Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gambling on Romney

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or so the saying goes.

But I'm not quite sure that's always true.   Take, for instance, the peculiar reality that seems to have manifested itself in this current election cycle.

The nominee for the Grand Old Party is a straight-laced family man, who is often unfairly criticized for his tendency to seem a bit too much like a dad out of a 1950s sitcom.   His conservative Mormon faith is generally assumed to be, for good or for ill, a primary reason for why he presents the way he presents.  Where he's critiqued by the left, concerns about the social positions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints often surface.

This leads to a rather puzzling dissonance, though, because while my fading liberal/centrist oldline denomination and Mormonism might disagree on some...well...quite a few...things, there are some things we're simpatico on.  

One of them is this: we're shoulder to shoulder, bolder and bolder when it comes to gambling.

In a statement from 1950, the Presbyterian Church described gambling as "...an unChristian attempt to get something for nothing or at another's expense."   At around the same time, the First Presidency of the LDS issued a position statement saying that "..The Church has been and now is unalterably opposed to gambling in any form whatever.   It is opposed to any game of chance, occupation, or so-called business, which takes money from the person who may be possessed of it without giving value received in return."  

Neither of those positions have shifted.   Gambling, or so the official line of the LDS goes, weakens the community.   That's the current stance of the PC(USA), too.

It's also my position.  I think "gaming" is a wee bit foolish for thems that are eagerly getting taken, inherently predatory for those whose doin' the takin', and devoid of value whichever way.

I've been to casinos, and I find them both garish and depressing.  Gaming is not an industry.  It builds nothing.  It creates nothing.  It's entertainment, I suppose, in the way that someone taking your money from you and occasionally giving you the thrill of getting a fraction of it back is entertainment.   And sure, making money off of suckers by using the psychology of intermittent reinforcement is cunning, in its own way.   But as big business, it adds nothing positive to our culture.  I've said so here, and I have said so from the pulpit.

This makes the current partnership between the GOP and gambling money so weird.  I find it peculiar that a former LDS bishop would be willing to benefit from the $100,000,000 that has been committed to the GOP by billionaire Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.   One.  Hundred.  Million.  Dollars.  Those dollars were gained in a way that Mormons, Christian conservatives, and even wacko leftist apostate oldline denominations like my own view as morally questionable.

Here's the largest single commitment of funds ever by an individual to a campaign...and it's a gambling tycoon trying to get the candidate of the party that presents itself as representing traditional conservative Christian/Christian-ish values elected.

It's bizarre.  It's ironic.   It's so bizarrely ironic that it almost merits creating the word bizzaronic for the sole purpose of describing it.

But then again, politics is all about power, and money is power, so I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised.