Run to the Hills! A Mormon Theocracy is Upon Us!

The latest issue of National Review sports a grinning, full-body shot of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on its cover with the words “Matinee Mitt” scrawled across the photo. The article introduces NRODT readers to Governor Romney as a serious presidential contender for the GOP in 2008. We are treated to a description of Romney’s stellar, social conservative credentials, notwithstanding what some might consider his “questionable” comments or positions on abortion and stem-cell research. As the author, John J. Miller, puts it, “a good case can be made that Romney has fought harder for social conservatives than any other governor in America, and it is difficult to imagine his doing so in a more daunting political environment [i.e., Massachusetts].”

Of particular interest to me was the author’s take on how Romney’s Mormonism would likely affect his chances of success in winning the nomination. After a couple of passing references to the pre-1978 Priesthood Ban and “Mormonism’s doctrinal oddities, such as its claims about extra-Biblical revelation,” we read:

“There’s no telling how this will play out, though one expert on evangelical politics suspects that it might amount to little. “I think evangelicals will put aside theological differences if they believe someone’s on the right side of the culture war,” says Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Voters will care more about what a candidate believes about gay marriage.”“

I must admit that I haven’t followed Romney’s career with particular interest (I’d rather watch paint dry than watch the Olympics), so I don’t have a strong opinion of the man one way or another. But I do have some questions for you all:

  1. Do you think that Mr. Cromartie is correct? Given that evangelical Christians comprise such a large and powerful fraction of the GOP’s base, is it likely the base will be able to stomach a Mormon as “their” presidential candidate, even assuming his conservative bona fides? Even if various historical and theological issues don’t prove fatal to the national appeal of a Mormon candidate, might perceptions (whether real or imagined) of Mormon allegiance to Salt Lake prove insurmountable in gaining the support of the electorate? What do you think?

  1. For those LDS readers who are generally sympathetic to Republican politics, does the possibility of a serious run at the White House by a promising Mormon candidate make you highly likely to support him over other GOP contenders, regardless of any differences between his and your particular political philosophies and/or public policy stands, or would you be likely to evaluate Romney just as you would any other Republican contender (whether Mormon or non-Mormon) and give your support accordingly?

  1. For those LDS readers NOT generally sympathetic to Romney’s politics, would the fact that Romney is LDS tend to endear you to him as a candidate, regardless of your political differences, or would it likely cause you to loathe his candidacy even more (given that it might solidify public stereotypes of Mormons as having certain political sympathies that you don’t happen to share)?

Just wondering.

Comments

  1. Hmm. Voting for Romney. Does the phrase “cold day in Hell” sum it up? I think so.

  2. The first one’s a tough call. It’s possible the Mormon issue could fly under the radar, or it could become huge. It’s just one of those unknowables – will the press report on it extensively? And if they do, will Americans latch onto it or will they largely ignore it?

    Will Christian conservatives admire his similar stance on so-called moral issues like abortion and gay marriage, or will they have a tough time overcoming their belief that Mormons aren’t Christians?

    On your third question, you nailed it for me, which only shows how shallow I am. There’s no denying that Mitt Romney is an organizational genius and a wiz at management. Only the most hardened of critics could challenge his masterful handling of the Salt Lake Olympics. I give him major kudos there.

    But I’m not in any hurry to see a Mormon as President – unless it’s Harry Reid. And let’s face it, he seems fairly unelectable. My own reasons for Reid are less about his own credentials (though I think they’re good) and more about my personal desire to fight that Mormon stereotype.

  3. You know, I was asking myself the third question as I was reading your post and before you posed it. Honestly, I really don’t know. On the one hand, I can see myself marginally more likely to vote for him because of my generations of Mormon inbreeding leading me to think I can trust Mormons. But then, wasn’t it a Mormon who drafted much of the infamous torture memo? It seems like simply relying on a Mormon to do a good job isn’t the most logical strategy. I think I would be more likely to vote for a Republican if it was someone like McCain–from the west, moderate, straight talkin’ issue bucking vote on your conscience kind of guy. Or a woman, I’d probably be more likely to vote for someone like Elizabeth Dole.

    I’m a huge Harry Reid fan, but think he probably doesn’t have any presidential chances, and is doing a great job as minority leader, so I don’t particularly want him to give that up.

    I thought that Romney kind of bombed his chance to shine at the Republican convention. I have nothing against him, and think he’s an able politician and very good manager, but can’t really say that I would cross party lines to vote for him. How sad that I’ll probably end up being swayed by sound bytes….as much as I try not to be….

  4. I’d have a kind of local-boy-made-good rooting interest for Romney, although I would certainly vote against him.

    I really doubt that he would be able to carry the evangelical vote. While such voters gladly make common cause with Latter-day Saints, it is a different thing to actually select a Mormon as a political leader. Especially in light of the fact that we are often considered (by this crowd) to be an evil cult.

    There will probably be a more evangelical-friendly candidate available. Possibly even Jeb Bush…

  5. Lamonte says:

    I think that most people underestimate the disdain with which most evangelicals view Mormons. If you listen to “Christian Radio” or if you have had personal encounters with evangelicals over religious issues you know of the venom present in their discourse and the hatred in their hearts.

    I believe they are more than happy to accept Mormon support for conservative political issues but the idea of a Mormon as the leader of that political charge is more than distasteful to them

  6. I agree; a few choice push polls in the south and Romney won’t make it through the primaries.

  7. I think being picked as a VP candidate is more likely. Think about it, he’d probably be able to swing some of the Northeastern ‘blue’ states towards the Republican side. Electorally speaking that’d be huge. I could see a McCain/Romney ticket being quite viable.

  8. This is a threadjack, but I am constantly amazed at how the admin refuses to badmouth McCain when it is clearly evident that McCain thinks Bush is an idiot (he doesn’t even bother trying to hide this). Do you think Johnny Mac has something on Bush?

  9. I’m a Democrat, and it is highly unlikely that I would cross over to vote for Brother Mitt. I like his religion, but I’m not a fan of his politics. And if he runs I suspect I’ll be even less of a fan as he moves further to the right to curry favor with GOP primary voters.

    AH wrote: I think being picked as a VP candidate is more likely.

    I agree with this.

    Think about it, he’d probably be able to swing some of the Northeastern ‘blue’ states towards the Republican side.

    But not this. If Mitt seeks re-election in Massachusetts, he’s probably lose. Northeastern blue states don’t like social conservatives.

  10. What do people here think of Mitt Romney’s “evolution” on abortion? He has been intentionally vague on whether or not he is “pro-choice” or “pro-life”. Now, he seems to be coming out as “pro-life”, with some evidence that he “faked” (lied?) his about his position on abortion to get elected in Massachusetts. Gov. Romney would have had a hard time getting elected in 2002 if he stridently opposed abortion. But now he seems to be abandoning this view to appeal to a broader audience as he positions himself to run for President in 2008.

    Also, remember last year when some Catholic priests refused to give communion to their parishoners who supported abortion rights? This caused a bit of an uproar because of John Kerry (who is pro-choice). I wonder why the LDS church hasn’t taken more of a stand like this one (no sacrament if you’re pro-choice or pro same sex marriage).

  11. The church’s official position on abortion, as far as I have been able to track it down, is much less socially conservative than most people seem to think. It appears that the church feels that the choice should be left up to the women (in consultation with the church, significant other, and God). I believe the official policy looks something like “opposed except in cases of rape, incest, and health of the mother”.

  12. I can’t remember the specifics, but I have some kind of vague personal bias against Mitt Romney. He seems too movie-starish for my tastes, I distrust men who are too good looking. But I think, wasn’t his wife ill, and he said he spoke to her and she was supportive of his run? Well, what else could he say? I think I felt at the time he should have taken care of her. The impression I got was that the world needed him more than she did.

    I think if a Mormon ran for president, the question of racism would definitely come up and be a detriment. I don’t think an active Mormon could make it throught the convention because our religion is too controversial.

  13. Tess wrote: I wonder why the LDS church hasn’t taken more of a stand like this one (no sacrament if you’re pro-choice or pro same sex marriage).

    Where would you draw the line? If you can’t take the sacrament if you’re pro=choice or pro-SSM, then why not just lay out a blanket prohibition on being politically liberal?

    Also, what about controversial political issues in other countries? Shall we ask the Church to define for saints the world over how to vote and remain sacrament worthy?

    A can of worms if there ever was one — and I think the Brethren understand that, for the most part.

  14. I lived for three years in the Deep South and an ice cube has a better chance of surviving through July on a sidewalk down there than a Mormon Republican presidential candidate does of surviving that long in the primary season. Remember, back in 1998 or 1999 the Fellowship of Christian Athletes named a Mormon from Tennessee it’s athlete of the year (or some such award). The poor boy was stripped of the title when a local pastor “outed” him as a Mormon. To the vast majority of evangilical Christians in the South Mormonism is little more than a cult that threatens to undermine the earning power of local pastors. In the locale in which we lived (northern Alabama) the dangers of Mormonism were preached on a weekly basis. The problem for a Mormon candidate is that even if one manages to win a close primary election one would be doomed in the general election because even though the evangelicals might not vote for a Democrat they would not turn out in sufficient numbers to secure victory. I actually think that the only chance a Mormon presidential candidate has is on a Democratic ticket. Democrats would be fawning all over themselves over the fact that they actually nominated someone who might (and I stress the word “might”) actually believe in something.

    Personally, as a Republican I am not interested in whether or not a candiate is a Mormon. All I care about is whether or not the candidate will win a general election and given my analysis above it is not likely that I’d vote for a Mormon in a primary election for President. Knowing that a candidate is Mormon, from a political standpoint, is little different than knowing one is a practincing Catholic, or Methodist, or Episcoplian– it’s just one more piece to the puzzle.

  15. Mark N. says:

    At long last: the promised Mormon who will rescue the Constitution from hanging by a thread!

    Or he’ll be the one that brings us to the point where the Constitution is in dire straits.

    You make the call.

  16. N Miller says:

    To my liberalistic democrat friends: Go Romney!!

    I doubt I am in the political alley as often as many of you, but I have been watching Romney for quite a while. Is he perfect? Nope, but we never will find one of those politicians. It seems that his abortion stance concerns people. I think people blow abortion way out of proportion. It should not be that big of an issue as it is made out by the lefty loosey media, especially in the northeast.

    Will I have a tendancy towards Mitt becuase he is LDS? Yes, but not necessarily because of the title of “mormon”. Rather, he will likely have similar ideas and thoughts due to the belonging to the same religion. I am sure there are many people that can do the job as president. Mitt, I believe, is one of them.

    Will others stomach him? In the northeast, probably not. South? If religion is the topic, no, but if the topic is ideologies, he has got a chance. The west, including California (but not Washington)? For sure, hey, Terminator is governor, why not a mormon president? Midwest? Perhaps. I think this will be battle territory if he does get the GOP go-ahead.

    GO ROMNEY!!!

  17. Well, the Church may not have to deny the sacrament for those who have liberal views on abortion or marriage, but the dearth of Mormon liberal Democrats speaks volumes about the political views of its members.

  18. Mark B. says:

    Chris,

    I hope that your rhetorical question regarding liberal politics and abortion and so-called same sex marriage wasn’t meant to suggest that those are touchstones of liberalism. If they are, then there is very little hope for liberal political thought in the Church–notwithstanding Elder Marvin Jensen’s pleas to the contrary.

  19. Mark B.,

    The question was not meant to suggest that they are touchstones of liberalism. Rather, it was to suggest that denying the sacrament to someone for his political views, even on questions that may not seem difficult to vast numbers of us, would be a troubling development.

    And I think the Brethren now that. Look at Christine Durham, Utah’s current Supreme Court Chief Justice. She was an active and public supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and, unless there is something I’m not aware of, remained a member in good standing.

  20. I hate that I can’t edit my comments for typos.

    First sentence, second paragraph should obviously read “…I think the Brethren know that.

  21. Am I the only one with Iron Maiden stuck in my head now?

  22. Some very well-credentialed political analysts think Romney has a decent chance of carrying the evangelical vote once he gets past the primaries. This post (on my blog– excuse the self-promotion but I’m short on time) has links to must-read info for anyone who wants to follow the issue:

    http://hedgehogcentral.blogspot.com/2005/05/romney-for-president-2008.html

    I am a conservative Republican and LDS, and all other things being equal I would vote for Romney over other candidates in a heartbeat. Why not?

    Some are concerned the exposure to the Church would be unfavorable and damaging. Maybe, but I don’t think we have anything to apologize for and the more light is shed on our beliefs and history, the better. (That last sentence may cause some jaws on this blog to drop.) The conservative Christians who attack him on religious grounds will look like bigger idiots than they already do when they make such attacks on others.

    I am sympathetic to the concerns of the many Democrats who visit BCC who disagree with Romney politically, but with all due respect, some of you folks need to read more about him and what the political chattering classes think of him. Some of you talk about him like he’s a curious oddity from another planet.

  23. Lowell Brown:

    You would do well not to assume that those of us who are LDS and not Republicans haven’t examined Romney’s political biography and history.

  24. Chris Williams: I made no such assumption, only an observation based on what I saw posted here. It reads like a discussion among people who are for the most part Democrats and who have not yet learned much about Romney.

  25. Regarding abortion post #15 stated “I think people blow abortion way out of proportion. It should not be that big of an issue as it is made out by the lefty loosey media, especially in the northeast.”

    While I agree that the abortion issues is blown way out of proportion, I fail to see how it is the fault of the “lefty loosey media.” It seems to be too much of a litmus test on both sides of the aisle. Most pundits on the right, for example, think Guiliani is unelectable because of his pro-choice views and that’s not because of the Northeast–it’s because of the South (and maybe the Mountain West if they had more electoral votes). George W. certainly changed his abortion views just to get elected as Mitt Romney is starting to do (or, he changed them earlier to get elected in Mass.–either way).

    Meanwhile Harry Reid is making strides on the other side of the aisle but his abortion views will ensure he doesn’t get a national nod.

    The example of Kerry being disallowed his sacrament is another example of “blow[ing] abortion way out of proportion” and making abortion the key issue of national elections.

    Meanwhile none of these politicians will do anything regarding abortion (with the possible exception of a stacked supreme court eventually weakening or overturning Roe).

    Other real issues like the environment, healthcare, and welfare — issues that should appeal to religious people, for some reason get much less play even though they have a much bigger influence, in my opinion, on our communities.

  26. I admit that I havent followed Romney’s political career enough to say definitely, but would vote for him rather than Hillary Clinton in a heartbeat. I’m a fence sitter when it comes to parties, but do not assume that a vote for a mormon is automatically a good idea. Werent there scriptural kings and leaders who were members of Christ’s church and let their power go to their head?

    On the other hand, while I realize there are fans of Harry Reid here, I am not one of them. I’m a Nevadan, my family has very close ties to the man…and has reasons for not supporting him. I will leave it at that.

  27. Commenting as a non-Mormon (who reads this blog regularly), I know that the conservatives in my family would vote for Romney. They certainly don’t think of Mormons as ‘Real Christians,’ but they lend greater creedence to someone whose socially conservative views are based in religious belief than to a secular conservative. Likewise, they’d probably feel comfortable voting for a Republican who was Jewish, although a Muslim Republican might be crossing the line.

    We’re in Northern New York, though; I gather that the dynamic is different in the South. It might still be possible to rally the Promise Keepers vote, since the evangelicals who attended Promise Keepers alongside LDS’ers have had some ‘big tent’ experience.

    Personally, if Romney won in the Republican primary, I’d be eagerly looking forward to the Democratic candidate’s commericals rerunning G. W. Bush’s comments on Massachusetts from the previous elections.

  28. I’d love to see Romney run and win the Primaries but I’d really hate to see him go down in history as the man who lost to Hillary.

  29. By “man who lost to Hilary,” do you mean “man” or “person”?

  30. Just a note to say any one interested in the Audio cassettes by the break away sect of the FLDS church leader Warren Jeffs, I have several hundred that I purchased. Exposed in the media, this is the guy that makes a bad name for polygamy. If you want to debate NPR you need to hear the tape that radio station has. If interested, I can be reached at patches@as.net

  31. Steve (FSF) says:

    In a possible Clinton vs. Romney there’s some people here who think the evangelical vote will break for Clinton? Probably the same “intellectuals” who can’t grasp that Harry Reid comes off like a moron on the tube (has nothing to do with his positions, he’s just dull witted). BTW, McCain is too old, unstable and gaff prone to build sustainable momentum through the primaries. Remember the bumbler from Texas that beat him, and McCain was younger then. Romney’s competition is Bill Frist and it’s going to be a knock down drag out fight. I’m guessing a Romney – Condie Rice ticket at this point. But this early, who knows? Hillary however, doesn’t have a prayer of breaking the present electoral map.

  32. Steve (FSF) —

    I completely agree with you about Hillary. If the Democrats nominate her, or any other senator from the Northeast, they deserve to lose in ’08.

    I’m liking Bill Richardson at the moment.

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