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My Take: Hard truths matter; I’m Mormon, and I’m voting for Obama
October 18th, 2012
07:37 AM ET

My Take: Hard truths matter; I’m Mormon, and I’m voting for Obama

Editor's Note: Joanna Brooks is a senior correspondent for ReligionDispatches.org and author of "The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith."

By Joanna Brooks, Special to CNN

(CNN)–There are two moments and two moments only that made my soul sit upright during Tuesday night’s presidential debate:

President Obama, speaking about the loss of manufacturing jobs to low-wage economies like China: “There are some jobs that are not coming back.”

Obama, speaking about four lives lost in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya: “I am the one who has to meet those coffins when they come home.”

Morbid? Not at all. I’m just a believer in the gospel of hard truths.

And as I am the mother of two school-age children, a teacher at an underfunded public university and a progressive Mormon, hard truths about the challenges our nation faces are all that makes sense to me.

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As a mother, I am acutely aware that right now, our nation invests a smaller and smaller share of its resources in our children, the generation that will assume the debts my generation and our parents’ generation have incurred.

As an educator, I have witnessed firsthand how failure to generate responsible levels of public revenue has significantly compromised generations’ worth of investment in our public schools and universities.

And as a Mormon, I grew up with a healthy sense of respect for worst-case scenarios. I was raised, after all, with a religious aversion to debt and a year’s supply of canned wheat, beans and powdered milk in the garage, as instructed by LDS Church leaders. The Mormon food storage tradition isn’t about end-times-paranoia: It’s a lesson passed down from our pioneer ancestors, who knew the importance of being prepared for difficult seasons so you can do right by your family and community.

Profile of Brooks: Crossing the plains and kicking up dirt, a new Mormon pioneer

This nation is in a difficult season, and I listened carefully Tuesday night for a proper sense of respect for worst-case scenarios. What I heard instead were the usual rhetorical swerves.

Mitt Romney offered personal anecdotes about “binders full of women” that have nothing to do with economic security for American families. He promised allegedly revenue-neutral $5 trillion tax cuts but refused to provide solid details on how he’d balance the books. And he made throwaway references to all people being the “children of the same God” without substantial reflection on how that should translate in terms of budget and policy.

What I really wanted from the debate was more of the hard truths that Obama seemed to be on the verge of saying:

“This recession is fundamentally different than other recessions, and there are no short-term fixes.”

“Our old strategies for managing Middle Eastern conflict through military intervention or propped-up dictators don’t work. And there is no easy way forward.”

“The only thing the $3 trillion Iraq war produced for the United States was a mountain of debt and a legion of disabled Americans.”

“We need to have a serious discussion about Social Security.”

“Debts don’t get paid down without adjustments in revenues.”

These are the kind of hard truths that speak to the same part of me that took notice when Obama at his inauguration quoted the Scripture: “It is time to put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13: 11).

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And given the challenges we face in bringing down deficits while investing sensibly in the nation’s future, here are some other Scriptures I’d like to hear:

“Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come to smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4: 6).

“Set your house in order, for you shall die” (2 Kings 20: 1)

Morbid? Not at all. But I do feel a sense of responsibility for keeping an eye on the worst-case scenarios. And a few months’ worth of rice and beans in the garage, like Mormon leaders teach me. And an ear out for the gospel of hard truths.

I have seen Obama work steadily, patiently through a difficult season. I have seen him face some hard truths and accept that there are no easy fixes. And I will vote to give him a second term.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joanna Brooks.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Mitt Romney • My Take • Politics

soundoff (2,087 Responses)
  1. Tyron Linkowski

    Manufacturing takes turns under all types of economic systems. In a free market economy, manufacturing is usually directed toward the mass production of products for sale to consumers at a profit. In a collectivist economy, manufacturing is more frequently directed by the state to supply a centrally planned economy. In mixed market economies, manufacturing occurs under some degree of government regulation."^""

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    January 31, 2013 at 5:14 am |
  5. LeeLee

    OK, just let's just say it already. I am so sick of reading about these republicans with illusions that somehow Mitt Romney was going to magically put 12 million jobs in play on his inauguration day. The fact is that most of you who claim he is the better candidate can't offer a basic synopsis of his plans for you individually or America has a collective. Where is the math in all this? It was okay for you same Republicans to give G.W. Bush 8 years to drive the economy into the ground but you expect change from President Obama in less than 4 years. It's exhausting to listen to the whining and truth be told most of you who think Magic Mitt was going to help you would've been the first pawns and would probably end up in worse shape than ever. If you are not rich, why choose Mitt? Is it because he's lighter? Is it because you think running a business makes you smarter? In fact it's mostly the opposite. Most people who sit in the corporate offices are there because of who they know and not what they have achieved. Has Mitt earned a penny from hard work this year??...Has he climbed a ladder to repair a home? Has he taught a class? Mitt is lazy candidate because he didn't even think enough of you to even give an explanation of how or when his plan would benefit you. Blame Obama for you not having a job or your family struggling? I think you need to reach back a little further and actually blame your beloved G.W. Bush and his buddy Dick.

    November 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  6. Disagree

    It is unfortunate that you were fooled yet again. Mr O's rhetoric sounds great, but his actions do not reflect it. "This time, he means it," or This time will be different." are fallacious dreams that will come crashing down around our ears as the liberal agenda takes more resources from underfunded schools and gives them to undeserving masses with their hands out. I won't say, "I told you so," but it is too bad that so many people ignored the truth and drank the poison, yet again, for the entire nation. The next four years will be very hard to recover from.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Bobby Kearan

      Right, like "This time tax cuts will work" and "So, giving more money to the already wealthy hasn't worked. We just need to give them even more this time."

      November 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • mike switzer

      It's amazing how some people have selective memory ! If anyone believes that one man, in four years, has turned America into a Socialist State, they would be truly and permanently delusional. Nothing happens in a vacuum, What happened under Bush/Cheney had an impact on the decisions Obama made. This nation was on a verge of a Depression, all economic indicators were pointed south. Republicans like to conveniently gloss over those eight years because there are some hard truths to be found there. Once the GOP realizes it's in it's own best interest to stop this policy of obstructionism the country will be able to move forward with positive results.

      November 11, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  7. RDT

    Interesting piece....but religion is still the single greatest threat to this nation. More and more religious groups are funding their own candidates to be certain their will is established. Religion has absolutely no place in US politics.

    November 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • GATORpride

      Religion will always have a place in America. This country was established on the grounds of freedom from religious prosecution and should always be protected however i do agree that people need to enforce separation of state from church better.

      November 7, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • kjfuller7

      Religion (the concept) worldwide is dying a slow, bitter death. Every Catholic and Protestant church in America is struggling and closing or consolidating as their elderly congregations are dying. People are moving to a more "spiritual" ideal and away from "organized religion". The only prosperous churches are nondenominational mega churches because their people have left the protestant churches for "something better". They reject dogma. Unfortunately, I think it all has more to do with social polarization than "faith". Most simply choose to opt-out or disconnect when confronted with people that don't share their exact personal philosophy. It's why our neighbors are total strangers to most of us. Most people don't even bother to welcome new neighbors because we've become so transient it's not worth the investment for someone that will be moving on in a couple years anyway. Churches used to be community centers for neighborhoods, but now people are afraid they'll be recruited by fanatics that don't think like they do. But... in most cases... they don't. Like most obsolete businesses, churches will fight like hell to remain relevant until they run out of money. Kodak and the Post Office just popped into my mind... K!

      November 8, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • WOW

      Why stop there? Religion has no place in politics... Follow Barry.. Religion has no place.
      Replace God with the EPA..
      Remove God from your parties platform.. replace it with immoratlity and arrogance.

      Denying truths don't make them false and ignoring consequence doesn't make them dissapear.

      Stupidity should have not place in politics.. yet it has become the ruler of the day.

      November 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • jerry floyd

      Absolutely correct. Great job.

      November 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  8. Helen

    Nice article. Headline though makes it sound like she is a rebel not voting for her religion mate. Funny, there are Mormons on both side of the political debate. Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority leader is also a Mormon. So trying to headline this into something it is not is pretty lame.

    November 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  9. Fantassmic

    While I voted for Obama 4 years ago, and yes I am Mormon, I hoped he would make a difference, he has but in the wrong direction. I have been out of work over the last four years more than I have worked. I finally found a job, through a friend. In the time I was looking for a job, I applied for over 350 jobs, which I was more than qualified, but so were thousands of others. That is my truth. So I am voting for Romney this time. Obama promised the American people he would make things better, or he would not seek a second term. He lied and he failed. Enough said.

    November 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bobby Kearan

      What you failed to realize is that it was the 8 years of the policies that Romney wanted to double down on that put the country in this mess. So, Obama didn't fix it all in 4 years, with an obstructionist congress dragging their heels – you want to put the people who got us here back in control?

      November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  10. Nate

    All the liberals think the election is over and BO is going to win. Guess what? You're all wrong. Romney will win with a landslide victory this Tuesday. Why? Because he has a plan. Independent voters and Republican voters are backing him up. He is a true leader. He doesn't cover up his foreign policies. You all think this Benghazi attack is still based on a stupid video? Wake up America! Read the facts. This is a huge cover up by the WH! The WH new of the attack as it was happening. They new it was going to happen. They new they could have done something about it, but chose not to. This is far worse than Watergate which led to Nixon's resignation. Why doesn't this cover up deserve the same course of action from BO. I can't even write his name on my comment for the crap he has done to make America weak. He's got to go. Hang up your liberal views and vote for ROMNEY. He is our only hope here!

    November 4, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Waldo

      Romney has no plan. It is all hot air. I do not believe him. I do not trust him. I do not respect him.

      November 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Helen

      Romney has no plan. It is all hot air. I do not believe him. I do not trust him. I do not respect him. And the same is true about Obama. Politicians all come from the same mold.

      November 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Nora

      AND how do you know all these facts, Nate? Were you there?

      November 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Annie

      It's knew, not new.

      November 11, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  11. Mickey

    Or, I a left leaning communist and I'm voting Romney....

    November 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  12. credit card bad credit instant approval

    Some truly good information, Gladiolus I noticed this. "The historian must have some conceptions of how men who are not historians behave." by Edward Morgan Forster.

    November 2, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

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      November 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  13. Mitt Romney

    I was born to murder the world!

    November 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  14. Emma

    The election is already over. The American people will never accept Romney.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Helen

      Many have never accepted Omama, but that does not change the fact that he was elected.

      November 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  15. Reasonable Man

    Hard truths apparently don't matter to Ms. Brooks, because the hardest truth of them all is that President Obama has lied to the American public about Benghazi. She may not think Mitt Romney could have done any better, but I'm willing to bet he would not have lied about it.

    November 1, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Lynsey Pug

      Maybe Obama lied about Benghazi, it seems that the investigation into what happened is ongoing.

      Romney lied about EVERYTHING else.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • spike

      Obama didn't lie about Benghazi, there is an investigaion still going on isn't it?! Obama hasn't changed his mind or opinions on running the country, has Romney? Yes, so many times we don't really know where he's at. Do you really know where you are with what he says anymore? Simple, if you don't know, but at least we know where Obama always is! Coming out of the GFC Obama will thrive on the strength growing throughout the county in the next 4 years, and pride of completing his goal from the start.

      November 3, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Drake

      I'm still failing to see how saying the attack on the consulate was the result of a video protest that would make the President look better or the what if any security/response failures there were more palatable. In short there seems to be no advantage in lying there in fact to the contrary doing so would appear to be only a liability.

      November 3, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Blue Templar

      Obama lied about the video protest non-stop. What benefit? If he acknowledge this was a terrorist attack he cant go around claiming how he was ending terrorism now could he. Thanks to him Fort Hood Victims are denied proper VA care because he refused to allow it be known as a terrorist attack, but rather "workplace violence" instead. The man lied, and our diplomat died. He claims he had to sleep on information. It started at 4PM and was over by 11PM DC time, bull. He just tried to put his head in the sand and hoped it'd all go away. It didn't. His white house denied more resources to the area after knowing ahead of time an attack was coming. then continued to deny assistance after the attack, claiming a protest that everyone else in the world said "uh there isn't a protest, thats mortar fire".

      November 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • NYbywayofTexas

      Really? Romney the flip-flopper would not have lied about Benghazi? You must be from Colorado where they legalized marijuna... "Medical Marijuna" and are smoking tons of it. What gets me about some of the Romney voters is their particularly form of denial. Case and point: Karl Rove. Need I say more? Whether you like it or not, OBAMA is president. If you don't like it move to Canada! Oh, and by the way, Canada has Universal Healthcare. Think you can make it?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  16. John smith

    I'm a man working to support my family. I pay more than 30 percent in taxes. I am the sole provider. And I refuse to vote for someone who thinks he should pay less as a percentage then I do. Especially when he is rich. Pay up Romney and join the club of hard working people paying their share.

    November 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Blue Templar

      Newsflash, the Rich already pay 55% of the taxes to the country. Now what? Do you know why investors get tax breaks? Its because when they put their money into something, they could lose it. We WANT people to invest, so giving them incentive against their potential losses is smart.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Bobby Kearan

      News Flash, Blue Templar – the Rich take home 80% of all income – they should be paying 80% of all taxes, not just 60%.

      November 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  17. bill constantine

    Were are the rocks so that I may read them? .Who started this religion crap and why??....Think aout it..All of us are inslaved by our religiion because it was passed on to us..Think as a human being..I am a scientist and an astronomer., small our world is..Jus a speck..

    November 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  18. Bored

    The comment from the article about "responsible levels of public revenue" disturbs me a bit. An educated educator should know very well that you don't need federal money for schools if your states are doing enough. But the states have little control when the fed gov takes full control of your schools. You should know better.

    And regarding Obama meeting those coffins as they arrive...Really? You pick one line that is clearly manipulative, and that is where you develop your impression of Obama. Consider this: had he and his administration actually done something about this attack, there may have been no coffins to meet. Quite a contrast if you open your eyes and ears, and face the real truth that is swirling around daily, far from the safe discussion of the debate.

    November 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • The Mighty Paw of Dog

      Easy to say from behind a keyboard.

      November 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Ixion

      How do you stop something that has not happened yet? If your suggesting that they should have seen the attack coming, or that more security would definitely have made a difference, well, then, I need to know how you see into the future. I think it is really easy to sit here, months later and say " Obama should have done more ", problem is he can not be fully ready for things that he dose not know will happen.

      If Romney happens to get elected, you will see many such instances where, he to can be blamed for something he "should have seen coming".

      November 2, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Educated

      in total agreement with Bored I might add you should never try to educate a pig you waste your time and you irritate the pig

      November 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.