This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In a recent 24-hour period, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson praised the church's welfare program and urged members to help others, while Rep. Carl Wimmer, quoting someone else, tweeted the following: "It's wrong for someone to confiscate your money, give it to someone else, and call that 'compassion'."
We truly live in interesting times.
The Alliance for a Better UTAH stands with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in praising the church's welfare program and President Monson's call to help others.
Wimmer's tweet makes a nice sound bite and may well be a truism of the libertarian view of government and personal responsibility. However, the statement is difficult to reconcile with the church's program and various governmental "discretionary" programs providing aid to those among us in their time of need.
Both are necessarily funded by either tithing or taxes both seemingly a "confiscation" as defined by Wimmer.
While self-reliance, personal responsibility, personal liberty and certain inalienable rights may be hallmarks of American history, we have always been a compassionate and caring people around the world and within our own borders.
Lately, it has become chic to lecture from the political bully pulpit, applying anti-government rhetoric to these topics. However, turning our backs on people in need is more difficult and requires nuance.
Sadly, the belief in helping our neighbors and strangers alike in need has become associated with liberal, left-leaning "Democratic" values (read that as a bad thing), rather than long-standing "American" values (read that as a good thing).
The question, it seems, should start at the beginning: What do we, as a people, as a nation, believe in? Once we answer that question, we need to develop and apply our policies with consistency and intellectual honesty.
Do we really believe only in the free market and personal responsibility, regardless of circumstances? If so, then we must carry those policies to their logical conclusions. Yes, do away with entitlement programs, but also abolish tax incentives for the richest among us and subsidies for our biggest corporations.
Or is the argument really that social assistance programs are solely the purview of religious organizations and private charities? That view is significantly complicated by the fact that all such organizations receive donations supported by their tax-exempt status, provided by none other than the federal government.
The Deseret News recently noted consistent polling showing that more than 60 percent of Utahns consider themselves Republican. Yet it is curious that President Monson and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are talking about ideals that many would claim form the very basis of the Democratic Party. Utah Common Values works to demonstrate to LDS voters that their ideals, like President Monson's comments, are well aligned with those of the Democratic Party.
Last year, Brigham Young University professor Adam Brown, writing for utahdatapoints.com, examined whether a good Mormon could be a good Democrat. It is a fascinating analysis.
Given President Monson's remarks and Rep. Wimmer's tweet last weekend during the LDS semiannual General Conference, perhaps the question should be, absent party labels, what do we want to see when we look at ourselves in the mirror, face our neighbors or think of what will be said about us after we are gone?
Figure that out and remember it each time you enter a voting booth to exercise your democratic right to vote.
Josh Kanter is founder of the Alliance for a Better UTAH. An attorney, he lives in Sandy with his wife and two children.