This month’s Sunstone contains an absolutely awesome reader letter explaining the relationship between Republicans, Democrats, politics, and righteousness. It goes like this:
That I and most Mormons are reliably Republican is an overdetermined fact. The data are clear. Were national elections decided by any of the following subsets of voters—those who are pro-life, opposed to dole welfare, supportive of traditional marriage, married (with or without children), active church-goers, strict constructionists, pro-military, or above average in donating money and time to charity—Republicans would always win. The prototypical Mormon is a member of all of these subsets of reliably Republican voters and therefore, unsurprisingly, is a Republican.
The Republican commitment to the hallmarks of political conservatism—choice, accountability, believing that the natural man is evil and that evil must be actively resisted, that salvation requires grace and thus secular utopias are an illusion—echoes the stance we all took during the Council and War in Heaven. There may be dark echoes of the great Council in the Democrats’ stance as well, they being the party of the state, which is distinguished from other institutions most clearly by its compulsory powers and monopoly on the use of force.
Democrats believe in using the power of the state, especially the macro nation-state, to compel citizens to do good—e.g., to give money to the poor. But as the Council made clear, compelled action has no positive moral content. Republicans have faith in free markets, a social institution which embodies choice and accountability. The evidence is in. North/South Korea, East/West Germany, and Mao/Deng China amply illustrate that compulsion by the state—no matter how well intended—cannot address the material needs of humanity. After World War II, it was Hong Kong, the freest of free markets, that most successfully lifted its masses out of abject poverty.
Like France’s Louis XIV, the Book of Mormon’s King Benjamin was the state, but he did not use his monopoly on force to seize the wealth of his people and distribute it to the poor. Rather, he kept taxes low and strongly enjoined voluntarily sharing with the needy. Republicans likewise oppose higher taxes but donate more time and money to charity, giving on average 30 percent more than Democrats, despite being a little less well off financially. (Arthur C. Brooks, Who Really Cares [Basic Books, 2006]).
King Mosiah warned that the few are more likely to go astray than the many, but when the few are in power, their moral degradation spreads (Mosiah 29:26). The U.S. under the judicial tyranny of recent years is a case in point. The courts are the least democratic branch of government, the branch in which just four (Massachusetts) or five people (United States) may force significant change. Generally supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, the courts have in recent years dramatically altered the moral landscape of the United States, denuding the public square of religious observances and symbols while protecting profanity, pornography,abortion, euthanasia, and sodomy, and foisting on an unsupportive public a redefinition of marriage. Unsurprisingly, when Zeezrom and others of his profession are given the power to reshape the moral landscape, general moral degradation follows.
While it is legitimate to create a context for choice, moral outcomes are usually optimized when parameters are provided by micro social units closely connected to the individual—the family, church, and local community. Democrats tend to support the flow of political power from society’s micro to its macro units while opposing the single most legitimate role of the macro state—protecting the people from colossal external evils. As the people of Ammon learned while uncomfortably sheltered behind Captain Moroni’s lines, in a fallen world, pacifism is not an option. Sons must sometimes be sent into battle. Evil must sometimes be forced from heaven. Republicans understand this truth more fully than do Democrats.
The arguments above notwithstanding, the Republican Party is at best an imperfect defender of the Mormon values I and others hold dear. It is ultimately entranced by power and is often seduced by Mammon. Its principal grace is its adversary, the Democratic Party, which so thoroughly, so consistently embraces one patently false secular gospel after another.
It’s a nicely articulated letter, and similar to statements I’ve heard over the years from any number of ward members. (How many of these arguments have you heard made in Sunday school? In the foyer after class?)
It’s also completely nuts. Now, a letter of this sort is mostly beyond parody. But I’ll mock it a little anyway, just for fun.
One of my favorite parts is this line:
“The courts are the least democratic branch of government, the branch in which just four (Massachusetts) or five people (United States) may force significant change. Generally supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, the courts have in recent years dramatically altered the moral landscape of the United States. . . “
Isn’t this great? I love the idea that Republicans oppose courts. Undemocratic, five-person court decisions that force significant change are clearly the fruits of the devil. And from there, we can clearly see that the George W. Bush presidency is pure evil. (Bu-dum bum).
There are other confusing applications of this theory. For instance, look at the court’s recent sexual harassment jurisprudence. In a number of recent decisions, conservative justices have opposed sexual harassment liability (in the workplace, in school, and so on), while liberal justices have favored broader protections against harassment. Since the liberal justices work for Satan, this apparently means that Satan favors greater employee protection from sexual harassment, while God is in favor of more employer leeway to grab employee ass. Could that possibly be right?
It might seem counterintuitive, sure. But let’s look more closely. After all, what’s that woman doing in the workplace to begin with? Going against her natural role as a woman, that’s what. So it does make sense that God wants to allow her employer to grab her ass a little. This will encourage her to take her nurturing self back to the home where she belongs. (The same principle also explains the recent equal-pay lawsuits. If only we underpay women enough, maybe they’ll stop trying to work and go back to being homemakers.) Yay for conservatives!
Also wonderful is the letter’s broad condemnation of lawyers: “Unsurprisingly, when Zeezrom and others of his profession are given the power to reshape the moral landscape, general moral degradation follows.” Now, how many of our general authorities are lawyers again?
Anyway, I’ll leave the rest of the low-hanging fruit for others. Is this letter great, or what? (Is there any Republican party platform that isn’t tied to God here?) (Is the letter even legit? Is it too good to possibly be real?) I heart Sunstone. Keep it up, fellows.
What other problems can you spot in the “Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Hell” analysis?