“Now with 100% More Context (as long as it supports my views)”

This will probably be the most political thing I’ve written on this blog. I’m not sure how I feel about that (I’m guessing it’ll be a one-off). Evidently I didn’t make enough people angry with my last post.

Either way, you’ve been warned.

Caution Tape

Speech Anger and Speech Anger Anger

A video surfaced of part of a stump speech our Campaigner-and-Chief gave on Halloween day. The video went viral and everyone lost their minds.

“Viral,” by definition, means that you’ve probably seen it, so I’m not going to recap it. Maybe you were even one of the people that got a little upset.

The Mormon Liberals decided that everyone who got upset was a dummy. We didn’t give Obama a fair shake.

(If only we would let him be clear!)

Perhaps they’re right. Let’s take a look at the speech and see what we come up with. I’m going to try and give you better context than they did. Because I love you.

(Ironically, the title of the Mormon Liberals post was “President Obama’s Attack on Stay-at-Home Moms: Now with 100% More Context,” hence the title of this post. They come to a different conclusion than I do, though not in the way you might expect)

Women and the Economy Speech Outline

  • Ice breaking comments about family, trick or treating, unlimited White House M&Ms, and scary looking staff (hahahahahaha)
  • We’ve made good economic progress
    • More jobs!
    • Low unemployment!
    • Fast growing economy!
    • Great education!
    • Energy independence!
    • Lower deficits, cheaper healthcare, yay!
  • Yet, life is hard for the little guy
    • Working while going to school
    • Supporting parents
    • Other stuff
  • But I’m working it!
    • Grants
    • “Harnessing momentum” (thank goodness he’s harnessing momentum!)
    • Helping all the women
  • Let me share some anecdotes about the women in my life
    • It was hard for my mom
    • It was hard for my grandmother
    • It’s hard for the women I’ve met with today
    • It was hard for my wife
    • It’ll be hard for my daughters
  • But we are having successes with women!
    • They make up half the work force
    • Recently, they’ve earned over half the higher education degrees
    • There are more women graduating than men

(Now, here comes the important part. I’ll be slowing things down a tad.)

  • But there are challenges!

“The challenge is, our economy and some of the laws and rules governing our workplaces haven’t caught up with that reality [of women being such a big part of the workforce]…. While many women are working hard to support themselves and their families, they’re still facing unfair choices, outdated workplace policies.”

  • So here’s what we’ve gotta do
    • Paid time away from work to care for families
    • (Paid) maternity leave
    • Inexpensive daycare

(The “inexpensive daycare part is where we’ll be spending our time, but first, back to the outline to finish out the speech.)

  • So let’s get government sponsored daycare!
  • Also, let’s raise the minimum wage!
  • And let’s fix the wage gap!

(…because “hey guys there’s a war on women don’t you remember so vote democrat please thank you mmmkay.”)

  • And we’re keeping Obamacare!
  • Let’s do this! Obama on “three”! One, two, three, Obama!

(All in all, the whole thing is just a big Democratic policy love-fest.)

War Declared on Stay-at-Home Moms!

Now that we have the context, what of this war Obama supposedly declared on stay-at-home moms?

Remember, our economy and workplace policies are archaic. They haven’t caught up with the times. One of the changes we need to make to overcome these challenges is to support state-sponsored, inexpensive childcare.

“But why do we need inexpensive daycare, President Obama? How does that help?”

  • Daycare is expensive, and so working parents are forced to use sub-par daycare (sub-par because it doesn’t provide the things that a stay-at-home parent, coincidentally, would provide…)
  • Daycare is full, or too far away, and so somebody’s got to stay with the kids, and that’s usually mom. She suffers as a result, earning a lower wage the rest of her life, and that’s not a choice we want American’s to make.

Let you accuse me of cherry-picking in one form or another, here’s what he said without my paraphrasing:

“Moms and dads deserve a great place to drop their kids off every day that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg. We need better childcare, daycare, early childhood education policies. In many states, sending your child to daycare costs more than sending them to a public university. And too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper daycare that maybe doesn’t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child’s development. And sometimes there may just not be any slots, or the best programs may be too far away. And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

A Subtle Cultural Shift

Mormon Liberals spins that “what our President is saying is that he does not want American families to be forced to choose to have a stay-at-home parent because they have no other options.”

At first I thought, “Huh? What does that even mean? What options?”

Seriously, I was totally confused.

After some noodling, here’s where my brain went:

  • “Uh, when did the narrative change from ‘being forced to choose to work outside the home because they have no other [financial] options’ to ‘being forced to choose to stay at home because they have no other [child care] options’?

And all of the sudden, it hit me. I’d missed something. I was reasoning from an entirely different mind-set.

We’re not talking about people who want to be home. We never have been. We’re talking about people who don’t want to be home, and that changes everything.

Think again about that sentence that got folks’ blood boiling. What is this “choice” that Obama decries?

First off, the word “choice” is misleading. Obama frames circumstances, in both cases, as working parents being forced into something –

  • Daycare is expensive, so working parents are forced to “choose” sub-par daycare
  • Daycare is far away or full, so working parents (usually mothers) are forced to “choose” to say home.

They’re forced to make these choices because they don’t want to be at home. They want to be at work. Because of this, Obama tells us that the latter “choice” is not a choice we want Americans to make, partly because it leaves mom who want careers earning a lower wage over their lifetimes. We’re not talking about those who enter the workforce to help make ends meet.

Holy cow.

Mind Blown

And this ends up being, in my view, totally worse. It’s not one politician decrying the traditional family. It’s a politician acting on a subtle cultural shift that’s already taken place. Staying home is no longer the ideal which we sometimes abandon because of difficult personal circumstances. It’s an archaic lifestyle choice that people no longer want to make.

Some Thoughts

Given my expanded (yet perhaps still imperfect) understanding, here are some thoughts that I have.

First – I’m Still Disappointed

Even if Obama’s comment is in line with shifting cultural trends, it’s still a dig at prioritizing traditional motherhood. “The most important of the Lord’s work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes,” Mormon Liberals quote Harold B. Lee saying… unless of course it contributes to “motherhood penalty” for those who really want careers, in which case let’s get some socialized childcare going so you can get right back to work! And you should all want careers! Reality is changing, after all.

People have every right to be disappointed in what he’s saying. Sorry, Mormon Liberals.

(Also… as long as we’re fixing wage gaps created by “motherhood penalty,” can we fix wage gaps created by “LDS mission penalty”?)

Second – The Church Isn’t Shifting

The Church continues to push back against shifts away from the traditional family. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is almost 20 years old now, but is referenced as often as ever. A new mandatory CES course called The Eternal Family is in the works for Church universities and Institute programs. Elder Eying is going to Vatican City to speak at a marriage conference.

This is a complex issue, and I’m not really digging into it all that deeply, but the Church is not really shifting.

Third – Don’t Make Your Exception My Rule

The Family and the comments of Church leaders leave it open for people to make their own choices, and some people are choosing, for one reason or another, not to take the traditional route advocated for in Church doctrine. That’s fine! Some people can’t even afford the luxury of having a mother in the home.

Still, the emphasis the Church places on the traditional family can make these individuals feel uncomfortable and persecuted (I discuss persecution complexes in an end note below). They naturally fight back, seeking validation for their choices (I discuss one such example I lived through here).

No one is arguing that increased workplace benefits making motherhood easier are a bad thing. Of course that’s a good thing. Most of the things that Democrats want are, in fact, good things.

No one is arguing that people can’t make choices that fit their circumstances, nor that the Church hasn’t taught that stance repeatedly in the last 20 years.

But none of this changes the fundamental position taught in the gospel. It’s not your job to seek validation for your exceptions every time someone advocates for traditional family structure.

Fourth – Sometimes We Do Things We Don’t “Want”

Frankly, “wants,” on their own, are a terrible reason to do or not do anything. Isn’t it better to instead ask what the right thing is?

When I get home from work, I sometimes want to kick back and relax, play some video games, and maybe eat some Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos (dang, those things are amazing).

Except, I have three kids and a lovely wife. I should spend time with them. That’s the right thing to do.

(Heck, my wife just had twins three weeks ago. I can’t feed them, but I can massage her feet!)

I really want an Xbox One so that I can play the Master Chief Collection, not to mention some of the other great third-party games you can’t get on the Wii U.

Except, we’re moving into an unfurnished home, and we’ll need a washer. And dryer. And refrigerator. And I need to pay tithing. I should pay for those things instead. That’s the right thing to do.

Now, I can appreciate that these are some pretty basic (hopefully not flippant) examples. My point, which hopefully you can see, is that doing what we want and doing what is right are not always the same things.

So, some women want careers outside the home. Okay? How can we ensure we do the right thing, knowing that the traditional family is the ideal?

Fifth – I’ve Been Richly Blessed

My mom was a stay-at- home mom, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to overstate the wonderful influence that has had on me. My wife is currently a stay-at-home mom, and so I’ve seen firsthand the incredible blessings that come from making that difficult choice.

It’s not a choice that everyone makes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you how richly stay-at-home mom’s have blessed me.

And that’s why Obama’s comments make me sad.



End Notes:

A Sub-Mormon Persecution Complex

Mormons are accused sometimes of having a persecution complex. We, it’s suggested, are especially sensitive to the way we’ve been marginalized by society, which in turn biases us to more readily see contemporary persecution.

Focusing less on the legitimacy of such feelings and more on the consequences of those feelings, one blogger writes this:

“The extent to which Mormons still entertain a “persecution complex” is important, not only because it informs the way that Mormons understand themselves, but also because it also determines the way that Mormons relate to others. Some Mormons are concerned that relishing or perpetuating a legacy of persecution leads Mormons to isolate themselves from others, and to reinforce an “us vs. them” mentality that can be divisive and alienate Mormons from those outside the Church. To some, it also belies an insecure sense of self and an unhealthy reliance on “otherness” and opposition to others to help form one’s identity. These are legitimate concerns.”

I bring this up, not because I’m interested in a Mormon persecution complex, but because I’m interested in a liberal Mormon persecution complex.

(By the way, how awesome was last night?! Right now it’s, what, 8 senate seats with a possibility for a one or two more? Woo-hoo!)

Anecdotally, the liberal Mormons I’ve interacted with relate to me and the rest of the Church much like the blogger suggests that persecuted Mormons relate to society. Look, for example at the homepage of mormonliberals.org, where they preemptively declare, “WE’RE LIBERAL BECAUSE WE’RE MORMONS [so there!]” (emphasis and parentheticals added).

Now, is there really a persecution complex among liberal Mormons? Eh, I have no idea outside of my own experience. Anyway, it’s irrelevant for the purposes of this post, except that it’s one possible explanation for some of the “relating” I’ve seen since Obama’s speech.

Two Caveats

I feel the need to make two caveats, because that’s the world we live in.

  • You’ll notice I’m not making any value statements about being both Mormon and Democrat. I’m conservative – that’s not hard to deduce – but I support the Church’s statements about political neutrality and participation.
  • Interestingly, the majority of Latter-day Saints aren’t Republican. Maybe the majority of American Latter-day Saints tend conservative, but we’re a worldwide church! The majority of Latter-day Saints are probably whatever poor people in South America are – I don’t follow international politics, like, at all, but I’m fairly sure that whatever that is, it isn’t “Republican.”

14 thoughts on ““Now with 100% More Context (as long as it supports my views)””

  1. An accurate analysis of President Obama’s comments can be found at Snopes.com under the heading “Obama Mama Drama.” The following quote is from the conclusion:

    “It’s clear from the context of President Obama’s full remarks on 31 October 2014 his view wasn’t one that ‘slammed’ stay-at-home moms and stated ‘we’ don’t want anyone to choose to be a stay-at-home mom; rather, the choice to which he referred was for women to fairly have the option of deciding whether to remain in the workforce or to stay at home with their children, without (in the latter case) having to lose their place on the employment ladder and thus be relegated to earning lower wages for the rest of their working lives.”

    We must be careful not to take a tendentious, proof-texting approach to a person’s words lest we become like those mentioned in Luke 11:54: “Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.”

    1. Steve! I’ve missed you!

      Thanks for bringing that up. I think that Snopes.com’s analysis is a fair, but simplistic, take on Obama’s words. I tried to say as much in my post.

      Did Obama say, “We don’t want Americans choosing to be stay at home moms”? Nope. But I don’t think it’s so simple.

      He said, as Snopes.com concludes, “Americans shouldn’t be forced to stay at home with their children, and consequently feel the sting of the ‘maternity penalty’ when they return to work.” I think it’s still fair to consider this a dig at traditional family structure, and I think it also showcases a cultural shift that those who idealize traditional family structure are right to be concerned about.

      Did Snopes.com get it right? Sure. Are some folks upset for mildly inaccurate reasons? Sure. But that’s all irrelevant from the perspective I write from (and from the perspective that others have written from as well).

      You don’t have to agree with my position to appreciate that I didn’t jump on the Obama Mama Drama bandwagon, a fact which by itself makes your citation about “catch(ing) something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” more than a tad, well, ironic.

      Now, if there’s something unfair about my analysis above, call it out! Certainly you can do better than to accuse me of laying wait for Obama (which is an absolute stretch in this case, given the religious focus of this post and the astonishing absence of anything Obama-related anywhere else here, not to say anything of the way that everybody is talking about this and taking sides….) That’s hardly laying wait.

      Unless there are any words we need to redefine. 😉

      Also, Luke 11:54 is an incomplete sentence, preceded (significantly) by Luke 11:53. Obama was giving a speech! Which I outlined and considered in its entirety, and even linked to! And really, Luke 11:53-54 says nothing about tendentiousness (the Savior himself was quite tendentious a few verses prior!).

      Really, you’d be better editing out that entire last paragraph.

  2. Here’s what’s wrong with your anti-Obama political rant: It strains at a gnat and swallows a camel.

    Again, I recommend Snopes.com to readers who want an accurate look at Obama’s words. Comments by Alice Carey, a stay-at-home LDS mom, are also good.

    Really, you’d be better editing out most of your original article and your response to me. Multiplying words–as you did in our previous exchange–simply reflects the weakness of your position.

    1. You’re making it really difficult to take you seriously.

      I mean, you’re saying that word count is the best indicator of the veracity of an argument…. Consequently, that favors your style of playing fast and loose with scriptural condemnations and lobbing over a host of superficial accusations and talking points just to see what sticks.

      (“Grr, ‘laying wait’ didn’t work… I know! Ignore his challenge and bring up gnats and camels! That’s what he’s doing, probably. Oh, and I’ll just totally ignore what he said about Snopes and reiterate that I think it’s great…. Oh, and I’ll name drop Alice Carey, who he obviously hasn’t read.”)

      BTW, you do realize that I’m responding to Alice Carey, right? I think that if you fail to read the post (I should have known, the way you called it “[my] anti-Obama political rant”), you lose the right to make obnoxious comments.

      And talk about reflecting the weakness of a position! Who cares if Alice is a stay-at-home mom, or if she’s an active Latter-day Saint (both of which she goes to great lengths to establish in order to enhance her credibility). If what she says is wrong, it doesn’t matter how active she is or whether she’s a stay-at-home mom or not, just like it doesn’t matter how active I am if what I say is wrong.

      1. You wrote: “Who cares if Alice is a stay-at-home mom, or if she’s an active Latter-day Saint (both of which she goes to great lengths to establish in order to enhance her credibility).”

        The answer, apparently, is that you do. In your original post, you offered details on your family, children, etc., and pointed out that your mom was a stay-at-home mom and that your wife is a stay-at-home mom.

        You object to my calling your original post an “anti-Obama political rant.” In hindsight, maybe I should have referred to it as a post whose objectivity is seriously compromised by a snide treatment of the President’s comments and by cheerleading for Republicans, all under the heading “Religious Reason.”

        The lack of availability of quality, inexpensive day care results in good mothers who want to work staying at home instead, and “forced” accurately describes their situation because they refuse to utilize inferior day care. Rather than criticizing young moms for wanting to work, let’s assume they wish to work in order to ensure a better life for their children. We need to be humble in discussing the role of parents because we belong to a church that once asked young fathers to ignore their children for years at a time.

      2. This is why we can’t have nice things.

        I don’t think that the comments you make are reasonable, and that’s not the first time I’ve had that thought on this thread. You fling scriptural condemnations with reckless abandon (showing, at best, a shallow understanding of them), you bring up unrelated tangents (are you talking about missions in the early LDS church above?), and you generally make odd connections.

        Your veiled correction above is a great example of the latter. If I’ve treated any portion of the President’s comments unfairly, I defy you to point that out. Sure, I make fun of the way he brings up “harnessing momentum,” but I am very fair in my treatment of his comments. No one is unbiased, least of all me, and if I’ve made a mistake I’m happy to correct it. Your comments, unfortunately, don’t contribute to that. You don’t engage with me like this is what you’re interested in.

        I mean, the start of your last paragraph parrots what I’ve said in my comments to you and what I originally argued above. I totally agree. And I haven’t been critical of working mothers at all. Again, I defy you to point out any instance of that. In fact, here, let me copy and paste this here:

        “The Family and the comments of Church leaders leave it open for people to make their own choices, and some people are choosing, for one reason or another, not to take the traditional route advocated for in Church doctrine. That’s fine! Some people can’t even afford the luxury of having a mother in the home.

        But does that mean I can’t share the standard the Church has taught? Do we stop teaching these things that some people except themselves from so that we don’t hurt feelings? That’s just silly, and I’m not going to have that discussion with you here because I don’t trust that it’d be in good faith.

  3. You wrote: “If I’ve treated any portion of the President’s comments unfairly, I defy you to point that out. Sure, I make fun of the way he brings up ‘harnessing momentum,’ but I am very fair in my treatment of his comments.”

    I said nothing about fair or unfair. I wrote that your “objectivity is seriously compromised by a snide treatment of the President’s comments.” I invite readers to return to the top of your original post and read through your summary of the President’s talk. It is introduced by calling him “our Campaigner-and-Chief” and concludes with “All in all, the whole thing is just a big Democratic policy love-fest.” In between we get numerous mocking exclamation points (including a “Yay!”), a hahahahahaha and several smirking asides.

    You also wrote: “And I haven’t been critical of working mothers at all. Again, I defy you to point out any instance of that.”

    When I read statements such as “they’re forced to make these choices because THEY DON’T WANT TO BE AT HOME. They want to be at work,” it sure sounded to me like you were saying wanting to work isn’t as good a choice as wanting to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m happy for the clarification.

    1. You’re going to see whatever you want to see, even when, like in this case, it’s not there. I could respond – I mean, these aren’t exactly zingers you’re leading with – but it’s exasperating, and clearly fruitless, talking with you.

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