First-Order Myopia: What Donald Trump Can Learn from Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith's life was cut short because he failed to look beyond first-order consequences. Trump should learn from his mistake. In the summer of 1844, the bustling new city of Nauvoo, Illinois, was a powder keg. Doctrinal disputes and personal feuds had birthed a state of heightened tension between Joseph Smith, the mayor of Nauvoo and founder of Mormonism, and certain Mormon dissidents. These tensions came to a head on June 7, when some of Smith’s detractors published the first (and only) e … [Read more...]

Trump Should Learn from Andrew Jackson: Keep Church Out of State

Trump can learn from his hero and reject a fusion of Church and State.  Among the Religious Right, the idea that America is a secularized, atheistic wasteland has become an article of faith. From annual jeremiads about the “War on Christmas” to lamentations about prayer in schools, conservative Christians portray the country as a prodigal nation that has strayed from its faith-based roots.President Trump has pandered to this religious discontent, proclaiming that his America will “start sayi … [Read more...]

The Anti-Trump General Conference

Like many Mormons around the world, I’ve spent this weekend watching the Church’s General Conference, a biannual assembly of Church leaders and members where they come together to learn and be uplifted. While watching it, I’ve been struck by one thought – this is the anti-Trump conference.No, the leaders of the Church haven’t spent their time denouncing President Trump or calling for his ouster. Rather, they have offered forceful denunciations of some of the key tenets of Trumpism. That is, t … [Read more...]

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...]

A Hillbilly, a Professor, and a Mormon Mayor Walk into a (Dry) Bar . . .

The experience Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams gained on his Mormon mission helped him bridge economic and political divides. A year of national service could do the same for young Americans. A few months ago I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy, an engaging memoir by J.D. Vance that has been seized upon to explain the historic shift of blue-collar whites from their Democratic roots to voting for Trump in the 2016 election. In it, Vance discusses how many working-class whites, especially those … [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...]

Oaks vs. Oaks: First Cousins and LDS General Authorities Square Off

Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Robert C. Oaks may have the same grandparents, but their political views are vastly divergent. The address of Mormon apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks at BYU-Hawaii’s February commencement ceremony has recently been making the rounds in progressive Mormon circles. In the speech, the 84-year-old former Utah Supreme Court justice articulated concerns and a worldview that are a direct rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump. While the Donald is on record as saying that “the con … [Read more...]

A Chastened Chaffetz Should Learn from Mo Udall

Jason Chaffetz was recently tasked by angry constituents to "do [his] job." He should look to fellow Mormon and former congressman Mo Udall for some ideas.  At a speech before the Brookings Institution on January 11, 2017, the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, Jr., stated that Donald Trump’s plan to avoid conflicts of interest was “meaningless.” This assessment is borne out by the facts – Trump’s business assets have not been placed in a blind trust, his sons will o … [Read more...]