Sunday, March 20, 2016

When the wicked rule the people mourn

I've spent more time pondering the current Presidential elections than is probably healthy, reading most anything about the candidates that comes my way. I was disturbed a few weeks ago, that when my son asked me for positive reasons why I had voted in Texas' primary for Rubio, I had far less to say in his favor than I had to say about two candidates in particular who would never under any circumstances receive my vote. Shortly thereafter at Institute, a student reminded us that it is not enough to point out error, but to point towards light and truth. In recognition that my Facebook feed and thoughts dwelt far too much on the negative, I decided to back off on political posts for a while to try to recenter my thoughts.

Last week I found the answer I was looking for. It might not be everyone's answer, but it is mine: IT'S TIME FOR A SPREADSHEET! The methodology is simple: Who are the candidates and what does each stand for? Score them 0-10 (or higher or lower depending on the weight you want to put on one issue or another) and add up your totals. The highest number is the candidate you should support.

For my spreadsheet, I turn to Doctrine and Covenants 98:9-10: "When the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men [and women] and wise men [and women] should be sought for diligently, and good men [and women] and wise men [and women] ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil."

For my primary vote, I focused less on the wise part - did they agree with my stances on particular issues, or at the least could I see wisdom in their choices and arguments even if they come to different conclusions - and mostly on whether I thought this was a good human being. If they aren't, I don't care how much they agree with me on everything else, I won't support them. This is why I voted for Rubio in my primary election and why at this stage I will find anything nice to say about Sanders that I can even knowing on economic and foreign policies I'm likely to agree with his opponent more than him.

    This post includes only my rankings on the honest and good parts. I measured it on nine dimensions:

    1. How often do they say things that are factually untrue?  (Heavily influenced by Politifact, who indicates that none of these people tell the truth even half the time, so there's some rebalancing going on.)
    2. Do they follow up on what they say the think is right?
    3. Do I trust them to try to do the right thing as I see it? (Notice those last two are different: the first gives them credit if they do what they think is right whether or not I agree with them; the second is for if they do what I think is right. That's my way of recognizing I'm not perfect and don't have all truth.) 
    4. How is their relationship with their family? 
    5. Do they serve others and support humanitarian causes? 
    6. Are they a person of faith? And just to be clear, Sanders did not get dinged for being Jewish but for not practicing it.
    7. What is their stance on religion liberty (including the rights of non-Christians)?
    8. Humility. Very few people actively seeking the presidency are going to show humility, but there is still a large gap between the kind of megalomania some of our candidates show and the more soft-spoken, respectful tone that others set. 
    9. The last row really is just a place for me to add a few more points that don't fit into any category. For instance, if none of your colleagues think you are a good person, there might be some reason to be worried about whether you are a nice person or not. 
    In short, is this a person who is trying to follow the Light of Christ that is in them? If so, I trust the Holy Spirit can inspire them to make better choices than someone who is not, whatever other disagreements we may have about economics. The top line is the sum of the others and gives my final answer for a score out of 90 points. 54 is a passing score. For chuckles & giggles I include the two main candidates from the last election: Romney and Obama.

    Clinton Cruz Kasich Rubio Sanders Trump Romney Obama
    Honest, Good 32 61 58 72 57 2 83 63
    Honest  5 6 10 8 10 2 6 10
    Integrity 0 8 8 5 10 0 7 7
    Trust 0 6 8 8 4 0 10 4
    Marriage 5 10 7 10 10 0 10 10
    Humanitarian 10 0 0 5 0 0 10 8
    Rel. Freedom 5 8 5 8 5 0 10 2
    Religious 7 10 2 10 0 0 10 2
    Humble 0 6 10 8 8 0 10 10
    Morality 0 7 8 10 10 0 10 10

    One of the things that surprised me was how little Google could find about the service and humanitarian work of most of the candidates. Say what you will about the Clinton Foundation really being another way to buy influence with a corrupt family (and I'll likely agree with you), but the Foundation itself does some real good in the world, and really, asking people to send their donations to help others instead of to my campaign or a PAC is a good thing.

    There are obviously many other things that could be put here and  the numbers are highly subjective. It would be very easy to take the social policy things I think are very important and add them in here, or to add patriotism or something else. Please have fun doing that on your spreadsheet. I wanted to focus just on the person, whether I agree with them or not. One important caveat along those lines is that I should admit that in the 1990s I was a rabid Dittohead, drank the Limbaugh koolaid by the gallon, and still have a very hard time finding anything positive to say about the Clintons as a natural result. I have moderated a little - her tenure as Secretary of State was not the unmitigated disaster I thought it would be, and for all the three dozen scandals we've tried to prosecute her on we haven't managed to make one stick - but that may help explain a thing or two to those of my friends on the other side of the aisle. I know I'm not objective here. All said, I'm glad I can find some nice things to say about her.

    From what I could tell and judge, Rubio was the most moral of the candidates who were running. I was sorry he didn't go further. I can support Cruz without holding my nose.

    I'll make the Dems the same deal I offered in 2008: Put up anyone other than Clinton, and I'll play nice, give them the benefit of the doubt, and keep my mouth shut about a lot of smaller annoyances, just as I have with our current President. Sanders is a nice guy who will do what he thinks is right. That is commendable and deserving of respect.

    Meanwhile, those of you on my team, can we please, please put in anyone but Trump? Over and over again in the Bible, the prophets explained why God had allowed His children to be led into captivity. The top three reasons they gave were adultery, idolatry, and grinding on the faces of the poor. Trump does all three, unabashedly, with no shame. No other major US politician in my lifetime has done more to raise the spirit of contention as Trump. My Church maintains strict political neutrality, and because of that I have never heard them make a statement about a particular candidate, until they came out with a statement contradicting something Trump had said the day before.

    Once we get closer to the general election, I will work on a Wise table as well, among those candidates I feel I could vote for in good conscience who are still running by then. Until then, let us listen to Washington: "If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the event is in the hand of God."