Special Feature

The American Experiment
July 4, 2019
Special Feature
The American Experiment
Author BYU Studies Staff

This Independence Day we celebrate the 243-year long experiment in democracy that is the government of the United States of America. The following articles from BYU Studies discuss how political parties help to enforce democracy, and how Latter-day Saints can approach the contentious climate of politics in a way that reflects our understanding of God and Jesus Christ.

“The Necessity of Political Parties and the Importance of Compromise,” David B. Magleby
Political parties are essential to modern democracy, contrary to some popular opinion. Parties organize democracy and prevent voters from having to choose from among scores of candidates. Parties in a broad sense stand for a particular view of the role of government. Party identification is the best predictor of how people vote. Compromise between the parties has been and will remain vital to sustaining our two-hundred-year-long experiment with self- government. These points are particularly timely in today’s combative political climate. (This speech, the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty Lecture, was given at BYU on May 19, 2015, by Dr. David B. Magleby.)

“A Mormon Approach to Politics,” Thomas B. Griffith
Can true disciples of Christ practice politics in today's contentious climate? Properly understood, politics should be pursued to satisfy our passion for justice, which comes from God. But because politics involves power, it can pose risk to a person's spiritual welfare. The answer is to engage in politics in a way that keeps priorities right, knowing that the restored gospel is the primary vehicle to bring about accord in our fallen world. We must treat political opponents in a fashion that reflects our understanding that we all are children of God and that the Savior died and now lives for all of us.