Saturday, November 5, 2016

Politics, Religion, and my Conscience

As we approach election day, I have finally decided to weigh in (officially) about my own political views. Before tonight, I felt that I had made my political and social stance pretty clear without ever explicitly stating: "Hey, look! I'm a social democrat! Question my beliefs and choices!" Today changed that. Today I was told by an acquaintance (via Facebook) that they "find it hard to believe that I find Republican views bad since, for the most part, they are to protect the family unit." This comment was in response to this meme that I shared:

I had heard of others having encounters like mine with people from their lives but had never myself experienced anyone question my political beliefs solely because of my religious views (I have had heated debates about politics but they have always been about facts and logic). And so, today I will give my political stance (explicitly), explain why this stance does not contradict my religious beliefs, and why #ImwithHer.

Up until my senior year of high school (or maybe into college) I didn't pay attention to politics much. I knew that I was a democrat because my mom had told me so, in somewhat exasperated tones, one day when I was 10. I really got into politics in the summer of 2014 during a World History course and when I first found The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I devoured every video I could find and really began to open myself up to politics and current/recent affairs. And yes, it was very clear at that point that I am a Democrat. While I have many beliefs that support my views, the baseline of most of them is Free Agency. No person or government should be allowed to dictate how any individual person lives their life, so long as they are not hurting others, because we are not God. As fallible humans (all of us, regardless of age or rank) we do not have the authority to make calls on the general actions of others. With this view I cannot, in good conscience, support abortion restrictions, banning any portion of the LGBTQ community or cuts to welfare/disability/social security/healthcare. I also support stricter gun laws and increased training (and vetting) for/of law enforcement.

Many might say that my views on "welfare", guns, and potentially even law enforcement are contrary to my stance on agency, but if anything my views makes my stance stronger. By providing the necessities of life to those who are truly in need of them, the avenue is opened for improvement. People have no ability to plan for the future or even truly to live when every day is about survival. By providing the basics to our needy, our sick, our young, and our elderly we grant them the ability to choose how to live. We grant them their agency. I will forever support stricter gun registration and background checks because I value the lives of my fellow Americans. To deny common sense background checks allows for people who had been on the FBI's terrorist watch list to buy a gun. It allows for tragedies like Sandy Hook or San Bernardino or so many others to occur. It allows for the accidental deaths of toddlers or parents. It allows for nearly half of all US suicides to be committed by a firearm. I am not saying take away all guns or never allow people to buy one again. I am simply in favor of ensuring safe gun practices. As for my views on law enforcement, I will be frank. As a law-abiding white cis-woman, I have never had any trouble with the police and even I am would be frightened to be pulled over right now because the institution as a whole has not implemented any effective policies or practices that prevent the "few bad apples" from acting as racist profiler and, more often than I like to consider, executioner

Now, maybe my religious views are not entirely accurate, maybe I don't "interpret" my religion correctly, but in my beliefs, the goal of man is to build each other up. I believe in embracing those who are different than myself, accepting their differences and understanding them. Every time I fully understand another I change a little bit, become a little bit more accepting and less judgmental. After all, it is not my place to judge. Members are always quick to spout that phrase out when it is regarding "one of our own" or after dubious news about "a good Christian", but often seem to forget that stance when regarding contrary beliefs or lifestyles.Growing up I focused on the loving God, the forgiving God, the caring God. My opinion has hardened (and broadened) over the years and the God of the Old Testament makes more sense to me now, but it does not negate the overall Goodness which I believe that all right-minded people strive to achieve (regardless of religion or lack thereof).

I believe in the Good. I have to or else I am not sure that I could get up in the morning or have hope for tomorrow or plan for the future. I use the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants as guidelines to live my life but they are not the only guidelines I have. I live more the spirit of the laws and strictures than I do the letter of them. I seek always to learn why something is before I am willing to follow it. I rarely follow blind but I do retain enough trust that I can, when necessary, take comfort in the security of my faith.

Knowing and believing all of this, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who would propose to unfairly discriminate against or remove privileges from an American citizen (or a human being in general). I cannot support an institution that would support such a man in his attempt at power. I cannot support a party who has admitted that they might rather allow the supreme court (the third branch of our government) die out than accept the nominations of our current president or potential Hillary presidency. I cannot support a racist, misogynistic, narcissist who believes that sexual assault is a joke and refuses to concede to the will of the American people (based on his statement that he would only accept the outcome of the elections "if he wins") nor can I support the party that he is affiliated with (above and beyond the fact that I am so clearly a democrat).

No, Hillary isn't perfect. Yes, she is a politician and was a lawyer (2 of the things most universally hated from what I can tell). Nonetheless, I believe that she will make a great president. She has the experience, the credentials, the endurance, the mental acuity, and the determination to make an amazing president. Will things change overmuch with her in office? Probably not. Not even if we get a democratic senate. Hillary provides potential that our country's slow improvement might just continue. Trump potentially guarantees that our country will fall apart at its seams (this has already begun). For all of this, my political stance, religious beliefs, and conscience, I stand with Hillary Clinton (and the survival of the country as a whole) during this election.

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