While I typically do not target a specific audience with any of my posts here, I thought it might be appropriate for today. Today is the day that we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrate the arrival of the first wave of emigrant Church members in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, an occasion we know as Pioneer Day. Somewhat paradoxically, in order to enjoy the blessings of being able to freely practice their religion as promised in the US Constitution, the early Church members had to leave the United States itself and settled in what was then still a part of Mexico. But no matter the failures of the US government to uphold its values, we maintain a unique reverence towards the US Constitution and the principles upon which it was built. The Bill of Rights in particular is where I see the greatest evidence of inspiration, and the most important and timeless of principles which need to be upheld.
While I spent much time contemplating my decision to file to run for this Senate race earlier this year, my resolve was greatly strengthened when I listened to President Oaks's talk during the Sunday Afternoon session of the last General Conference. In this talk, he states very early on the purpose behind the establishment of the Constitution:
God has given His children moral agency—the power to decide and to act. The most desirable condition for the exercise of that agency is maximum freedom for men and women to act according to their individual choices.
In parallel with my study of the Gospel, I have spent the last decade broadening my knowledge of political and economic systems as I have become more engaged in politics, and both have brought me to this same conclusion. Maximum freedom is the most desirable condition, not merely for the most fruitful exercise of our moral agency, but for the improvement of the human condition and the establishment of peace.
In clarifying our views on the Constitution, President Oaks lists a number of divinely inspired principles. The first of those is that the source of government power is the people. And while he only discusses this in reference to the election of representatives by the consent of voters, I would ask you to consider taking this concept a step further: I cannot vest any authority I do not possess into any government, no matter how much I may consent to it. As an individual, I have no legitimate authority to seize my neighbor's property, dictate his diet or other personal habits, or compel him to serve in a military force. And since I do not have any such authority, I cannot then legitimately delegate it to a government, no matter how many of us may be convinced that we want to. Examples of where this has occurred are too numerous to mention, but they are at odds with both the principle that power comes from the people and the goal of establishing that desirable condition of maximum freedom.
Another principle he listed is the separation of powers. Where the Constitution wisely gives only the Congress authority to declare war but grants the President authority as Commander in Chief to prosecute a declared wars, Congress has, in modern times, completely abdicated its authority through the passage of the War Powers Act and the various Authorizations to Use Military Force, not to mention occasions where the executive branch has ordered military action without even an AUMF and without any repercussions. But this is just one example of how this principle has been undermined today, and the need to replace the Republicans and Democrats who have engineered these conditions and maintained a cartel over our political system, shutting out influence from anyone outside their circles.
One last principle, which is perhaps the most central to my political views, is the essential nature of guarantees such as those found in the Bill of Rights, which limit the power of government. From the First to the Tenth Amendment, we see these guarantees under constant assault from the political mainstream to the great detriment of our nation. Where so many modern conflicts could be avoided or resolved by simply adhering to Constitutional limits on government power and action, those in power today, representing the interests of the two party system, have effectively conspired to create these conditions by their constant efforts to chip away at these protections and advance the misguided belief in an innately omnipotent state that .must approve every individual right.
As President Oaks later says:
Our belief in divine inspiration gives Latter-day Saints a unique responsibility to uphold and defend the United States Constitution and principles of constitutionalism wherever we live.
It is this responsibility I hope to fulfil, as I see the Constitution under siege on all sides by those who wish to expand the powers of government and deny individuals the maximum freedom so desirable for our advancement as a people. And we must remember that this is more than just a contest of ideas with those who may be misguided. The origin of these efforts is clearly stated in Section 98 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.
This knowledge will only profit us if we make use of it, and President Oaks reiterated the options available for us to take action:
In the United States and in other democracies, political influence is exercised by running for office (which we encourage), by voting, by financial support, by membership and service in political parties, and by ongoing communications to officials, parties, and candidates.
So I have chosen the first of these paths, and I am hoping that I will have your support. This is a challenge that no one can overcome alone, but I believe the cause of upholding the US Constitution and protecting the individual freedom and moral agency of all mankind is worthy of these modest sacrifices.
In his call to action, President Oaks acknowledged the need to set political priorities, even where we may not find a candidate who perfectly aligns with us in every viewpoint, but this should not be an impediment for us.
Such independent actions will sometimes require voters to support candidates or political parties or platforms whose other positions they cannot approve.
I am certain that many of you may find one position or another in my platform which you are not ready to embrace yet, but if we are aligned on the core principles of defending individual liberty and upholding the Constitution then I ask for your support in this endeavor as I also wish you and your family a very Happy Pioneer Day.