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Photo credit: George Frey / Getty

Growing up in Utah County during the nineties, I couldn’t hear the end of Bill Clinton’s sex scandal in the White House. It was one of the first stories in my political awareness, and the whole thing affected me so deeply that for years if you’d asked me what I thought of the Democrats, I would have told you they were horrible—almost solely because of what Clinton did. It seemed to me that my entire community agreed, and I understood that a sex scandal like Clinton’s was a deal breaker for Latter-day Saints.

Then along came Trump, a man who cheated on all three of his wives, paid off porn stars, raved about his daughter’s sex appeal, and faced more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct, including rape. …

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National surveys from Fox News show that we largely agree with each other on healthcare. (Source)

In reality, we overwhelmingly agree with each other.

Throughout the 2020 election season, one of the most common talking points has been that we’re hopelessly divided. “Half the nation adamantly thinks one way,” the saying goes, “and the other half of the nation adamantly disagrees.”

The biggest problem with that sentiment is that it’s not true.

In reality, we overwhelmingly agree with each other on a range of issues. Surveys of American citizens repeatedly show that roughly 70% of us favor a public healthcare option, public K-16 education, taxing the wealthy far more than we currently do, public investment in green energy, $15 minimum wage, and much more.

These aren’t just surveys from left-leaning sources. …

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Trump and University of Utah students / Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Two weeks ago, I wrote a letter to LDS Trump supporters that got far more attention than I expected. The response was almost uniformly positive, but I also received several messages I feel are worth addressing.

Why? Because I’m haunted by the words of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. “Trump will never leave office peacefully,” he says. “The types of scandals that have surfaced in recent months will only continue to emerge with greater and greater levels of treachery and deceit. … I’m certain that Trump knows he will face prison time if he leaves office.”

I believe Cohen is right about Trump’s well-documented crimes and that unless Biden wins in a landslide, 2020 will end with a lengthy court battle where Trump accuses the system of being rigged against him and eventually wins the presidency. …

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Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad.

Some criticisms worth considering

Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) has been around for nearly a decade, but World Human Trafficking Awareness Day 2020 brought the level of attention to the organization to an out-sized level. For my part, I couldn’t find a source that succinctly explored criticisms of the organization, so I decided to write this up.

If anything I’ve written here is incorrect, overblown, or misleading, I will happily update accordingly. My intention is only to point to the red flags as I see them.

According to their promotional materials, Operation Underground Railroad is a nonprofit that goes “into the darkest corners of the world to help local law enforcement liberate enslaved children and dismantle the criminal networks.” …

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Trump has treated the economy like his failed businesses.

It was bad even before Covid-19.

First things first: No single person, not even a president, is solely responsible for the US economy. There are thousands of variables at play, including natural disasters, downturns in other countries, and technological shifts.

But that hasn’t stopped Donald Trump from repeatedly taking credit.

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One of hundreds of tweets where Trump takes credit for a rise in the stock market.

So is it true? Has Trump been great for the economy?

Let’s look at the data.

The Stock Market

When it comes to the stock market, Trump is somewhat right to boast: The stock market rallied in a big way from 2017 to 2018. Since then, however, it’s been up and down.

The big problem here, though, is that the stock market is not the economy. Instead, it’s a measure of how the richest 10% of Americans are doing, as they’re the ones who own 84% of stocks. …

A history of hypocrisy is turning young people away

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Jerry Falwell Jr, pants unzipped.

You may have heard the news: Jerry Falwell Jr., president of one of the largest Christian colleges in the world, was caught with his pants unzipped. Caught, as in he posted a picture of himself, underwear out, while hugging a woman who isn’t his wife.

Then a far more damaging story broke. A business partner of the Falwells named Giancarlo Granda said that the couple preyed on him starting when he was 20, pressuring him for years to have sex with Jerry’s wife while Jerry watched. …

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Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Retracing why I changed my mind about politics.

Recently, a friend messaged me. “You used to be a moderate free thinker,” he wrote, “but somehow the left got you. Retrace your steps and let me know what it was.” I’ve heard similar things from other people, including a loved one who wrote to me saying, “I see the media is convincing you.”

These sentiments weren’t completely unexpected given the things I’ve written lately, so I thought I would take my friend’s invitation and retrace my steps.

Have I been duped by the left?

Here’s my story.

Until my mid to late 20s, I was a constant and ardent conservative. I read writers like Dinesh D’Souza and Robert George, and I argued throughout my undergraduate degree and into my graduate degree for conservative causes. …

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On the left, a depiction of Jesus that Latter-day Saints are familiar with (photo by Kim F, Creative Commons). On the right, a painting of a bearded man from around time and place of Jesus.

When I grew up, like many LDS kids my age, I frequently sang a primary song about Jesus:

I’m trying to be like Jesus;
I’m following in his ways.
I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”

It’s a beautiful melody set to inspiring words, and to this day I still feel deep emotion when I hear it or sing it. It’s a song that also perfectly conveys the current LDS view of Jesus—someone gentle and loving, pleasant and kind, arms outstretched to receive you no matter who you are. As an ideal, there’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s good to hope for this gentle sweetness in life, and it’s true that Jesus was kind, compassionate, and forgiving. …

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Edited to add (10/15/20): Biden was my last choice in the Democratic primary. As I articulate in this post, I wish he had dropped out, and if he wins I plan to oppose much of what he and the corporate Democrat do over the next four years. And yet… I still believe he’s far better choice for president than Donald Trump, for the reasons I list in this letter.

After a presidential primary that lasted nearly a year and a half, we ended up with Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party—right as an allegation of sexual assault hit major news outlets.

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Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

Why my recent (relatively meager) $517 medical bill worries me

At 9pm on New Year’s Eve last year, our 4-year-old fell and split his head open right beneath his eyebrow. The split was just barely big enough to require medical attention, so we drove to an urgent care — the only one still open at 9pm on New Year’s Eve — and got it glued shut by a doctor. It took the doctor less than 10 minutes, and we were on our way.

This week, almost 4 months later, we got a bill for $517. Since the cut was glued shut a few hours shy of 2020 and since we hadn’t had other sizable medical expenses in 2019, we didn’t reach our deductible and will now pay that amount out of pocket. …

About

Jon Ogden

Writing about Mormonism, politics, and philosophy on Medium.com

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