Thursday, November 08, 2012

Prayers and players

Here in Utah, Mormon capitol of the world, there’s been a lot of buzz since Mitt Romney lost the election for president.

The Latter-day Saints have lately been referring to this time as “the Mormon moment.” They knew the attention of the world would be on them, and upon examination would find them a great bunch, wonderful people, not the oddball cult of popular perception. Did that happen? Did the public come away from the election process with a more positive view of LDS people? I don’t know. I know that statistically Romney did well with white evangelical Christian voters, and they were the same bunch who a year or so ago claimed they would never vote for a Mormon. Mormons are not Christians, they said. So I guess in that case maybe there was a Mormon moment…or it could also have been a “hold your nose and vote for a Mormon” moment because to the right-wing crowd it was better than a “black, Muslim, non-citizen, socialist Obama” moment.

You think?

In late September some folks circulated an e-mail asking their LDS friends to fast and pray that Romney would do well in the October 3rd debate. And he did. Maybe they thought God took notice and they could extend the miracle through more fasting and more praying to put Mitt in the White House.

Ah, but then maybe God turned his attention to other matters. When I was a young, practicing Mormon I was taught that to pray for selfish gain would cause your prayers to bounce off the ceiling and go nowhere, leastwise to God’s ears. Maybe that happened in this case.

Or, if we come back to where the rest of us live, Planet Earth, we can see that the election ultimately had very little to do with Romney’s Mormon faith — despite the projecting done by his fellow church members — and more to do with his politics which were godawful.

After turning off my television when Obama’s re-election was announced, I listened and didn’t hear the screams of any dying Mormon neighbors throwing themselves out of windows. There were no nearby gunshots, and I haven’t heard any news reports of Mormon congregations committing mass suicide, so they were disappointed, but not despondent.

For those neighbors of mine, perhaps there will come a time when a Mormon, a faithful Latter-day Saint, will again aspire to the presidency. Maybe he’ll get elected. But I’ll bet he will learn from Mitt Romney’s campaign and use it as a template of what not to do if he wants to be president.

According to some Republicans pundits I heard analyzing the election,* all religion considerations aside, Romney’s remarks about his wealth, the “47 percent” comment, the sudden flip-flop from tea party-style right-winger to moderate Republican just turned off some voters.

I have supported Barack Obama since 2008, and continued my support this year. But I could have had more sympathy for a Republican candidate if he hadn’t been such a fool during the campaign, making terrible errors in judgment, verbal gaffes, and worst of all, direct references to his wealth. I’m not naïve. I don’t think anyone running for president in this country is poor. Unlike Romney they might not have a quarter of a billion dollars spread around in foreign banks or homes in several states, but they’re in no danger of being homeless and on the street. I didn’t like being constantly reminded that Romney is privileged, and upon being elected fully expected to keep his privileges. If Romney had said he would propose a higher tax rate on his fellow wealthy Americans I could have opened my mind to him a bit more, but he couldn’t do that.

Lest I be accused of flip-flopping, I wouldn’t have voted for him, but I might not have held the disgust and disdain for him and his campaign that I did. And that’s got nothing to do with Romney’s religion, but Romney himself.

*I also heard some right-wingers on Fox Network squealing as if they had been speared. They had convinced themselves that political polls showing an Obama margin for victory were part of a liberal conspiracy, and that Romney was sure to win despite those crooked polls. They gave all kinds of excuses for the Romney loss, none of which had much to do with reality, but everything to do with their self-deluded mindset. It’s as if the election was a football or basketball game, lost by bad officiating rather than by the bad play of the players.


Mike Williams said...

Perhaps the country got that Mormon prejudice out of the way during the primaries. Having settled on Mitt as the candidate then all evangelical Christians could throw their support to another evangelical. In the end it was the man who was voted against and not his religious beliefs. Or actually it was that America voted for the President.

Kirk said...

There was an article by Mikel Gilmore in Rolling Stone which quoted somebody (sorry, can't remember who) as saying that Romney told her that he asked his Mormon Elders if it was all right to support health care reform while running for governor of Massachusetts. The Elders said yes, if that's what it takes to get elected. If that's story's true, than his constant flip-flopping may have been religiously inspired. Just sayin'.

Postino said...

Kirk, I recall a story (not by Gilmore, and not from Rolling Stone, but in the local media a few years ago) about Romney flying to Utah to talk to the LDS First Presidency before he ran for governor of Mass. He told them if he came out against abortion he would lose the election and they agreed with him. They are nothing if not pragmatic about such things, even though officially they would always come out on the side of the pro-lifers.

Postino said...

Michael, yes, I agree with your assessment. My wife and I talked about it and came up with Romney's road to the nomination, and a process that included several wacky opponents. After he whittled down the list of Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and sexual
peccadillos forced Herman Cain to withdraw, we think the public thought of all of them, Romney was probably the least objectionable, Mormon or not.

Oddly enough, fellow Mormon Jon Huntsman never did suffer the slings and arrows of his religious affiliation. What hurt him was his association with Obama when he picked him to be ambassador to China. Huntsman, whom I thought was an excellent governor of Utah when he was in office, and intelligent and worldly enough to be president, had to drop out for lack of support.

Mike Williams said...

I thought Huntsman would have made an excellent 3rd party candidate though I admittedly know little of the man's politics.

DEMiller said...

Well stated, Postino. I wonder what the LDS were praying for? Maybe for God make Medicare a voucher system? Or help the rich get richer? Romney lost because he and the Republican Party are out of touch with the American people.

Postino said...

Dave, Republicans were at least out of touch with enough of the new American demographics to make a difference in the election results. Prayers can't stop the changing peoplescape of this country.