On my last post I got this comment from the lovely Lars:
So this is totally not related to this post...I'm a long time stalker of your blog. Years ago (i think it was the previous presidential election) you wrote a post about how you managed to be mormon and democrat at the same time. I loved the way you wrote it. I'm not liberal, but am continually having to defend friends and family members who are, to my very ULTRA conservative in-laws. would you be willing to link that post, so I can give her well written summary of why it is totally ok to be Mormon and liberal and it's actually not against the church and you will not be sent to outer darkness because of it? Thanks!
I am absolutely going to do my best to help her out here. The post in question is Why I am Glad Today is Election Day from 2008. Rereading it now, I still agree with my four-years-ago self, and I absolutely loved re-reading the thoughtful, civil, fabulous discussion that happened afterwards in the comments section. It is a strengthening tonic against, say, the stuff you are probably seeing on Facebook every day if you aren't hiding most people's status updates.
Because yay, we are now wrapping up another nasty election where, to up the stakes even further, the Republican candidate is also a Mormon. So if you vote Democrat as an LDS person you are being extra, extra evil. I do think, though, that maybe in the last four years things have gotten a bit . . . better? Maybe? Is that just me? The LDS Democrats seem a bit more loud and proud, perhaps. Or maybe it's that I've switched wards recently to one where a member of the Relief Society actually got up and apologized for making a brief, negative political comment the previous week. I already loved this sweet woman, and now I love her even more and feel like my ward is super true, y'all.
Also? In the last four years I became even more of a crazy feminist and changed my political affiliation from Independent to Democrat. BOOM. (And that is the sound of my poor father clutching his left arm and falling over while simultaneously vomiting in his mouth a little bit. Love you, Dad!)
My basic points in the Election Day post of 2008 were these:
1. You can be LDS and be a Democrat. (Updated note: you can also be a communist, a socialist, vote for the Labour party, or be in whatever other parties exist in all the other countries of the world where there are LDS congregations. But if there is a party that is for puppy killing, you can't be in that one. Sorry. There are limits.)
2. Just like there is room for other kinds of diversity within the members of the LDS faith, there should be room for diversity of political thought.
3. Partisan imbalance is a bad thing and the leaders of the LDS church are actually pretty concerned about that.
4. Ultimately, it's nobody's darn business who you vote for, and that kind of discussion does not belong at church. We might as well start talking salaries, birth control, and preferred bedroom activities (like knitting) while we're at it. (See: other things that are personal and don't belong in Sunday School.)
Of course, I'm just one person mouthing off on the Interwebs. Here are some links to a few sources that are probably more useful. The trouble, is, though, that we generally only want to hear what we want to hear. So you may not (read: won't) be able to change anyone's mind, but you can for sure try.
This is really the best thing to show people who are willing to have a reasonable conversation with you. In 1998, Elder Marlin K. Jensen was asked by church officials to speak to the Salt Lake Tribune about the recent perception of the LDS church as a one-party church. (Utah did not start to become an overwhelmingly red state until the 1970s.) I quote him in my previous post, and you can read a transcript of the interview here. He expresses his (and the church leadership's) concerns about the political imbalance in the Intermountain West--that it's "not healthy" and "not in our best interest."
Why I'm a Mormon Democrat by Boyd Peterson, September 2009
Here is a September 2012 article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the national gathering of LDS Democrats just before the party's convention in Charlotte. During the meeting, Democratic Senate candidate Scott Howell related a conversation he had with the late President Hinckley after Howell had been offered a leadership position if he would switch over to the Republican party. According to Howell, President Hinckley said to him, "Young man, you will not join that Republican party. We need good men and women in both parties. We are not a Republican church."
LDS Democratic Caucus webpage
I would like to poll the collective a bit, here. Am I on crack for thinking that maybe things have gotten a little bit better on the "you must vote this one certain way otherwise you do not have a testimony" front? Have we become a bit more tolerant and less into each other's business? Maybe I've just been spending too much time reading Joanna Brooks and feeling all optimistic, I don't even know. Does anyone else have any feelings or experiences about that? Are those of you on the moderate-to-liberal end of the spectrum feeling pressure to (or the assumption that you will) vote for Mitt Romney simply because he is Republican and/or because he's LDS?
My sister Spitfire says she knows more people now from Utah who are Democrats, including several of the missionaries she served with, so she thinks it's more acceptable now in Utah to be a Democrat. She wants me to know, though, that in the Midwest it is still not okay to be a Democrat, no matter what religion you are. She said they would routinely have this conversation while knocking on doors:
Midwest resident: Well, I'm not interested in hearing what you have to say, but . . . [whispered] I'm voting for Mitt!
Spitfire & Companion. Um . . . okay. How about we share with you a bit more about what Mitt really believes, then!
Anyway, I can't wait to see your comments, and just think! In 72 hours the 2012 election will be over, and then we will have five whole minutes before the 2016 race kicks off.