Historically, I have not been a Mitt Romney supporter. I’m not anti-Romney. He just doesn’t float my boat. (Or should I say he doesn’t punch my ballot? Or pull my lever? Or hang my chad? Or maybe I should give up on the voting metaphors before someone accuses me of unduly influencing the search term stats.) My opinion of Mitt Romney is that he’s…fine. You know, he’ll do. In a pinch. I’m a pretty conservative voter (as opposed to a pretty, conservative voter) and I’d rather have a principled conservative who gets “the vision thing” than a competent technocrat. Not that there’s anything wrong with competent technocrats (except, of course, when there is), and not that Mitt Romney doesn’t have conservative principles (I’m just not sure what they are). Also, it’s always nice when your leader has some charisma (even just a little.) But hey, no one’s perfect.
I think I’ve just about summed up most conservatives’ issues with Mitt Romney. I didn’t think his Mormonism was that big a deal the last time he ran for president, and I don’t think it will be a big deal this time, the recent flap over Rev. Jeffress’s remarks notwithstanding. Yeah, x percentage of Americans say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, but a larger percentage of Democrats than Republicans says that, and I don’t think those are voters Mr. Romney would stand a chance with if he were Episcopalian. But then, would Mitt Romney be who he is if he were an Episcopalian?
Actually, he probably would. Never mind.
If Mitt Romney has a Mormon problem, it isn’t that Americans are bigoted against Mormons. It’s that he embodies everything that is boring about Mormons. As I was telling a friend the other day, back in 2008 he was asked what he would do as president if there were another terrorist attack on the country, and he replied something like he would call a meeting of his top advisers and together they would decide on what was the best course of action, blah blah blah. He didn’t mention whether or not there would be refreshments, but seriously, he would have a meeting? Does it get any more Mormon than that? Of course, if you’re president and there’s a terrorist attack, you probably are going to have a meeting, but that’s not the point. No one cares about your stupid meeting! They want to hear about some action! Then there’s his economic plan—his 59-point economic plan. So typically Mormon. Don’t have two speakers when you can have four, don’t have one heaven when you can have three, etc., etc. He keeps trying to tell us that Obamacare is terrible while Romneycare is awesome, even though they’re basically the same thing, which reminds me of the way our church leaders are always trying to tell us that men can preside over their families whilst simultaneously not actually being over the family in the sense that they’re, like, in charge or something. You can only believe it if you really want to.
And of course, there’s the fact that he suffers from chronic church-face. He seems always to be playing a role, being whoever people expect him to be, never revealing who he really is. But I dunno, maybe that is who he really is. Which maybe is fine or maybe is kind of creepy. Kind of like Mormons.
Anyway. Like I said before, I don’t think his Mormonism per se is going to be a problem for him. It will only be a problem insofar as his personal style makes it a problem—which is to say that his personal style is the problem. A good candidate knows how to spin these kinds of things. Mitt Romney is a better candidate today than he was four years ago, but he’s still….Mitt Romney. Which is to say, who the heck knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Frankly, I am less concerned about the effect of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism on his candidacy than I am about the effect of Mitt Romney’s candidacy on Mormonism. Not because Mitt Romney is a bad person or gives Mormons a bad name—Mitt Romney, despite his flaws, is a very impressive person. But if he ends up getting the Republican nomination, Mormonism is going to have a higher profile than it has ever had before, which could be a good thing or a bad thing–or more likely, a good thing and a bad thing. On the plus side, the public will learn a lot more about Mormons–what we believe and how we practice our religion. We’ll become less mysterious and (possibly) as a result, less suspicious. We may finally dispel all of those persistent myths that thirty-odd years of public relations campaigns haven’t been able to make a dent in.
On the minus side, the public will learn a lot more about Mormons–all of the weirdness and dirty laundry, historical or otherwise, will be out there. I don’t envision that Pres. Obama’s campaign is going to make his opponent’s religion an issue–it doesn’t seem like his style–but if a white Mormon runs against the first black president and there isn’t at least some high-profile discussion somewhere about what I’ll euphemistically term the church’s historical race problems, I will be the most pleasantly surprised person who ever lived. (I admit that I tend to be kind of cynical, but in my defense, I am not often pleasantly surprised.) And you and I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
On the other hand, maybe getting all our issues out there in the open where we can’t hide from them or pretend they don’t exist anymore will lead to some positive changes in the church and in Mormon culture.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ah, that’s funny.
But seriously, leaving aside the question of whether or not he’d be a good president, how do you imagine Mitt Romney’s candidacy might effect the Mormon world? Will it be good for the church as a whole but suck for Mormons as individuals? (Do you want to field questions about your magic underwear? I don’t.) Will we finally be able to convince people that we don’t all live on polygamist ranches and we are, in fact, allowed to dance? Will that alone make it worth it?
P.S. Hold on to your beverages because I’m about to say something super-humorous: Let’s try to keep partisan politics out of it. Yeah, I know. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. While you’re cleaning the chocolate milk or diet Coke off the screen, let me tell you what I’m not interested in. I am not interested in how frustrated you are that extremists have hijacked the Republican party, or how frustrated you are with RINOs, or how frustrated you are with the one-party church. I guess if you really want to say those things, you can—it’s still a free country (so far)–but just allow me to respond in advance: (((((((((((((SNORE)))))))))))))) Also, please avoid personal attacks on Mitt Romney himself—at least, nothing worse than what I’ve already done. (And if you happen to know any good Mitt Romney jokes, by all means, please share.)