home
RSS
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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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).

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. benji

    I wonder if she thinks Obama is one of the "cursed by God" that the Book of Mormon says about black people.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • No truth left in America

      That is a belief no longer taught in the mainstream Mormon church, yet look around the world and nations controlled and lead by black leadership...All are failed nations.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  2. Anthony Elmer

    Problem is you have took the liberal agenda hook line and sinker. You have done no to very little reporting other than believing everything the obama compaign has sad. For being an educator you scare me for how little you have investigated both sides. You are a hack

    October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • James PDX

      It's heartwarming to see Anthony's response to someone's opinion is rudeness and insults. How could I possibly not agree with the opinions of someone like him?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • WeR4Freedom

      All of her comments are left wing rhetoric. She is not an educator, merely coping everything on MSNBC. Good luck with that on November 8th.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • TruthWaivers

      Romney has flip-flopped so much it is hard to know what he's for today. But if he's still for tax cuts – we won't be paying down the deficit for decades. And if he's still "tough on China" does he know who funds the deficit?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Anthony Elmer

      Well when you make an article stating your in the middle yet its full of Obama talking points its annoying. Kind of like if she spouted nothing but breitbart and foxnews. It gets old just hearing from left and right and not from REAL independants and middle of the road people. Tired of the lying and talking points its old.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Anthony Elmer

      We have the highest national debt in our history! So how is the administration that has caused 6 T in debt going to all of a suden turn 180 and pay it down? Its impossible Obama has yet to tell us how he will do it I can bet our debt will be 25T if he is reelected in November. We will see 40 percent paying taxes and the 1 percent will pay 80 percent of the tax load. We will become greese and france it will happen if he is still in office.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  3. Mike

    What the hell is a progressive Mormon? Sounds like she isn't a true believer in the gospel principles.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Anthony Elmer

      She is a liberal, advious since she is strickly talking on Obamas talking points. For being an educator she hasnt investigated both sides just romneys. She should be smarter but nope can tell she gets her news from huffington post and only reads barackobama.com.
      Hack

      October 18, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  4. Knucklehead

    Bernie Sanders for President!!

    October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  5. rick h

    What Joanna Brooks article told me was that some people, like Joanna will vote for Obama, come h<ll or high water! No matter what is said, people like Joanna will not look past their nose and in Joanna's case, that's quite a stretch! And ignore any meaningful reason to vote for the other, like Joanna! Case in point: First, she uses a quote from Romney, "Mitt Romney offered personal anecdotes about “binders full of women” that have nothing to do with economic security for American families."
    Perhaps the binders quote doesn't offer her the prescribed anecdote. Romney wasn't attempting an anedcote for "...economic security for the Americn families"! Romney described his process in hiring women! Romney was demonstrating his ability to recognize the 'equality of women' and the work place by following his own example.
    It would be like me saying that when Obama promised Russion Meddev that he would, "...have more flexibility" after his second term in selling America short that he didn't provide any ancedotes on ensuring foreign students maintain transparent records while they are in this country!

    October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • James PDX

      Did you just start off your rant by insulting the author's nose? Maybe you'll understand why I, and most people, didn't bother to read any farther into your post.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • WeR4Freedom

      @James PDX...but I bet you did read the entire post... LOL

      October 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • James PDX

      Actually, I didn't. You can usually tell within the first few sentences if you are dealing with a rational individual with intelligent ideas or a partisan fool who is going to spout nothing but party rhetoric. I won't waste my time reading the longer posts when it's clear they were posted by the fool variety.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  6. Willis Nahleh

    Joanna Brooks Thank you for speaking from your heart.we do follow our instinct and value.
    It didn't matter if Romney was mormon or not I will still not vote for him.His pride & ego is killing him.
    after all religion have no place in politics
    I am a republic and I am voting for president Obama

    October 18, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Anthony Elmer

      Your either a lier or really not paying attention. What is a republic anyway? Too many people not reading enough. I am not saying mitt is perfect but at least question Obamas record, it isnt that great.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • WeR4Freedom

      Sooooo Liberal (wearing sheeps clothing) 🙂

      October 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  7. TRUTHMATTERS

    I hope the author of this article and the editors at CNN read this.
    Please stop quoting scriptures out of context for political statements of opinion, 1 Corinthians 13: 11 is speaking of the greater truth of LOVE, not politics. Malachi 4: 6 is speaking of the coming of a messenger of God. 2 Kings 20: 1 is speaking of God's judgement and the need for Hezekiah to repent of his sins. None of these scriptures relate to this election of the opinions of this author. Regardless of someones political views it is a more serious crime to take holy scriptures and use them for opinions out of context. Any true Mormon would realize this. It is also a shame that a news media like CNN would publish scriptures used as political division but would not publish them when a truly Christian message is presented, such as this
    John 14: 5-6, "5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
    6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would knowb my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

    October 18, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • James PDX

      I don't know why anybody would quote the bible(s) at all, except to show how silly and contradictory they are.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Johnny K

      Joanna Brooks' quotes are right on target. She is referring to fundamental principles that apply in ALL contexts. Yet you suggest that they do not apply to politics?? Apparently, for you, politics should be divorced from principles of love? Love is applicable in ALL CONTEXTS, including politics.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • TruthWaivers

      Please stop quoting scriptures for political statements of opinion,

      October 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • No truth left in America

      Amen, your words could not ring any more true. The bible is manipulated by everyone in our times, from religious leaders and false churches to our political leaders and special interest groups. This woman spoke as a CNN contributer and disgraced her religion and herself in this article.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  8. halfbakedlunatic

    Ya gotta admire any religion whose motto is "I don't care how many you bring, just Bring 'em Young!"

    October 18, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  9. TrickleDownIsDead

    This stuff about Romney being a "perfectly lubricated weathervane", "black box", a "a man without a core, a man without substance, a man who will say anything to become president of the United States" is such BS. Republicans were wrong to say all that about him.

    His words tell you exactly where he stands on the issues. Take these Romney statements, for example:

    "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country."
    "I am firmly pro-life."
    "I think there is need for economic stimulus."
    "I have never supported the president's Recovery Act, alright - the stimulus. No time, nowhere, nohow."
    "We're going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20%, including the top 1%."
    "I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans."
    "I'm a moderate with progressive views."
    "I'm severely conservative."

    Clear as a bell, right?

    October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • realitybites

      Yeah. Not swayed. Thanks for trying anyway. I have a feeling you would have voted for him even if you hadn't had a handful of anecdotes to quote.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  10. wyominguy

    I respect your opinions...I truly do....
    I feel you have defined many important things we should have heard from these candidates
    However
    I cannot vote for a President that shows such poor moral character, it translates into moral leadership intended or not. The President does need to set examples and our current one uses the wrong ones in my view. Additionally he has shown little grasp of LEADERSHIP in Congress, something we need in a desperate way.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • James PDX

      So instead of voting for the devil you know, you'll vote for the devil you don't? Why do people insist on electing devils? It makes no sense to me.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Jeff

      "I cannot vote for a President that shows such poor moral character"

      You're new to the American political system, aren't you?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Johnny K

      Poor moral character? To what are you referring? President Obama's concern for the least among us? The belief that there is a fundamental, minimal level of human decency at which all should be treated (including access to health care)? The belief that the richest of the rich who have acquired so much from the blessings of this country have a moral imperative to return such blessing in the form of taxes (the rich in the US for the most part pay the lowest tax rate in the developed world).

      October 18, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • realitybites

      Leadership in Congress? You do realized he doesn't work in Congress don't you? When Republican leaders in congress stand up and publically announce that they will bend their every fiber and effort to make sure the president is a 1 term president, I don't see a whole lot of effort on CONGRESS's part to actually try to work with the Comander in Chief to work for OUR betterment. All I see is a president who has been hamstrung by an idealogically powerhungry political party who believes we should let Rome burn while they fight for control of the government. They don't give a crap about you. You pay for them to take long vacations, their lifelong pensions, healthcare for life, etc. even it they only serve 4 yrs in office.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  11. davids

    r

    October 18, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • realitybites

      ?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  12. waterman

    Romney has proven that he will say anything to anyone depending on the situation. He has no beliefs. On every single controversial issue, he has held every possible position at one time or another. He looks at everything as a business deal and willing to say anything to close the deal, i.e., get the vote. Someone with no principles and completely out of touch with what normal people face.

    Obama has been far from perfect. But he has done reasonable job domestically in the face of worst recession in 80 years and a congress who only goal was to make him fail at the expense of the country. On foreign policy, he has done an excellent job.

    Obama is the winner on this one, despite his flaws.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Bill C

      Today's poll shows Romney with a six point lead. This race is over, despite CNN's best efforts to the contrary.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • waterman

      @Bill – which poll would that be?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • James PDX

      Funny, when Obama had a 6 point lead, I didn't hear your ilk declaring the race over.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Dr Jeff Hope

      No matter who is leading and by what points will not alter the truth. Waterman is absolutely right.
      I dont want to vote for Obama but I do not have a choice.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • OneTruth

      Bill. Funny how Faux News isn't mentioning skewed polls any more.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • TrickleDownIsDead

      I object! Mitt Romney doesn't change positions like a "perfectly lubricated weathervane" as Republican Governor Huntsman said. Romney isn't the king of telling it like people want to hear it. Just check out these Romney statements:

      "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country."
      "I am firmly pro-life."
      "I think there is need for economic stimulus."
      "I have never supported the president's Recovery Act, alright - the stimulus. No time, nowhere, nohow."
      "We're going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20%, including the top 1%."
      "I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans."
      "I'm a moderate with progressive views."
      "I'm severely conservative."

      All perfectly consistent, right? Not a hint of compromising principles for votes.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  13. escher7

    An intelligent article from a wise woman. A man who flouts his religion one moment and condemns 47% of the people as useless the next is not genuine or caring. It's like the bible thumpers who criticize the use of "my brothers keeper" because it was used in the Cain and Able story and not as a command. As if that means we have no responsibility for our fellow man.

    Yes, the President is honest about some jobs not coming back and about brute force failing in the Middle East. He has learned from his time as President that the Oval Office is not a magic wand to be waived at every problem. The world is complex and fixing things is a slow painstaking job. Romney has said he would do everything on his "first day in office". He'd be lucky to find the bathroom.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Bill C

      This president his honest? Tell that to the mother of the man killed in Libya who says the president lied to her face. This is the most duplicitous president in our nation's history.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Veritas

      Bill, You know that's not true. Nixon is way ahead in terms of deceit. Reagan had his Iran Contra scandal. George W Bush ignored a lot of contrary evidence in his rush to invade Iraq. It's not exclusive to Obama or Democrats.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  14. lbpaulina

    Thank you Joanna.
    I think the 2012 elections are not about faith; they are about taxes. We are manipulated and exploited by the big corporations. A few of them pay taxes, and they do not want any change, that's it. People will vote for Romney and it will be a serious error; we will see its consequences within the next four years. Probably this is what America needs to see.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  15. TrickleDownIsDead

    Primary Republican argument against President Obama: you're not cleaning up our mess fast enough!

    What a joke.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Elmer

      Amen to that

      October 18, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  16. Mike

    Well put. Couldn't agree with you more. I commend your courage.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  17. JL

    A few questions for the author of this Romney snub piece...
    -Hard truths Obama was on the verge of saying???...That's the point Romney was making, these hard times don't have to be the truth. Countries do recover. Ours has many times and it was from strong leaders like Reagan. You're honestly telling me that you are going to vote for Obama because he paints a bleaker picture of America for the next four years than Romney???
    What on earth has Obama done to earn your trust? Was it his endorsement of ads saying Romney killed this guy wife and now wants to kill big bird? Or was it his blaming of the Benghazi attacks on an obscure video for two weeks while everyone else knew it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours?
    Finally, I find it hard to believe that a person of Mormon faith who's religion will not allow them to drink coffee will support a president in favor of abortion. The next president will likely appoint two justices and if it's Romney,Roe V Wade could be overturned. We currently abort over 300 thousand babies a year in this country. Are you really OK with that? Your Obama vote says you are.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Veritas

      40000 children die DAILY from starvation. 1500 people die DAILY from malaria (a preventable disease). Not to mention deaths from contaminated food, water, and drugs; traffic accidents, gun deaths, etc. What does the NRLC do about these actual lives.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • JL

      Veritas,
      I don't understand your argument. True, no matter who is president, people are still going to die on this planet, neither party, nor organization who helps the sick and starving like the Mormon and Catholic Church will be able to save everyone. The difference is, abortion is the intentional destruction of human life, aka murder. And we have the opportunity to stop these massacres this election.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • JL

      Furthermore Veritas, to imply that the unborn are not "actual lives" is beyond ignorant. That kind of talk may have worked in the Roe V Wade era when we didn't have ultrasounds and 3d imaging showing a child's beating heart as early as 6 weeks gestation. If you intentional stop the heartbeat of the innocent, what is it? Put what ever euphemism on it you like, abortion, termination, selection, they all mean the same thing and it should be a crime a country that is supposed to protect the right to life and liberty.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  18. halfbakedlunatic

    Know why you always take two mormons with you when you go fishing?

    Cause if you take just one, he'll drink all your beer!

    October 18, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Elmer

      I have a Baptist friend that does the same thing...

      October 18, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • WeR4Freedom

      LOL you meant to say ROOT beer... Nice try at a joke. Go back to comedy school. Maybe if Romney was president there would be a job for you. Not a joke, a statement.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • realitybites

      Thanks. I'll use the joke about Baptist and Mormons.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  19. Mark H

    http://www.ExposeRomney.com

    October 18, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • WeR4Freedom

      http://www.romneyruleswhileobamadrules.com

      October 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  20. Ex-Mormon

    No they don’t all vote the same way but they are encouraged by their “prophet” to vote a certain way. And with a Mormon running for president I can only imagine that the members of the church have been heavily indoctrinated with Romney malarkey. (Yes I know he wasn’t the one who used that term but I like it).

    October 18, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Bill C

      Unlike African-Americans who won't just vote for Obama because he is black, right?

      October 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Current-Mormon

      The the last century, the LDS church has gone out of its way to make it clear to its members that it does not endorse any candidate, anywhere, anytime. Mormons do not vote as a block. I know a lot of Mormons, democrat and republican, who will vote for Obama.

      Being an Ex-Mormon does not make you an expert on Current-Mormon issues.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • WeR4Freedom

      LOL your not an Ex-Mormon...you are an Obama advocate. Just as John F Kennedy faced questions about the Pope, Romney will face the same opposition about the Prophet. The fact is we need a commander in Chief and that has been vacant the last 4 years and I am afraid if re-elected it will be 4 more years of division and "more flexibility" with communists and apologies for our what our war veterans sacrificed for our country. Obama Isn't Working!

      October 18, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • newt

      I actually laughed out loud when I read this, Ex-Mormon. Mormons have only ever been told by leadership to be prayerful and vote for whomever we feel would best lead this country. I, personally, was all set to vote for Ron Paul, because I think Romney has a lot more liberal in him than I would like. But, given that this election will be determined by the undecided, and that a vote for anyone else might as well be a vote for Obama, and that I would vote for Spongebob before I would vote for Obama again, what choice do I have but to vote for Romney?

      October 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32
Advertisement
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.