreign policy actions of the current administration. But putting that aside, it seems more likely to me that Romney’s great flaw was his willingness to accept Trump’s support in the first place. In order to try to win in 2012, Romney embraced Trump even though Trump’s political claim to fame at that time was his wholly unfounded birther attacks on Obama. By embracing Trump in order to win the election, Romney unwittingly opened the door for Trump’s rise to power. Had Romney stuck to his moral principles, it is possible that we would not have a President Trump. So it seems to me that this critique of Romney actually leads to the opposite conclusion. Romney (and all of us) are better served by staying true to principles rather than being willing to compromise our integrity.) 

The Flight That Never Ends

One of the major problems with the Flight 93 election analogy is that this kind of siege warfare mentality never ends. “Flight 93 did not end with the 2016 vote; we are forever on the plane, endlessly in danger, no matter who has seized the controls.” See Carlos Ladoza, Thinking for Trump, Washington Post (March 15, 2019) There will in other words never be a point where the danger is past and we can once again return to our foundational principles. If the danger of a Clinton presidency is past, then there will always be another danger on the horizon. Whether it is extreme Democratic policies or a “deep state” coup, there will always be some evil to fixate on and combat. Anything that Trump says or does can always be excused as a necessary evil. And the same will be true for the next Republican candidate, and the next after that. After one embraces a “Flight 93” mentality, there is no point of return.

And don’t think that I am making a purely partisan point here. Democrats are just as guilty with their fixation on the evils of Trump and their willingness to stomp on all sorts of Constitutional norms to oppose him.

Much of our political partisanship today is the result of both sides embracing this damning mentality. If our opponents are not just wrong, but evil, then there is never a need for dialogue or deliberation. There is no room for compromise. Politics can only be a bloodsport where the winner tries to trample on the loser as much as humanly possible.

Those who like Trump’s policies may take comfort for now. But not for long.

And such a foundation is like a house built upon the sand. It will not endure the rain and the shafts in the whirlwind that the devil will send. A house so foundationally divided cannot and will not stand.

I fear the consequences of hyperpartisanship and an embrace of an ends-justify-the-means mentality far more than I fear the specific results of any one policy that either political party may embrace.

A Better Way Forward

In contrast, the Church has modelled a better way in how it has approached LGBTQ issues in the state of Utah. It is hard to imagine a more contentious issue. The author of the previous post is of course right that the Equality Act and other legislation being advanced by the Democratic contenders would seriously harm religious freedom. The Church could have easily oppose any and all legislation concerning LGBT rights and treated the topics as a battle where there could only be a single winner or loser.

Instead, the Church adopted its “fairness for all” approach. The Church explained that ““Rights work best when sought and shared by everyone. And since we all live and breathe and move in the same public space, there is no acceptable alternative to working out our differences.” As Elder Holland explained, “We must find ways to show respect for others whose beliefs, values, and behaviors differ from our own while never being forced to deny or abandon our own beliefs, values, and behaviors in the process.”

“Fairness for All” is an antidote to the “Flight 93 Election” mentality. When we are engaged in civic dialogue with others and concerned with fairness for everyone, then we will eschew winner take all attitudes and instead be more open to dialogue and compromise.

(Note, that this does not mean that we do not fight in the legislature and in the courts to defend vital constitutional rights. I am a Constitutional litigator who fights against government overreach and for individual rights every day. I am not naïve to the danger of government oppression. Nor do I think that Church leaders are naïve.)

The Need for Prayer 

Finally, I would note that the rhetoric used in the post, calling the Democratic party “insane” their behavior “anti-democratic” is not at all the kind of rhetoric that one hears from Church leadership with regard to elected officials of either party.

I should note that I share the post’s critique of most of the democratic policies he derides. But I also recognize much in the current Republican Party platform that is out of sync with Church doctrine such as immigration policies that separate families, hostility to refugees, and pervasive hatred of Islam.

It is for this reason that the Church declares to its membership that “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.” Every member has to decide for himself or herself which party is more likely to advance gospel principles. We need to be a lot more charitable to our fellow brothers and sisters who make a different political determination. 

Just this weekend, Elder Ballard invited us to sincerely pray for our elected officials and for the well-being of our country:

“I plead with you this evening to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people and for the families that live in this great nation founded by God. Remember, this country was established and preserved by our founding fathers and mothers who repeatedly acknowledged the hand of God through prayer.”

He urged us “to join in a new movement” and to “[i]nvite your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends on social media to pray for this country.”

I don’t think this is possible if we are stuck in a “Flight 93 election mentality.” I am not sure we can really come together as a community and pray for the well-being of our nation if we are convinced that half the country is beyond the pale. 

At the end of the day, my foundational disagreement with the Flight 93 election mentality is that if we ever hope to restore the torn civic fabric of our nation, we must put aside binary and partisan thinking. Refusing to candidly confront immoral and unconstitutional conduct in our leaders because we are more afraid of what the other side might do if they take power is a dangerous idea. More than that, it is a damning idea. With that mentality, we can never progress morally. We can never appeal to our better angels. Instead, we are constantly engaged in a war of all versus all. That is not the foundation for Zion or even for a functioning democracy.

33 thoughts on “The Flight 93 Election: A Gospel Centered Response

  1. Thank you!

    “It is for this reason that the Church declares to its membership that “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.” Every member has to decide for himself or herself which party is more likely to advance gospel principles. We need to be a lot more charitable to our fellow brothers and sisters who make a different political determination.”

    Wise words indeed.

  2. Geoff, I wish you would be more willing to debate your position, but I respect your stance on this one even though I disagree strongly.

    I certainly encourage anyone to read your original post as well as the other articles (The Flight 93 Election and The Case Against Frenchism) that I link to and criticize. I stand by everything I write as well.

  3. This post (like the last one) does not address what to do when our enemies *will not* engage with us civilly in return. Are we to just keep truth to ourselves? How do we actually combat error when our opponents have moved beyond truth seeking to pure demonization and engage the use of all persuasive weapons to destroy our families and communities? Do we just let civilization burn down around us (taking a few of us with them) and hope our food storage will outlast it until a majority can finally start to rebuild civil institutions and behavior again?

  4. Anonfornow,

    I think that the way the Church has handled LGBTQ issues in Utah is at least in part a response to your question. We work with people of good faith to find common ground even when we disagree with them strongly. And being people of good faith ourselves encourages others to also be their best selves. Before the Utah Compromise many people would have said that LGBTQ groups in Utah were incorrigible or not acting in good faith. But the Church took them at their word and I think was able to achieve meaningful compromise. Of course, there are going to be people who we cannot work with. But I think the Church’s position of generally assuming the good in people is a good and successful one.

  5. So Dan, then a follow up question, what if people don’t act in good faith? What do we do then? As Latter-day Saints we cannot compromise on doctrines in Family Proclamation, chastity, morality, marriage, gender, and abortion. We have to stand our ground on those things. Eventually the Utah Compromise is going to fall too. LGBT activists will come back around and go after that. what does the Church do then? What do members of the church do? I’m going to fight for the things I believe in, even if people think I’m mean.

    And what about Mitt’s character now, that we know about his fake twitter account — kinda like he’s a liar, don’t you think? He can’t even own his own words. Trump might be “mean” (and I put that in quotes because he’s really not mean, he just knows how to push everyone’s buttons all the time), but at least you know exactly where the man stands.

  6. Dan,

    I think your “response” to Geoff’s post is poorly stated and attacks something that was not really the point of Geoff’s post. He didn’t attack Romney merely for “his willingness to critique Trump” as you suggest. Such a reading of Geoff’s piece is simplistic at best. While you misrepresent Geoff’s arguments, you also misrepresent the republican party, which you undoubtedly know very well that Geoff is very critical of. Saying that the republican platform includes “immigration policies that separate families, hostility to refugees, and pervasive hatred of Islam” is merely parroting of the hateful rhetoric which you seem to deride, and which doesn’t have any real basis in fact.

    So, I would ask you, are you praying for President Trump? And if you are, are you merely praying that he will become more like you?

  7. Michael, I stand by the post and think that it captures the essence of the prior post’s central argument which is that the threat that Democrats pose to our Church and our moral framework justifies being less critical of Trump’s behavior even if criticism would otherwise be justified. If that is not Geoff’s argument, it is certainly the argument expressly made in the Flight 93 Election piece.

    I am certainly not immune from the allure of partisanship or criticism. But I do genuinely believe that I have been praying for President Trump and hoping that he does a good job as President. I have celebrated some of his accomplishments such as the appointment of great judges or his choice to move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. I do not consider myself to be reflexively hostile to Trump. But I do appreciate your reminder that I need to make sure that I pray for President Trump even more urgently in light of my criticism and concern.

    I would be happy to have an extended discussion on immigration or refugee policies. Certainly there are aspects of the Republican position that I agree with and find compatible with Gospel principles. But the policy of unnecessarily separating families is cruel and is the direct result of the administration’s choices. And Trump’s anti-Islamic rhetoric was shameful, even if the final policy that emerged may have been insulated enough from his bigoted rhetoric to survive scrutiny. I am also not sure you can listen to Trump’s recent screed about Somali refugees and not come to the conclusion that Trump’s policy embodies total hostility to refugees.

  8. Joyce,

    I am certainly not opposed to standing up and fighting for rights when necessary. That is actually what I do for a living as a constitutional litigator. The Church can and should continue to fight in Court and before the legislator in favor of its positions. And the Church’s idea of “fairness for all” has been based on the central premise that we cannot compromise core values even as we seek whatever common ground exists.

    The problem is that much of politics has become not a battle about ideas or principles but a contest to prove the other side wrong. Politicians refuse to reach across the aisle and make even the most basic effort to find common ground. Truth is twisted to prove that the other side is wrong. I don’t think either side is immune from this, but I think that Republican spin on the Mueller investigation and now on the Ukraine scandal has hit a new low with regard to integrity and basic regard for the truth.

    It really doesn’t have to be this way. We can disagree vigorously on important issues and find the maximum space for coexistance and for achieving commonly held goals.

    A good example of a Senator that I think does a very good job of this is actually Senator Lee. He is one of the most conservative members of the Senate and he sticks firmly to his deeply held philosophical and moral beliefs. But he was willing to work with some of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate on criminal justice reform. Senator Lee acts in good faith and seems to assume that those he is working with will reciprocate. Of course that means that he will get burned occasionally. But I think that is a much more successful approach in the long run.

    What we need are more public officials who are willing to act like Senator Lee does. Standing firm on what they believe, but not for the purpose of scoring cheap political points.

    With regard to Romney’s use of a different Twitter handle, reiterate what I said in this post (when discussing Romney’s acceptance of Trump’s endorsement in 2012). Romney’s unwillingness to stand more openly on his principles is unfortunate. I wish that Romney had the courage to speak out even more openly and forcefully. I understand the political pressure that causes him to not do so more openly, but I find it disappointing nonetheless.

  9. I’m sorry, I’m stunned that you said this, ” I think that Republican spin on the Mueller investigation and now on the Ukraine scandal has hit a new low with regard to integrity and basic regard for the truth.” There is no regard for truth in politics … and integrity? Hahaha! That’s funny.

    The Muller Investigation was based on lies, total fabricated lies. The Ukraine call was nothing. Nothing. No quid pro quo, no deals, nothing I’m shocked that you have accepted the media narrative on those two things.

    As far as reaching across the isle, it’s always the Republicans that are supposed to do that. The Democrats never do that. We’re all supposed to “bend the knee” to whatever crazy junk they want. No thanks. I still think Geoff was right, and dare I say, you are wrong on this.

  10. Joyce, have actually read the Mueller report of the recent Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Reports? Both of those well-researched and thorough reports paint a pretty serious picture that is not based on lies but convincing evidence. I think there are a few conclusions that are safe to draw based on the available evidence: 1) Russia interfered in the US election with the express goal of electing Donald Trump and defeating Hillary Clinton. There were at least two parts to this campaign a) agitation and posting on social media as well as organizing protests and other events; b) hacking the DNC and other democratic sources and releasing leaked e-mails in coordination with Wikileaks to cause maximal harm to Secretary Clinton. 2) The Trump campaign encouraged the release of hacked documents and attempted to establish back channel connections to Russia to dig up dirt; 3) Trump made a concerted effort to shut down the Russia probe including ordering members of his administration to fire Mueller. I think the Mueller report paints a damning picture of Trump’s conduct and certainly makes a strong case for impeachment.

    With Ukraine, it seems clear that Trump Administration conditioned a) a white house meeting and b) military aid to Ukraine on Ukraine launching a series of investigations of dubious merit that are aimed at benefiting President Trump’s own chances for reelection. There is absolutely no basis for the 2016 Crowdstrike conspiracy theory. There is also no credible basis for accusing Joe Biden of pressuring Ukraine for the purpose of benefiting his Son, given that the prosecutor was deeply corrupt and there was a global consensus he should be fired. Also, isn’t it awfully convenient that the only instances of “corruption” that Trump is concerned about involve his chief political rival? Have you read the statements by Volker, Sondland, and Taylor that were submitted to Congress. In my opinion they very clearly paint a damning picture of Trump pursuing his own interest at the expense of America’s foreign policy goals.

  11. Very good post.

    It doesn’t matter which side one favors, WE must be the ones to do what is right and in the right way.
    To do ad hominem attacks on anyone is wrong. Period. Discuss policy and principles, or give way to Gadianton robber thinking.

    Must we set aside our Christianity in order to defend or stop Trump? No. We can be civil. Otherwise we are no better than Hitlet, who dehumanized Jews before destroying them.

    We get to choose how we act in the arena. We don’t get to choose the conseq of who we become.

  12. So, today the President tweeted that Never-Trump-Republicans as “human scum.” I disagree with his characterization. I voted for him in the general election (but not in the primary election), hoping he would respect the office and the mantle if elected. I tend to prefer Republican Party approaches to Democratic Party approaches, and I tend to see the present impeachment effort as more of a way to overturn the election result that real concern over high crimes and so forth, but I am ashamed by the President’s coarseness, ignorance, meanness, and stupidity. I wish he would act more like a man and a gentleman. I’m not a never-Trumper, but it doesn’t look like our electoral process is going to give me many choices for the next election cycle.

    I am okay with Latter-day Saints in the U.S. being either Democratic or Republican. I hope we don’t vilify each other. Vote how you will, but please don’t claim the imprimatur of God’s favor for your opinion. I can be friends with almost anyone who can act with civility and dignity.

  13. ” I think the Mueller report paints a damning picture of Trump’s conduct and certainly makes a strong case for impeachment.”

    And yet, others strongly disagree with this characterization. Too bad Mueller failed to even make a plausible case for impeachment. I’m a lawyer too, and it was clear from the outset that the Mueller investigation was a sham. Mueller testified that he didn’t even know who or what FusionGPS was. When he said that, I knew the whole thing was a fraud and a joke.

    By all means, continue to view Trump as a flawed villain. But to many other people, he’s the only firewall between us and those who look down on us as the mere hoi polloi and the great unwashed masses.

    I don’t agree with Geoff on some things, but his essay on Romney was 100% spot on.

  14. Michael, have you read the Mueller report? What about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Reports?

  15. Joyce, I am going to disagree with you but if you read on you will see I am actually trying to help you make your point.
    First, Quid pro quo or roughly, “this for that” is good. And, it is the basis of every negotiation, agreement or contract ever devised. I hope we don’t give any country money without conditions. We should always get something in return.
    I do see quid pro quo on the negotiations with Ukraine. What remains is the question of whether taxpayer funds were used in a negotiation for personal gain. Much is made of the fact that Biden is a presidential candidate. But if a person was involved in corruption while a sitting vice-president does that mean they cannot be investigated simply because they now happen to be a candidate for office? Certainly we have a right to ask those questions. I think Daniel’s conclusion that this is an impeachable offense is well, just that, conclusory. Law schools give failing grades for such treatment of the facts on exams.
    Daniel O, your reading of the Mueller report leads you to believe 1) that the Russia meddling in the 2016 election favored Donald Trump, 2) The trump campaign encouraged the release of hacked documents, and 3) Trump made a concerted effort to shut down the Russia probe.
    1) clearly can’t be laid at Trump’s feet.
    2) so what? Not something I would do, underhanded I grant you, but not illegal and not even unusual in the political arena.
    3) And if the initiation Russia probe regarding collusion truly was a hatchet job, why not? If you knew you were innocent, what would you do?
    Now, I am not constitutional litigator. Just a lowly second career plaintiff’s attorney. However, I live and die on nothing but facts. I rarely get to make legal arguments. I just have to take the facts and make the best of them, and facts are stubborn things said John Adams in that great HBO miniseries about him.
    I wish I could agree more with your post. Alas, I cannot.

  16. The Muller report strung along data to lead to a narrative. Almost like the CES letter.

    As a lawyer you should know that’s not evidence that should be used for conviction. But certainly can be used by a zealous prosecutor to muddy the waters and lead people to their predetermined conclusion.

    Most importantly, the assumption is presumed knowledge of the motives behind what the Russians wanted to do, with no evidence other than some small data points of what they did do — while excluding mountains of other evidences.

    Did the Russians “support” Bernie with spending? Yes.

    How about pro-Black extremism? Yes.

    How and racist white extremism? Yes.

    How about Trump? Yes.

    And probably much more we don’t know about…

    So is the conclusion that the Russians wanted to elect Bernie and Trump and a racist and a black power leader?

    No. The conclusion should be the Russians wanted to spend some money creating disunity and the media, the Democrats, the Muller report, and some Republicans have contributed far more “in kind” donations to that cause.

    The assumption by everyone was Clinton would win, including the Russians.

    But if she’s made weaker and the country more disunited in all issues, Russia gets stronger in comparison. Again, our partisanship has amplified that small ad spend (and Trump’s goofy, stupid over the top response to it and his grasping at foreign straws to prove the misdeeds of his opponents isn’t helping either).

    What do you think the response of the Russians is when they see their couple million election interference budget has been amplified into a $100 billion in dog-chasing-tail response by America? More or less interference next time? Did the Russian Ministry of Election Interference get their budget increased for their use of nonsensical Facebook ad campaigns or because of our political overreaction upon publicizing them to destroy our political opponents?

    We have a free society. We can’t shut it down with mere Facebook policies. It’s all garbage and shouldn’t be given attention.

    To the point of the post, I largely agree — focus on principles. We’re not on a plane controlled by terrorists. We’re not even in the voting room, yet. We’re calling out behavior in advance of that day so others will hopefully moderate their behavior.

    If you give an uncontrolled dog a longer leash, what will they do? Attack others. Get tangled up themselves. Trip and tangle those around them. Don’t give Trump more leash by excusing his behavior, even if the Democrats are out running wild in the streets.

    Shorter answer when we’re tempted to point fingers at the problems in the world…

    “And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”

    Let’s look at our own lives and try to live according to what we know are true principles without pointing fingers. Romney by and large does this as far as I can tell. The media constantly plays up everything he says and does as a war with Trump. It’s a fine line, but he would be better off just saying what he’s going to do and why and have nothing to say about Trump various tirades or failings. He’s tried that, but Trump sucks us all back in, in the end. Because here we are in an Latter-day Saint blog talking about him.

    Our politics should not be about people.

  17. “Michael, have you read the Mueller report? What about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Reports?”

    I’ve read it all. I actually work in the Intelligence Community. And my support for Donald Trump has only increased. What do you think about that? Incredible, isn’t it?

    I reluctantly voted for Trump in 2016. This time, I’m not only voting for him in 2020, but I’m going to wear a MAGA hat. I’m tired of the milquetoast vanity and virtue-signalling of the NeverTrumpers and their ilk.

  18. Michael, I’d like to hear more as to what in the Mueller report strengthened your support of Trump. Can you send me an email so we can continue that conversation outside of this post?

  19. Dan’s characterization of Geoff’s original post is misguided and simply not on point. To summarize Geoff’s position as being largely aligned with Flight 93 really makes me wonder if Dan even read Geoff’s post or if he simply skimmed a few sentences and then launched into his straw man attack.

    His points are so misguided as to make engagement futile.

    Perhaps he can go back, actually read what Geoff wrote, and then provide some meaningful commentary on Geoff’s article instead of some other article that was written years ago.

  20. Michael Towns. Not the most reliable source. Are you inferring there is not good reason to question Trumps morals and capabilities?
    There are plenty of others who the mail would not show, who think Trump is totally amoral. Are you defending his morals?
    What is the point of your comment? That this is a typical democrat? I notice geoff b also does extremes, antifa = democrats. How ridiculous both.

  21. Did I touch a nerve, Geoff-A? 😉

    Fifty other media outlets have reported on Katie Hill smoking a bong, naked, while having sex with her female employee. Spare me your fake outrage at using this particular “source.”

    And yes, I am defending Donald Trump’s morals. Nobody who sits around judging Trump is free of hypocrisy.

    That is my only point.

  22. I think it says a lot more about your morals Michael Towns that you would link to the non-consensual publication of those photos.

  23. Nonsense, Claire. Those photos are in the public domain. And I’m not the sitting Congresswoman that committed adultery and broke ethics regulations (and quite possibly, the law) by having sexual relations with an employee — while at the same time telling America that Trump needs to be impeached. She’s a hypocrite, as are most of the politicians up in DC.

    So Claire, get off your high horse.

  24. It’s never ok to publish naked pictures of someone without their consent, no matter their behaviour (we can easily use words to describe the immoral or illegal behaviour). And if they have been published you really don’t need to link to them. If that’s me on a high horse, well I think I’ll just stay there.

    Of course there is hypocrisy in politics and just about every other part of life, but Donald Trump is not someone who should be defended and it is really unclear to me why so many mormons (American) continue to do so. I mean just the sexual assault allegations should be enough to give pause.

    Life will not end if a democrat wins an election. Why would you want to live in a country where the same party got elected all the time? I mean if ever there was a time for republicans to lose an election, this would be it. Take some time to figure out their values and a forward thinking policy platform and present a better candidate in 2024.

  25. It is frustrating to see how quickly people in political debate tend to engage in “whatsboutism” and turn every attack into a critique on how their opponents are just as bad or are hypocritical. Yes, many of those opposing Trump likely have their own skeletons in their closet. Some may even have committed criminal conduct.

    But that does not excuse Trump’s behavior. It does not excuse the dozens of credible sexual assault allegations against Trump. It does not excuse his willingness to subvert the machinery of the state to benefit his own personal and business interests.

    None of that is justified just because some of his opponents have done bad things as well.

  26. I don’t know who will win the 2020 election, but I will make this prediction:

    Whichever party loses will not accept the outcome as legitimate.

    This Hugh Nibley quote sums up best my position on political parties:
    Satan’s masterpiece of counterfeiting is the doctrine that there are only two choices, and he will show us what they are. It is true that there are only two ways, but by pointing us the way he wants us to take and then showing us a fork in that road, he convinces us that we are making the vital choice, when actually we are choosing between branches in his road. Which one we take makes little difference to him, for both lead to destruction. This is the polarization we find in our world today. Thus we have the choice between Shiz and Coriantumr—which all Jaredites were obliged to make. We have the choice between the wicked Lamanites (and they were that) and the equally wicked (Mormon says “more wicked”) Nephites. Or between the fleshpots of Egypt and the stews of Babylon, or between the land pirates and the sea pirates of World War I, or between white supremacy and black supremacy, or between Vietnam and Cambodia, or between Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers, or between China and Russia, or between Catholic and Protestant, or between fundamentalist and atheist, or between right and left—all of which are true rivals, who hate each other. A very clever move of Satan!—a subtlety that escapes us most of the time. So I ask Latter-day Saints, “What is your position frankly (I’d like to take a vote here) regarding the merits of cigarettes vs. cigars, wine vs. beer, or heroin vs. LSD?” It should be apparent that you take no sides. By its nature the issue does not concern you. It is simply meaningless as far as your life is concerned. “What, are you not willing to stand up and be counted?” No, I am not.
    (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion)

  27. The Synthesis of this dichotomy:

    Jacob Hess touches on the need for civility in his recent post: a way to reach those who can be reached. But mere civility, per se, is only an introductory step.

    Catholic theologian Peter Kreeft lays it out even better here:

    His three points:
    1. we are at war. I think we all agree on this.

    2. Who the enemy is. It’s not people, no matter how evil they might appear to be. People, no matter how duped or corrupted by evil, ARE THE PATIENTS. The real enemies are the principalities and powers of darkness: the demons, etc.

    3. The weapon. Here, Dr. Kreeft repeats what the Apostles and the First Presidency keep telling us every six months: BECOME SAINTS! THAT will “win the war”, if not in this life, then in the real world that counts.

    CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo, Hollywood, Pelosi, Schiff, Schumer, Nadler, Trump, Pence, Gaetz, McConnel, Barr, Bannon, et al., are NOT the enemies. They are PATIENTS.

    And whatever “side” you think YOU are on, and whatever side you think THEY are on, “becoming a saint” is the ONLY “weapon” that can work.

    If the above link to Kreeft interests you, you can get his whole book on the subject used on Amazon for about $6 including delivery. 120 pages. ISBN 0830823166.

  28. As Daniel says above It is frustrating to see how quickly people in political debate tend to engage in “whatsboutism” and turn every attack into a critique on how their opponents are just as bad or are hypocritical. Yes, many of those opposing Trump likely have their own skeletons in their closet. Some may even have committed criminal conduct.

    But that does not excuse Trump’s behavior. It does not excuse the dozens of credible sexual assault allegations against Trump. It does not excuse his willingness to subvert the machinery of the state to benefit his own personal and business interests.
    There is also the question of comparing individual immorality to a political party supporting a president who is not only individually immoral, has no reguard for truth, implements policies that cause incredible damage. For example his taking areas that were for indigenous peoples and allowing mining, oil drilling etc. His reapplication of the global gag increases the rate of abortion, and the deaths of women who cannot access birth control or safe abortions, by close to 40%. In Africa. Millions of abortions and thousands of womens lives.
    That he encourages racism, white supremacy, and division.
    That he uses withholding US aid to persuade another government to find dirt on a political opponent. Which is getting aid from another country to win an election, and is illegal, but he says he is doing no wrong. He has removed morality from politics and particularly Republican supporters.
    That rather than disagree with someones ideas, he attacks them personally, creates lies and rumours to undermine them. So rather than discussing the benifits of particular policies, we just attack the person.
    Yes Trump is personally immoral, and you can find a democrat who is too, but these are not comparable, or equivalent.

  29. Having visited Arches National Park last week I get the feeling this LOOOOONG article is like the 200 million years of layers covering up all the past and Pierre Delecto is the Colorado River showing Mittens is as bad as all of them.

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