Monday, January 2, 2017

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Inauguration of Donald Trump

As many readers are likely aware, the decision of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing at the Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2017, has been controversial. As some have noted, the Choir has never turned down an invitation to participate in a Presidential Inauguration, whether the President was Democratic or Republican. Clearly, singing at the inauguration is not intended to make a partisan statement.

Yet the decision has been controversial because Donald Trump has been an exceptionally controversial political figure, one in many respects particularly offensive to Latter-day Saints.

A young relative of mine has commented insightfully on the issue:

Another insightful response has been posted here:

A less positive opinion has been presented on CNN's online site:

Though problematic, this opinion is a reminder of the positive impression the Church and some of its members made during 2016, including in some unlikely quarters, by not warming up to Trump.

Here are my views on the issue, presented as a response to the "Brothers Sabey" post I noted above:

As usual, this [the post "Trump's Mormon (Tabernacle Choir) Problem," by David Sabey] is beautifully stated and well thought out. You’ve identified some critical issues, including the dangers of political polarization. As someone who finds that the current political divide doesn’t give me any comfortable partisan home, I think we all need to be trying a lot harder to understand other people’s views and to approach those with whom we disagree with respect and goodwill.

Having the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform at the inauguration is awkward given that Trump has been offensive in ways that are unprecedented in a President-Elect, at least in the past century or more. Yet it would also be awkward for the Choir not to perform, now that it has been invited (and accepted the invitation). And refusing to perform could set a bad precedent, say, in the event of a future invitation from a Democratic President-Elect–someone who likely would not be offensive in the ways Trump has been but who might have some positions that many Latter-day Saints would be uncomfortable with.

Another thing that makes the situation awkward is what I consider to be the unfortunately persistent identification of Mormons with the Republican Party and with conservative politics in general, despite the Church’s official neutrality and despite the fact that the Church’s official positions tend to align with various points on the political spectrum (mostly from what is currently considered moderately conservative to moderately liberal). Though many prominent Mormons opposed Trump and many Church members who voted for Trump did so with deep reservations, the partisan imbalance among Church members in the US is so severe (with something like 70% normally voting Republican) that anything the Church does that seems favorable to Trump–even if it is simply extending the same kinds of courtesies it would to any president–will be viewed by many as partisan.

I agree that extending those kinds of courtesies to Trump, including participating in the inauguration, may help ease polarization and encourage a kind of public spiritedness–including the view, with which I heartily agree, that we should be respectful to our elected officials, even when we disagree with them, and be as positive as we can even when we oppose some of their policies or actions.

Sadly, many Latter-day Saints failed to do just that with President Obama. Though the Church’s general leaders were consistently respectful and positive in their interaction with President Obama–sending General Authorities to his inaugurations, meeting with him, and praising him and his family–I’m afraid that among rank-and-file Latter-day Saints in Utah there was widespread hostility against President Obama and a tendency to attack him and demean him in the standard right-wing ways. (I can’t vouch for other locations, but the same was probably true anywhere a disproportionate number of Latter-day Saints watched Fox News or listened to Rush Limbaugh.)

I love my fellow Latter-day Saints and have found them to be among the best and most Christlike people I know. But in terms of politics, I wish there could be a serious change of attitude and better discernment in assessing current-events information. I wish there were something approaching a partisan balance, since I think that would be good both for the Church and for the political parties (particularly in Utah, where the imbalance has particularly unfortunate effects). And I wish Latter-day Saints had been even a fraction as respectful toward the Obamas and a fraction as forgiving toward the Clintons as many seem inclined to be toward President-Elect Trump.

What I am suggesting in part is that the Church's non-partisan stance would be more effective if more Church members were as respectful of our elected officials--regardless of party and despite some differences of view--as the Church's general leaders are.

As for the Choir's performance at the inauguration, I wonder if there's anything they could do to make it clear that there performance is not a stamp of approval on Trump or his policies--for instance, singing "This Land Is Your Land," or singing something in Arabic? Maybe singing "Amazing Grace" or "We Shall Overcome"? Wait: I just thought of the perfect piece--"Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" ("and the walls came a-tumblin' down").

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Anchors, links, etc.

This is practical information for use in blogging.

I often include links, for instance, this one that could appear in at least 3 forms:

(1) Click here:

(2) Click here.

(3) A post titled "17 days later: Some reasons for hope and concern"

Underlying each is the following (I'm using the target that will open a new page and to avoid having the codes actually activate, I'm substituting^ for the pointed brackets, or whatever they're called < and > or < and >):

(1) Click here:

^a href="" target="_blank"^^/a^

(2) Click here.

Click ^a href="" target="_blank"^here^/a^

(3) A post titled "17 days later: Some reasons for hope and concern"

A post titled ^a href="" target="_blank"^"17 days later: Some reasons for hope and concern"^/a^


How about links to a spot in the same page?

I found clear instructions here:

Which I will quote:

. . . HTML page anchors allow visitors to jump to a specific place in the current webpage, or to jump to a specific place on another web page.
You usually implement HTML anchors if you want a graphic or text to link half way down another page. That way your visitor isn't required to read all through the page to get to the part their interested in.

[End of quote]

So, for example, I could send you to a phrase at the beginning of this post by having you click here.

the codes:

click ^a href=""^here^/a^.


^a name="practical"^practical information^/a^

And I can link to a spot on another page, by having you click here

The codes:

click ^a href=""^here^/a^. and

^a name="note1"^Note 1^/a^ [this being found on the other page]

[I think going into HTML may wreck these codes, but maybe if I can put them in and then avoid going into HTML?]

Friday, November 25, 2016

17 days later: Some reasons for hope and concern

The day after the recent presidential election, I wrote about what the outcome felt like to me and others who are close to me. Now another week and a half (almost) have passed, and I thought I would share my current thoughts.

Shortly after the election Josh Sabey, a young (and exceptionally thoughtful) relative of mine, wrote about "The Dangers of Worst-Case Scenario Thinking about Trump." He argues that "our predisposition towards worst-case scenario thinking [may get] in the way of a more positive and optimistic reality." And he points to Oskar Schindler as "a womanizer and egoist" who nevertheless ended up performing heroic acts, thus showing that "Morally suspect people have done great things before when they have obtained, by whatever coincidence ordains it, remarkable circumstances and great power."

I responded to Josh's post as follows:
Thank you. This is wise and well expressed. I'm grateful for your generous and hopeful attitude. My greatest hope for every human being, including myself, is that we can change--and I believe we can. But of course when choosing a president, we need to take into account a candidate’s current character as well as his or her potential for change. And we should hope that the gap between the two is not too wide. 
I am concerned about a Trump presidency in part because of his character, but also because he is exceptionally underqualified, ill informed, and troubling in his approach to many issues. (And his style continues to be divisive.) But I have never felt he is as dangerous as the great dictators of the twentieth century, or even the second-rate ones of the past and present whose temperament and style resemble his. For one thing, though his instincts are authoritarian, I don't believe he has any malicious designs aiming at dictatorial rule.
In addition, we have a wonderful system of government (along with a diverse culture) that offers many protections. Though having all branches of the national government in the hands of one party presents some concerns, the fact is that many Republican leaders are much more sensible than Trump. The Senate is evenly enough divided that, especially with a sizable group of Republican Senators who are moderate on some issues (for instance, immigration), it’s unlikely any initiatives that are terribly destructive will make it through the process. 
Nevertheless, given some of what has happened since the election, I believe we have reasons for both hope and concern. Since the election took place less than three weeks ago, it’s too early to tell what a Trump presidency will be like. But I believe we've already seen both some positive and some negative signs.

Here, according to my way of thinking, are some of those positives and negatives:

Positive: Trump has somewhat moderated his tone and is no longer using some of the most incendiary language used during the campaign (for instance, about jailing his opponent).

Negative: He continues to get into undignified twitter battles, often on subjects he would do much better to ignore.

Positive: I’m pleased with some of the people he’s invited or considered inviting into his administration: for instance, Nikki Haley and (possibly) Mitt Romney. 

Negative: Romney’s chances aren’t looking good at the moment. Trump’s campaign manager tweeted about the strong negative reaction (i.e., intense anger) from “Trump’s base” about Romney. I'm concerned that Trump's base--despite the fact that they are a small portion of the entire voting population--will keep Trump from moving in as moderate and inclusive direction as he might, and as he should, given the closeness of the election and the fact that he actually lost the popular vote. Furthermore, the idea of someone like Rudy Giuliani as Secretary of State--or in fact as anything of importance in the administration--depresses me.

Another negative: On a related note, some of Trump’s choices are, in my opinion, particularly appalling: Steve Bannon (chosen as “chief strategist”: a promoter of extreme and tabloid style material who has a harsh, insulting, incendiary style, who has gone after Muslims and Mormons, among others, and who says he believes “darkness is good” because it’s powerful) and Michael Flynn (chosen as national security adviser: known for his anti-Islamic rhetoric and his promotion of conspiracy theories, including some that have been proven false).

Steve Bannon (left); Nikki Haley (right)

Positive: Despite the fact that Trump himself doesn’t have much of a constitutional philosophy or much serious knowledge about the Constitution, some of his potential Supreme Court picks could be reasonably good. (For instance, I’m intrigued by the possibility of Bill Pryor.) There are some issues on which someone like Pryor might helpfully promote what I think are important constitutional protections and principles. 

Bill Pryor (see; known to have quoted "Love Shack" in an opinion)

Negative: On the other hand, I am not a strict “originalist” in constitutional interpretation (I don’t think it’s entirely practical or reasonable, for reasons I could detail--see note 1 below), and so I think it would be a mistake to shift the Supreme Court heavily in an “originalist” or severely conservative direction. I think there’s much to be said for having highly qualified middle-of-the-road justices (such as Merrick Garland). And there are some issues on which a heavily conservative Supreme Court would make decisions I think are mistaken (e.g., on gun control, immigration, voting rights, campaign financing, the rights of the accused, protections for non-Christian religions, etc.).

(By the way, though Trump might be persuaded to appoint "originalist" judges, there are reasons for concern even from an "originalist" point of view. For a critical commentary on Trump's constitutional views by "originalists," see )

Positive (sort of): Trump has already moderated his positions on some issues, for instance, immigration (but not enough, in my opinion), Obamacare, and same-sex marriage (he says he has no problem with it). I suspect he’s a pragmatist (which is a good thing) and will moderate his views when he sees that some of his positions and promises are simply unworkable. But I see his changing of positions as problematic too (for instance, on same-sex marriage) because it suggests that on many issues, including moral ones, his lack of a solid, principled stance reflects a lack of clear, deeply held moral views.

Positive (more so): Despite promising horrific responses to terrorists and their families, including torture, Trump has said he’s been “surprised” to learn (from General Mattis, a possible Defense Secretary) that torture is not really effective. This suggests to me that, if Trump gets some reasonable people in the right positions, he could be open to persuasion and learning.

Another positive: Despite having said things during the campaign that were frightening or deeply concerning to our allies and others around the world, Trump and his associates have made some positive efforts to reassure other nations, for instance, indicating that we won't abandon NATO.

Negative: On the other hand, Trump has already made the first of what may be many foreign relations gaffes, suggesting that Nigel Farange should be appointed British ambassador to the US. (For one thing, there is already an ambassador; for another, a US President does not recommend the person another nation should send as an ambassador; and for yet another, Farange is a right-wing, anti-immigration politician whose status and views should not be elevated). On a similar, troubling note, Trump has courted or been courted by several right-wing, anti-immigration European politicians, such as Marion LePen, whose hostility to immigrants, refugees, and (in some cases) non-Caucasians in general represent a dangerous trend toward exclusion and nationalist divisiveness.

Potential positive: Because both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans, Trump may be able to accomplish some things with much more cooperation from Congress than President Obama has had, including some good and necessary things, such as infrastructure improvement and (I hope) sentencing and prison reform.

Potential negative: On the other hand, he may also be able to do some things that I think are unfortunate, even possibly disastrous: for instance, tax cuts that could sharply deepen the national debt or require cutting important programs, and financial deregulation that could set the stage for another economic collapse like that of 2008. (See,)

Negative: Trump’s election has unleashed some negatives--anti-Muslim rhetoric and even violence, white nationalists expressing themselves in exuberant and mock neo-Nazi style, harassment of Hispanic kids and others in elementary schools (the morning after the election, some kids in Utah were told by their schoolmates, “Now you have to go back to Mexico”), and of course public expressions of anger by some who oppose Trump. Trump can’t be personally blamed for all of this. But his rhetoric and some of his ideas helped set the stage for it.

Positive: Trump has condemned or disavowed some of the worst of these negatives and has called for unity. It remains to be seen how effectively he’ll be able to calm fears and communicate a sense of inclusiveness.

Where do we go from here?

Whatever a Trump presidency ends up looking like, there’s one negative that is already in place and that I believe we need to work very hard to reverse. Trump apparently proved that horribly negative campaigning--far more negative than anything we’ve seen since the 1800s--can be successful: campaigning that includes crazy accusations (like those against Ted Cruz’s father); constant and often deeply demeaning insults (Trump against everybody else); mockery or verbal attacks against women, ethnic and religious minorities, and other vulnerable groups; encouragement of violence (for instance, urging people to beat up protesters at his rallies); threats of retaliation against judges and opponents; accusations that the whole system is rigged, etc. We’ve got to do whatever we can to make sure this does not become the “new normal.” 

Besides degrading the quality of our public life, this kind of campaigning is deeply divisive. It pits portions of our nation against other portions. Even if Trump avoids this kind of rhetoric as president, it would clearly not be good for our nation to spend 18 months every four years in this kind of negative, divisive mode (or even more than 18 months if we count the midterm elections). 

Somehow we’ve got to practice and encourage a more positive, thoughtful, inclusive approach. I think we should show that we favor such an approach by both precept and example--calling on all, including Trump, to take such an approach and also taking it ourselves. We need to be vigilant--expressing opposition to actions or proposals that we believe to be wrong--but being open minded and respectful and doing our best to give Trump a chance to be successful. I believe it also means praying that any good he does will be enhanced and any negative he does or proposes will be minimized or thwarted. We also need to work to help turn those prayers into realities.

[For another take on where to go from here, see this, from my brilliant and good-hearted son: ]

Note 1: On "originalism": This is the view that the wording of the US Constitution should be interpreted according to the original intention or understanding of those who wrote it. I am sympathetic with this approach and certainly do not agree with those who believe they can interpret the Constitution to mean whatever they think it ought to mean, based purely on their personal views or what they believe to be prevailing contemporary thought. I believe that great respect and great weight should be given to the wording of the Constitution and that efforts to understand how its words would have been understood when it was first produced and adopted are among the ways of determining what the words "mean." But I see several weaknesses in a strictly "originalist" approach:

(1) It is impossible to determine with certainty the intention of any writer. Though other things the writer has said, along with evidence of standard usage at the time of writing, may be helpful, in general the words a writer has written need to stand on their own. They "mean" whatever they can reasonably be construed to mean--and there are reasons that anything the writer claims to the contrary should be discounted as either disingenuous, self-deceived, or simply mistaken.

(2) Attempts to determine what words "meant" in a particular time and location are also fraught with uncertainty. They are based on the best available evidence (which is always limited) and on personal judgment about the meaning of the evidence, which always to some extent amounts to an educated guess.

(3) Especially in legal and political documents, there is often an attempt at deliberate ambiguity or openness to interpretation. This is sometimes the result of compromise or a desire to give general or abstract express to ideas that can be applied in various circumstances. It is important to remember that the Constitution was a group project, the result of a good deal of discussion and compromise, and that its words may have been interpreted in somewhat different ways by the very people who constructed it. Therefore, it makes sense to look for evidence of general principles in the wording of the Constitution, as well as what we think we can identify as precise denotative meanings.

(4) There is a certain degree of indeterminacy in any use of human language. Words have histories and carry connotations--or perhaps regions of connotation--that will vary in their boundaries or emphasis from one writer or reader to another. In fact, those who use words, even with precision, will not be consciously aware of everything the words carry with them or of all their possibilities of meaning. Furthermore, words always have to be understood in connection and contrast with other words--and those other words also have to be understood in connection and contrast with other words, so that ultimately, if words meaning anything beyond those relations with other words, they have to relate to something that cannot itself be put into words. Another way to put this is that language is always part of a world of human relationships and activities and experiences and has meaning only by being part of that world, which is infinitely, elusively various and subject to constant change. 

(5) Some of the meanings we think we may be able to determine as "original" may be difficult or impossible to apply in current circumstances, or may contradict other well-established constitutional principles or currently acceptable standards of humane behavior. That is one reason that an "originalist" approach must, at the very least, be supplemented by other approaches--for instance, the common law tradition, which looks to custom, precedent, and the history of previous interpretation in determining how to apply laws. The Supreme Court in particular has long given great weight to precedent, and I believe there are many reasons it should.

Besides the fact that the "original" meaning is often hard to determine or already fraught with ambiguity, changing circumstances may make it difficult to apply in any sensible way what the original writers may have intended. For example, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "arms" (even when not used abstractly or figuratively) has never been restricted in its meaning to "firearms"; one of its traditional legal meanings is "Objects of any kind used by one person to assault or attack another." Should the second-amendment "right to bear arms" therefore be taken to prohibit any restrictions of any kind on the possession of any object "used by one person to assault or attack another"? Even if we limit "arms" to mean "firearms," would it be unconstitutional to restrict the possession or use of nuclear-powered rifles (assuming someone could invent such a device)? The further we push the possible meaning of the word "arms," the more we may want to take into account the accompanying phrase, "a well regulated militia," which itself refers to a concept that may have to be adjusted to make sense in today's world.

Another example: The 14th Amendment includes these words: "No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." What does the "equal protection" clause encompass? Does it encompass only the specific protections of the law that those involved in passing the amendment (or others of their time and location) would have thought of? Or does it encompass any protections of the law that are now available or that might reasonably be interpreted as being referred to by the very broad phrasing "equal protection of the laws"? For instance, is racial profiling prohibited by the equal protection clause? Can any state (or agency of a state) target an individual for questioning based on race or religion? How about electronic surveillance--something that didn't exist in the 1860s? Can such surveillance be based on race or religion and still meet the standard of "equal protection of the laws"? 

Yet another one: Much of the meaning of various provisions in the Constitution depends on the meaning of the words "people," "persons," and "citizens." The Constitution now defines a "citizen" as any person "born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof." "People," though not defined explicitly in the document itself, certainly refers to the human inhabitants of a state or of the United States. But there has been some difference of view over the years as to who fully counts as a human being, and it might be a serious mistake to try to base those portions of the Constitution using the word "people" as meaning anything other than what we would mean by "human inhabitants" now. "Person" in the Constitution apparently refers to an individual human being--but for purposes of the census required by the Constitution has never been taken to include children before birth. Section 2 of Article 1 indicates that "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons"--these "other Persons" clearly being slaves. This has now been modified by the 14th Amendment to "the whole number of persons of each state, excluding Indians not taxed." I'm not sure how "excluding Indians not taxed" is now understood, but apart from anyone fitting that category, the "whole number" now includes everyone else, free or not. Does that mean it includes felons or former felons who are not allowed (in some states) to vote? Presumably, since (even if they are considered to be experiencing "involuntary servitude"), they are "persons." 

But it's hard to know how to interpret another portion of the 14th Amendment: "But when the right to vote at any election for [various offices listed] is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State." If I understand the wording, it would indicate that male felons (and rebels) age 21 and above would still count for purposes of representation in Congress (as determined by census) but that any others restricted from voting for any other reason should not be counted for purposes of representation. Since the right to vote has now been extended by the 19th Amendment to women and by the 26th Amendment to any citizen 18 years old and above, does that mean denying or abridging the right to vote of any woman or any citizen age 18 through 20 (whether for crime or for another reason) would not affect the "number of persons" considered in determining a state's representation in Congress? Or should the 19th and 26th Amendments be taken as implying a change to the meaning of the 14th? And how far can this concept of "implying" be taken.

In any case, there's room for interpretation in considering both the strict meaning of the text and the original intent of the writers (and the original understanding of the readers for whom the words were intended).

One more: The 15th Amendment indicates that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Since the 13th Amendment indicates that "involuntary servitude" can be imposed "as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted," does the wording of the 15th Amendment imply that those who have been released from imprisonment for committing a crime must not be denied the right to vote simply because of "previous condition of servitude"? Or does it depend on whether imprisonment (which involves submitting to involuntary conditions) is counted as "servitude"? Or can conviction alone be taken as resulting in restrictions on voting rights that the punishment imposed by the conviction does not? (The 14th Amendment implies that "rebellion" or "crime" could result in voting restrictions. Do restrictions based on committing a crime still exist after the punishment for the crime has come to an end.) What answers would "originalism" or "strict constructionism" suggest? If the questions I've posed have actually been considered by the courts, how have they been answered and on what grounds?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After (November 9, 2016)

This morning at 4:13am my time I received the following message from a friend:
Bruce and Margaret, I'm praying for you and your family. Will you pray for us too? We need it.
I saw the message a couple of hours later and responded:
Absolutely. You and your family will be in our prayers, as will the nation and the world. I'm trying to feel hopeful--I know God is in charge and everything will ultimately work out. But I also know God allows humans to do unfortunate, even terrible things and suffer the consequences. I know this is survivable, but I honestly see so many down sides that I can't help be concerned and sad. And there's also the shock. I feel like I'm getting a little taste of what PTSD must feel like.
As the history books will record, the cause of our distress was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Of course, I will respect the results of the election. I love this country and its Constitutional processes. But I have been deeply troubled all night by how half the nation (a little less actually, in overall votes) could have voted for someone who is so obviously unqualified and who is so divisive and dangerous.

I believe the nation has made a huge mistake. Trump is clearly unqualified to serve as president and is worse in terms of character, temperament, and preparation than any major party candidate in my lifetime, perhaps in the past hundred years or more. In my opinion--and for some of the reasons I'll detail below--Hillary Clinton was by far the superior choice, despite her flaws. I believe that many Americans have been blinded to her virtues, have a drastically exaggerated view of her flaws and errors, and voted for Trump (however reluctantly) for reasons that, as I'm afraid history will confirm, do not outweigh the damage he will do. 

I am religious through and through--a Latter-day Saint, which means also a Christian, a believer in and an aspiring follower of Christ. Hence, my confidence that God is in charge. I note my religious identity also to explain some of my causes of concern. The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends out a letter every election season affirming the Church's political neutrality and encouraging members' participation in the political process. This year the letter included the following sentence:
"Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles." 
I take the word "embody" to mean that we should seek leaders who don't simply support good principles, but who embody them in their character, their thinking, their words, their way of life. The Deseret News made a similar point in the October 8 editorial that called on Trump to withdraw from the race: "The belief that the party and the platform matter more than the character of the candidate ignores the wisdom of the ages that, 'when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.' (Proverbs 29:2)"

Another book of scripture advises us about what kinds of leaders we should seek:
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:10)
In my judgment, Donald Trump fails on all counts. 

He is not honest: much of what he says is verifiably false, to a much higher degree than is true of most other major political figures. What is worse, he doesn't seem to care. That is, the factual veracity of what he says doesn't seem particularly to matter to him. 

Without question, I would not count him as wise. And on many measures that matter to me--particularly in the way he treats other people--he is not good.

Equally troubling are the implications of another passage of scripture the election has led me to think about. This is Mosiah 29:26-27:
Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

In defense of the "voice of the people" in this season's election, it appears that the popular vote is pretty evenly split. It may be that Hillary Clinton will end up with a slight plurality. She may join a select number of presidential candidates who will have won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. Trump's victory in the electoral college will have come from narrow wins in several battleground states coupled with more decisive losses in some of the most populous states.

Perhaps this year's result will lead to proposals for a change in our method of selecting a president. It's pretty clear that the way the electoral college works is not quite what the Founders had in mind: they wanted a safeguard against demagoguery by leaving the selection of the president to the judgment of presumably wise "electors." But now the electoral college simply works as a mechanical process that either affirms or overturns the popular vote, depending on the accidents of demographics.

As I noted earlier, I think that Hillary Clinton was clearly the superior candidate and that many Americans have badly misjudged her and at the same time have seriously underestimated the dangers of a Trump presidency. With all her flaws, Hillary Clinton is a good person motivated by a desire to "do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can." She is sincerely religious, and her Methodist faith is much closer to the religious attitude and style of Mormons than either is to the approach dominating among conservative evangelical Christians. Especially in private, Hillary can be warm and delightful. Unfortunately, she hasn't figured out how to share very effectively the best parts of her personality with the broader public. For anyone wanting a window into who Hillary Clinton really is, one of the best ways I know would be to read a piece by Tomicah Tilleman, a young Utah woman who has worked closely with her and who has written of her faith, her compassion, her respect for religious diversity, and her admiration for Mormons. (See for the entire article.) (Btw, did you know that she has held "Family Home Evening" regularly with her family since she learned about it from Mormons years ago?)

I agree with Ana Navarro, a Republican political commentator who decided to vote for Clinton, that Clinton has serious flaws. But I also agree with her that Clinton's flaws are mainly in matters of judgment, while Trump has serious and dangerous flaws of character. (See for Navarro's comments.) Yes, Clinton has character flaws as well, especially her tendency to be guarded and self-protective. But they don't even come close to equaling Trump's.

In fact, in my opinion, Hillary Clinton's character flaws are no worse than most recent presidents', and are much less than, say, Richard Nixon's. And her mistakes are roughly on the order of those Reagan made during his presidency and have been far less serious than some made under the leadership of George W. Bush. She has been judged far more harshly than others with comparable flaws, perhaps in part because she is a woman (it's hard to know how much that may have influenced some voters) and certainly because she has been subjected to over 20 years of demonizing and has become the object of unjustified and irrational hatred on the part of a sizable group of Americans.

Trump, by contrast, has done a host of things that would normally have ended a political career. He has repeatedly lied about (among other things) his own previous positions. In fact, he doesn't seem to care whether his statements match reality. His business dealings show a constant concern with self-promotion and a repeated lack of integrity or concern with others. He underwent multiple bankruptcies that served his needs (and may have helped him avoid taxes) while damaging others. He has a history of stiffing contractors and others he has owed money. During the most recent political season, he insulted and demeaned most of his opponents. He has said horrible things about women and religious and ethnic minorities. He has encouraged violence and hatred. There is solid evidence that he is vulgar in word and thought and that he is almost certainly unrepentantly guilty of repeated instances of sexual assault. In these and many other ways, he lacks the basic decency I would ascribe to most of our recent presidents. He seems to me to have the worst traits of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, but without most of their virtues or abilities. He lacks a moral core and is not morally serious. And he does not appear to me to have the basic traits of honesty, wisdom, compassion, and respect that I would want in any leader.

Why, then, would so many have voted for him?

As I've looked at the results of exit polls, I've seen causes for serious concern--and even bewilderment--but also a few things I've found slightly reassuring. Apparently, the nation has not in any decisive way "chosen" Donald Trump as president. The numbers are pretty evenly divided, and many of those who voted for Trump did so reluctantly and perhaps even regretfully.

Here's some of what I learned. (My source of information is

Most voters made their minds up over a month ago, and most of those who did voted for Clinton. Those who made their minds up within the past month tilted towards Trump, and these included many Republicans and other conservatives who voted for Trump despite the fact that, in many respects, he does not represent conservative values or the principles and traditions of the Republican Party. Essentially, many of them were voting against Clinton rather than in favor of Trump.

Of those voters overall who "strongly favor" their candidate, the majority voted for Clinton (53%-42%). Those who liked their candidate but with reservations were almost evenly divided (Clinton 48%-Trump 49%). And among those who "dislike the other candidates"--that is, who really were voting against the other candidate rather than for a candidate--the majority went for Trump (51%-39%).

Furthermore, Clinton did well among voters who valued traits like "Cares about people like me," "Has the right experience," and "Has good judgment." The trait strongly valued by Trump voters was "Can bring needed change." In other words, many voters were taking a risk based on what Trump might accomplish rather than on who he is.

Most voters consider both Trump and Clinton untrustworthy--and hold that view of Trump even more strongly than of Clinton. ("Do you think [the candidate] is honest and trustworthy?" Clinton: 36% yes, 61% no; Trump: 33% yes; 63% no.) A majority of voters think that Clinton is qualified to serve as president (52%-47%) and that Trump is unqualified (60% unqualified-38% qualified). A majority of voters think Clinton "has the temperament to serve effectively as president" (55%-43%); an even greater majority thinks that Trump doesn't (35% "has the temperament"; 63% "no"). A majority or plurality of voters think Clinton would better handle foreign policy and be a better commander-in-chief. A slight plurality think Trump would handle the economy better.

Given that a majority of voters are reasonably discerning on many of these matters (such as who has the experience, judgment, and temperament to serve as president and commander-in-chief), why is the popular vote so evenly divided? I think there are two main reasons, as suggested by exit polling. One is that those who consider Trump qualified (though those who do constitute fewer than 40% of voters) voted for Trump to a far higher degree than those who consider Clinton qualified. (See Note 1 below for details.) The other is that those who dislike both candidates apparently dislike Clinton more intensely. That is suggested by the fact that those who consider both candidates unqualified still went for Trump. It is also suggested by the fact that, even though Trump has a distinctly greater unfavorability rating, those who dislike both candidates went decisively for Trump (Trump 49%; Clinton 29%; Johnson 15%). All of this indicates that many voters were not so much voting for Trump as against Clinton--or voted for Trump even while finding him unlikable and unqualified.

It is obvious that the majority of the country is not enthusiastically in favor of Trump. Indeed, I think it's fair to say that a majority of the country is not comfortable with Trump. As a matter of fact, exit polling suggests that 20% are concerned and 36% are scared. That makes a solid majority who are not entirely happy--and many who are very unhappy--with a Trump presidency.

Yet even with that, it appears that concerns about Clinton--or about various problems besetting the nation--led enough voters to take a chance on Trump that the popular vote is almost evenly divided.

My conclusion then is that "the voice of the people" has not become entirely unreliable. Unfortunately, though, I believe the voice of the people has been affected--for the worse--by a distorted view of Hillary Clinton, by a failure to take seriously the evils that a Trump presidency brings with it, and by some confusion or overly simple thinking on a few issues.

I acknowledge that issues of legitimate concern to Americans could lead to hesitation about a Clinton presidency as well as about a Trump presidency. I've tried to take those issues seriously and, having thought them through, have found myself comfortable enough with Hillary Clinton that I could vote for her in good conscience. (See "APPENDIX 2: Some issues" below for more on my views.)

But I realize that good arguments can be made for views different from mine. As it happens, my views align far more with Clinton's than with Trump's. Yet--though I'm not certain of this--I believe and hope that even if I had views closer to those expressed by Trump's, I would still have voted against him on the grounds that he is unqualified to serve as president and that his moral character--and the effect he would have on the moral climate of the nation--is so seriously defective and potentially damaging that no amount of agreement could justify a vote for him.

Some causes for concern--and for hope

I hope the damage will not be as great as it potentially could be. But I know there will be damage. I know because Trump's candidacy has already affected the nation for the worse. He has almost single handedly degraded the quality of our public life. Things that should have disqualified any candidate are seen by many now, somehow, as excusable. I hope that others in the White House and in Congress and in public life in general will be able to restrain Trump's worst tendencies. Unfortunately, no one has so far succeeded in doing that for more than a couple of weeks. The thought of Trump wielding the enormous power of the presidency--among other things of having access to the nuclear codes and making decisions at moments of crisis--terrifies me. But I hope there are safeguards in place that will prevent the worst things I fear.

At the moment, though, my greatest concern is for the many who are feeling deep pain and fear as a result of Trump's election. Those include my own children and many other friends and family members. One of my children was unable to sleep last night. What are they--my children and others--afraid of? I think they are mainly concerned about the future and especially about what kind of country and world they and their children will be living in.

Besides my own children, many--especially those belonging to certain vulnerable groups--are deeply troubled. Many Muslims in America have felt under attack for months now because of Trump's words and proposals. Many Latinos are afraid, including children afraid that they themselves or members of their families could be deported. And many parents are concerned about the effect of the degradation of public life on their children.

For many, the world suddenly feels less safe. It's not just the visible dangers--the possibilities of physical violence or destruction--that my children and other people I know are thinking of. I think it's something less tangible but very real, an atmosphere of division and negativity, of insulting and demeaning language, of disrespect and unkindness. I believe they see in a Trump presidency the potential for loss or damage to the most important of human qualities: kindness, respect, compassion, tolerance, goodwill, humility, hope, not to mention harmony, cooperation, integrity, careful thinking, and respectful conversation.

Again, I hope Trump can be restrained and can even improve. I don't think he's a hopeless case--though his massive ego, his addiction to self-interest, his disrespect for others, his extremely tenuous relationship with truth, and his sense that he never needs to ask for forgiveness (he has said that specifically about his relationship with God) do present some obstacles.

At least in style, I think it's likely that Trump will be more serious and more inclusive. But I don't think he's going to undergo a fundamental change any time soon. He's been what he is for many decades now.

What I think is more likely is that we're going to need to not pin our hopes on the presidency or even on government in general (though I'm a believer that government can and should do much good). Instead, we're going to need to cultivate those qualities we're concerned about--kindness, respect, compassion, tolerance, goodwill, humility, hope--in our families, our communities, and our individual lives, and do our best to live with integrity, think carefully, converse respectfully, and cooperate with others, no matter what ugliness or craziness is coming out of the White House or other national institutions.

That's probably the most important thing I could say. It also points to my greatest source of hope--the goodness of the people I know and the determination I know many will have to be as good as they can be no matter what distractions or obstacles or temptations stand in the way.

In the meantime, I do wish President-elect Trump well and hope his manner can be much better than it has been over the last year and a half. I think that, given Republican control of Congress, he may be able to get some things done. I just hope they're things I can feel good about. I hope that my worst fears are unfounded and that the damage that has already been done can be undone.

I think it might be useful to note some other causes for concern (including concerns that are especially relevant to Latter-day Saints). But, so I can end on a more or less positive note here, I'll put those other concerns in "Appendix 1" Other causes for concern" (see below). The main reason I'm noting them at all is so we can face them and seek to do something positive about them.


Note 1: Specifically, 86% of the 52% who consider Clinton qualified voted for her; while 94% of the 38% who consider Trump qualified voted for him. There are similar figures on the question of temperament: 82% voted for Clinton of the 55% overall who think she has the temperament, while 94% voted for Trump of the 35% who think he has the temperament. Another way to put this, is that of those who think both candidates are unqualified, the great majority went for Trump (69%-15%); and of those who think neither has the temperament, Trump was favored 71%-12%.


One concern is with some things that should NOT have affected the election: It bothers me that this election was influenced (and because it was so close, was in some measure decided) by the actions of Russian hackers, probably with the support of the Russian government, and also by the badly timed sending of a letter (contrary to standard protocol) by the director of the FBI.

Religious concerns:

I suspect that a majority or at least a plurality of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) may have voted for Trump, though many of them reluctantly and many of them (as I've noted) with a seriously distorted view of Hillary Clinton. As a Latter-day Saint, I am concerned about ways a Trump presidency may be an obstacle to the work of my Church and may obstruct some of its aims. I am thinking especially of the following:

(1) Respect and civility in public discourse. (See )
(2) Respect for religious and racial diversity--in fact, going beyond mere tolerance to positive outreach, cooperation, and inclusiveness.
(3) Work on behalf of refugees, including welcoming them warmly and helpfully in America and elsewhere. This is currently one of the major efforts of the LDS Church. (See )
(4) A compassionate and pragmatic solution to immigration issues, again with the aim of inclusiveness and welcome and also with the aim of avoiding damage to families and avoiding division and mistrust. (See )
(5) Positive relations with other countries, in part to facilitate our missionary work but most of all to acknowledge that all human beings are our brothers and sisters and that all are equally valued by God. Rather than taking an isolationist stance or one antagonistic to other nations, the LDS view responds to this divine challenge: "Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath" (2 Nephi 29:7); for "all are alike unto God" (2 Nephi 26:33).

On the other hand, since Putin is a fan of Trump's, we may in fact have better relations with Russia, which could be helpful for missionary work there. But that's one bright spot in a generally dark picture.

Concern for the Republican Party: I believe Trump will damage the Republican Party, unmooring it from its best principles and values. I believe a Trump defeat would have been the best thing that could have happened to the Republican Party.

Other nations: The people and leaders of many other nations, including many of our allies, are in shock at the result of the election. Some serious damage has already been done. I hope it can be mended. If Trump continues to pursue some of his stated policies--for instance, backing away from our alliances--things could get worse.

The national and global economy: The shock of the Trump election has dealt at least a temporary blow to the national and global economy. We're told that we'll recover. If, however, some of what Trump has said he wants to do in fact happens, the effect on the economy could be devastating. I assume wiser heads will prevail. In general, though, I believe Trump's strongly protectionist and anti-global view will, in the long run, not be good either for the nation or for the world.

Divisions within America: I've already mentioned Trump's tendency to divisiveness. But I think there's an equally strong reason for concern in the cultural divisions his election has revealed. Yes, the nation has divided roughly evenly in terms of the popular vote. But the greater divisions are to be found in how different groups voted.

The following groups voted in favor of Clinton (my source again is
Women (54%-42%)
Younger voters, age 18-44 (52%-40%)
Non-white voters: Blacks (88%-8%); Hispanic (65%-29%); Asian (65%-29%); other (56%-37%)
College graduates (52%-43%)
Those not currently married (55%-38%)
All who are not white "born again" or evangelical voters (59%-35%)

The following groups voted in favor of Trump:
Men (53%-41%)

Older voters, age 45+ (53%-44%)

White voters (58%-37%)

Non-college graduates (52%-44%)

Those currently married (53%-43%)

White "born again" or evangelical voters (81%-16%) 

All of these divisions concern me--between men and women, old and young, white and non-white, college educated and non-college educated--especially because some of them are built into our culture in ways that prevent us from working together positively. Large parts of the less populated areas of the country are solidly white and less educated, and these areas voted strongly for Trump. I believe it is much easier in these areas to be suspicious of religious and racial difference because those who are different are strangers: they are people it is easy to label and view negatively because they are images in the mind or in the media, not real people encountered face to face or even engaged with as friends and neighbors.

Regional differences thus reveal a much deeper human division, a division we need to heal for our survival and prosperity as a nation and for our hope of attaining our full humanity. I believe the concept of "atonement"--which is central to my religious belief--points to just this sort of healing.

I am also concerned about religious divisions in the country, especially the antagonistic view that many white evangelicals take toward just about anyone else (including Mormons, as it happens). The fact that such a large portion of white evangelicals voted for Trump is, in my view, appalling, because his attitudes and behavior contradict so blatantly the values that evangelicals claim to hold dear. This has also been a great cause of concern to some evangelical leaders, who are aware of the profound disconnect between their beliefs and values and much of what Trump does and stands for. The following links point to some of these expressions of concern:

APPENDIX 2: Some issues

I've used a site called to assess how closely my views match those of various candidates. Given the fluid nature of the presidential race, I used it several times this year, most recently after they started including Evan McMullin in the mix.

Like any such instrument, "isidewith" is a blunt one, partly because I honestly don't know enough to have a strong opinion on some issues, and some issues matter to me a lot more than others. ("Isidewith" allows you to indicate how important each issue is to you.) I finally decided to indicate a position only on issues I felt strongly about or where I felt quite confident in taking a stand. When I did, I got the following interesting (and rather surprising) results. The candidates ranked as follows (by how closely I agree with them):
Hillary Clinton 99%
Evan McMullin 57%
Gary Johnson 37%
Donald Trump 16%
As I say, I was surprised by the result because I didn't realize the differences would be so stark and because I do disagree with Hillary on some significant issues. (So 99% seemed rather high.) Still this ranking matches my intuitive sense of how likely I would be to vote for the candidates. I say this knowing that many people I respect would come up with different scores. This was just my way of being sure whether I would feel comfortable supporting a particular candidate.

So you know exactly what the issues were and what positions I took, I'll add the details in yet another appendix below, "APPENDIX 3: Isidewith details."

One thing you'll notice is that I favor Obamacare but realize changes need to be made for it to be more sustainable. I'm not sure there's a lot of difference between "revising and fixing" and "repealing and replacing," as long as the good things about Obamacare are preserved and the problems are fixed.

I am fully persuaded--and have been for years based on what I think is solid evidence--that climate change is real and significant, that humans contribute to it, and that it's important for us to do something about it (in concert with other nations). It's possible to disagree about some of the subtle details and especially about the best solutions. But anyone who doesn't believe climate change is a problem is not well informed.

Immigration: As I've already indicated (more or less), I favor compassionate, pragmatic immigration reform. Trump's statements and proposals on the issue are among the worst things about him.

Refugees: And as also already indicated, I favor helping--welcoming, giving assistance and support--to refugees and would like the US to contribute even more strongly to the effort than we're now doing.

The next two issues I'll mention are among the most controversial: abortion and the Supreme Court. Opposition to abortion and hoping for a Supreme Court that will be more restrictive in response to abortion are among the main reasons many people (including a good number of Latter-day Saints) have supported Trump despite an awareness of everything that is bad and dangerous about him.

In my opinion, a Trump presidency is a very bad way of hoping for a good outcome on these issues.

First, abortion. I am strongly opposed to abortion for convenience--for its use as a form of birth control, as some have put it. I believe abortion that could be avoided has several ill consequences. It diminishes our humanity and our respect for life. It encourages sexual irresponsibility. It also, I think it's fair to say, prevents new and precious life from entering into the world.

Several things recently have strengthened my feelings about the preciousness of life within the womb. One is our youngest daughter's pregnancy, which has now come to fruition in a beautiful baby girl. Another is a video presentation I saw recently about a couple who learned an almost full term child had died in the womb and would need to be removed. The couple's grief and disappointment, their need for comfort, their deep, mutual love all reminded me of what is best in human beings: our connectedness, our participation in the miracle of conception and birth, and our willingness to welcome and nurture new life.

Having said that, I know that there are difficult situations in which the possibility of abortion needs to be considered, especially when the mother's life is at stake or when her health could be seriously damaged. I believe such decisions need to be made carefully and prayerfully. I do not believe the possibility of abortion for such reasons should be prohibited by law. Though I believe different people will come to different decisions, I believe law should allow for abortion in the cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life or health of the mother.

I believe this is essentially the position of the LDS Church. Officially, “the Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience” but allows for possible (but not automatic) exceptions in cases of rape, incest, severe defects, and serious threats of the life or health of the mother. But “the Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals . . . concerning abortion” (see This is much closer to Hillary Clinton's position than many would suppose.

She has taken some heat for voting against a ban on late-term abortions. She did so precisely because it did not leave an exception for saving the life of the mother. I've recently become aware of terribly difficult situations people I know have dealt with, which required performing a late-term abortion to save a mother's life. Those involved certainly don't favor abortion in general and found the experience traumatic, even though it meant saving a mother's life.

The fact that the LDS Church "has not favored or opposed [specific] legislative proposals" may have something to do with the fact that laws may not be adequate to deal with many of the difficult situations people face. I also believe that changing laws, while they may accomplish some good, will not solve the problem of unnecessary, avoidable abortions, with all the spiritual and social damage they can bring. I believe that the best solution is to change minds and hearts, and that can be best done through example, through intelligent and compassionate persuasion, and through encouraging alternatives to abortion (such as adoption) and providing greater support for mothers, including unwed mothers.

Legal rulings, angry denunciations, and extreme rhetoric are likely to strengthen resistance rather than persuade.

The Supreme Court: I'm aware that some good people convinced themselves to vote for a very bad man because they think he will nominate the "right people" for seats on the Supreme Court.
I've written another post partly on that subject. In that post--found here: compare our situation to that of good people in Italy who thought that Mussolini would protect their nation's religious and moral traditions. To what I said there, I add these thoughts:

(1) The Supreme Court is a complicated institution--and you can't simply stack it with the "right people" and thereby save the country, especially if the Court starts departing from the national consensus. I've just read an illuminating book titled The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, and it makes those complications clear.

(2) The Supreme Court faces many issues, and on some of those issues I believe justices Trump would nominate would move us in the wrong direction rather than the right direction, particularly on some issues where the Court really can make a difference (including voting rights and immigration). As for the second amendment, I don't believe it should or was ever intended to give everyone unrestricted rights to carry and use firearms, any more than the first amendment gave absolute freedom of speech, including libel or speech that endangers the life or safety of others. I believe that the second amendment can be applied reasonably and still accommodate some degree of gun control. (See for some additional light on this issue.)

(3) Even if Trump were to pick the "right people" as nominees, I don't believe it's worth it to trade a supposedly better Supreme Court for the damage that is certain to be done to the moral and political tone of our nation by the mere presence of Donald Trump in the presidential office. I am certain he will do this sort of general damage--and given his impulsiveness, unpredictability, and anger control issues, he could do much, much worse.

(4) Given the refusal of the Senate to consider President Obama's sterling nomination for the Supreme Court--and given the threat some Republicans made to turn down ANY nominee offered by Hillary Clinton if she became president--isn't it possible that Democrats in the Senate might engage in similar obstruction of any nominees offered by Donald Trump? I don't think such obstruction is right on either side (and it's certainly not what the Founders had in mind--the Constitution makes it pretty clear how open seats on the court should be filled). But I suspect it will happen.

(5) Speaking of the Constitution, Donald Trump has shown that he does not understand the Constitution and does not respect Constitutional principles. He has shown that, among other things, by making a number of proposals that violate those principles, including surveillance of American citizens based on their religion, asking for a religious test for immigrants, requiring the armed forces to violate international law (for instance, related to torture), and making threats against the judiciary showing his lack of understanding of the separation of powers.
In interpreting the Constitution, I am not an "originalist"--I think that approach is overly simplistic and ultimately impossible to sustain--but I do have great respect for efforts to understand and apply the actual language of the Constitution. Interestingly, a number of prominent "originalists" (including George Will) oppose Trump on the grounds that he does not understand or respect the Constitution. (See )

(6) Finally, I don't believe Trump can be trusted to keep his promises. I don't think he has a coherent Constitutional philosophy. And I believe he lacks a genuine moral core.

In a nutshell, I believe those who (for the sake of the Supreme Court) voted for Trump, despite their hesitation--even revulsion--at much of what they know about him, will come to regret his election.

APPENDIX 3: Isidewith details

As noted above, I've used a site called to assess how closely my views match those of various candidates. Here, from my most recent attempt, are positions as compared to Hillary Clinton's. (See

Issues on which I agree (more or less) with Hillary Clinton (or at least don't disagree)

The Environment
Should the government increase environmental regulations to prevent climate change? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes, and provide more incentives for alternative energy production 
Domestic Policy
Should there be more restrictions on the current process of purchasing a gun? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, require strict background checks, psychological testing, and training 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the redrawing of Congressional districts be controlled by an independent, non-partisan commission? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes  
Your similar answer: Yes, gerrymandering gives an unfair advantage to the party in power during redistricting
Should the Senate hold hearings and a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should local police increase surveillance and patrol of Muslim neighborhoods? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, targeting Muslims is unconstitutional, racist, and incendiary 
Your similar answer: No, this decision should be based on crime rates instead of race or religion
Should internet service providers be allowed to speed up access to popular websites (that pay higher rates) at the expense of slowing down access to less popular websites (that pay lower rates)? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, treat all traffic equally and continue the openness of the internet 
Your similar answer: No
Should women be allowed to wear a Niqāb, or face veil, to civic ceremonies? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should children of illegal immigrants be granted legal citizenship? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should illegal immigrants have access to government-subsidized healthcare? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, and grant them citizenship 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should working illegal immigrants be given temporary amnesty? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes, create a simple path to citizenship for immigrants with no criminal record 
Should Muslim immigrants be banned from entering the country until the government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No 
Your similar answer: No, banning immigrants based on their religion is unconstitutional
Should local law enforcement be allowed to detain illegal immigrants for minor crimes and transfer them to federal immigration authorities? stats discuss
Your answers: No, only if they are convicted of a violent crime 
Should illegal immigrants be offered in-state tuition rates at public colleges within their residing state? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, and they should also be eligible for financial assistance and scholarships
Your similar answer: Yes
Should immigrants be required to learn English? stats discuss
Your answers: No 
Do you support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, I support a majority of the plan but not all aspects
Should convicted felons have the right to vote? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, every citizen deserves the right to vote 
Your partially similar answer: Yes, but only after completing their sentences and parole/probation
Foreign Policy
Do you support President Obama’s move to lift the trade and travel embargo on Cuba? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should the U.S. accept refugees from Syria? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, but we should accept much more than the proposed 10,000 refugees
Should the military be allowed to use enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to gain information from suspected terrorists? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No 
Your similar answer: No, and we should strictly follow the laws of the Geneva Convention
Should our country defend other NATO countries that maintain low military defense budgets relative to their GDP? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, and refusing to defend other NATO countries sets a dangerous precedent for the balance of global power 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the U.S. remain in the United Nations? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should foreign terrorism suspects be given constitutional rights? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes, give them a fair trial and shut down Guantanamo Bay 
Should the government conduct military strikes against North Korea in order to destroy their long-range missile and nuclear weapons capabilities? stats discuss
Your answers: No, we must use every diplomatic option first 
Should the U.S. close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should the U.S. continue to support Israel? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes  [but I also sympathize with the plight of Palestinians]
Should the government send in ground troops to fight ISIS? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No 
Your similar answer: No, conduct targeted airstrikes instead
Should the U.S. provide military assistance to defend Ukraine from Russia? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine threatens the balance of power in the region 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the federal government require children to be vaccinated for preventable diseases? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, they are essential to protecting other children who are too young to be vaccinated 
Your similar answer: Yes, but with exceptions for those whose religious beliefs forbid use of vaccines
Do you support the use of nuclear energy? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, temporarily while we increase investment into cleaner renewable alternatives
Should there be a limit to the amount of money a candidate can receive from a donor? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should a photo ID be required to vote? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, this will disadvantage those who do not have the resources to obtain one 
Your similar answer: No
The Economy
Should the government raise the federal minimum wage? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, and adjust it every year according to inflation
Should the government use economic stimulus to aid the country during times of recession? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, the government should intervene to boost a recovery 
Your similar answer: Yes
Should the government make cuts to public spending in order to reduce the national debt? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: No, cuts to public spending will negatively affect the economy 
Your similar answer: No
Would you favor an increased sales tax in order to reduce property taxes? stats discuss
Your answers: No 
Should businesses be required to provide paid leave for full-time employees during the birth of a child or sick family member? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should the government require businesses to pay salaried employees, making up to $46k/year, time-and-a-half for overtime hours? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Should an in-state sales tax apply to online purchases of in-state buyers from out-of-state sellers? stats discuss
Your answers: Yes 
Do you support Common Core national standards? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
Your similar answer: Yes, I support a national base standard but allow states and local districts to customize their implementation
Do you support increasing taxes for the rich in order to reduce interest rates for student loans? stats discuss

Your answers: Yes  

Issues on which I differ from Hillary Clinton

Domestic Policy
Should people on the “no-fly list” be banned from purchasing guns and ammunition? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: The "no-fly list" as it is needs to be reevaluated. 
You: Yes, but not until the no-fly list screening process is improved for accuracy and includes due process
What is your stance on abortion? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Pro-choice 
You: Pro-life, but allow in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother or child
Do you support the legalization of same sex marriage? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
You: No, allow civil unions but don’t call it marriage
Should the government support a separation of church and state by removing references to God on money, federal buildings, and national monuments? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes, but do not waste money removing existing references 
You: No, religion is an important aspect of our country’s history
Should terminally ill patients be allowed to end their lives via assisted suicide? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Yes 
You: No, but they should be allowed to refuse artificial life support
Foreign Policy
Should the government increase or decrease foreign aid spending? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Increase 
You: I am satisfied with the current amount of spending
Should the U.S. prevent Russia from conducting airstrikes in Syria? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Prevent? How?  
You: Yes, and establish a no-fly zone
Should the government increase or decrease military spending? stats discuss
Hillary Clinton: Neither, I am satisfied with the current amount of spending 
You: Decrease