Update 10/10/2007: Senator Reid subsequently says some very unimpressive things about "right-wing" members of the LDS Church.
Many people would rather listen to entertainers like Rush Limbaugh to get their information about what kind of person Senator Reid is. That would be a dire mistake. I decided to go to the source, and I am glad I did. I enjoyed what I discovered. Senator Reid said in his speech that "I am a Democrat because I am a Mormon," and not the other way around. I found his sincerity about his political beliefs genuine. I agree with him that people of various political parties can be true to their religious faith.
Harry Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada to poor parents. There were no worship services of any kind in the town; instead there were 13 brothels. He was one of 6 eighth graders to graduate in his elementary school class. Franklin D. Roosevelt was to the Reid family something of an icon.
For high school he boarded with an aunt and uncle in Henderson, 50 miles away, and on some weekends he would hitchhike home to Searchlight. His aunt was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and she gave him his first knowledge of Jesus Christ and his gospel. His wife was Jewish, and was nearly disowned by her parents when she and Harry got married. Soon after marriage, they attended Utah State University, where their landlord interested them more in the gospel, and they were soon baptized into the LDS Church.
Here are some of the political issues he discussed, my paraphrasal of his comments in italics, and my comments in regular text.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt fought for the working man. Because of him and his successes at relief and restoration, Senator Reid believes that government can be our friend when it comes to helping us get back on our feet. Social Security has been the most successful support program ever. I've mentioned recently on this site that I think FDR made some terrible mistakes. Although government can in rare circumstances be of help in such times of need, local government should take care of those problems. I believe that the time for paying the piper that FDR hired is fast approaching.
- Unions have been responsible for many positive developments. I didn't used to agree with this, but now I do. Capitalism can indeed be oppressive, and unions can be a good counter to the uncharitable task master. But I also believe that individuals have a 'right to work' without being in a union.
- Global warming exists, and the free market can't deal with it. It is not a cyclical phenomenon. We should be looking for alternative energy sources. I agree that global warming exists, and I agree that we should be looking for alternate energy sources, but I disagree with both of Senator Reid's other statements listed here. The free market can deal with any issue if left unfettered by government, but global warming is not a crisis, because it is cyclical.
- "Iraq was the greatest US Foreign Policy blunder ever." Those, if not his exact words, are very close. This is one statement for which a more than moderate smattering applause could be heard in the Marriott Center. After he said that some people believe the Iraq invasion was a good thing, a smaller smattering of counter-applause occurred. I don't think it was the worst foreign policy blunder ever, because I think it is the continuation and result of the greatest blunder in the history of US Policy--that is US foreign policy in general. So, essentially, I agree with Harry Reid on this issue.
- "I am pro-life." Other Democrats are pro-life. I agree.
- Mitt Romney's campaign success should be determined by his policies, not his religion. This statement got the largest ovation. I completely agree. When Mitt's father ran for public office several years ago, his religion hardly entered into the discussion. Now Mitt's detractors seem to use his religion as a bludgeon. That being said, I will not vote for Mitt Romney, because I don't like his policies. I think Senator Reid would agree.
- King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon said that when you serve your fellow men, you serve your God. Public service is an excellent way to serve your fellow men. Various LDS leaders have given public service in politics. Mormon missionaries are generally good public servants because they live among the people, the are clean, and they learn the language and culture of their host nation. I couldn't have said it better myself.
I'm glad I didn't rely on some entertainment-politico to tell me 'what I needed to know' about Harry Reid, because I would have never learned these important things about an important individual.
Update 10/10/2007: Normally following BYU Forums, there is a question and answer session with those interested in attending. This time there wasn't. I thought it was because the Senator was pressed for time. In actuality, Senator Reid had a press conference following his speech, in which he said some very rude things about former LDS Church president Ezra Taft Benson. Maybe he didn't think they were rude, but they were.
In remarks to the media following his address, Reid said that, "In the past years we've had some very prominent members of the church, like Ezra Taft Benson, who are really right-wing people.Okay, so now I'm not so impressed. Why didn't he say that to the BYU audience if he was being sincere about it?
"Members of the church are obedient and followers in the true sense of the word, but these people have taken members of the church down the path that is the wrong path," he said.
However, Reid says he doesn't have to answer to those who question his faith in the LDS Church.
"I have to go get my [temple] recommend, and they're not present," he quipped.
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