Ladies and Gentlemen, a Mormon Has Taken (Ok, Ok, Will Take) the Building

November 8, 2006 | 77 comments
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You’ve heard it here first: it may take a day or two, but Jon Tester is going to come out the winner of the senate race in Montana; and it may take a few weeks, but Jim Webb is going to be confirmed the winner of the senate seat from Virginia. And that will mean…

Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada will be the new Senate Majority Leader, and consequently the single most powerful and important Mormon politician since the end of the State of Deseret. (Look upon his works, ye GOP faithful, and despair!)

While his overall perspective on this election is completely messed up, Dave’s attempt to find a silver lining in Reid’s rise is absolutely correct: with a faithful Mormon attaining such prominence and influence via the Evil Liberal Hierarchy, “legions of staunchly conservative Mormons [in the American West] will now have to develop political (as opposed to religious) reasons for voting conservative.” A casual identification of the GOP with Mormonism is bad, sloppy political thinking. Whereas, actually developing a case for conservatism (or whatever) within the bounds of one’s own belief system….why, that would be partisan thinking, and of exactly the sort I think we need.

Should be a fun couple of years, especially with Mitt Romney sniffing around out there. I’m looking forward to it.

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77 Responses to Ladies and Gentlemen, a Mormon Has Taken (Ok, Ok, Will Take) the Building

  1. Matt Evans on November 8, 2006 at 11:12 am

    “legions of staunchly conservative Mormons [in the American West] will now have to develop political (as opposed to religious) reasons for voting conservative�

    What is this supposed to mean? That conservative Mormons didn’t know there were Mormon liberals until they read the news about Harry Reid?

  2. Michael on November 8, 2006 at 11:13 am

    The Lord’s ways are not man’s ways. The assumption that all active and strong Latter-Day Saints are Republicans is a myth that needs to die a slow and painful death. Just as a true, deep, and everlasting testimony requires ponderous thought and prayerful study, so must one’s political beliefs be refined in the furnance of common sense and non-reactionary topical discussion. Too many church members treat their political leanings as they do their testimonies – “Let me take the path of least resistance and don’t make me think too much. I can’t handle the meat. I still need the milk.” It is only when it personally affects them that they get off the pedestal of indifference to actually analyze their beliefs.

    I am very happy for Brother Reid. He is a good man who takes the lessons of the BoM to heart; 1) Don’t attack enemies that have not directly attacked you; 2) Remember the poor and downtrodden; 3) Look to emulate Christ in all your thoughts, words and deeds. He does not spin the truth for political gain.

  3. J Davis on November 8, 2006 at 11:15 am

    Partisan thinking? Is that allowed?

    I agree. I also hope that this change in political climate will help lower the decibel level of attacks and \”me vs. them\” rhetoric. Why can\’t we all just get along?

  4. Matt Evans on November 8, 2006 at 11:22 am

    As a substantive matter, I agree that it’s good for the church to have a Mormon moderating the Democratic message. Utah is a one-sided political system because the Democratic platform turns off religious voters (there’s a reason secularists call the Democratic party home! — neither religious nor secularist voters are idiots), and Harry Reid has been a good messenger for the Democratic party as it tries to correct their alienating policy and image problems.

  5. Michael on November 8, 2006 at 11:26 am

    “Harry Reid has been a good messenger for the Democratic party as it tries to correct their substantive and image problems.”

    Matt,

    So who would you define as a good Mormon messenger for the Republican party as it tries to correct their significantly more destructive substantive problems? I am being sincere in asking my question. Every LDS Republican on the national scene that I am familiar with has done nothing but add to these problems by buying into the “evangelical-political” complex.

  6. Jonathan Green on November 8, 2006 at 11:28 am

    The Church’s international PR department considers Harry Reid a ‘godsend,’ to quote a friend who works there. When American foreign policy and the nation’s president have been unpopular overseas and ‘Mormon’ starts to sound like a synonym for ‘Republican,’ it’s been very useful to be able to say: look, the most powerful figure in the opposition party is a Mormon, too. If the Church wants to avoid taking collateral damage internationally from a Romney presidency or presidential bid, it very much needs Harry Reid. Harry Reid is my hero, but for those who can’t stand him, you should keep in mind how much the Church needs him before you wish him too much ill.

    But, Russell, be kind to Matt. The day after the last election made it onto my list of 20 worst days in my life, and I imagine today will do the same for Matt.

  7. JKC on November 8, 2006 at 11:35 am

    Matt,

    I don’t think its correct that the Democratic platform turn off religious voters. You could argue that specific religious groups are turned off by some aspects of the Democratic platform, and that in many cases, the Republicans have attracted many religious groups, but there are way too many exceptions to make it workable as a general statement. Among black churches, for example, the Democrats are way more influential.

    Anecdotes are not always reliable, but do you know anyone who has left the Democratic Party for the Republican party over religious reasons?

    I think its more accurate to say that Utah is one-sided because most Utahns mistakenly associate Mormonism with the GOP. Of course, this is not to say that the Democracts couldn’t do better at attracting Mormons or evangelicals or whoever else, but the fact that the GOP makes secularists unwelcome does necesarily mean that Democracts make religious people unwelcome.

  8. Jettboy on November 8, 2006 at 11:38 am

    Your all delusional. The truth of the matter is that Mormon Conservatives consider Ried, if not an apostate, a traitor. They do not believe his policies are religious and that he plays too heavily into the Godless secularists’ hands. They no more consider him a representative of religion or Mormons than they do drunk Kennedy a Catholic. Conservatives consider Leiberman more of a “Mormon” than him.

  9. Julie M. Smith on November 8, 2006 at 11:49 am

    “If the Church wants to avoid taking collateral damage internationally from a Romney presidency or presidential bid, it very much needs Harry Reid.”

    Amen and amen. A Pres. Romney at the helm of a gov’t unpopular abroad could spell serious trouble for the Church–not hard to imagine missionaries becoming a terrorism target and that sort of thing.

  10. Jeremy on November 8, 2006 at 11:55 am

    What is this supposed to mean? That conservative Mormons didn’t know there were Mormon liberals until they read the news about Harry Reid?

    In a word, Matt, yes. I’m continually amazed at how utterly surprised members of my ward are to discover my political leanings. It’s as if I told them my cat was a terrier.

    And, let’s face it, many members of our congregations, like many citizens of our country, lack a grasp of the who’s-who of American politics. Name recognition for majority and minority leaders, etc., is much lower among the general populace than among the relatively bookish folks who frequent blogs like T&S. I think there are many, many church members in the U.S. who neither know who Reid is nor know a liberal Mormon in their midst.

  11. Mark B. on November 8, 2006 at 11:56 am

    Suggesting that support for Democrats is strong in black churches misses the point–it’s not that they’re members of churches, but that they’re black that explains the support. And, to the extent that there’s been any erosion in the overwhelming support by African-Americans of Democrats, a significant amount has come from conservative churchmen and women, who argue that the Democrats espouse values that are contrary to those they learn at church.

    Just one hope for Harry: Couldn’t we take up a collection to hire him (1) a speechwriter and (2) a voice/speech coach? It’d be easier to listen to the trumpet if it’s sound were better.

  12. Michael on November 8, 2006 at 11:57 am

    Dear Jettboy,

    Speaking as a Mormon Moderate, I definitely see more of our LDS beliefs reflected in Senator Reid than I do in Senator Hatch. I base my LDS beliefs upon the major themes in the Book of Mormon and when I do so, I find the Republican issues definitely in contrast to those themes. That is not to say I don’t see Democratic issues also in constrast (such as the lack of emphasis on personal responsibility). To me, the Republicans only pay lip service to their issues. Their actions speak volumes in the opposite direction. They are too beholden to the special economic interests instead of the will of the people who elected them.

  13. Mark B. on November 8, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Of course, calling Harry Reid a “liberal” is a bit of a stretch, unless, of course, you’re comparing him to other Western politicians.

    Next to most of the New York congressional delegation (including some of the Republicans), Harry looks pretty conservative.

  14. Nate Oman on November 8, 2006 at 11:59 am

    JKC: Your take on the history of Utah politics is, I think, wrong. Utah used to be in play in partisan terms. It voted for Lyndon Johnson. It had a Democratic governor into the 1980s. What happened was the McGovern Commission and the loonification of the Democratic party in the late 1970s. Furthermore, the Democratic party in Utah in the early 1980s made a strategic decision: They gave up on trying to woo Mormon voters on the assumption that migration into the state (or at least into a few key counties) would dilute Mormon dominance and allow them to maintain their political viability. This took concrete forms such as insider hostility to Mormon Democrats like Ted Wilson or Mormon-friendly Gentile Democrats like Palmer DePaulis. The Democrats, however, bet on the wrong demographic horse in Utah. Democratic primaries in Utah, however, remain extremely hostile to Mormon candidates: There is a reason that the second district is represented by a Democrat named Matheson rather than a Democrat named McConkie.

    In short, I think that it is wrong to see the Democrats in Utah as the passive victims of the benighted Mormon masses. Spend enough time telling the masses to kiss off, and they eventually get the message.

  15. Nate Oman on November 8, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    “A casual identification of the GOP with Mormonism is bad, sloppy political thinking.”

    A casual assumption that all Mormon Republicans identify with the GOP on the basis of sloppy political thinking is both condescending and inaccurate.

  16. Ardis Parshall on November 8, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    “The truth of the matter is that Mormon Conservatives consider Ried, if not an apostate, a traitor.”

    Ha! Speak for yourself, Jettboy — or rather admit that you’re already only speaking for yourself and a few other extremists who subordinate their religion to their politics. I don’t share Harry Reid’s politics, but I won’t let a foolish and false accusation of apostasy go unchallenged. The Reid family are among the finest and most faithful LDS families I have ever had the pleasure of sharing a ward with. Ever.

    Take it back, or else meet me behind the swingset after school. Bring a hanky for your [soon-to-be-]bloody nose.

  17. Cordeiro on November 8, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    #2 Michael:

    He does not spin the truth for political gain.

    Harry Reid is a politician. That’s what politicans, all politicans, do. He hasn’t gotten to where he is in the Democratic party without his own spin machine.

  18. Michael on November 8, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    “A casual assumption that all Mormon Republicans identify with the GOP on the basis of sloppy political thinking is both condescending and inaccurate.”

    Nate,

    Is it really a casual assumption when I get weekly e-mails from my ward members touting the Focus on the Family political talking points or when Meridian Magazine is one of the top ten visited LDS websites? I have yet to find an active LDS GOP member that does not buy into the “evangelical-political agenda”. Maybe because I live in Florida I do not get a chance to meet the western economic conservatives that would provide me greater perspective.

  19. Russell Arben Fox on November 8, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    “A casual identification of the GOP with Mormonism is bad, sloppy political thinking.�

    “A casual assumption that all Mormon Republicans identify with the GOP on the basis of sloppy political thinking is both condescending and inaccurate.”

    I’d ask you to explain exactly how it is you think that the former statement necessarily equates to or even implies the latter, Nate, but that would take up valuable cyberspace.

  20. Russell Arben Fox on November 8, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Also, Nate, assuming my comment does imply what you assume it implies, what Michael (#18) said.

  21. Frank McIntyre on November 8, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    I’d like nothing better than to see the Democratic party rescued from McGovern and become once more a party with interesting ideas and competitive candidates. Harry Reid’s relative conservatism is a good sign. I heard claim that the freshman class of Dems is more moderate, in some cases even pro-life. I find that very heartening for the future. Currently, Dems don’t have much to offer ideologically, but if this keeps up maybe in ten years they’ll be a party with great ideas again. The Republicans already have several great ideas, but that does not do me much good when they completely fail to implement them because they are so busy with pork.

  22. Dave on November 8, 2006 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for the link, Russell. Yes, the political landscape has changed, but I dispute whether there is any “overall perspective” to this election. Democrats ran an anti-Bush campaign, but that’s not a theme they can govern under. They have talked about “change in Iraq,” but can’t even bring themselves to say “get out of Iraq.” How can Democrats govern when their rhetoric is so incoherent? It will be interesting to watch the statements of Reid and Pelosi over the next month to see whether any concrete proposal (besides, say, raising the minimum wage) emerges. I’m doubtful, but they’ve earned their 100 days.

  23. Mathew on November 8, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    I’m with Jonathon Greene. The day after elections in 2004 I was really bummed out–so you have to cut people some slack and let them blow off some steam.

    Some of the conservatives I know told me they wanted the Republicans to lose badly so that the party will pursue the traditional conservative agenda of small government and individual liberty. They feel the Republicans have lost their way–corrupted by power and pandering. I could have told them that all along:)

    Personally I would be excited to see a party committed to fiscal responsibility.

  24. bbell on November 8, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    A casual identification of the GOP with Active LDS is very accurate. Its especcially true in Presidential elections and less true in state elections. Anything else is wishful thinking. The shift occurred in the 60’s and 70’s.

    Check out the vote totals in Madison county Idaho (rexburg) and Utah county (provo) in 2004 They show 86% and 92% of the vote for the GOP in these 2 heavily LDS counties

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/UT/P/00/county.000.html#49049

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/ID/P/00/county.001.html#16065

    Exit polls show 80% nationwide in 2004 of the Mormon vote went to the GOP.

    Saying that the Mormon vote is ID’d with the GOP is like saying that the black vote is ID’d with the Dems. Both true statements based on actual vote counts not Black repubs wishing it was not so or Mormon dems in academia wishing it was not so.

    That being said I bet the Church is glad to have Reid in the senate.

    FWIW I do not see the ID with the GOP changing anytime soon. Our Demographics are to white, to many married with children, to many upper income, to many active church goers to shift anytime soon away from the GOP.

    Thems the facts as I see them

  25. Nate Oman on November 8, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    Michael: Your argument is rather like the Mormon Republican who says, “I am sure that there are Mormon Democrats out there who aren’t pot smoking abortionists bent of distributing anti-Mormon literature to seminary students, harassing the missionaries, and attacking the Brethren, but I haven’t met any.”

  26. Frank McIntyre on November 8, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    “Personally I would be excited to see a party committed to fiscal responsibility.”

    There’s lots of them but they are only committed because they are out of power (libertarians come to mind). Fiscal responsibility with other people’s money is not a trait mortals take to very easily. That said, we could do better than we’ve done.

  27. mpb on November 8, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    bbell–

    I sincerely question whether Madison and Utah counties are very reflective of LDS members’ political leanings in the rest of the country. I get your point, but as someone who has lived in wards both in Utah county and in seven other states outside of the Rocky Mountain west, I have come across a lot of anectdotal data that would seriously challenge the validity of equating Utah and Madison county LDS politics with LDS politics anywhere else. I really do think it is more than just academic wishful thinking.

  28. Nate Oman on November 8, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    RAF: I drew the implication because I assumed that something like your enthusiastic endorsement of the mindless-Mormon-Republican argument in comment #20 lurked behind the more measured distinctions drawn in comment #19. Besides which, despite your own admirable history of intellectual honesty, I suspect that it does not always extend to readers and commenters who might enthusiastically endorse your comments.

    For what it is worth, there are clearly some Mormons who unreflectively identify the GOP with Mormonism. I am actually inclined to think that mass reflection on politics is a vastly over-rated hope, but to the extent that the rise of Harry Reid promotes better political conversatiosn amongst Mormons, I am all for it.

  29. Herodotus on November 8, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    For everyone suffering post-election blues, I offer this:

    I’m a visitor at a research hospital in Germany. Today as I sat down to lunch, I noticed across the cafeteria a boy who couldn’t be any older than sixteen with short blond hair and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. He was wearing something we call a “halo� – a metal hoop bolted to his skull and tied to a vest that kept his head attached to his body. He wasn’t moving his arms or legs but since he was still breathing I figured he probably had a complete transection at C5. A pretty bad situation all things considered.

    This kid’s brother/friend/cousin was feeding him a cheeseburger and he was loving it. He had the biggest grin on his face like he just couldn’t contain himself. He chewed and savored every bite and rolled it around in his mouth as if that stale cafeteria food was some kind of ambrosia from heaven.

    I realized I was staring and hoped no one had noticed. But just as I thought to look away, he saw me. Should I nod? Look away? It was obvious that I was staring and the kid was going to feel like a freak. I started to hate myself for making him self-conscious about his tragedy.

    But he just smiled at me with those big blue eyes of his and took another bite of his cheeseburger, almost beside himself at the taste. I stood and left, and as I passed him he nodded and smiled again.

    Back in the OR someone asked me what I’d had for lunch. I couldn’t remember.

  30. Space Chick on November 8, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Michael (18)

    you may want to point out to your ward members who use”Focus on the Family” talking points for their political education that Focus on the Family is not really LDS friendly. They’ve pointedly excluded church leaders from their National Prayer Day activities and refused to hire church members at their Colorado Springs facility. I for one would be leery of taking Focus on the Family advice on voting.

  31. danithew on November 8, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    It’s absurd for any Mormons to consider Reid a traitor.

    Yes, I’ve seen how often LDS conservatives are shocked to hear that another LDS person is a Democrat. It’s about time they get over it and realize it’s more than possible.

    I’m danithew and I approve this message.

  32. Michael on November 8, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    Space Chick

    I agree with you. But they buy into it anyway. They think we need to team up with like-minded people to win the social conservative battle. Just like danithew states, they are shocked to find out there are moderate LDS Democrats.

  33. HP on November 8, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    Nate,
    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Jim Matheson Mormon? I don’t understand what you were trying to say with the McConkie/Matheson comparison.

  34. bbell on November 8, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    MPB,

    Until you show some evidence for your claims rather then “Hey I knew a few LDS people in Boulder CO who voted dem”

    I have also lived in multiple midwestern and Southern states and have found nothing anecdotally to disbelieve the data. I have even lived in college wards with lots of graduate students in the liberal arts and still found the 80-20 rule to hold true.

    I would say my view is pretty much conventional wisdom and backed up by available data. I once posted the exit poll data that showed 80% LDS voted GOP in 2004 on Times and Seasons. I cannot find it right now but its in the archives somewhere here on T&S

    Thats the data. Anybody want to try and refute it with data? Open challenge……

  35. Nate Oman on November 8, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    Michael: My understanding is that Matheson is a Mormon only in an antenuated, I-am-decended-from-pioneers-but-my-family-hasn’t-gone-to-church-two-or-three-generations kind of way. McConkie is an active Mormon, a fact that garnered enough hostility among Democratic party activists in the second district, that he decided that he could not make it through a primary and bowed out. (Or so I was told by the deputy state Democratic director in 1999.)

  36. HP on November 8, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    Heh, I wasn’t aware of Matheson’s activity level. Someone had told me that he was Mormon, so I just assumed he wanted to be identified as such. I still don’t know the McConkie to whom you refer, but I haven’t really paid much attention to Utah politics in general. I believe that there has been an anti-Mormon Dem bias in SLC, but I don’t think it extends beyond that area. The Dems down here in Happy Valley pratically wear their religion on their sleeves.

  37. Blake on November 8, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    I second SC’s notice that Focus on the Family is not Mormon friendly — in fact, if anything it is anti-Mormon in a bigoted and mean-spirited way. They refuse to allow Mormons to pray at any of their functions. Mormons ought to get the message — Focus on the Family is a bigoted and mean-spirited organization when it comes to Mormons.

    As a former Utah democrat in Utah who is now staunchly independent, I bolted the party because it became clear that it was the contra-Mormon party in Utah. Let’s not be naive — the Demos in Utah are not the accepting folks demonstrating the ideals of the tolerance and diversity. They are are very antagonistic toward Mormons and especially the gay segment of the party (for perhaps understandable reasons). A choice was made to make it the non-Mormon party and that is the way that it functions largely in Utah — with a token bishop or two.

    So I say get a life and go independent. I see the choice between Repulicans and Democrats as the choice between spiders or snakes, coffee or tea, beer or bourbon, cigars or cigarettes. Isn’t there something else that I could live with that literally won’t kill me?

    I’m delighted that Harry Reid has risen to prominence. Unfortunately, it also means that he is the target of smeer campaigns directed both toward misuse of campaign funds and his Mormoness (is that a word?). My misgiving about the Democratic party is its support of gay marriage and lax moral standards — tho I support a family’s right to choose whether to have an abortion after prayerful consideration (that is the Church’s view isn’t it?) and want the government to stay the heck out of it. My misgiving about Republicans is that they are now the party of big spenders and they are just stupid about what we can accomplish in Iraq.

  38. bbell on November 8, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Nate,

    I have seen in news articles that Matheson at least is active and I saw once that he was a SP at one point

    I ahve also seen that the current LDS representation in congress is 75% Rep and 25% Dem which dovetails nicely with my 80% number

  39. mfranti on November 8, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    “Some of the conservatives I know told me they wanted the Republicans to lose badly so that the party will pursue the traditional conservative agenda of small government and individual liberty.\”

    what does individual liberty mean to mormons?

  40. Nate Oman on November 8, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    bbell: In which case, the reports that I have heard about Matheson are wrong.

  41. Elvis Presley on November 8, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Yeah, Matheson was my SP, his father was the stake patriarch and Walt Disney and Steve Martin were in my ward.

  42. JKC on November 8, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    Nate (14),

    Good point. I’m thinking in more national terms here. I don’t think mormonism does anything, one way or the other, for generally Democrats across the country. The point I was making is that I don’t think its accurate (or fair) to say that Democrats generally are anti-religion and that therefore Mormons aren’t Democrats. However, you’re probably right that Salt Lake Valley Democrats probably made some bad strategic choices to alienate Utah mormons. I just don’t think it makes sense to generalize state and local party activity to that extent.

    Another question I have is this: what accounts for the fact that most mormons even outside of Utah are averse to the Democratic party? Is there a genuine religous reason? Is it just the fact that Mormon culture generally derives from Utah culture? My SP back in NY thinks that the predominance of arch-conservatives in the area comes from the fact that most of them coverted while President (then Elder) Benson was so vocal in his support for the John Birch society. Whether that can be generalized to mormons in other eastern and midwestern states, I don’t know.

  43. JKC on November 8, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    By the way, are the conflicting Matheson reports possibly a confusion between Jim Matheson and Scott Matheson?

  44. Mathew on November 8, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    “There’s lots of [parties committed to fiscal responsibility] but they are only committed because they are out of power (libertarians come to mind). Fiscal responsibility with other people’s money is not a trait mortals take to very easily. That said, we could do better than we’ve done.”

    There is certainly currently no reason to believe Republicans are going to do better though. Already I’m hearing Republican politicians calling for a return to the traditional values of the party. The problem is, when they had power they betrayed those principles–and I have a hard time believing the same thing wouldn’t happen a second time. Perhaps the two parties sharing power so as to mitigate the worst tendencies of the other really is the best we can hope for.

  45. Clark on November 8, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    JKC (#42), I was wondering that as well. Although I do think that if KSL’s Doug Wright had run against Matheson he’d probably have won.

  46. ed johnson on November 8, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Frank: “Harry Reid’s relative conservatism is a good sign.”

    I guess you mean his relative conservatism on “social” issues. His rhetoric on economic issues strikes me as completely banal paleo-liberal claptrap. For example, check out his websites sections on energy and health care. I don’t think you’ll be pleased.

    Still, I admit having Harry around is probably good for the Mormons. He’s still less embarassing than Orin Hatch.

    Overall, I’m happy to see that the public has apparently repudiated Bush’s disastrous Iraq invasion and his administration’s caricature of conservatism. But 2004 would have been a much better time for that.

  47. ed johnson on November 8, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Frank: “Harry Reid’s relative conservatism is a good sign.”

    I guess you mean his relative conservatism on “social” issues. His rhetoric on economic issues strikes me as completely banal paleo-liberal claptrap. For example, check out his website sections on energy and health care. I don\’t think you\’ll be pleased.

    Still, I admit having Harry around is probably good for the Mormons. He’s still less embarassing than Orin Hatch.

    Overall, I’m happy to see that the public has apparently repudiated Bush’s disastrous Iraq invasion and his administration’s caricature of conservatism. But 2004 would have been a much better time for that.

  48. john f. on November 8, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    bbell, I don’t think Matheson is an active LDS, if that matters at all.

  49. john f. on November 8, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    It’s possible that bbell is talking about former Utah governor-candidate Scott Matheson and not Jim Matheson, representative for the second district.

  50. Geoff B on November 8, 2006 at 5:38 pm

    Russell, agreed the next few years will be interesting with Reid as Majority Leader and Romney as a leading presidential candidate. Has anybody else noticed how seldom the press mentions Reid’s religion and how often it gets mentioned for Romney? Yes, yes, I know that Romney is likely to be running for president, and Reid is not, but nevertheless it’s an interesting factoid.

    I’d like to respond to #7, which asks if anybody has left the Democratic party for religious reasons. FWIW, I am one example. I voted for Clinton twice in the 1990s and was a registered Democrat. In 1999, I converted to the Church. Slowly, I began to see Democrats as anti-religion. I have moderated those views somewhat, but I feel it is undeniable that ardent secularists are drawn to the Democratic party more than the Republican party. I know many, many atheists and all of them are Democrats or Libertarians. None of them are Republican.

    I agree with Frank M’s comments on the Republicans and the economy. I think commenters nationwide are underestimating the extent to which Republican turnout was depressed by all of the pork coming from a Republican Congress (and accepted by a Republican president).

  51. bbell on November 8, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    maybe we should find out just to satisfy our search for knowledge. I have heard that he is from multiple sources but I am curious now. His website lists him as LDS but if he is in fact inactive its probably there for political reasons to provide him with political cover. He can tell his non LDS allies he is inactive and can let the LDS community know he is a member.

    Couple of clues in his personal life indicate to me that John f may be correct after checking out his bio.

  52. Geoff B on November 8, 2006 at 5:56 pm

    Just to back up my comment #47 regarding out of control Republican spending, take a look at these poll results:

    Consider these results from a poll of voters in 12 swing GOP-held congressional districts, conducted by OnMessage Inc. (PDF):

    No, these results are not typographical errors:

    * When asked which Party they believe would cut taxes for the middle-class 42% said the Democrats while only 29% chose the Republicans.

    * When asked which Party will work toward reducing the deficit 47% chose the Democrats while only 22% chose the Republicans.

    * Again, when asked who will keep government spending under control the Democrats held a 17 point edge (38% Democrats, 21% Republicans).

    Source: Today’s Opinionjournal: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110009215

    It appears to me the Republicans need to get more conservative on taxes and spending, not more moderate.

  53. Coffinberry on November 8, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    Aw rats. I was about to retort to Michael’s “yet to find an active LDS GOP member that does not buy into the ‘evangelical-political agenda’â€? by saying, Aha! Meet me!

    But then somebody made a snide remark about Boulder Colorado. (Pbbbt to you, whoever you are). You know not whereof you speak.

    Here, for me at least, it is an utter and complete embarassment (too often) to be a Republican (which I am and have been for the last 20 years), the GOP is so very right-wing over-the-top intolerant focus-on-the-family it makes me want to gag. (I did split my ticket. I won’t tell you on which spots though.)

    There were absolutely no Republicans even appearing on the ballot for county positions.

  54. Frank McIntyre on November 8, 2006 at 7:12 pm

    ed,

    Yes, I was thinking social issues, so I’m sad to hear he’s a loser on economics. I hope that economic issues are more malleable, and so not as big of a concern. This may well be completely wrong, but its probably because I treat a lot of economic disagreements as more about ignorance than about preferences. Abortion seems to be largely about preferences, and so movement there, any movement, seems heartening.

  55. Mark IV on November 8, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    Not to worry, Frank and ed, if Br. Reid’s private business practices are any indication of his economic views, he favors a robust free market unfettered by any government oversight or regulation whatsoever.

    But since I’m feeling magnanimous today, and also because I don’t want Ardis to punch me in the nose, I’ll accept his explanations at face value.

  56. Larry on November 8, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    As an outside supporter of Reagan Republicans, I cheered when Newt Gingrich and gang won the House. As I’ve watched their arrogance over the years it became apparent that those who talk the talk, don’t walk the walk, and the end result is much more disastrous for the party than if they had just shut up in the beginning.
    The Democrats will always win by default when things are relative. It may not spell doom and gloom, but the message is clear, and I am not disappointed. Either principles count or they don’t. If they don’t then it’s better to have the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.

  57. Naismith on November 8, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    “Another question I have is this: what accounts for the fact that most mormons even outside of Utah are averse to the Democratic party? Is there a genuine religous reason? Is it just the fact that Mormon culture generally derives from Utah culture?”

    I am not sure there is any data to support the assertion that Mormons outside Utah are averse to the Democratic party. Where I live, most LDS I know are Democrats, including moi. We’ve had a stake president and high councilor get elected to public office as Democrats. Only the Utah transplants tend to be Republicans. Of our last 5 bishops, maybe one (Wyoming transplant) was a Republican. Our current bishop did change his registration to Republican in order to vote for McCain in the primary back in 2004, but he votes independent and in the last month had a yard sign for a Democratic congressional candidate.

    But then, I tend not to initiate talk about politics with ward members, because it can be divisive, so maybe I don’t really know. In the 2004 presidential election, GW made a last-minute swing through our state, and in our town his stop was on a Sunday afternoon, when a stake meeting had been scheduled to plan a youth activity. It was cancelled, “because of the rally”—and some folks innocently asked “what rally?” and thought about going ahead with the meeting and making decisions without those were out rallying.

  58. Mark IV on November 8, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    People, this isn’t just a Utah or Mormon phenomenon. Look at the vote breakdown. The married, child-raising, church-going demographic tends to be very conservative in its voting patterns, regardless of religion.

  59. Mark N. on November 8, 2006 at 9:40 pm

    Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada will be the new Senate Majority Leader, and consequently the single most powerful and important Mormon politician since the end of the State of Deseret.

    Does this mean we can now claim that the prophecy about the Mormon Elders rescuing the thread-suspended Constitution has been fulfilled? :-)

  60. jjohnsen on November 8, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    “Heh, I wasn’t aware of Matheson’s activity level. Someone had told me that he was Mormon, so I just assumed he wanted to be identified as such. I still don’t know the McConkie to whom you refer, but I haven’t really paid much attention to Utah politics in general. I believe that there has been an anti-Mormon Dem bias in SLC, but I don’t think it extends beyond that area. The Dems down here in Happy Valley pratically wear their religion on their sleeves. ”
    Yeah, Olsen (who ran against Bishop in northern Utah) makes it very clear that he’s LDS. My grandmother who has worked in the Utah Democratic party since before I was born says the “SLC Dems get crazy about Mormons, but nobody outside of that county gives a fig”.

  61. Matt Evans on November 8, 2006 at 10:20 pm

    Back to the conversation . . .

    Michael, I consider most of the national Mormon Republicans decent representatives of the church. Hatch isn’t a favorite of mine, but he’s done exceptional work on the judiciary committee.

    Jonathan, I’m not smarting today nearly as much as I do remembering my glee when Bush won the election in 2000. If only Gore had been president on September 11, the Democratic party would be gone from national politics for the rest of my natural life. Ah, the bitter pill that is regret.

    JKC, the question on the 2000 and 2004 exit polls that best predicted a person’s presidential vote was “How many times do you attend church each month?” Around 80% of people who never or rarely attend church supported the Democratic candidate, while people who attend church weekly or volunteer at their church during the week supported the Republican candidate 80% of the time.

  62. Susan on November 8, 2006 at 11:06 pm

    Are you saying that only smart, insightful people attend church? Or? Not sure what this is supposed to mean. Or?

  63. manaen on November 9, 2006 at 12:44 am

    59.
    Mark N., now that you opened the “thread” thread: seems to me more likely that it means the prinicples embodied in the Constitution more than the forms of government and authority it describes — otherwise, when Jesus comes to rule, we’ll have to elect him!

  64. queuno on November 9, 2006 at 12:59 am

    I know that bbell (#34) lives somewhere in the DFW area. Where exactly, I’m not sure, but I’m going to guess I’m within an hour’s drive of him, in an mid- to upper-mid ward, where the split is about 55/40/5 (R/D/L). The ward is generally well-educated; probably about 40% have BYU-* ties. 2/3 of our bishopric is Dem, and the bishop seems kind of Libertarian to me. One retired couple — former university president — is Democrat, and one sister is a County Dem Party elections official.

    And I’d label our ward conversative.

    The notion that the Democrats haven’t infiltrated the wards and stakes is long and dead. They’re out, they’re proud, they oppose gay marriage and abortion and guns, but favor free speech, fiscal responsibility, and the environment. Around my ward, they call themselves Mordems.

  65. M on November 9, 2006 at 2:30 am

    I find that the type of people that consider Harry Reid a traitor are often the kind of people that talk up Mitt Romney without knowing that he is pretty liberal on abortion (or at least he was – I’ve heard he is changing his tone to appeal to the far right, which kind of bothers me) and that in fact, his record on abortion is much more liberal than Reid, so I think their opinions should be taken for what they are worth. Unfortunately, it appears that most members fall into this category – they hear Mormon Republican and think good, they hear Mormon Democrat and think bizarre/apostate/traitor/etc.

    I’ve seen numbers saying that as many as 88% of members identify themselves as Republicans (which I hope is a gross overestimate, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t). I blame this on mob mentality, if only for my own peace of mind. Because so many members are Republican, I think the apathetic members default to Republican even though they are clueless, compounding the problem. Plus, there is, in my opinion, a gross misperception of what constitutes moral values among all of the religious right, but I will spare you my tirade.

    I would say that the 88% rule probably held true in my old ward (which is bbell’s ward) – in fact, I would say it is probably higher than that, although that could be a complete misestimate, as I generally avoid talking politics with people at church. My ward now, on the East Coast, is more liberal, but even then I would that a pretty stong majority are Republicans – even though it is what I would call a pretty diverse ward, with lots of minorities and lots of HIGHLY educated people.

  66. Ron Richey on November 9, 2006 at 3:50 am

    If the democrats were to abondon the support of gay marriage and abortion, and get more serious about personal responsibility and government effeciency, they would probably get my vote. Until then, go GOP!

    In defense of Mitt Romney, his apparent agnosticism on abortion during his first two political campaigns, was simply a bow to the political reality that any other stance would have doomed him in his bids for political office in blue Mass. He never declared himself pro-choice. He simply stated that he would not seek to change the abortion status quo–which menant that he would keep abortion legal. He has, since, articulated his current position of being clearly pro-life, as being an outgrowth of the stem cell research debate, wherein he came to believe that life starts at or near conception.

    So, as a republican with sympathy for the democratic ideals of Harry Reid, I for one, would sleep very well at night with Mitt Romney in the White House and Harry Reed in charge of the senate. I could actually see something getting done in Washington for once.

  67. Herodotus on November 9, 2006 at 3:57 am

    Political Deathmatch — Reid and Romney Head to Head on Abortion — You Decide!

    Reid
    Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
    Voted YES on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime. (Mar 2004)
    Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life. (Mar 2003)
    Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
    Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions. (Oct 1999)
    Rated 29% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
    Expand embryonic stem cell research. (Jun 2004)

    Romney
    Vetoed stem cell research bill. (May 2005)
    Endorsed legalization of RU-486. (Mar 2002)
    Personally against abortion, but pro-choice as governor. (Mar 2002)
    For safe, legal abortion since relative’s death from illegal. (Oct 1994)

  68. M on November 9, 2006 at 5:19 am

    Ron –
    The terms pro-life and pro-choice are loaded and misleading and I don’t use them. I never said Romney was “pro-choice”. I said he has a liberal record on abortion.

    Romney has clearly stated that he is morally opposed to abortion, but intended to keep it safe and legal. If keeping abortion legal is the only qualification for being “pro-choice” then he most definitely is/was. If it means you think abortion is totally okay – which I’m not sure the term implies – the he would not be exactly pro-choice. Either way, he has gone on the record saying that he will protect abortion (not that it was in much danger in Mass) and if you are staunchly anti-abortion, that position should bother you.
    I personally agreed with it, as the point at which life begins is very influenced by religious beliefs. So, while that means that I think abortion is wrong, I don’t think there is a way to tell women that a baby that can’t survive on its own is a person without breaching the separation of church and state. Plus, illegal abortions would be a huge problem if abortion were ever outlawed. I am still pretty opposed to later abortions, and I can see how banning abortion in these cases would be legally justifiable, but the whole “safe, rare, and legal” position is, IMO, perfectly justifiable on both a moral and rational level.

    Yet, since this opinion continues to be controversial among church members, I find it amusing that people don’t know this about Mitt Romney and still talk about him. Or they rationalize it, rather than accept it.

    I have no problem with Mitt Romney. I just can’t figure out why other people don’t.

  69. Matt Evans on November 9, 2006 at 9:02 am

    “In a word, Matt, yes. I’m continually amazed at how utterly surprised members of my ward are to discover my political leanings.”

    Jeremy, it’s a mistake to assume your ward members’ surprise is learning that there are Mormon Democrats — their surprise is learning that *you* are a Democrat, and that’s not the same thing. It’s just like if you told them you were going to buy a toupee, or that you only brush your teeth once a week: they are surprised not because they don’t know there are Mormons who wear toupees, or who don’t brush their teeth, only suprised to learn how wrongly they had overestimated your judgment and stability. : )

  70. JKC on November 9, 2006 at 9:18 am

    Geoff (50),

    Wow, your experience has been almost opposite of mine. I grew up in the church and it was after my mission (the first intensely religious experience I had, kind of a conversion, in many ways) that I registered Democrat (I served Spanish speaking in Phoenix). Before that I was pretty much undecided. That said, I almost never vote a straight ticket. If you look at my voting in the last few elections, the best predictor would not be party, but that I basically voted against almost every incumbent. I saw the Republicans as concerned mostly with preserving wealth and power where it is rather than helping the poor, and I was disturbed by what I perceived as a lack of respect for God’s creation. Like you, I have come to moderate that view, and I realize that there are plenty of republicans that are concerned about the poor and the environment.

    Naismith (57),

    I’m surprised to hear that most LDS are Dems where you live. I grew up in a very conservative area of upstate NY (we haven’t elected a Dem to any town office since the New Deal) and I think there was maybe one couple in the ward who weren’t registered Republican. I live a very liberal town now and the ward doesn’t seem very different. At least, the ward leadrship is pretty conservative—I haven’t taken a poll of the general membership. The bishop, both counselors, and both ward clerks are GOP, as is the EQP. I’m pretty sure that I’m the only Dem in the bishopric (I’m the Exec. Secretary). Then again, most of those in the ward have ties to Utah, so that could explain it. I also get frustrated that we aren’t more open in the ward to African Americans—we’re not racist, but I don’t think we’re very welcoming either. You look at our sacrament meeting and all the black members (there are two single moms, one couple without kids, and two single brothers) sit on the back two rows. It’s not a ward policy, but it looks bad when the Elders bring black investigators to church. Even though probably close to a third of the ward is black, we’ve never had an African American in a priesthood calling in the ward. But that’s probably another discussion, not really related to what we’re talking about.

  71. bbell on November 9, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Queno,

    I am within an hour of you in Northeast Tarrant county. I am aware of only one couple that votes democratic in my ward. He is a public school teacher and our ward clerk.

    But all we are discussing is anecdotal.

    all I can see out there for firm data is election results in heavily mormon counties in the west and the make-up of the current LDS reps in congress. All the data point to a 80-20 or 75-25 split.

    There is no other data to suggest a more even split. You may find a unit or 2 scattered across the country that is more evenly split but that ward will be unusual

    Here are the demographic characteristics of the typical GOP voter:

    married “LDS get married at the earliest age of any group in the country”
    children “Utah and Idaho are in the top three on birthrate” utah is number 1
    rural, suburban
    regular church goer

    I see no reason to see Brother Reid as a traitor. Thats just silly. He simply falls into the 20-25% of the LDS population that is more left leaning. We should be proud of him and what he has accomplished.

  72. jjohnsen on November 9, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    If the democrats were to abondon the support of gay marriage and abortion, and get more serious about personal responsibility and government effeciency, they would probably get my vote. Until then, go GOP!


    What year are you living in? It’s been a while since the GOP cared about personal responsibility and governement efficiency. The GOP while Bush has been in office has become a new animal, although this election might encourage them to move back to being the GOP you seem to support.

  73. Geoff B on November 9, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    I have to say that I’m surprised at people who can post with confidence about the political leanings of the members of their wards. I’ve been a member now for seven years, and I don’t know the politics of more than a handful of members. I’ve served recently as HPGL and on the High Council. Yes, there are occasional political comments, mostly in Gospel Doctrine classes, but for the most part we’re too busy talking about doctrine, home teaching (or the lack thereof), missionary work, service projects, fellowshipping, etc, to discuss politics. And it seems that every time politics come up there is usually contention, so people in my ward try to stay away from it at Church.

    I just can’t imagine a situation where I knew the politics of my fellow ward members similar to queuno in #64.

  74. Russell Arben Fox on November 9, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    It’s official: Allen and Burns have both conceded; Webb and Tester are the winners. The Democrats now control the Senate; Harry Reid is Senate Majority Leader; Nate’s state is being represented by a man he considers to be a possibly deranged hillbilly. All is well with the world.

  75. jjohnsen on November 9, 2006 at 6:25 pm

    Woohoo!

  76. queuno on November 10, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    bbell: Hmm, I’m probably closer to you than either of us thought. Muahahaha!

  77. Hans Hansen on November 10, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    #74: “Allen and Burns have both conceded”.

    For those of us old enough to remember….shouldn’t it be “Burns and Allen have both conceded!” :)