Republican Mormons and Obama: a true-life story

The issue of potential LDS support for Obama continues to bubble around the bloggernacle; see for example here and here for opposing views. I will note for the record that I haven’t on this blog stated that I would support Obama or that I thought other Latter-day Saints should. What I have stated, repeatedly, is that with the right pro-active outreach from Obama himself, he could well win over Utah against a McCain/Huckabee or even a McCain/not-Huckabee ticket.

Here’s the interesting part. I’m in Utah this week, visiting relatives (kids, grandkids, in-laws, etc.), but I made some time today to have lunch with an old friend/colleague whom I’ve known since I taught at BYU some 20+ years ago. We exchange e-mails a few times a year, but it’s probably been a decade since we’ve actually seen each other face to face.

Anyway, we’re sitting at lunch today, and out of the blue, my friend — I’ll call him Bill — starts to raise the issue of the upcoming election. I’ll note for the record that he has never read this blog and he hasn’t read my other blog for a few months. Also, this is the issue he chose to raise; I had said absolutely nothing about politics or the election. And yet he proceeds to explain his feelings regarding the Republican primary race, particularly regarding the anti-Mormon aspect to it, then tells me that he’s been reading Obama’s book (The Audacity of Hope), which he says is actually quite rational and even-handed (his words). The upshot: he tells me that he’s voted a straight Republican party ticket for 25+ years, but he’s seriously considering voting for Obama in the fall, particularly if Huckabee is on the Republican ticket, but even if it’s just McCain plus someone else.

As I said elsewhere, the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’. But it was startling to have Bill bring this up out of the blue and — with no input or prompting from me, and as I said, never having read this blog — recite to me almost exactly the same decision-making process that I’ve been describing here and that others have described elsewhere.  This is a self-described staunch LDS conservative, well-educated (PhD) and established in his profession, with a large family at home. Yet he’s ready to vote for Obama for all the reasons that we’ve been kicking around.

For what it’s worth.  ..bruce..

P.S. If you are interested in my personal political thinking, see this post on my other blog.

5 thoughts on “Republican Mormons and Obama: a true-life story

  1. I find it somewhat concerning that many Latter-day Saints would be so quick to join up with Obama. I am reminded of the Mark Hoffman incident back in the 80’s where many members of the church were deceived by the craftiness of one individual. Obama is a very articulate individual who, like most politicians, will say whatever is necessary to get elected. I don’t necessarily like any of the candidates but I believe that it is important to look at the candidates history on issues to get a clean idea of where they really stand. Obama to me is like the music man- Harold Hill- who walks into town selling musical instruments but know nothing about what he is trying to sell. Those familiar with the story know what the towns folks do. Obama has managed to accomplish nothing in his career as a senator and state senator. What then would he accomplish as our president?

  2. As per all my postings, it’s not a case of ‘quick to join up’. As I’ve noted in earlier postings, Latter-day Saints had a long history of supporting Democrats throughout most of the 20th Century (particularly in the 1917-1985 time period). However, they have been dominantly Republican for the last 25+ years. Now they face diminishing choices combined with anti-Mormon bias on the part of a significant chunk of the Republican Party, including the campaigns of the only two candidates left in the race (McCain and Obama). Someone quipped online that Republican Latter-day Saints now probably know what the Log Cabin Republicans feel like.

    I am a lifelong registered Democrat, but when I first registered to vote in 1972, the Democratic Party was quite a bit different from what it has become since then. I have considered registering as a Republican several times in the past 15 years — I am to a large extent a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) by 21st Century standards — but I have been uneasy with the rise of the influence of the Religious Right within the GOP, particularly given the virulent and intellectually dishonest anti-Mormonism that pervades much of Evangelical Christianity. This primary race probably guarantees that I will never become a Republican.

    If you read my post here, you’ll see that Obama is far from being my first choice for President. But so is McCain, and I’ll never vote for Huckabee. So what’s your suggestion? ..bruce..

  3. Bruce-
    I read your post and I see your dilemma. I also could never vote for Huckabee. He really turned me off when he surreptitiously asked if Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers? Obama has stretched out his hand to the Saints, but is it genuine? I feel that a Obama presidency would be full of surprises. Historically there really isn’t much to look at when it comes to Obama. Voting “present” in the Illinois Senate doesn’t really give a good indication as to where this man wants to go when it comes to leading the nation. There really isn’t a clear choice as to who our next president should be.

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