The “Mormon” question. [sigh] Who hasn’t heard it yet?
Can a Mormon be elected president?
I can’t get into a conversation about politics and the 2012 campaign for the White House without Mitt Romney coming up. This includes conversations with your average voters and political insiders, family and friends, Democrats and Republicans alike. (Why, yes, I do live in Utah…why do you ask?)
My in-laws ask about what I think Mitt’s chances are while munching on cupcakes after the baby blessing. While in D.C. last week, GOP party insiders and legislators from at least three different states swapped reasons why they think that, short of a major scandal, Mitt’s got the nomination all but in the bag. The man is getting a lot of attention (right now), and there are few who think he can’t pull it off.
Which comes to the second question everyone asks, especially if they share a religion with Romney: can he overcome the Mormon issue? As members of a faith that has, literally, had an extermination order issued by a state government against it, has crossed plains to find safe haven in a desert, been chased across said plains by the US Army, and now, finally, is expanding across the world with, no pun intended, missionary zeal from that lonely exile, Mormons are understandably tentative about the profile that the Romney candidacy is bringing to the LDS faith. They’ve been persecuted for their faith, and sharing it under the harsh and indiscriminate light of the popular media is quite a different thing from a conversation with a friend over the fence.
To compound things, unlike other past candidates, many believe that Romney has a chance to actually win. With an unmatched fifty-state campaign organization, the only top-tier candidate with substantial and successful experience in the business world at time when the economy is what matters, and a past unsullied by scandal or blemish (unless you call healthcare reform in Massachusetts a blemish, but that’s policy, not scandal), he’s a rock-star of a candidate and would be a formidable opponent to President Obama in 2012.
With a chance at a Romney presidency, then, it was no surprise that at least one evangelical said a “vote for Romney was a vote for the LDS church.” Hence the hesitation in many of the Mormons who ask me about a Romney presidency. They like and support him, but do they want the flak that will come with increased attention? Do they want to be mocked by the world for what is very personal and special to them?
On the other hand, we’re already out there and in the public eye, say others. Bring it on, says Michelle Mumford at Utah Vanguard. The world is ready for us. We’re already higher profile than you realize.
A few weeks ago CNN asked Is America ready for a Mormon president? I don’t know, is America ready for a Mormon Senate Majority Leader? Is America ready for Mormon Senators and Representatives and Governors? Is America ready for countless Fortune 500 business CEOs?
The question is moot. Mormons have already proven themselves worthy of leading America. I think our approach has to change — a little more “in your face”; a little more pride for who we are, and where we’ve come from.
Bring it on? Or not quite yet? Is America ready for a Mormon president?
APROPOS: all due respect to the other Mormon in the race. Jon Huntsman is a Mormon as well, even if he has been a little more shy about it. However, as he is not expected to be a top-tier candidate in the 2012 election race, I’ve decided to focus this post on Mitt Romney.
- Mitt Romney Most Qualified To Be POTUS, Sarah Palin Least Qualified, New Poll Says (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Newsweek Cover: “The Mormon Moment” And Mitt Romney (dekerivers.wordpress.com)
- -Mormon in the White House? Evangelicals Vs. Mormons Controversy Heats Up (answersforthefaith.com)
- On Debate Day, Mitt Romney’s Powerful Economic Ad (themoderatevoice.com)
- GOP debate preview: Will anyone emerge as an alternative to Mitt Romney? (csmonitor.com)