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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.

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).

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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. Willie12345

    Most Mormons I know are extremely anti-abortion, so I can't help but question her comments. Perhaps she doesn't understand the doctrine of her own church. Biden and Pelosi suffers from the same problem.

    October 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      No, they all agree with their church's doctrine on abortion, which is a personal issue; but as a social issue, they agree that it is a woman's righ to choose. IF you are religious, then you know it is NOT your place to judge others, lest ye be judged.. right?

      October 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • beezers

      @thecollegeadmissionsguru, I loved Biden's answer in the VP debate: "I believe in my Catholic faith's position that life begins at conception" and "I don't think we should force that belief on others."

      Now, let's dissect these beliefs. I believe life begins at conception, so ending life via abortion is murder. Do I think murder should be illegal? Why should I force my beliefs on others? No, murder should be legal.

      People who think they can separate abortion as a "personal" issue as opposed to a "social" issue are the most illogical people I've ever heard. They just don't want to face the music. Well, one day they'll be facing God... that is, if they can muster up the strength with all that guilt they'll be feeling.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  2. Gigi

    I will have any time a mormon president than Obama.

    October 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • college_student

      How can you vote for someone who has for 10 years been a bishop in his church but yet has no compunction about out and out lying. If a person cannot live by his Faith how can you trust him? And what about the churches encouragement for women to marry young and stay at home and raise large families. Even his statement in the debate that he works with women by letting them get home by 5 so they can make super and take care of their family? Does he expect that his male workers should be going home at 5 to help with supper and with familY?

      October 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  3. Josh

    This lady is a complete idiot along with anyone else voting for Obama. Open your eyes and get some facts from somewhere other than the media. Do you like Obamacare? Well look at the study done by the Kaiser foundation (George kaiser is a democrat and big Obama donor) the study talks about Obamacare driving up the cost of healthcare not bringing it down. Think Obama does well with economic policies? Take a look at the CBO report or the budget that was voted down unanimously by the Democrat controlled Senate. WAKE UP AMERICA!

    October 18, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      And vote for whom ? Shape-shifter Romney who is such an idiot that he actually thinks he can "deal with the Chinese" when and if they do something, (and NOT cause them to boycott US bond auctions). Right. What universe do YOU live in ?

      October 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Josh

      Say what you want Fluffy, but we KNOW what Obama brings to the table. trillion dollar deficits food stamps and big govt.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • college_student

      My child could not get health insurance as an adult (the chain of motels she was working for didnot offer insurance) because she had had a seizure when she was fifteen (none since) and at 22 this was considered a pre existining condition. That's why I could support "Obimacare."

      October 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  4. MormonJill

    I am a Mormon also, and have been following the issues and candidates for months. The church teaches free will and taking responsibility for decisions. I share the opinions of the author and I feel good about voting for Obama.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  5. buzz

    Stick to the scripture Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and what you know is right Ms. Brooks. They laughed at Jesus Christ and persecuted him too. The shall set you free, and we know Mitt Romney is not telling the truth. God Bless you Ms. Brooks.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Josh

      Are you actually comparing Obama to Jesus? Seriously? You might be the dumbest person on here although I think the author may have you beat.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Josh, of course he isn't comparing Obama to Jesus, Obama is a real person.. Jesus.. not so much...

      October 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  6. Scott

    AWESOME YOU TUBE VIDEO that you guys need to see... search Bishop E. W. Jackson

    October 18, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  7. IndyMike

    This lady is living in a dream world. Mormons are supposed to be pragmatic and self-sufficient. The current admin has more and more people feeding at the public trough. Obamacare is nothing more than socialized medicine that none of us can afford. It is a toss-up: will Obamacare or Social Security bankrupt us first? With another 4 years of this administration, Obamacare wins hands-down. Does the writer really want a president who disrespects other world leaders and lets security lapses kill American citizens and THEN LIES ABOUT IT? Does she want a president who continues to propose programs that we simply can't afford and has no plan for economic recovery or putting Americans back to work? Four more years of "hope and change" will see us all much worse off than we already are.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Andrew

      I'd take that all day and twice on Sunday over spineless Romney. They guy is literally unable to tell the truth, he talks out of both sides of his mouth like an experienced snake oil salesman. With Obama, you know what you are going to get, Romney is a wild card that we cannot afford at this critical time in the recovery.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  8. buzz

    Wow that's deep/so true.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  9. Beverly

    Maybe the president wouldn't have had to "meet those coffins" had he given them the security that the ambassador requested. The president managed to sidestep that question in the debate very well. But then, I've always said, he is a master campaigner, but he's lousy at the job.

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

      Vert well said. He's simply not up yo the job.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      OH you mean increase the security with WHAT funds? The money that Ryan voted to CUT for security at those same places? Come on, Spin it baby, spin it....

      October 18, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • DLinVA

      For what it's worth, the funds for increased security were asked for the Embassy in Tripoli. The Ambassador was killed at the Consulate. In Benghazi.

      Those two things were not related.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Barry

      Look Beverly, He did the honorable and correct thing the other night in taking ultimate responsibility. But seriously, do you really believe those kind of staffing decisions are made at his pay grade? Those decisions are made much farther down the food chain, and I'm sure he was as shocked and appalled as anyone.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  10. JAB62

    Glad to hear you can see through the BS that is Mitt Romney. Now if only you could see through the BS that is religion that would be major progress for anyone.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  11. Ridge

    Why would anybody vote for four more years of what Obama has given which is a doubled deficit? You think he can guide us through paying that down? How? He promised to cut it in half during his 2008 campaign. You wonder how Romney's policies will reduce the deficit, what about Obama? All he has shown is an incredible talent toward large tax funded programs with no economic backing. Obamacare anyone? Makes no sense.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Ridge, you need to read more, listen more, and stay away from Rush's talk show. Obama inherited the Worst ecomonic mess in HISTORY, averted another great depression, killed Bin Laden, stopped an unfunded war and started the end of another, and the list goes on. Half of his deficit came from BUSH era tax cuts and the financial mess he inherited. NO president in history could have done better, NONE...

      October 18, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • independent texan

      Well - the deficit would be lower but for the Republican House. Jobs would be more plentiful but for the Republican House. Wars would be less frequent but for the Republican neocons. You guys had your chance and you gave us George Bush and his band of international felons. Romney is just more Bush - look at his advisers. I'll stick with what we have - job growth, housing recovery, respect for Medicare, less war, and sensibility.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      High Five to the Texan!

      October 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Ridge

      First of all, I can't stand Rush. Secondly, don't tell me what to listen too and I won't tell you to stop drinking the Obama koolaid. Sure blame the Republicans, that's the easy solution. I'm not blaming Obama for the mess he inherited, but I am blaming him for exacerbating the problem. So your definition of the greatest president in History is one that grows the deficit at a faster rate than any president ever? Guess that little slavery problem Lincoln dealt with was no big deal.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • rdsphantom

      This is for admissionsguru who responded under this heading. Seriously, you do understand that the economic collapse occured AFTER the House and Senate became controlled by the Democrats. The war In Afghanastan was supported by the vast majority of ALL Americans when it started. Obama did not capture Bin Laden: SEAL Team 6 captured Bn Laden.

      October 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  12. Wally

    Don't kid yourself. The Mormon Church supports Willard M. Romney for President. Mormon see his election as the way to
    convert even more to there cult. Believe me people the Mormon are not Christian. Remember what goes on in there so call temple is a secret only shared with the chosen few. Just what are they doing in there and is it so vile they have to keep it secret.

    IN MY CHURCH WE DON'T THINK THAT JESUS AND THE DEVIL ARE BROTHERS.

    REMEMBER AMERICA IS A CHRISTIAN NATION NOT A NATION LEAD BY SOME OFF THE WALL CULT.

    VOTE NON MORMON 2012

    October 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      First and Foremost... America is NOT a Christian Nation! Never has been... period. It happens to be a nation where Christianity is the largest religious denomination, but the nation is NOT Christian. We are, instead, a nation founded on religious freedom, and we are supposed to welcome all religions.. Now, as for me, I'd love to see us become more like Europe and stop all this religious nonsense to begin with.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • You're an idiot.

      The only difference between a religion and a cult is the age and the amount of members. We are not a Christian nation, we are merely allowed to practice whatever religion/cult belief we want, Christians just happen to be in the majority.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Ridge

      Wow Wally, you really need help.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  13. TheInlandEmperor

    As noted by others your note is an exceptional voicing of common sense. The expectation is that a significant majority of the citizen voters in our country share your same thoughts.... and will demonstrate that on election day.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  14. Beth

    I am so impressed by Joanna Brooks' blog as it distills the facts without being overly partisan, aggressive, or sentimental. We have spent the better part of a year being subjected to rhetoric, misleading data, and pure nastiness, so this is as refreshing a pure mountain stream. Thank you for putting something calm and sensible out there.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • felicitas panganiban

      Vote for Obama!!! What a joke!! I voted for McCain last time because of his love for America plus I am republican but with some reservation. And I liked Obama too with HOPES he was bringing in. Now, I will vote for Romney without reservation because I like his messages plus I am Republican. Obama brought hopes and promises in his speeches in 2008 and after 4 years still delivering hopes and promises. Just plain hopes and promises and he is banking on the measly accomplishments he made so far. I need more than hopes. I need results and more results on what he promised.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  15. Penobscot11

    I wonder if the Mormon author has considered what effect progressive support of abortion has on "the hearts of the children."

    I'm nut sure how one such as the author, who cites the hearts of the children in defense of liberalism, cannot see the hypocrisy of supporting the practiced ideology of convenience killing of the unborn. I see that as a direct moral conflict to Mormon theology and practice.

    With that said, I would bet the author is likely not in good standing with the Mormon Church. She claims her heritage to sell her writing. When the field is white already to harvest? No?

    October 18, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • TigerAuburn12

      Exactly! how can you consider a heart of unborn child but not of 25 years old mom? you simply force a unborn child to come to this earth and live with reality like MITT ROMNEY? Get a life and stop voting against your own interest. AMAN!

      October 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  16. dsangiovanni

    You got the message... I got the message too...Mitt Romney only have one point plan....Like Bush.....Now I want a serious investigation on how GOP government and friend took down the whole nation with the mortgage crisis..The way they dumped loans to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and got in their pockets the difference, and now we have to pay for it.....and they want four more years.....

    October 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Penobscot11

      Do some research about the role of Democratic legislators and how that led to the housing crisis and get back to us.

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

      Hey genius Bill Clinton signed the bill that unleashed Wallstreet and deregulated the mortgage industry in 1999.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • toad

      the mortgage crisis ( or bubble ) was caused by liberal progressive democrats ie. Frank Dodd determing that everyone should own a home and did this by FORCING lenders to lower loan requirments. This led to a boom in the housing market that carried the nation under the Clinton and Bush presidencies. And then the bubble burst, just like the deficit bubble will burst due to runaway social and miltary spending. Both parties are to blame,quit pointing fingers!

      October 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  17. Mark Stoddard

    I am a Mormon and I am voting for Romney because I understand that he has been held to a higher standard his entire life to include now. His demonstrated leadership abilites and experience, and his understanding of basic economic principles far exceeds that of Obama. He posesses the highest level of integrity one can, unilke Obama. He is not a "polarizer" like Obama, who has done nothing but slam Romney instead of provide a vision of the future. Obama cannot hide from his record – which most clearly has not earned him a second term. It's is shameful for my fellow Amreicans to ignore or simply be ignorant of Obama's record – it's worse than that of Jimmy Carter and he was not re-elected just like we should not re-elcect Obama for one simply reason: poor job performance.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Mark

      Integrity Mark? Integrity is doing what you say you will do. Romney has flip flopped on so many positions that integrity is hardly a trait he can claim. This man is hell bent on winning the election by saying ANYTHING that he thinks will sway voters. When he has been called out on these lies he says he's truly sorry, and then he does it again. His campaign is all smoke and mirrors and talking point that make no sense, and he has yet to offer details about how he can do thing better. Saying you have a 5 point plan and not being able to describe in detail how it affects the middle class is absolute Malarkey. Obama has done or tried his hardest to do what he said he would do aside from all the GOP obstructionism. That is integrity, and if you don't see it you must be a racist.

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

    This article has as much content as an Obama speech. NONE!! In the end all is says is I like him and I will vote for him. There are no reasons for her choice. She needs to realize Obama has no plan for the next 4 years. Once you realize that when he runs out of someone or something to criticize, he has nothing to offer to accomplish anything. She is just like Obama, criticize but do not offer any plan to fix the problems. Once again CNN shows their bias by putting up an article from a hard core Obama supporter, and likely teacher union member, who cannot even make a coherent point on why she is voting for him. This was worthless.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • John

      I think that Johanna Brooks has made a very clear case for why she supports the president rather than Romney. She has respect for the possibility of bad things happening. Being prepared for a rainy day. One thing that Romney did day during a question from Candy Crowley struck me as important. Crowley asked him what he would do if his numbers did not add up. He answered, "Of course they add up," and went on ignoring the question. ANY successful leader whether in business, government, and especially the military has a plan for when it doesn't all work out like they hoped it would. Even if he has one, which I personally doubt, he cannot display it. The opposition (in this case the voters) may not like it.

      October 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  19. Steve in CT

    As Governor, Mr Romney Vetoed over 400 bills from the Democratic Assembly. Most were easily overridden, to the benefit of the people of Massachusetts. he left office with a 28% approval rating.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I work in Boston, and trust me, MItt is not the hero he claims to be. He started out with 45 percent of his cabinet positions filled by women, but by the time he quit being governor, after the third year in office, that percentage fell to less than 25 percent women. The man raised taxes, by calling them fees, and Mass was 47 out of 50 in the nation in job creation under Mitt Romney's governorship. Now, THAT'S creating some jobs, NOT..

      October 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  20. MormonChristian

    The LDS church IS neutral on parties and candidates. Members find things that resonate in both parties – the GOP message of self-reliance and the Democratic message of caring for the poor, to name two. Joanna is merely stating that she finds more in the Democratic side that appeals to her.

    I voted for Obama in '08 but find Romney more credible RE fixing the economy (Obama's numbers don't add up either), although Romney's foreign policy stance concerns me. Forget the "binders of women" – Romney's staff had 50% women in MA. I want to see if he can be more effective reaching across the aisle with Congress and solving our problems. Obama has been a disappointment.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:48 am |
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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.