August 15, 2012
Romney, Rand, Ryan and Me
or, What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been
And so, a few insider insights in to the Three Rs:
Mormonism: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints really tried to get people to drop the "Mormon" word but it's embedded in the cuture and we use it here. I grew up in a big Mormon family and thoroughly understand the doctines and beliefs in the church, and they believe they're Christians, despite the naysaying of various other Christian sects.
The most important thing to know about Mormons in the context of this election year is just how All-American they are; they believe that America is uniquely blessed and chosen to lead and save the world, they believe in hard work and prosperity, and they believe in Boy Scouts, apple pie and patriotism. During their early days they were set apart by Joseph Smith as a "peculiar people" but when they did the deal in 1890 to end polygamy and gain statehood for Utah, they quickly became more American than the Americans. Currently the church is experiencing some of the same fallout from liberalism and feminism as the Catholic Church (and the rest of the culture): more people using (theoretically not allowed) birth control, rapidly increasing rates of divorce, demands for women in the leadership, etc. But Mitt Romney grew up steeped in an atmosphere of American exceptionalism. It's ingrained as thoroughly as his religion.
I really began a mature questioning of the Mormon story at age 11 when I began to read Heinlein. This was another, bigger world, a whole universe, in fact. At 15 I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time and suppose that in some respects it replaced religion for me; it made sense, it was a worked-out Weltanschauung that relied on reason, rather than faith. You didn't have to buy it from somebody else; Rand told you to think for yourself.
This brings up something interesting that relates to Paul Ryan and his admiration for Rand, even as he clearly states he's no Objectivist. I have met quite a few Christians over the years who had read Rand and admired her work, her individualism and support for capitalism. Without exception they were high-IQ types, professionally successful--in other words something like Paul Ryan. But of course Rand or any person who calls himself "Objectivist" would conclude that despite some admirable applied rationality in business or other profession these people are hopeless mystics and second-handers, only marginally above Wesley Mouch and Ellsworth Toohey.
I won't go into a dissertation here on how and why I became a Catholic, but offer the insight that the Catholic critics of Ryan and his budget, those who claim that "Catholic Social Teaching" and Jesus Christ himself would condemn Ryan as a heartless selfish bastard balancing the budget on the backs of the poor...don't know the teachings of their own Church very well. There are certain unalterable truths taught by the Church, and then there are many desirable goals like peace between men and nations, food for the hungry and clothes for the naked, the reform of criminals and the treatment of disease, etc. These ends are not in question, but the means to achieve them is not a teaching of the Church.
People are free to disagree with theologians, bishops and the Pope on the proper tax rates, budgets, economic incentives, immigration laws, gun laws and many other political questions. Some Catholics on the left attempt to shame conservatives with charges that "Jesus would favor an increase in the Medicaid budget" but this is nonsense.
The common denominators between the Mormons and Catholics that really drive the socially-left libertarians crazy are the male preisthood and the refusal to "celebrate" homosexuality and sanctify "gay marriage." For some, even an Objectivist like Diana Hsieh, this negative more than outweighs all the happytalk about free markets, less regulation and getting bureaucrats off of our backs.
Having run the entire gamut from Mormon to Objectivist to Catholic gives me the perspective to state that in this imperfect and fallen world, Romney-Ryan is in some strange way my Dream Ticket!2012 Election Posted by Ellis Wyatt at August 15, 2012 7:00 PM