Sometimes I found myself trying to bend the gospel so it fit into my politics. This happened regardless of which party I belonged to at the time. It occurred to me that was a very short-sighted view of life. Eternal life, not the temporary concerns of mortality, was my goal. So many political views on based on what is best for this life, not eternity. When I found my politics were influencing my faith instead of the other way around, I made a change.
I decided that if I really wanted to stand for truth and righteousness at all times, I needed to abandon partisan politics. Many people are able to juggle their memberships in the Church and their party. Many belong to a party, but, when the two conflict, they choose the gospel. I found that just didn’t work for me, personally. I didn’t want to keep catching myself trying to squash gospel doctrine into party doctrine–and so often, it seemed like people treated their parties like religions. For my own personal safety, I dropped my political identity and now choose to be a political moderate independent. The church’s views, I noticed, often offend both parties, and so moderate seems like a good way to put it, even though I’m not exactly in the middle on anything. However, where the Church is, there I am also.
I do belong to a party on paper because my state discriminates against independents in primaries. Being so very absent-minded, I am afraid to do what President Uchtdorf does–stay unaffiliated until the deadline, switch to whichever Primary he wants to vote in, and then return to independence. I know I will miss the deadline. The last time I tried that, I ended up racing out to register in a thunderstorm an hour before the deadline.
I am one of those rare people who could vote in both primaries and actually choose the person in each I would feel most comfortable voting for, rather than choosing the one I think would lose in the other party. If we all did that, we’d have better candidates on both sides. Before the Primaries, I study all the candidates and then choose which party Primary to vote in based on the person I feel most strongly about or the one where I can have the most impact. I then register with that party. If I forget to change my registration, I can still vote in the other Primary.
In the last presidential election, I came home and, out of curiosity, counted out my votes. I had voted exactly half for one party and half for the other. I hadn’t planned it that way; it just worked out. It made me feel comfortable that I was putting God before man when I voted. It may not always work out that way, of course, and it’s very hard to find moderate candidates, but it’s nice if I can do it.
I don’t criticize those who belong to political parties–I know most of our General Authorities do–but for me, this is the safest way to make sure nothing interferes with my ability to follow the prophet. And, I rather agree with George Washington’s prophecy in his farewell address. It’s an enlightening study. I’ve included a link to the entire address at the end of these two bits of it:
One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings, which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those, who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. …
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it (George Washington’s Farewell Address). Quoted from EarlyAmerica.com.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.