On Joseph Smith and Donald Trump; Voter Questionnaire From a Friend; Abortion Rights

This is huge and a must-read on inequity and women’s rights. This is also of value as rhetoric for any Democrat facing phony talking points from angry Trump supporters.

I recently received these questions from a friend who is a retired Daytona State College administrator. We knew each other well during my time as President and Treasurer of Port Orange Toastmasters (2015–2017), although I left Toastmasters in 2017 to focus on my Ph.D. program. This article is quite lengthy, starting out with a backstory and various arguments before diving into the questions.

As detailed in my personal essay, I Once Was a Republican, But Now I Know Better, at the time, I was politically inactive but a Trump-supporting Republican. I was never able to explain away Trump’s behavior and being a Republican was always misaligned with many of my positions and beliefs, such as my work on financial literacy where I advocated for greater financial regulation to help poor, working class, and middle class Americans.

As I learned in-depth about the climate crisis, and other facts such as that aborted fetuses don’t actually feel pain until a minimum of 26 weeks of gestation, I increasingly questioned and investigated what I would continually hear from the alt-right and from my parents. Notably, my wife and I had our first child on February 27, 2019 (he shares a birthday with Dr. Chelsea Clinton), and leading up to this the main topic of conversation from my parents was how horrible vaccines are. From my investigations online, in academic journals, and at the library I became pro-vaccine, which ended my relationship with my father (at his behest). Of course, this is not necessarily a partisan issue, but anti-vax stances are more closely aligned with Republicans than Democrats, particularly among state governors and legislatures, despite the existence of wealthy coastal anti-vaxxers.

As a new Democrat I finally am on the right side of history (albeit late). This comes at the cost of alienation from my family and many friends and acquaintances. Of course, I am not alone—Elizabeth Warren (who I endorse for President of the United States) was a Republican until 1996, and 2 of her 3 brothers to this day are Trump-supporting Republicans.

More backstory about me: From 2011 to 2014 I was a Mormon (i.e., Latter-day Saint), and my mother was one from 2007 to 2013. I used to play piano for the children in Sunday school at the Daytona Beach branch of the church. Since becoming politically active in 2020, following the completion of my Ph.D. in Education in December 2019, the bulk of hateful messages and nonsensical arguments I have received have been from Latter-day Saints I personally knew while in the church.

Many laypersons do not know that Latter-day Saints, as they prefer to be called, are Christians (Christ is in the name of their church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Somehow, Latter-day Saints tend to be fervent Trump supporters. I joined the church in 2011 at my mother’s urging and mostly avoided “apostate” reading materials, as dubbed by church members. Learning that the church’s founder and first “prophet,” Joseph Smith, had 40 wives including girls who were almost certainly pre-pubescent, among many other facts about Smith and the church’s early and middle history that can easily be verified online, helped me to realize that the church isn’t true. Joseph Smith, Donald Trump, and many Latter-day Saints are not aligned with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Latter-day Saints do a lot of great charity work and many of their members are wonderful people, but there is no explaining away such hypocrisy and corruption. Of course, those who can explain away Joseph Smith can easily explain away Donald Trump’s statements: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. . . . Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” They can explain away how he cheated on Melania, caused Puerto Rican deaths in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, or continues to separate infants and toddlers from their parents at the border. They can explain away anything.

Trump knows this. In a rather bizarre paradox, he is both incompetent at governing, or even giving a coherent speech, yet cunning and brilliant at co-opting the Republican party and radicalizing the American people. His knowledge of the fact that his base will explain away anything and everything he says or does is best summed up in this quote from him: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

By writing this, most campaign managers (if I had one—my campaign has no staff or money) would tell me I’m making a grave mistake. I’m losing the Latter-day Saint vote. But, speaking truth to power requires saying what’s uncomfortable and what will separate and alienate you from many people. The civil rights movement wasn’t popular for a long time. It was once radical to be anti-slavery. In the American Revolutionary War, 15–20% of Americans were British loyalists, and many more were on the fence about the whole matter. Just yesterday, we clinched the number of states needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteeing equal rights to Americans regardless of their sex. This amendment was largely dormant since 1978—the same year the backwards Latter-day Saints finally allowed Blacks to hold the priesthood. Don’t worry—the Latter-day Saints were never going to vote for me anyway.

I will now turn my attention toward my friend’s questions about my candidacy.

1. Why should Democrats vote for you in the primary?

I am the best and most qualified candidate and will lead us in a bold new direction. I admit that Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, the 2018 Democratic candidate, was far more qualified in many respects. I’ve offered to drop out if she decides to run again. Otherwise, unless a new candidate emerges at the last minute, there is no competition. My sole opponent, Clint Curtis, is not a serious candidate at all. I’ve talked to many Democrats who have heard him speak in-person and agree we can do better. Plenty of other Democrats have tried to dissuade me from running and rather seek local office first. But, no one is stepping up besides me to oppose Michael Waltz. I’m also the only one who lives in the district. Even the incumbent lives outside his district. I was born here. I’ve lived here my whole life.

I have to run. This is the time. If I pass this up, we might lose this opportunity forever. As you know, I’m going to be campaigning not just for myself, but for whomever our Democratic nominee for President of the United States is. Kristy and I could literally end up being the force that tips the entire presidential election to a loss for Trump. Florida is everything. He’s going to be campaigning real hard in Florida, and you’re going to hear a lot of propaganda about “socialism” that isn’t true, and we will be debunking this propaganda left and right and presenting a different way forward.

Republicans complain of welfare, but how many of them truly understand the stock market like I do? You want to talk welfare? When Apple brought back all that money from overseas because they don’t have to pay taxes on it thanks to Trump, it didn’t go to you. It went to share buybacks, which are at an all-time high, and it’s a travesty that got tacked right on to our national debt. The executives plan the share buybacks. Most of their fortunes are shares of their company stock. They time it to sell shares when the stock price is pumped up right after a buyback. It’s legal. It shouldn’t be. Meanwhile, Blacks are doing hard time for petty theft. This is not equitable. Not even close.

If you want change, then vote for me and candidates like me who will bring real change.

2. Why should voters vote for you in the general?

I will bring truth, reason, and tenacity to Congress. I think the combination of my age, educational pedigree, and position on the climate crisis is a great reason to vote for me. I’m 28. If elected, I’ll be the youngest member of Congress, based on the ages of the current members, the youngest of which is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at 30. I’ll be 2 months older than she was when she was elected in 2018. I’m a competent speaker and phenomenal at writing and argumentation, with a wealth of knowledge and solutions for the many issues facing Florida’s 6th district and our nation as a whole. If you look at most of Congress and most candidates, they are too busy dialing for dollars, spending upward of 30 hours a week pandering for contributions. They don’t govern. They don’t even know their own political positions, which are articulated for them by staffers or worse, lobbyists.

It’s time for a change. Our planet can’t wait any longer. I can guarantee you we are going to see bigger, badder hurricanes coming for us in the coming years due to greenhouse gas emissions and our superheated oceans. Much of Congress is elderly. Sure, they have children, grandchildren, great grandchildren… but that’s not the same as having a 10-month-old like my wife and I, and being a twentysomething myself. The climate crisis is much more real for me. It’s not an abstraction that the worst of which will take place after my death. We need more young people in Congress, especially in these divided times.

We need more women in government. We need minorities. As a White/Chinese American man, I do not fit these criteria, but that does not mean I cannot be a powerful force for good. Sadly, it also gives me advantages when campaigning or dealing with the old White men in Congress. I can get angry. I can yell. I can interrupt when someone is feeding me a line of bullshit. People look at my accomplishments and arguments rather than what I’m wearing. No one can pull anything out of the sad, sorry bag of tricks people use on women, such as accusing me of being hysterical or a bad mother. The privilege and opportunities afforded to me as a White man drive me to use my position to fight these and other stereotypes and inequities.

3. What do you bring that is better than the incumbent (for the record, I didn’t and would never vote for him)?

It is quite shocking that many Republicans are only “pro-life” until the baby is born. Then they go on tirades about welfare queens, socialism, handouts, and not wanting to pay for someone else’s stupidity. Medicaid? CHIP? Take it all away! Force a woman to have a child against her will, and then tell her she better “get a job” right away. As if motherhood is not enough of a job. Don’t forget that Trump used to be a pro-abortion Democrat prior to co-opting the Republican party. Vote for Richard Thripp. A vote for Michael Waltz is basically a vote for bringing The Handmaid’s Tale from fiction to reality.

I bring authenticity to the table. Congressman Michael Waltz is a war hero, and he says he fought for you in combat and is fighting for you in Congress. But really, he’s just another lap dog for Trump, which is quite sad. He does support some progressive positions that are a bit unusual for a Republican, such as admitting Puerto Rico as the 51st state, which I also support. Some of Trump’s base have even taken to attacking him as a RINO, or Republican in Name Only. He’s taken no leadership on holding this administration accountable, or on the climate crisis, or the feudal serfdom the bulk of America is facing due to unprecedented and grotesque wealth stratification facilitated by our government which is bought and paid for (and it was quite a bargain, I can tell you that).

Despite being a single father with a teenage daughter, Congressman Michael Waltz recently signed a Friend of the Court brief in a legal case that basically seeks to allow states to ban abortion by upholding a Louisiana law that requires physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. I used to be anti-abortion too, but now I know better. Even as a man, I can tell you that women are extraordinarily tired of privileged White men who do not and will never have a uterus legislating what they do with theirs.

My wife Kristy is pro-choice, and she has been her entire life. We have a 10-month-old baby boy and we saw him develop in a whopping seven sonograms at week 11, week 12, gender at week 16, week 20, 3-D sonograms at weeks 27 and 28 (he would not cooperate for a clear image), and week 37 for sizing (he was perfect). We were eternally blessed to have a perfectly healthy boy. We were financially prepared. We are now married and love him dearly. This is a rosy picture that many pregnant women, including in Florida’s 6th district, do not have the luxury of enjoying. Of course our son was unplanned. No one plans having a baby in the middle of completing a doctoral dissertation. Baby Ricky costs a lot of money and is a ton of work, even with two parents around to care for him most of the time. Other prospective mothers do not have it nearly as well. Who are we to judge them and condemn or prohibit their decisions?

Congressman Waltz is a big part of the problem. He supports new state legislation to require girls 17 and under to obtain notarized signatures from a parent in order to be allowed to have an abortion. Many teenagers are afraid their parents will “disown them and throw them out of the house,” and for obvious reasons cannot get a notarized signature. Girls of color are more likely not to be in touch with their parents nor have the means to procure said signature. Isn’t it the apex of hypocrisy that many parents will make their teenagers homeless and withhold their signatures to force an unwanted grandchild into existence who will also now be homeless and disadvantaged? Abortion is neither simple nor easy, as a decision nor logistically. Women in Florida’s 6th district likely have to travel to Planned Parenthood in Orlando near University of Central Florida or Jacksonville, and come up with anywhere from $350 to $950 or even more.

This is getting a bit long, but I feel I have communicated many important items above. Therefore, I’m going to be quite brief in answering the remaining four questions, all of which were partly covered above.

4. Of the current Democratic presidential candidates, who, if anyone, do you support and why?

Elizabeth Warren. She has many great plans, and a background as a bankruptcy professor and U.S. Senator who was central in founding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and taking on Wall Street. It would be great if wealthy billionaires would do more with their fortunes to actually help people, but it won’t happen. We need a wealth tax to begin unwinding the neo-feudal servitude so many Americans are facing under an oppressive regime of unprecedented wealth stratification that came about not by chance, but by deliberate mendacity and string-pulling from those at the top. Warren is an expert and she can do it. The climate crisis is baked into this too, given that the world’s wealthiest 10% cause 50% of greenhouse gas emissions.

5. If you were already in the house, would you have voted for the Articles of Impeachment?

Yes. Donald Trump has earned impeachment many times over, and these are just two of many articles that he could be impeached on.

6. What are your views on the pending Senate trial?

It’s a farce. A kangaroo court. You and I both know it. Mitch McConnell said so himself. We still have to do it, and there is a tiny chance Trump will be removed from office, but it would require a bigger bombshell than the Ukraine scandal to accomplish (even though this one is huge already). Donald is probably more likely to die from a heart attack due to his poor diet and lack of exercise than to be convicted and removed from office.

7. What are your views of the president? Have they changed over the past three years? If so, explain. If not, explain why not.

They’ve definitely changed, and I think I’ve made them pretty clear already. He’s the worst president in the history of the United States. That’s basically a fact rather than an opinion at this point. If you’re plugged into Fox News and other alt-right fake news propaganda, and if it’s being hammered into you by your family, friends, church, and peer group, it can be hard to see and you can easily get mixed up in even more ridiculous conspiracy theories such as QAnon. You really have to go on a Dark Night of the Soul to break free. And of course, you have to do your research—REAL research, which CANNOT involve dismissing proliferative tranches of evidence, science, and humanity as illegitimate sources.

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