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Mormon Parenting: Can someone be both conservative and moderate?

Published: Friday, May 18 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

This is not a political column. It is a family and parenting column. But sometimes, like it or not, the two intersect.

As parents, we try to help our children develop genuine, gospel-consistent values and we hope those values will guide them in all of their decisions, even political ones.

So let us comment just a bit on some political stories to make an observation or two:

No. 1: Isn’t it interesting that when some politicians shift their view on an issue, it is “flip-flopping,” yet when others change their mind — even on something as fundamental as marriage — it is “evolution”?

No. 2: Isn’t it also intriguing that many incumbents in recent contests have been soundly thumped by opponents who criticized them for being too willing to work and to compromise with the other party?

Should our views and our positions on issues evolve or should we hold firm to our core beliefs?

Should we be willing to compromise or should we hold rigidly and firmly to what we believe is right and best?

When we think about these questions — and when we try to guide how our children think about them — we must remember one very powerful distinction. It is the distinction between values and principles on the one hand and methods and approaches on the other. For those of us with faith, particularly those of us who believe in the Restoration, there are principles and commandments and values that are from God that cannot be altered, negotiated, modified or compromised in any way.

But there are also policies and approaches and alternative ways to try to solve problems that can evolve and that can be compromised on without violating our faith or our principles.

Personally, we worry a great deal about a president who changes his mind on the principle of marriage, which we believe is the commitment and glue that hold the basic unit of society together and bring children into the world and maximize their chances to grow up as good citizens equipped to reach their full potential.

Changing your mind on what marriage is seems to us to be changing your mind on everything.

But compromising — in the sense of listening to both sides and trying to find a common way that meets most of what both sides want — is simply the art of good politics, and folks like Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., were pretty good at it. So was Utah’s Bob Bennett, who also lost his seat for doing too much of it (listening and trying to find common ground).

Early in my career, I (Richard) was a Washington, D.C., political consultant, and our firm worked mostly for “moderate Republicans” — U.S. senators like Edward W. Brooke III of Massachusetts, Charles H. Percy of Illinois and Charles Mathias of Maryland — and moderate governors like Nelson Rockefeller of New York and, yes, George Romney of Michigan. They were principled men, but they were good at compromise and thus got things done.

They are hard to find these days.

But let’s keep looking, and let’s teach our children they can be both principled and pragmatic.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog at www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.

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