Monday, August 31, 2020

Presidential Election 2020: My Thoughts on Voting

I've never written about a Presidential Election on my blog before, so this is a bit strange for me. I think it's important, though, to talk about where I stand, so that 1) I have a record of it and my posterity has a record of it, and 2) I can help anyone who might be on the fence about who to vote for.

Truth be told, I didn't put enough effort into any votes before this year. I voted Republican because I had a vague sense of what Republicans stood for, and honestly, it was hard to understand where candidates landed on lots of issues during the pre-Internet Age. Now, you can find out more than you probably want to know about each candidate, and I guess in some ways, it's a blessing and a curse. What do you do, for example, when one candidate has been accused of plagiarism, and there is evidence aplenty online of his guilt? (Biden) What do you do when that same candidate has also been accused of sexual harassment? These things may not have seen the light of day, if we didn't have the internet. Similarly, without the internet, we may not know that the other candidate has made extremely crude comments about women or that he lied about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400 list or that he engaged in suspect tax schemes and went bankrupt several times. (Trump)

In 2020, we are privy to the seedy details of people's lives, and when it comes to Presidential candidates, that can leave us feeling downright disappointed and lackluster about voting. We can throw our hands up in the air and exclaim, "Does it even matter anyway?" We can also just vote the same way we've always voted because let's face it -- it's easier. There's next to no cognitive load when you don't have to suss out where each candidate stands on key issues. If you vote one party all the way down the ballot, you can walk away feeling like you've done your civic duty, and no one is the wiser.

But what if there's another way? I submit that there is, and I'll quote my dear friend Carrie for this: "Voting has become infused with a weird sense of morality when it's really just pragmatic. One of them is going to hold the office, so pick the one you like better. Or hate least. [. . .] If you don't like the pool of candidates, then get involved earlier in the process."

She's right of course. Getting involved earlier in the process is the ideal way to do your civic duty. Unfortunately for the upcoming election, it's too late. So what now?  I recommend voting for the candidate you think will be a better president. He may not be the best president or the perfect person, but if you look at the Presidential Election as it really is -- as a job interview -- then remember that with job interviews, you are looking for someone who can do the job well enough and better than the other candidates you've seen. For this election, I encourage you to check out this helpful page from Where Biden and Trump stand on key issues. It's mostly neutral, but maybe just a tad left-leaning.

As for me, well . . . I reserve the right to change my mind as the election gets closer, but currently, I'm planning on voting for Biden, and here's why (in no particular order):

  • He's cautious about reopening the economy during this pandemic.
  • He wants to put pressure on China and boost domestic manufacturing.
  • He plans to spend a lot of money on green investments, supports research on advanced nuclear energy, wants to strengthen emission standards, and plans to re-enter the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
  • He wants to eliminate the death penalty and solitary confinement. (I believe very, very strongly in elimination of the death penalty. For further reading on this, see Just Mercy, Wrongful Execution, and Death Penalty Information Center.)
  • He plans to stop additional construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, and he supports the DACA program. (I believe very, very strongly in immigration and in welcoming all we can into this country. See The Effects of Immigration on the United States' Economy.)
  • He's promised to pick a diverse cabinet, which would be a welcome and refreshing change.
There are a few more reasons why I plan on voting for Biden, but they have more to do with the fact that he's not Trump -- and that's probably not constructive right now. Hopefully, though, this list is enough to get you thinking about what your own stance is on some key issues. If you decide you don't want to vote for Biden, that's okay, but again, hopefully this list makes you think about why.

Finally, a word to my fellow Christians: I've heard a lot of you say that the key issue for you is where the candidate stands on abortion. As someone who is devoutly Christian, let me tell you why abortion is not the deciding factor for me.

  1. Abortion is at an all-time low and has been trending downward for years, even before Donald Trump took office. (See U.S. Abortion Rate Continues Long-term Decline in Most States and Five Theories for the Record-Low U.S. Abortion Rate.)
  2. As my friend Emily put it, "I think that ship has sailed and what we should be doing is trying to educate everyone on their safe options." For me, that includes greater access to birth control and sex education in schools.
  3. While I don't condone abortion, there are Christian values that I think are more at-risk right now and present themselves in the following ways: anti-immigration policies, improper stewardship of this planet God created for us, and often, limited access to a fair trial.
  4. As a Mormon, I believe that there are some cases when abortion is necessary, and the Church has specified that those cases are as follows: 1) when the life of the mother or child is at risk, 2) in cases of rape or incest. As such, I don't think abortion is a black-and-white issue. There are more perspectives to abortion than simply Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, so I don't assume to understand the nuances of a candidate's thoughts on this topic.

Thing I'm thankful for: a husband who lets me drone on about the thoughts in my head

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The United States Constitution

If you follow me on Facebook, you've probably noticed that I've posted a lot of news lately that is political in nature. I guess it's because for the first time in my life, I care. I really, really care about who our governmental leaders are. I also ordered a book that has been life-changing for me, actually. It's called The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction, by David J. Bodenhamer, a legal scholar and history professor at Indiana University. In the preface, Bodenhamer discusses how little most Americans know about the Constitution:

Citizens often do no know what the Constitution says, a problem shared by all texts deemed sacred. Surveys have consistently revealed that Americans lack basic knowledge about the nation's fundamental law and even disagree with some of its central tenets, especially when these principles are presented separately. A national poll in 2014 reported that 29 percent of respondents could not name any one of the five guarantees of the First Amendment; other recent polls found that 51 percent erroneously believed the Constitution established a Christian nation and that 22 percent believed that freedom of religion should not apply to extremist groups. In brief, Americans revere a document that many have not read and that they may not endorse in its separate provisions. (2018, xxi)

I read that paragraph, and what can I say? It pierced my soul. I realized that I hadn't read the Constitution since I was in grade school, and I had forgotten much of what it contained. So I vowed to read and study the Constitution and what's more -- to study it with my family.

So Daryl and the kids and I have been reading the Constitution. (They say they hate it, but I hope they secretly love it. Besides, I've worked out a quiz system where I give them one dollar for every five questions they answer correctly. Ha!) It's been good for all of us, I think. For example, I had forgotten that the first three words of the Constitution ("We the people") mean a lot. They mean that we are a self-governing people and that anyone can run for any office.

And here are some things that I outright didn't even know:

  • After the Vice President, the Speaker of the House is the next in line to be President.
  • There are four whole amendments devoted to suffrage. (It took a long time for everyone to have the right to vote!)

What else have I forgotten? What else don't I know? I suppose I'll find out! I implore you to find out with me. It's so important to understand the supreme law of the land, especially now!

*Take this civics quiz to find out what your knowledge gaps are: What do you know about the U.S. government?

*Thing I'm thankful for: people who are much smarter than me

Monday, August 24, 2020

Things Dads Do

We spent the weekend wandering around Park City, and this was a common walking position:

I think when men become fathers, they just automatically know how to do this. They just know -- the way mothers know to nurse and babies know to root -- that the way to guide children is by holding onto the pressure points on their necks.

And it works like magic! When he holds onto them like this, the kids go exactly where Daryl wants them to go! They walk where he walks, and they don't veer off. He can even do it to me! It's amazing! (And I kind of love it!)

Thing I'm thankful for: a husband who is the most excellent father

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Things I'm Thankful For

I was swiping through Instagram last night and came across a post that reminded me how much I have to be thankful for, so today, you get an entire post of things I am thankful for:

  • A healthy birth, with no major problems or congenital birth defects (This was a real possibility, as I was two months premature.)
  • A face that can smile, hands that work, and legs that walk
  • No experience with trauma or child abuse
  • Parents who are well-educated and who provided a safe and secure childhood for me
  • No untimely deaths of loved ones
  • Friends (such good and lovely friends)
  • A husband
  • Three silly step-kids who are healthy and strong
  • A home (Thanks, Daryl!)
  • A working car
  • A stable and well-paying job
  • Time and resources to enjoy my hobbies
  • The ability to urinate (No, really -- I couldn't after two major surgeries, and it was life-changing.)
  • A (mostly) healthy body
That last one. Let me elaborate on that last one.

Latter-day Saints (Mormons, to most people) believe in a resurrection. That is, we believe that everyone who dies will live again, with a perfected body. I believe that everyone who dies will live again, with a perfected body. When I was little, I didn't think much of it. As far as I was concerned, my body was just fine. I had a few scars but no broken bones -- no life-altering aches and pains.

I have life-altering aches and pains now, though. I have health problems I didn't have three years ago, and I don't see them going away any time soon. So I look forward to a resurrected, perfected body in a way I didn't when I was a child. I think about how glorious it will be to use the bathroom without great effort, to run and move like I could when I was small, and to know that no injury will permanently damage my body. What a relief. What a blessing!

And yet. Even with my health problems -- I have so many advantages in life. No one treats me cruelly because of a disability; employers don't discriminate against me because of my appearance; and there are people who look like me everywhere. I rarely have to worry that I'll stick out or get picked on, and I can travel when and where I need to with relative ease.

I have so much, and it's through nothing on my part at all.