By Josh Hogan
President Heber J Grant has said, “I pray for our country and ask the Lord to bless those who preside in the nation; in the states, in the cities, and in the counties.” Now that the election is over I hope as LDS Democrats that we will not only pray for the victors, but reach out to them to continue letting them know our concerns.
President Grant continues, “I pray God to inspire the people that they will obey His commands, and elect good men to office; that they will bury their political differences and seek for good men to hold office…”
I have not had a lot of experience with politics. In fact, this year was my first attempt at being active in any caucus. During this election year I reached out to both Democratic and Republican candidates to try to learn their views on various issues, whether they were high profile issues or not. My goal was to get past the campaign rhetoric and learn what they really thought. By doing so I learned a few of things.
First, I learned that there are many good people running for office. Most of them truly want to make a positive difference. I admire those of you who ran this year. Thank you.
Second, I learned that many candidates, or their campaign personnel, do not respond to people who simply want to know what they think. I don’t know why. In my ignorance I thought they would respond to people who are truly interested. Perhaps it is not worth their time answering emails and phone calls compared to updating websites, cold-calling, or writing the next media response. Nonetheless, it was a surprisingly difficult process to get clarification on the issues from the candidates.
Third, I learned most voters are apathetic. They complain a lot and believe many rumors, but they are not interested enough to take the time to get involved. I understand these people. I was one of them until recently. However, now I have met many of you and am excited to work with you from now on. I hope you know how truly exceptional you are.
Fourth, most voters make their decisions on their feelings. These feelings are primarily influenced by the campaign rhetoric in the press. I think it is sad that decisions are made in such a shallow way. (Perhaps this is the reason for the second thing I learned above.)
Fifth, candidates and I agree on most things, no matter their political party. This is something I already knew, but was not sure was still true. I have tracked congress in the past and agree with most of the things they pass by voice vote, which is a lot of the legislation they pass.
The press talks a lot about the differences between our two major parties. Pointing out differences is important for candidates so voters can make the best choice. However, when it comes to governing we need to use a different method.
I met Congressman Matheson for the first time this year. In that meeting he said that he tries to find common ground with people before attempting to solve differences. I like that. I think that if we get past the evil party labels we put on one another we will find that we agree on many things. This will give us an opportunity let down our guard and create ground on which we can agree on more things that are good for our country.
Sixth, campaigning is ugly. I am disappointed at the name calling and accusations I heard and saw from both parties and their candidates this year. I hope in the future our LDS members and candidates will be better examples of our religion. Obviously we will disagree, but let’s not “be disagreeable” (President Thomas S. Monson). As President Obama said, “I’d be remiss if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends. So instead, I must try – imperfectly, but I must try – to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.” (National Pray Breakfast, 2/2012) (On that note, I had ample opportunity to forgive the candidates for maligning one another. )
Seven, it takes a lot of work and money to get the word out! Again, thanks to those of you who are involved!!!
From my rookie year learnings I have a few goals.
First, reorganize the Utah County Chapter of LDS Democrats. We lost our wonderful chair, Muriel Xochimitl, to her busy life. Here where the Republican party is so strong we need to organize to fulfill our mission.
Second, keep learning about the candidates and the issues. Come next election I should have few questions for the incumbents because I have been tracking them for 2 years.
Third, work with those willing to be Democratic candidates in 2014 to prepare for that election. I hope they will be willing to help us educate the public on the issues between now and when they run.
I am sure my sophomore year will bring many more opportunities to learn about this world of politics. I look forward to your tutelage as we work to instill LDS values into our communities, state, nation, and world.
Josh Hogan, Acting Chair, Utah County LDS Democrats
Josh is a native of Hansen, ID, who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 15. He served a mission to Taiwan and holds a B.A. in Chinese from BYU and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from the University of Pheonix. He is currently the Manager of Enterprise Data Management at NuSkin. Josh and his wife Lisa have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. He has served in a variety of callings in the LDS Church. Josh is a Reagan-voting-Republican-turned-Independent, and currently serves as the Democratic Chair of Payson’s 2nd District and Acting Chair of the Utah County Chapter of LDS Democrats.