The Casual Sexism in Trump’s Condolences to Theresa May

To hear Trump tell it, you'd think that Theresa May fainted after the Westminster attack.   Theresa May is a strong woman.The first female British prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, and the second in history, has had to weather the turbulent storms of Westminster’s raucous political culture, constantly fending off the schoolboy-like taunts of opponents during regular appearances before Parliament. She’s also had to guide her nation through a harrowing period of uncertainty, wit … [Read more...]

Mormons and Free Trade

Despite a rocky history, Mormons have come to love free trade. They should keep advocating for it in the face of Trump's skepticism. An ancient text describes a group of people who benefited from open borders and free trade. But it isn’t British economist Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, but rather the Book of Mormon, a collection of scriptures revered by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its description of a borderless trading regime is set out in the following ver … [Read more...]

What Vox got wrong about Jon Huntsman

Why did Trump pick Huntsman as Ambassador to Russia? The reasons are many.  On March 9, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp published an article puzzling over Trump’s appointment of Jon Huntsman as U.S. Ambassador to Russia. In it, he pointed out that Huntsman has no issue expertise in Russia or Eastern Europe, has a history of turning on those whom he has previously supported, and holds views on human rights and free trade that run counter to Trump’s. But while Huntsman’s nomination may not make sense in term … [Read more...]

Your Optimism Isn’t a Virtue

Growing up in an abusive home taught me a harsh lesson about optimism: too often, optimism is a weapon in the hands of people who are simply unwilling to help. Too often the apathetic bystander uses optimism as an excuse to walk away, guilt free. It wouldn't surprise me if the Priest and Levite who walked past the wounded man in a ditch told themselves to hope for the best, that surely someone would come along and help him, or he'd rest awhile and find the strength to crawl to safety. Surely, he … [Read more...]

The Trump Supporter Next Door

If you've been following the Peculiar People column over the past few months, you've probably noticed two things: the posts have been sparse, and nearly all of them have been anti-Trump. The emphasis on Trump wasn't a coordinated effort on anyone's part - personally, I've held back from writing more about him so that it wouldn't seem like we'd plunged into political propaganda. But I'm acknowledging that trend because it probably won't surprise you that I'm among the many Americans still reeling … [Read more...]

The Case for Hillary Clinton and a Mormon Stance on Abortion

It's no secret that Mormons don't like Donald Trump. So I was surprised a few weeks ago when, among my conservative Mormon friends, one of the most common public reactions to the third debate was a doubling down on far-right anti-abortion stances. In response to Clinton's insistence that a ban on late-term abortion needed to include exceptions for the life and health of the mother, friends shared articles claiming that no abortion is ever necessary to save a pregnant woman's life and gave … [Read more...]

Why I’m Fasting for Hillary Clinton

On the first Sunday of every month, Mormons all over the world abstain from food and drink for 24 hours. This period of self-denial is designed to help us draw closer to God and seek answers to our prayers. In addition, we donate the money that we would have spent on the skipped meals to the Church’s program for assisting the poor and needy.I’ve fasted for various things over the course of my life. As a high school senior, I fasted before giving a speech at my graduation, praying that I wou … [Read more...]

Not a Democracy, Not a Dictatorship: My Big Fat Mormon Family

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously suggested moving to New Zealand to avoid Donald Trump. Alas, here I am in Auckland, New Zealand, but there is no refuge here from U.S. politics. Election news is on the BBC. It’s in the headlines. My students at the university get together to watch the debates and quote the best bits in tutorial.These discussions about political bodies and how they are constituted and governed have coincided with the semi-annual General Conference of t … [Read more...]