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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 • Politics

soundoff (2,087 Responses)
  1. Sam Yaza

    yeah Romney needs to quite pandering we all know is secretly a progressive, don't we.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • BG

      He sure is. Know what else? I saw him in a gay rights parade last year wearing a diaper and leather jacket. At least I'm pretty sure that was him... Well, what the hell, "we all know," right?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      no but you should have heard his speech at a log cabin republican meting

      October 18, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  2. St Xavier

    The last thing any Rep running for any office is to make it sound like what there saying is true as gospel. Here is why because they know full well no matter what they say the voting public has short memory's on any issue once they stop thinking about it they fall into the same for get fullness like for getting what they had for breakfast an the public goes away believing they have been SAVED. PUBLIC YOU HAD BETTER WAKE UP.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  3. haaaa

    I think the Reddit troll and tom tom pizz off son are the same person!

    October 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  4. Shirley Robinson Sprinkles

    OR,
    Your comment was just plain, FUNNY! I'm neither a Mormon nor a liberal Jew, but I can appreciate the humor you brought to the discussion. We can all use a little levity right about now. Thanks! BTW, I'm voting for Obama.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  5. JM

    What's a "progressive Mormon"? Follow God's Prophet if...? (that's not what's important here but raised my curiosity). With all the media hype rather than wade through everything seems to me the difference between the two is Obama wants to give me a fish if I'm struggling while Romney wants to give me a fishing line? I resonate with the latter.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Kevin

      Speaking of fishing, it seems to me that your fishing boat was torpedoed by Bush and GOP and was sinking fast. Obama managed to plug the giant hole and keep it afloat while doing major restructuring of the hull. Now, you may have not caught as much fish as you were hoping while Obama was fixing your boat, but whose fault is that really?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  6. TMD

    This article is full of internal inconsistencies. Where is Obama's budget in the past four years? For two years the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Where was the budget then? The Mormon Church teaches people to avoid debt. Obama must have missed that Sunday School class. Do you run your household by living beyond your means the way Obama runs his administration? Doesn't the Mormon Church teach people to be self-reliant and accountable? Obama teaches dependency on the government and blames all his woes on someone else, whether it's George Bush, Congress, or just "hard times." He has had four years and his accomplishments are far outweighed by the damage that he has done. Obama was elected on "hope and change"-boy, there's a lot of specifics in that! I don't hear any specifics in his latest version either: "Forward." Forward to what? More trillion dollar deficits each year, I'm sure. $15 trillion and counting, Obama doubled the deficit even though he promised to cut it in half (do you hold him accountable for that?). If you are truly concerned about your children, you would not want Obama in office for another four years. Your children and their children will pay if Obama is reelected.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Joe

      Don't sell Obama short buddy, the debt is $16 Trillion.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Synthetically Thought...

      @TMD: Well, if you understood anything about legislative procedure you would know that 60 votes is required to pass legislation. The 60 votes were never (or rarely) obtained due to GOP filibusters. Are you familiar with that process at all? If so then you would certainly realize that over the past 4 years the GOP has filibustered more than the past 4 administrations combined. That...would kind of prevent progress (which includes presenting and passing a budget).

      Obama missed that Mormon Sunday School class because...he's not Mormon.

      Lastly, apparently you've not listened to anything Obama has been saying or reviewed any legislation he proposed over the past 4 years or what is on the table at the moment. He has a slew of detailed proposals (highly detailed) to improve the country's economic woes. All Romney is offering is a 5 Trillion dollar tax cut without offering any details. He has been asked over 100 times what loop holes he would eliminate that might possibly affect the middle class and that might possibly offset the 5 trillion dollar tax cut and...pay down our debt. He refuses to provide those details. As an American tax payer, doesn't that concern you in the least?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Joe

      Synthetic, clearly you understand how government works, so how can you decry Romney not stating exactly what he'd cut? He doesn't decide that, Congress does. If he says "I'd cut the Education funding", but can't because of it being considered third rail, wouldn't his opponents call him a liar? Fact is, whoever is president in the next term matters less than who is in Congress.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Synthetically Thought...

      Pretty well said.

      Peace...

      October 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • OneTruth

      Joe. What little Romney has said is lower tax rates and close loopholes which Ryan said was revenue neutral. Why reduce taxes in that case? How will that reduce the deficit which was mainly caused by the previous administration? Obama couldn't pull out of either war immediately; had to spend the stimulus; couldn't get rid of the unfunded tax cuts; couldn't get past the filibuster.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  7. db

    Finally, a sensible voice.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  8. Leantothe..

    "Progressive Mormon" = not a Mormon

    October 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • ;p;

      Says who?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Answer is somewhere else

      You are either not a Mormon yourself, or if you are, obviously sleep through our conferences. I am assuming you think you are a Mormon. So let me try to educate you (probably a useless endeavor). Mormons can be Republican or Democrat. But in all cases they should respect one another's efforts and beliefs. That is why we have a majority-rules system.

      Both the Republicans and Democrats are taking a different approach to solving the same problem. There is nothing wrong with that, except when one side deliberately tries to undermine the other, without even giving the other solution a chance. That is exactly what the Republicans have been deliberately trying to do for a number of years now. And that is why there is a growing number of Mormons who are Democrats or Democrat-leaning.

      I don't know if you noticed, but President Monson did not endorse either party, nor will he ever. I would say he has a lot more respect for people than you do. Obama voters among temple going Mormons are a minority, but they exist. And they are far more thoughtful about their choice than apparently you are. A little courtesy and respect is in order.

      A progressive Mormon is, by the way, not as you characterize. Progressive Mormons faithfully execute their duty, and look to a day when our sacrifices have been recognized and we are given the green light to move forward to the next level. I am betting that in 1978 you had misgivings about whether President Kimball was really receiving revelation, and you probably still do. A progressive Mormon has no such misgivings. They are always ready for the next level when it is ready for them. Grow up. Try reading your scriptures and understanding the articles of faith. And stop falling alseep in the conferences.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      nor a "true Scotsman" apparently.

      October 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  9. Maryq

    I was surprised by this article.. Though I know many mormons who say they are mormon.. But they say, the higher you go into the church hierarchy, the more privilege, money and power become a given, And the more they feel they are set above the rest,Chosen so to speak..
    And it then becomes quite a mixture of arrogance and a strong belief of "chosen" and special.
    With some mission to full fill whatever it is they beleieve they are there to fulfill.
    Which in turn brings that power and control , knowing best for all 'thing' into play..
    Scary.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Nate

      I have also heard Muslims state that the holocaust never happened. What's your point? You need to stop reading so many science fiction novels and maybe go to sleep instead of listening to George Noori at night. Nice conspiracy. What do you have to say about Vatican City? I can only imagine.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Joe

      For one, there's no paid clergy, or any paid hiarchy. That said, yes, generally the highest level people are often successful. I'd say it has less to do with belief in an "elect" as much as successful people are generally intelligent, hard working people. Also, as Mormon "wards" (like a Parish) are divided by geography, it's more likely wealthy Mormons will be in the same ward as wealthy Mormons. So, yeah, kinda misleading there.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Synthetically Thought...

      If you read the history of and practice of the Mormon faith you will also see that it has been predicted that there will come a day when the US has a Mormon president and...that that president answers first and always to the Mormon church. Now, that...is truly scary.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Joe

      Synthetic, I was raised in Utah as a goodly Mormon (and consider myself Agnostic now, so I'm far from an apologist). Quite frankly, I haven't EVER heard what you're talking about. Do you have any evidence? Didn't we already have this argument about Kennedy as a Catholic President "beholden to the Vatican"?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  10. James

    CNN is on overdrive today. I count 7 anti Romney articles on their cover page. And no mention of the Gallup poll showing Romney up by 7.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  11. Star Girl

    Beautiful! And thank you for your clear statement of the issues as well! Thank you for reaching out!

    October 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  12. Not voting for my fellow mormon

    Thanks, Joanna. As an LDS member living in AZ, I am proud to say I will be voting for President Obama. I refuse to let my faith determine who I trust more regarding the welfare of this country. There's separation of church and state for a reason. The president has worked very hard to get us back on track despite a republican party who would see us tank again just so they can say, "See. You need us again after all. We'll fix what we-I mean-the president broke. Trust us." Sorry. I do not trust anyone who wishes us to fail as a country for their own power surge, especially if they were the major factor in its destruction to begin with.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • ;p;

      Awesome.

      October 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • SMW

      This is an awesome post and so true about the republicans.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • BG

      propaganda, but awesome propaganda.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • nolastwords

      Amen! I was a lifetime Republican until I finally found out about the Bush debacle. Now I just don't trust Repubs, and never will again. Especially after watching them refuse, like petulant little boys, to help Obama us out of the mess that THEY created! NEVER AGAIN WILL I VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN blindly. Never, never, never! And Romney is just another run-of-the-mill...

      October 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  13. Walter

    When the last viewer finally turns off CNN, it will be cause for celebration.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • ;p;

      Yet here you are on their site posting...uh....

      October 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Or

      Yes, the ultra-rich shall enjoy their new empire and your naivety will be repaid with the 24/7 slave labor and bread crusts for meals you loyal peasants so crave.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • BG

      @ Or

      "...the ultra-rich shall enjoy their new empire and your naivety will be repaid with the 24/7 slave labor and bread crusts for meals you loyal peasants so crave."

      Thanks for describing Communist China. Hey, how many jumped off the FoxConn roof this week? How many rioted on the iPod assembly line? Does the food in the Commissar's Commissary still stink? What exactly is that mystery meat?

      @ Or – you're just another liberal throwing shít against the wall to see if some sticks.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  14. Paramad

    Thank you Joanna Brooks I am so impressed with how much courage and intelligence you have shown the world. Not just because you happen to agree with me but because you so eloquently stated the facts by using critical thinking. You are what is right with religion. Even though I am an atheist I believe that there are a great number of people that can still stand together for truth and put matters of faith in perspective. Thank you again!

    October 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  15. Or

    I'm not thrilled about either prospect, although living in Utah my vote doesn't matter because the population here wouldn't vote for the Democrat if the race was Jesus (D), Bin Laden (R).

    October 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  16. Larry

    Are there really that many people out there that have absolutely no understanding of how the fractional banking system combined with a rigged Fed and crooked bankers really works? Obama is just as big a pawn as the rest of us. I will vote for him mostly because he is not a Republican. There is something seriously wrong with those greedy SOB's. They would kill their own mothers if they could get a decent return on the insurance.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Becca

      Really there are none of us that can afford to vote republican. I just can not get it why all the republicans are saying Mr. Obama caused the war . He did not cause it at all and he is getting us out of there. Mr Obama has to clean out the mess that was left for him. Now the Mitten Kid said the can straighten up our country if he is elected. Then in another breath he can do it but he will need 2 terms. And he is saying Mr Obama had a term and it is not done yet. Oh What a real jerk the Mitten kid is. We all better hope Mr Obama is elected. BUt I guess the rich people will vote for the Millten kind. I can not pay any more taxes that we will be put on if the Mitten Kid wins. I do hope that people really will wake up and open their eyes and Vote for Mr Obama.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  17. jsmith

    muslim lovers united

    October 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • BT

      You're an idiot

      October 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • David Johnston

      Aren't christians suppose to love everyone? I guess not, more hate comes from the christian faith than anywhere else. Alot of christians must have missed the love day in Sunday school. I would prefer an agnostic or athiest in the White House then we wouldn't have to hear all this faith crap all the time and would make common sense decisions instead of bashing people for some reason, which is usually all the time.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • BG

      Hey, Dave! Long time ! Missed you lots.

      How about giving us an example of how "faith" affected a national common sense decision political issue.

      Oh, and you can stop with the "Christian Sunday School love" defense. You only get the love you deserve the other 6 days of the week. I know that's probably a disappointment for you, thinking that you deserve more.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @BG

      Hmm... I'm not so sure that is our friend, "David Johnson" ?? He's spelling his name with a "T" in it now... not that that particularly matters.

      I think the old David was much more witty. Could be wrong here ??

      David... is that you ?

      Peace...

      October 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • BG

      @ peace

      Hey. I believe you're correct about David Johnson. It's been that long? This David clearly lacks 'our' David's skills.

      I've got a question for you, Peace. I noticed a creation time-stamp on your blog indicating GMT which would put you somewhere in Great Britain. Am I wrong on that? I thought you were in LA.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  18. John Scheid

    http://www.chargerbulletin.com/2012/02/15/joanna-brooks-mormon-activist/

    Will the real Joanna please step forward but before you do please remove the sheeps clothing and show us the wolf you really are.

    I generally try to judge on the side of mercy but you don't mind trying to deceive me and all those who read your blog so I think it's only fair to call a spade a spade.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • mjbrin

      your comment doesn't make sense to me. the link you provided doesn't explain anything bad about her. very confused

      October 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • markdrury

      How does the content on the link you provided contradict or otherwise compromise the points made in this article by Ms. Brooks? What the hell is your point?

      Mark D.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  19. Joe

    Harry Ried's a Mormon, and he lied his butt off about Romney's taxes. Your religion is not the reason you vote for a candidate. If it is, you're an idiot.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  20. David

    Joanna is as bad as all the left-wing Jews (yes, I'm a Jew) who have shunned Judaism and worship Obama and all the other liberals. The liberal politicians have betrayed Israel and all the Jews who aren't "progressive" or "reconstructionist." I know quite a few Mormons and none of them support Obama.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • John Scheid

      David, she is really not who she said she is but then neither is Obama.

      http://www.chargerbulletin.com/2012/02/15/joanna-brooks-mormon-activist/

      October 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • John Scheid

      David, she is really not who she said she is but then neither is Obama.

      http://www.chargerbulletin.com/2012/02/15/joanna-brooks-mormon-activist/

      Just check out the url listed above to find out and then it will all begin to make sense...

      October 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • BG

      @ David

      I have a serious question for you. I've asked this question of the local rabbi and I received a strangely guarded answer which I'll share with you later should you desire – but for now, I'd be interested in your perspective.

      Considering the incredible absence of success "progressive" Jews have experienced with their efforts in multiculturalism, why do they continue supporting a liberal ideology?

      Serious inquiry, thx. (Good grief, I haven't used that phrase since I first started talking with Muneef...)

      October 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • mjbrin

      I have not met one person who worships our president. still can't figure out where that lie began.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • David Johnston

      See there's that religious crap again.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.