Why Homeschoolers Must Study the Constitution, Part 2

Joyce Kinmont, joyce@ldshea.org ..
LDS Home Educators Assn, since 1990..
http://www.ldshea.org..

We will be finished here with the Hatch/Liljenquist story which has begun to look quite petty compared with some of the outrageous statements we’ve been hearing elsewhere lately.  But it is not petty because we are talking about church members and our disagreements with each other.  

In Utah where we have caucus meetings to elect delegates to vote in a primary convention, there was much contention over the Hatch race.  Caucus meetings that have been sparsely attended in past years were suddenly swamped with people this year, and utter chaos resulted.  The Church had written a letter encouraging participation is caucus meetings, and the letter was read in Sacrament meeting the two weeks before the meetings.  Actually, the same letter has been read every election year, but this year people actually listened.  Local leaders were eeven ncouraged to participate, which was a new direction.  Everyone seems to understand that November’s elections are critical, that everything from employment to health care to religious freedom, and even our right to homeschool, is on the line.  The Saints did participate; we overwhelmed facilities and the preparations. 

Unfortunately, few people did their due dilligence.  Many seemed to feel that Romeny and Hatch will “save” us.  That would be nice, but I don’t think it will work that way, as we will see in Part 3.  My concern is that much of the voting was shallow, that we have not yet learned the lessons the Lord wants us to learn because we haven’t done the studying and the soul searching that is required. 

There is also much disagreement among the various political organizations who sometimes attack each other.  All freedom-loving people ought to be moving forward, with their eyes fixed on the doctrines of liberty, not on each other.   Let’s assume that others are fulfilling their personal missions as they are inspired and as best they can.  Course corrections will be made until we all find the exact path and meet on the road to Zion.  Yes, we must watch and evaluate those to whom we have given a portion of stewardship, but we have no responsibility to crush those who are on their own errand for the Lord.  Our criticism of each other can’t be pleasing to the Master.

Brigham Young said “Every man in the Kingdom of God would give the same counsel upon each subject, if he would wait until he had the mind of Christ upon it.”  That is our goal.

I remember a time, a decade or two ago I guess, when the apostles frequently made statements such as, “Never have we been so united.”  It seemed strange to me that they could be anything but united.  Then I realized that some of those leaders were alive not long after the Wilson years when Church members  — and the Church was mostly in Utah at the time — were very much divided over President Woodrow Wilson and his League of Nations.  (I’ll share that story later.)  So as unity increased it might have felt remarkable to them.

I don’t recall hearing any comments about unity lately, which might mean it’s the common state now among our leadership.  In his Oct. 1988 Conference address, “I Testify,” President Benson said, “As the issues become clearer and more obvious, all mankind will eventually be required to align themselves either for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom of the devil. As these conflicts rage, either secretly or openly, the righteous will be tested.”  Every test we pass, every alignment we make, will make us more unified until we get to where our leaders are.

I’ve added a video at the end of this message which shows us how the Prophets work in unity.  You’ll love it, I promise.  So please read on to finish up what we started in Part 1 and then watch the video to prepare for Part 3. We’d love to hear your comments, especially as you teach your children these things. 

The Costs of Deception

Destroyed Reputations

As a result of the “attack ad” mailer against Dan Liljenquist sent out by Senator Orrin Hatch, was a reputation destroyed? Was Utah denied the Jr. Senator who might have led the charge to re-empower the states in the pattern set by the Founding Fathers? Probably not specifically by this single ad, but the total impact of deceptive ads may well have.

For example, one video ad by FreedomPath[1] correctly states that Dan Liljenquist was absent from the Senate 24% of the time and missed 227 votes. We hear a frustrated voice calling him, as if no one knows where he is. In truth, Dan wasn’t absent from the Capitol or from his legislative job. He sponsored two landmark bills that session and he was actually working with leadership and spending a lot of time in the House chambers educating the members there about his legislation. He missed no critical votes and was nationally recognized for his legislation: “A legislative analysis projected that the new law could save the state as much as $10.5 million in the long run. Liljenquist’s efforts won praise from the Wall Street Journal and Governing Magazine, which named him one of its Public Officials of the Year in 2011.”[2]  Certainly Senator Hatch knew this. (And maybe Utah’s Senate leadership wanted former State Senator Liljenquist to win the U.S. Senate seat so he could work on repealing the 17th Amendment. What a blessing that would have been to the states.)

Liljenquist is no longer a candidate this year, but he deserves to have his reputation defended. Earlier in the election cycle the delegates who had been chosen in local caucus meetings were invited to a debate which included Senator Hatch and two challengers, Dan Liljenquist and Chris Herrod. That debate is available on YouTube.[3]  Both challengers are good men — and Utah has many more like them, but we have to wonder, How do false accusations affect the candidate pool for future elections?

  • Lesson #2: Bearing false witness against another candidate may destroy that candidate’s reputation and deprive him, and the citizens, of the leadership of good men.   (Lesson #1 is in Part 1)

Destroyed Friendships

The inappropriateness of the 17th Amendment attack against a good man led Bert Smith, a highly respected Utah businessman, to place an advertisement in the Salt Lake Tribune withdrawing his 36 year endorsement of Senator Hatch.[4]   The “36 years” clues us that Mr. Smith was one of the original Hatch supporters and financial backers. He is one of the most beloved men in our state and a true patriot. This must have been a sad day.

  • Lesson #3: Character matters. Candidates must put integrity above the desire to win.  Lapses in integrity have consequences.

Fiscal Responsibility

A great deal of money is spent on political campaigns, and money certainly played a part in Senator Hatch’s winning of the Primary. While Liljenquist spent $613,608 on his campaign, Hatch “raised and spent more than 10 times that.”[5]  (Since Liljenquist received one vote for every two cast for Senator Hatch, it appears that Liljenquist did get more votes for his dollars.)

If we are to become a better society, we must make a moral connection to campaign spending. We don’t want more government control, but we do want the repulsion of the people to both the financial waste and the immorality of false campaigning to influence candidates.

Shortly after the election of Ronald Reagan, I heard Stephen Covey suggest that Reagan should go into “education mode.”  Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a President or a candidate quoting the Constitution when discussing an issue?  Last night we watched the FreedomWorks event at Glenn Beck’s Restoring Love Rally.  Senator Mike Lee from Utah was one of the speakers, and we were excited when he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a booklet with a picture of George Washington on the front and the text of the Constitution and the Declaration inside.  My daughter had just given out nearly thirty of those that morning to a group of Chinese foreign exchange students, two of whom are staying with her family.  She had taught a class for them about American government.  (The pocket Constitution booklets are published by the NCCS, www.nccs.net.)

  • Lesson #4: If campaign money is being spent to honestly enlighten the voters and to discuss differing viewpoints, fine; spending money to mislead voters or to disparage opponents is not appropriate, especially for candidates who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

Candidate Responsibility

Was Senator Hatch Responsible for the Deceptive Mailer?

The 17th Amendment mailer says it was “paid for by Hatch Election Committee, Inc.”  It doesn’t say who prepared it, but I assume it was prepared by Freedom Path,[6] an organization to which the Senator has had ties. To be fair, I wanted to know if Senator Hatch actually knew about the mailer and what it said, so I talked to his local field office, his local campaign office, and his Washington office.  I was told that absolutely the Senator did know about the mailer and did sign off on it.

  • Lesson #5 Candidates are responsible for ads sent out in their names and for the tone and substance of their own campaigns. Campaign advertising reveals character.

Did the mailing reflect Senator Hatch’s views?

I was well assured that the 17th Amendment mailer did, in fact, reflect the Senator’s views, and that:

  • he “believes the common person is smart enough to know who he wants to represent him in Congress”
  • “direct election of senators was passed over a hundred years ago and he doesn’t want to go back to that”
  • “he doesn’t want legislatures to pick the senators because it creates cronyism” and legislators “do not look out for the good of the people”  [The Founders intendent the state legislators to look out for the good of their state and to do so with integrity.  The Constitution only works for a moral and religious people.  Today the states are forced to fight Washington overreach directly, and we aren’t doing so well.]

The staffer in the Washington office said he had talked with the Senator several times about the 17th Amendment and the Senator believes:

  • there is “no chance of the 17th Amendment being repealed because the states wanted it and voted for it”
  • it’s really a non-issue because “no one is talking about doing that”

He also assured me that the Senator had signed off on the ad and does stand behind the statement that repeal would “set America back 100 years” (which means, of course, that the 1913 amendment moved us forward).  He said the Senator believes in the concept of Federalism but wants to go about it in different ways.  I ask, “What ways?” and he referred me to an op-ed piece on the subject co-authored by the Senator and Utah’s Governor Herbert. I found that article on the Senator’s website.[7]  Here are two sentences:

  • Utah is one of a growing list of states, now numbering at least 39, proposing legislation or constitutional amendments to resist various aspects of the proposed federal takeover of the healthcare system. . . . Americans are revisiting the words of the nation’s founders such as James Madison, who wrote that the federal government’s powers are “few and defined” while those retained by the states are “numerous and indefinite.”

The article was an interesting piece of doublespeak.  It says that in May of 2010 at least some of 39 states were considering some kind of Constitutional amendment.  A constitutional amendment would require ratification by 3/4’s of the vote of the 50 states, or 38 states. There may be more frustrated states by now.  The article speaks of  looking to the “founders such as James Madison” for guidance.  James Madison is the Father of the Constitution, but the Senator who emphatically does not want to go back to Madison’s way says doing so would “set America back 100 years and introduce more corruption and backroom deals.”

If the Senator thought the 17th Amendment was an important issue, he could have simply given factual reasons why he didn’t agree with repealing it: repeal is not wanted by the states because . . ., he has a better way of fixing the problem than the original Constitution, which is . . . .  There was no need to accuse his opponent of malicious motives and the legislature — to whom he should be reporting — of future misconduct in “corruption and backroom deals.”

  • Lesson #6: Candidates should debate the facts and express their views clearly, with honesty and integrity, so voters can measure those views against the views of other candidates and against the principles of proper government.
  • Lesson #7: No more personal attack ads, please, on all sides. They are a symptom and revealer of the state of our culture. They may buy votes but they don’t buy eternity, as men may be held accountable for the harm they do to other candidates.

I have picked on Senator Hatch because he is the one who is in Washington.  The Utah State Senate has no authority over him, thanks to the 17th Amendment.  He has said he will not seek another term, so he doesn’t have to worry about what the voters think or how his record will look for another election.  For the next six years the only pressures on him will be from his colleagues and the special interests groups in Washington — and from we, the people.  Because he expects to head a powerful finance committee, his political behaviors are the business of all Americans.

Actually, I don’t know that Mr. Liljenquist, or most of us, could behave any better after 36 years in Washington.  We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get . . .  to Washington to drink the Potomac Punch. (see D&C 121:39)

Next time we’ll talk about what we can do as citizens.   Now I will share the President Wilson story, but you must promise to watch the video after; otherwise you might be left with a bruise to your testimony.  Obviously Joseph Smith had many dissentions in his administration, and they didn’t end until the Saints felt the mantle fall upon Brigham Young after Joseph’s death.  The Church is always moving forward.  The low point in one area is described below, and the current high point is described in the video.  So watch it and let’s keep moving forward!!!

The Story of the Divide over President Wilson

According the book Presidents and Prophets, by Michael K. Winder, there was much dispute in the Church over President Wilson who served from 1913 – 1921.  Winder quotes Historian James Allen, who said, “Perhaps at no time in [Church] history had there been such divergence of opinion among its leaders.”

According to Winder, Apostle/US Senator Reed Smoot considered Wilson “autocratic and bull-headed” and “arrogant, sanctimonious, hypocritical, and a poor statesman.”  “He and other GOP Apostles also complain that the Church-owned Deseret News is too sympathetic toward Wilson.” [Constitutionalists still find the paper lacking.]

Utah loved Wilson, and he did say and do all the right “Christian” things.  Utah gave him 59% of the vote, which, according to Winder, caused Joseph Fielding Smith to write in his journal, “In my judgment the Latter-day Saints show a wonderful lack of good sense in elections.” Winder continued, “Yet, Mormon laborers and railroad men appreciate[d] Wilson’s eight-hour workday law, and Utah’s many farmers enjoy[ed] relative prosperity under Wilson’s first term.”  [Did the Saints not know that laboring men and farmers are not the responsibility of the President?]

In 1918 Wilson announced the League of Nations.  He came to Utah in 1919 to promote it and was received with a “great street parade.” He spoke in the Tabernacle.  President Heber J. Grant “firmly endorsed the League of Nations at a quarterly conference of the Salt Lake Stake. However, he made it clear that he was speaking as an individual and not as a Church leader; that scriptures were not to be used on either side of the argument; that neither side represented an official Church position; and that the issue should not divide the Church.”

Ultimately, with the help of Senator Smoot who felt that “Wilson was overly ambitious and power hungry, the U.S. Senate blocked American membership in the League of Nations.”

“Seventy B. H. Roberts avidly supported the League and declared that the scriptures supported the ideas.  State Department official (and future First Presidency member) J. Reuben Clark Jr. spoke passionately against it.” Apostle George F. Richards said in Stake Conference, “I believe that the president of the United States was raised up of the Lord. . . .  I believe that the League of Nations is inspired of God.” And “BYU’s faculty and student body vocally supported the League.” [Constitutionalists still find BYU lacking.]

So that was the great divide.  Now here’s the great unity for which we must also reach:

Cleon Skousen & Henry B. Eyring learn how Church leaders arrive at consensus.

to be continued


[1]  http://www.freedom-path.org/ads/ The ad was still there at the time of this writing.
[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Rcvw7NhxWyM
[6] http://www.freedom-path.org/;  Liljenquist was helped by http://www.FreedomWorks.org/, to which he has no connection;
http://www.factcheck.org/ has information on both organizations, but who checks FactCheck?
[7] http://hatch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2010/5/hatch-washington-takeover-of-healthcare-shows-need-to-recommit-to-federalism U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, “Washington Takeover of Healthcare Shows Need to Recommit to Federalism,” Deseret News, 5-13-2010
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