Romney takes his faith's conservative - and doubles down. That's a fair takeaway from this LA Times article, titled "Romney's conservative roots lie in Mormon faith. It's an interesting read, often at points for what it doesn't say. Before I continue: I don't countenance religious bigotry: the "magic underwear" comments that surface occasionally are not welcome in this diary. We can oppose and, daresay, challenge the application of Mormon scriptures in the United States Code without mocking the Mormon faith and its adherents. Please don't go there in this diary.
It's always dangerous to infer a person's political positions based on their religious affiliation, and I firmly believe that a person of any religion is qualified to hold any office in this nation; it's their politics that matters, not their personal relationship (or lack thereof) with G-d. But as one lens of many with which to view the Romney campaign, this article's lens appears to be particularly insightful.
Anyhow! Please turn off all electronic devices and ensure that your seat backs are fully upright and locked as we prepare for takeoff.
When the bottom fell out of the real estate market, Jason and Liz Anderson reached out to the institution they trusted most: the Mormon Church.
The bishop "was really open and loving," Liz recalled. But it was tough love. "We're not going to pay bills. We can't pay your mortgage," she recalled him as saying. He offered food assistance and a blessing.
The Andersons said it never occurred to them to seek government assistance, although with two young children and a monthly income that had dwindled to $1,200, they surely would have qualified for food stamps.
I think that says a lot, really. Of course, given that Gov. Romney has not really addressed his Mormonism head-on, it's difficult to infer specific Mormon beliefs to him. For those of us who are believers in some faith or another, we all take some aspects and discard others; as to me, I love a good lobster :). But it still says a lot.
The Federal food assistance program is an amazing program, one of the most successful programs; it of course benefits those who receive food assistance, but it also benefits many others - it benefits their children, who are able to better perform in school; food assistance benefits area grocery stores, large and small, where the money is spent, and it is designed in hopes that it also boosts the agricultural industry, including small farmers and large businesses. Because the money is immediately spent upon disbursement, in a down economy, food assistance can be one of the most stimulative of government programs.
In short? It rocks. It should not be as controversial as other programs because it really benefits interests on all ends of the spectrum. The Feds have recognized that and incentivize states to actively promote food assistance, at one time financially rewarding states that sign up more eligible households (and perhaps today, I don't have current knowledge of this). But even this awesome, effective program is discouraged by the Mormon doctrine described because of what the article describes as a historical aversion to government assistance.
Viewing his "47%" comments in that context, it's easy to see how he could see any recipient of government benefits as engaging in morally questionable behavior - it appears that this community is one that believes in communities only aiding themselves, not the wider society, and even within the community shuns the undeserving, for want of a better word.
The communal spirit rests side by side with a strong belief in individual responsibility, and a suspicion of big government going back to U.S. persecution of Mormons over polygamy. It is a family-centered culture that believes strongly in private initiative; has a fierce work ethic; and believes the community — not the government — is best equipped to help the needy and, importantly, set them on the path to self-reliance.First, for the low-hanging fruit - although I certainly want to be careful about conflating equal marriage with polygamy, it's a little interesting to go from "persecution" of polygamy to carpetbagging their way into California with massive funding of Proposition 8. Do as they say, not as they do, eh? Again, it's a little dangerous to infer LDS Church positions to Gov. Romney when he has spoken so little about these sorts of things.
"We don't believe in the dole," said Joel Kasparian, who runs a Mormon employment center next to the Los Angeles food warehouse. "We have a scripture that says the idle 'shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.' So that's pretty strong."
But this position implies that anyone in need of help is "idle" and thus undeserving. First, many of those 47% paid into social security or unemployment benefits and are simply receiving what they paid into. But those in receipt of other benefits to the economically disadvantaged also pay into the system - they pay into the system in the times when they are able to work, particularly with their higher taxes due to the proportional disadvantages of the income tax versus the payroll tax. They are not "idle" either, often facing career, family and health problems when they hit bottom.
In the end, this sort of doctrine could explain Romney's view of the disadvantaged - he seems to say that they ought to be dealt with, for want of a better phrase, by their own community, be that community Mormons, Catholic, Armenians or yodelers. And it is yet to be seen if Romney would have all of those non-Mormon communities in the world apply the same sort of tough love that the LA Times article describes in the California Mormon community.
Interestingly, the Times also reports one instance where Gov. Romney is more conservative than the LDS Church.
Mormons tend to be less conservative on immigration than evangelicals, a position some attribute to the fact that so many of its young people serve abroad as missionaries. (On this, though, Romney tends to be more conservative than his co-religionists. During the Republican primaries, he took a hard line on immigration reform and said he believed in policies that would prompt illegal immigrants to "self-deport.")Self-deportation is a euphemism for making life so difficult for undocumented individuals that they choose to leave the US. Regardless of how one feels about immigration, it leads to the SB 1070s of the world - laws that sweep in any non-white person or any person for whom English is not their first language, resulting in frequent, frightening law enforcement contacts. It's the sort of program shunned by California cities because police departments such as the LAPD know that they cannot conduct even the most basic of community policing if any person of color is fearful of police contact because of the likelihood that will result in a potentially long and frightening immigration screening. It's telling that this issue is where Romney departs from Mormon doctrine.