Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mormon Moment Series - Part Fifteen - Post-Election Thoughts about Missionary Work and Mitt Romney

This is Part Fifteen of my Mormon Moment Series: It started out as a part of educating people on the basics of being Mormon during the 2012 election campaign. Now it continues as an occasional series addressing issues of interest to both Mormons, Non-Mormons, and Post-Mormons. Guest Post Submissions are always welcome.

To get an explanation of the series and its progression, see the entire series, click here.

The Lasting Impact of the 2012 Election on Mormon Missionary Work:

Anyway You Look At It, Mormons Win, No Matter Who The President Is!

While Obama has less of a margin of victory than he did four years ago, it is not a "won the electoral college but didn't win the popular vote" scenario. (That could change I guess, but someone, I think on CNN but am not sure any more, said that after the official tallies are in sometime Thursdayish, there will be less than a million votes that are provisional or contested votes.) Since Obama is over half a million votes ahead of Romney, (3 AM PST) it isn't likely that ALL of the provisional votes would go to Romeny.  No matter what the actual number is, there is no doubt that Obama won the electoral college votes that he needed to stay president.

What the exit polling showed, was that the demographics that Romney lost most convincingly were the growing parts of the voting population; young voters, voters of non-Caucasian heritage, single women and people making less than 200% of the poverty level. All of those groups are also under represented in the LDS church, as percentages of population. Those are all groups that have now been introduced, on some level, to a lot of LDS folklore and doctrine, without really knowing how to distinguish between them. I think the big opportunity for the church is to teach those who have had their curiosity piqued during the election, and teach them about the gospel of the church, as we juxtapose the gospel and the culture of the church.

Lots of bloggers have explored the opportunities for Mormons with conservative Christians, as the LDS church was taken off Pat Robertson's list of cults.  The discussion about working together politically meaning friendships for conservatives that would not have been possible without the political connection has been discussed, and so I won't do more than acknowledge that it has been a significant part of the "Mormon Moment" of 2012.  While the gains in conservative Christian groups may be fairly obvious in their relationship, I would contend that there may be an even more significant ripple that comes from non-conservatives who were exposed to a whole different side of Mormon culture.

You don't have to like the outcome of the election, or the existence of groups like Mormons for Obama. I think that most people can see that there are not many places that nonmembers can see discussions between members of the church, from a variety if backgrounds, disagreeing with each other.  We like to make nice when investigators are around, and so many people have a very one-dimensional view of Mormons.  Letting other people see more of the nuaces can be a little scary, but I believe that it will be a positive thing, and an unexpected missionary tool. There are many more left leaning people who have been "introduced" to Mormons who share most of their political beliefs. Several people have emailed me after reading posts in my Mormon Moments series asking questions about W&T, BCC, fMh, etc., asking if there really are members of the church who hold the views expressed by some of the less conservative bloggers and commenters. The fact the Mitt was a Mormon Republican wasn't a surprise to most Americans, but the fact that all Mormons aren't Republican, and that we don't vote as a monolithic block, is a surprise for many.

With the influx of new missionaries, I think that all of missionaries, serving missions all over the world, will have more people at least willing to consider us as something other than a cult. If a Mormon can run for president and narrowly lose, just running gives legitimacy. In the US, I think the curiosity will go farther. Democrats who are politically active now realize that many of their supporters, campaign volunteers and neighbors are Mormon. One friend, who often runs campaigns for democratic candidates, has shared his delight, and sometimes confusion, as he realized how many people he interacts with politically, in Democratic organizing and fundraising, who are Mormon. If the person answering the knock of a missionary, knows someone who they like, respect and relate to who is Mormon, they are more likely to at least ask questions.

I am sure there are some who would rather not have new members who are Democrats or Independent voters that lean to the left. Since I had several extremely hostile, almost disturbing, responses emailed to me after my post on Mormons for Obama, I am aware that at least a few people think I deserve ex-communication, torture or death. I really hope that in a few weeks, when things settle down, that as members of the church who want to be able to share the gospel with more of our neighbors, that we will be grateful for ALL of the potential doors that will open up to missionaries because they saw Mormons of all political stripes involved in the election. If Conservative Christians, liberal Democrats and Independents of all stripes, can see that some Mormons politically are "just like them," that it can only be a good thing for helping the gospel spread.

Thinking With My Heart:
My Wish For Mitt Romney And The Country
I thought Mitt's concession speech was probably his best of the entire campaign. (Well, the best of the 30 odd I have watched.) What I thought was sad was that he, and especially Anne, seemed so unprepared and stunned at the loss. I hope that is the reason that he didn't outline a role he would like to play in moving the country forward. I think the most tragic thing that could come out of this election would be that Mitt doesn't find a way to use the political capital he has, to work with the president and Republicans in Congress move forward on the areas that he and the president agree on.

Maybe it is just a pipe dream, but Obama is on the record as a huge fan of Lincoln, and the way he included political rivals in his administration.  I think Romney could play a roll in a second-term Obama administration, (neither Obama or Romney have anything to lose by trying) as an advisor or "Job Czar," that would allow him to accomplish some of the things he is best suited for, and have a role in America's recovery. Lincoln made many of his biggest rivals members of his cabinet so that he could call on their expertise. Lots of people talk about how incredible Lincoln was for appointing them, and it was extraordinary.

What was arguably more courageous and honorable was that the men who often passionately disagreed with Lincoln were willing to accept the positions, because they wanted the best for their country. They weren't focused solely on making him a one term president, unable to get anything done. Instead, they were focused on doing what was/is right for the country the loved, even starting a civil war! (Not all of them agreed, and a portion of them resigned when the South formally left the Union.) 

I truly believe think that Mitt Romney is a sincere patriot, who may have gotten caught up, a little too much, in the "winning" part of the election.  Mitt has Mormon pioneer ancestors who did the right things, at the right time, because they believed that they could help make the world a better place.  His father stood up to Mormon church leaders by supporting the Equal Rights Amendment. In many ways, he has the perfect pedigree for someone who is willing to cross party lines and work for the good of the country, even if it is serving under his former opponents administration.  I can't think of anything more courageous in this political environment, or more needed!

Don't forget it is NaBloPoMo! To find other bloggers who are participating, you can go here!

1 comment:

  1. Did you see Doris Kearns Goodwin on Colbert? She was talking about Lincoln and Obama similarities. She didn't mention your idea exactly, but I think it is a good one, and one you don't usually hear about, when people talk about Lincoln. It will be interesting to see how the new movie about him goes.

    As for people realizing there are Mormons that are democrats, etc., I am glad that people are beginning to recognize that not all Mormons have the same political views. I don't know how many times a conservative Christian has back up the cult claim by pointing out that Mormons vote as a block and have crushed any reasonable discourse in the states they control. Hopefully this election cycle will put an end to that.


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