by Nick Boyer
Have you been to the Provo Towne Center Mall? I have.

Growing up, my parents always took me to all the malls. I used to think the only reason anyone would go to Park City was for the outlet mall. I know all of the malls. City Creek is pretty cool. I still prefer Gateway.

I’m getting sidetracked.

I mention my background because I know malls. And the Provo Towne Center Mall is pretty much the same as any other mall, except for one thing—the Jon McNaughton gallery store. If you’re not able to Google what it is right now, I’ll fill you in.

Jon McNaughton is a painter, a political activist, a conservative and a Mormon. But you won’t see him on those Mormon commercials. You don’t know what those are either? Man, you need to get out more. They’re commercials that feature interesting versions of what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and they end with “And I’m a Mormon.”

Okay, you have seen those. Sorry. Back to McNaughton. His spiritual paintings are mostly average LDS-themed stuff. But he is more famous for his political paintings.

Excuse me, I will, again have to bring you up to speed on this. McNaughton painted Christ’s second coming, holding the Constitution as a holy document with the founding fathers and the liberal stereotypes being represented in a condemning light.

Not up to speed yet? How about this: McNaughton painted President Obama burning the Constitution in his piece titled “One Nation Under Socialism” and another one of President Obama stepping on the Constitution in front of all the past presidents. Or how about . . . actually, I’m going to stop there.

McNaughton’s gallery is prominently featured in the Provo Towne Center Mall, which is fine, but doesn’t that just give you an idea of what kind of county we live in? McNaughton, it seems, really doesn’t believe in a separation from church and state, as long as it is his religion. And I don’t mean the LDS religion, I mean his own interpretation of what is right and wrong. Because to him, being a leftist is wrong and being on the right is righteousness.

I’m going to take pause and share with you that my father-in-law is probably the most committed, active Mormon I know. He works right smack dab in the Church Headquarters building in the center of Salt Lake City. He devotes his time, effort, energy and dime to the cause of Mormonism, oh and he’s a Democrat.

Note to self: new marketing idea for Democrats using the “And I’m a Democrat” after saying other descriptive things about person. It is definitely a minority in the LDS church, but there are many who are both Mormon and Democrat.

McNaughton is a very successful painter. It reminds me of hearing Creed or Nickleback and thinking “Who listens to this?” but it turns out a lot of people do. So, the art being successful really represents the people who buy it. Being in the mall is pretty mainstream. Sometimes, I can’t even get my art into a local farmer’s market.

I do want to point out that McNaughton’s work used to be featured in the BYU bookstore but then they got rid of it because it was too political. This same mall that has McNaughton’s gallery has a store called Hot Topic which tries to sell teenage angst and rebelliousness to impressionable teenagers. I really hope McNaughton’s work doesn’t catch on like Hot Topic has, mostly because I think it is a bad influence for impressionable Mormons or Conservatives that want to showcase some rank, poor taste propaganda.

I can imagine someone buying it and then hanging it on the wall with some of that teenage angst and rebelliousness seen at Hot Topic. It is ironic to me because if you really don’t like President Obama, would you want a painting of him on your wall? Granted it isn’t in the best light of him, but that just reminds me of a little kid in elementary school drawing one of his friends with a stick figure body and writing “stupidhead” with an arrow pointing to it.

With this election coming up, I hope people aren’t this childish and silly. You will hear it every election cycle that this election is the most important ever, which is true until the next election cycle. It is imperative for people to participate and to know the issues.

While having the information machine called the Internet at hand, there are more voices making the information hard to dissect and digest. It is becoming white noise, which is another name I use for Fox News. The 24 hour news cycle gives sensationalistic slants on stories to get more viewership while overlooking the issues that really matter.

Remember when Fox News said President Obama was giving Michelle Obama a terrorist fist jab in 2008? Or whenever CNN showcases some odd new technology that is just more distracting than illuminating, like the hologram reporter or masking of Paul Ryan’s face with some reflectors to see which facial muscles he was using during the debate? It is because of this sensationalism (desperation) that people like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are millionaires.

The drama of showing one side being completely villainous and conspiratorially corrupting America is very moving, until you don’t give them the benefit of the doubt and research it online meticulously with real sources. But who has the time?

It’s much funner to let some pundit trounce you for an hour with pure drama, like a puppet show (Glenn Beck literally did that once). MSNBC also participates in a not-so-subtle narrative with their leading liberals like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz. The white noise is hard to navigate through. Have you looked over the issues? I know its fun to watch the debate and feel like you’re watching Wrestlemania again, but, don’t fall into that crowd of endless Jerry Springer mob-like stupidity. Because the issues do matter.

Often when I discuss politics, it becomes apparent that the person either is completely devoted or feels complete apathy because it doesn’t seem like it changes their lives that much. Unlike in sports, it matters a great deal who wins and loses. It matters to immigrants what happens to them if they’re undocumented and the next president takes an iron fist rule on deportation. It matters to the kid going to school and needing a pell grant. Or the small business owner if they’ll have higher taxes. Or the person fighting with their healthcare insurance agent on coverage for a deathly illness. Or the veteran that needs help adjusting to being a civilian. Or the impoverished family that relies on food stamps, schools and low paying jobs to keep afloat. Or the billionaire that doesn’t want to see his taxes go up. I do care because these issues affect so many lives in a big way.

But, what side of the McNaughton painting would you fall into? For me, the Obama administration has done everything they can to live up to the high expectations of Hope and Change. Except when it comes to civil liberty issues like the Patriot Act, closing Guantanamo Bay or the drone attacks on villages. Ron Paul fans can attest to that.

Economically, they have spent money. You’ll hear the Republicans repeat this many times. The difference though is that when Democrats spend money, it is for investing in Americans with programs like Social Security, or an automobile industry bailout that kept that market from falling like so many other companies in 2009 with the recession, or Medicare, Medicaid, Pell grants, social safety nets in general, NASA, public broadcasting, veterans with GI Bills and scholarships, health care like Planned Parenthood, which helps people finance their check ups and birth control, public education (lots of kids need those teachers to keep their jobs), stimulus packages which kept more jobs from being lost (which a lot of Republican politicians accepted and used to help their local economies) and infrastructure projects which also employs.

When Republicans spend money, from Reagan on, it has been on military expansions and wars. Now, I know both sides have spent money on these things, but only one side makes cutting public service programs a zealous religious issue of the utmost importance in their rhetoric and policies, and it isn’t the Democrats.

So, primarily, I support the Democratic policies because I believe the government’s role economically should be making sure everyone has a chance by investing in the country and the citizens, which helps grow opportunity and wealth for everyone, because income inequality affects everyone. And I’m a Mormon.