The media wants a horse race. Romney and the Republican powers-that-be would love to be going after President Obama right now. The disturbing personalities of the other candidates won't let them. The Republican base won't let them. The Republican base will not desert the party, they just want to vent against Romney. He's not their kind of guy - but he's not Obama! The vote may be depressed and the President could still lose this if the economic recovery falters or other world events or unforeseen disasters go badly.
It will be fascinating to watch the Republican party rally around a candidate many of them don't really like. Maybe it will force them to reconsider their general distrust or ignorance of Mormonism. I'm not hopeful about that. Romney is trying to downplay his religious background. I wonder how that will work. If he fails to step up to answer the questions, then who does? The Bloggernacle may be getting more and more hits from the outside. Heaven help us! [Yet the Bott race controversy was addressed very well and quickly.]
And what does the institutional church do? The Public Affairs Office on North Temple can't answer all the Mormon questions to shield the Republican nominee. The LDS Church leaders will likely continue to push political neutrality and the moderate positions they can as on immigration reform, anti-discrimination even for those with same-sex attraction, and supporting caucus attendance in both parties. This puts a slight arms length between them and Romney. Their push for civility including on the internet might also distance themselves from the inevitable negative campaigning. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles just issued this warning last Sunday:
Any use of the internet to bully, destroy a reputation, or place a person in a bad light is reprehensible. What we are seeing in society is that when people wear the mask of anonymity, they are more likely to engage in this kind of conduct which is so destructive of civil discourse. It also violates the basic principles the Savior taught.[My name has always been at the bottom of this page]. And Elder Cook went on:
With the challenges that exist in the world today, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are particularly concerned that you participate appropriately in the political process in the country where you live. The Church is neutral in political contests and does not support candidates or parties. We do expect, however, that our members will be fully engaged in supporting the candidates and parties of their choice based on principles that will protect good government. Our doctrine is clear: those who are “honest” and “wise…should be sought for diligently” (D&C 98:10). “When the wicked rule the people mourn” (D&C 98:9). This means that everyone should feel obligated to vote. In those states in the United States that have caucuses you should make yourself familiar with the issues and the candidates and fully participate. For example, the caucuses in Utah and Idaho for the various parties will be held starting this week and spread out until mid April. If you attend, you will be allowed to participate. We hope that you will check out the caucus time for the party of your choice and then feel an obligation to attend. We would hope that this would be true of all citizens, members and non-members alike in all states and all countries where elections will be held. The price of freedom has been too high and the consequences of non-participation are too great for any citizen to feel that they can ignore their responsibility.And I still think Huntsman's attempted candidacy was to show at least his, his dad's, and maybe a couple of other church leaders' differences of opinion with Romney as the sole representative of the politics of church members.
Oh, and there is Senate Majority Leader Reid.
Yeah, Grant - it's a case of Romney and whoever the current anti-Romney candidate is, until that candidate self-implodes.ReplyDelete
I read yesterday a very stark, simple analysis of the race thus far that is telling. Romney has won the college-educated, $100,000+ income, moderate, liberal Republican, agnostic, Catholic, non-Christian and non-evangelical vote in every state thus far, while the only "base voters" Santorum has won in any state are the non-college-educated and those who list strong agreement with religious views as their first criterion - i.e., evangelicals. The same is true of Gingrich.
What is the take-away?
If Romney was Protestant, there would be no challenge to his candidacy by now (and it would have ended months ago) despite his more moderate background - which means the only reason he hasn't sealed it mathematically and theoretically at this point is that he's Mormon. At this point, it's all about religious bigotry.
(Just to be clear: Huntsman was my favorite candidate, and I don't like the way Romney has pandered to the religious right on many things in this campaign. I understand why he did it, but I don't like it in principle.)
Troubling analysis indeed.Delete
The good news, I think, is that in the general, while it will be nasty with the Obama Dems attacking Romney mercilessly but on flip-flopping and twisting things said in the primary campaign, I think the religious attacks, even veiled ones, will be off the table because the President faces such a risk in that regard himself (as to whether he's a secret Muslim, Black Liberation Christian, or evil secular Humanist - take your pick). I don't think Romney brings up the religious dog-whistles either, except he can't control the unrestricted PACs. So, we'll see.
Well ... good news, PERHAPS. But (and I speak as an Obama supporter) I think "religious dog-whistles" will likely appear on both sides because of the PACs. Neither Romney nor Obama will do it themselves, but their surrogates likely will.Delete
Regardless, it's going to be an ugly, ugly campaign this time.