In yesterday’s Salt Lake Tribune, Bruce Wilson expressed an interesting view: that “the Mormon political brand Mitt Romney inherits is a real godsend to his likely presidential campaign.”
Americans don’t know a lot about Mormon theology, but they do know a lot about the political ideology of most Mormons. Most voters in America recognize that the state of Utah, with its overwhelming Mormon majority, is the reddest state of all. Most Americans also recognize that nationally known Mormon politicians are almost universally conservative Republicans like Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett.
And, if they have Mormon friends, they have found most of them to be right of center on the political spectrum, especially with respect to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Think about it. Can you name any other religious denomination that is as cohesive and predictable in its political ideology as the Mormon community seems to be? For example, there are many Catholic and Protestant politicians on both the right and the left of the political spectrum, but try and name one Mormon exception to this brand image.
Probably the only prominent Mormon Democrat who comes to mind is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. Reid’s maverick status in the Democratic Party actually strengthens the perception that all Mormon politicians are cut from the same cloth.
This Mormon political brand is an asset of considerable worth to Gov. Romney. His two primary competitors, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, will spend a lot of time and money either trying to paper over their relatively liberal histories on abortion and same-sex marriage, or trying to find a way to win the Republican nomination without the support of the predominant traditional-values wing of the party.
In a Republican Party dominated by social conservatives, describing the plight of McCain and Giuliani as “caught between a rock and a hard place” is an understatement.
Meanwhile, Romney can spend his time and money aiming a spotlight on his significant record of accomplishment in the business world, his role in saving the 2002 Winter Olympics and an impressive record of accomplishment as the conservative Republican governor of a very liberal Democratic state.
I’m not sure I buy this thesis, frankly. Yes, the fact that Gov. Romney’s social conservatism is grounded in his faith should tell voters that it is real, not just verbiage. But to say that that is a godsend? I don’t know about that. What do others think?