Overwhelmingly, Mormons tend to be conservative Republicans. They are focused on family values and vote for people who have the same or similar beliefs in the institution of marriage and abortion. Like most people, they like a healthy, growing economy where they can prosper and provide a good life for themselves and their family. They are peaceful, self-reliant, law-abiding types who would rather not be at war, but will support it if they think our nation is in danger. As a people that have been historically “reviled, cast out, and even had an ‘extermination order’ passed against them” making it legal to murder Mormons in the state of Missouri (Missouri Executive Order 44, 1838, not rescinded until 1976), they have a deep gratitude for the religious freedom that they now enjoy. They revere the United States Constitution and believe it was inspired by God; they are encouraged by leaders of the Church to vote for good and virtuous men and women who will support and defend the Constitution.
One of the very basic tenets of the LDS faith is agency or personal liberty. They believe it is crucial for every person to find out what is true and what isn’t and to choose for themselves the best course of action in their lives. Right now the majority of Mormons are choosing to support Mitt Romney with their money and with their vote (in the 2008 GOP primary Mitt Romney took 90 percent of Utah, which is, of course, predominantly Mormon).
So what is it that Mormons love about Mitt so much? Among the current field of GOP candidates, he has had one of the least conservative stances on gay rights and abortion. He is well-known and well-criticized for Massachusetts’ mandated health insurance, and most LDS do not want any part of socialized medicine. He supports torture, the Patriot Act, Gitmo, the wars, and all of the rumored pre-emptive wars that are currently being discussed, all of which violate the U.S. Constitution. He spoke in favor of bailing out the banks in 2008, which has only expanded the power of the federal government.
Romney is constantly touting himself as the only one who can fix the economy, but he does not have a plan bold enough to actually fix the problem. He plans to cut $500 billion from the federal budget by 2016, which conservative talk show hosts, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, have said of the GOP candidates’ plans that they merely “fool around the margins,” while Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) economic plan (“Plan to Restore America”) will “get it done” by cutting 1 trillion dollars in spending in his first year.
So how did strict constitutionalist and fiscal conservative Republican candidate Ron Paul fare in the 2008 Utah GOP primary? He finished third behind Romney and McCain with 2.99 percent of the vote. But in 2012 why should Mormons consider someone other than, well, a Mormon? After all, in this election cycle there are two to choose from.
Local Salt Lake business owner and Mormon, Jason Young, chose to support Ron Paul in both 2008 and 2012. When asked why, he quickly replied,
I believe the Constitution is divinely inspired, and Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate who sticks to the Constitution. Also, in an LDS Church conference that was held just before we went to war with Iraq, one of our leaders, Elder Russell M. Nelson, spoke about renouncing war and proclaiming peace. I didn’t understand why he was saying that then because it seemed like we had to go to war with Iraq, but now I understand. The founding father’s policy was to only go to war when America is in imminent danger. We should avoid war at all costs; it should be the last possible thing we do.
Paul has repeatedly and courageously spoken out against the wars in a party that has tried to muzzle him. He believes we should be non-interventionist and not involve ourselves in nation building and entangling alliances that don’t serve America’s best interests. He is very opposed to pre-emptive wars. He has said, “Another term for preventive war is aggressive war — starting wars because someday somebody might do something to us. That is not part of the American tradition.”
Ron Paul is a 12-term Republican congressman. He is well-known for being a principled man who gauges all of his political decisions by what it explicitly states in the Constitution. He once said, “I will always vote what I have promised, and always vote the Constitution, as well as I will not vote for one single penny that isn’t paid for, because debt is the monster, debt is what’s going to eat us up and that is why our economy is on the brink.”
In the most recent GOP debate, Mitt Romney argued with Ron Paul over the super committee. Romney said that we have “a president that has a priority of spending us into bankruptcy, but he’s not just spending us into bankruptcy, he’s spending the money foolishly.” The point that Romney doesn’t seem to get is that going bankrupt, whether the money is spent on health insurance or defense, is foolish however you slice it.
Stay-at-home mother to five girls, Melyssa Ericksen of Salt Lake, used an analogy when discussing the two candidates:
Imagine a man comes to the hospital with a mortal wound. He is bleeding profusely and will die. Romney’s approach is to offer the man a bandage to cover the wound and send him home with pain meds, leaving the wound lightly treated. Ron Paul’s approach is to recognize the severity of the condition and make the difficult decision to amputate in order to save the man’s life. Ron Paul recognizes the serious situation our country is in. In his ‘Plan to Restore America,’ he proposes the ‘amputation’ of spending that we really can’t afford. A trillion dollars cut in the first year! Ron Paul isn’t just another politician with a host of lobbyists whispering sweet nothings in his ear. He is after what is best for the citizens of the United States of America. ‘We the people’ are the driving force behind his plan. Like Romney, I’m a Mormon, but I do not support him and will not vote for him — based solely on his political views. I support Ron Paul.
Republicans and media try to paint Paul as “fringe,” but he rejects that branding. He recently told the Des Moines Register editorial board, “Take a look at the Republican platform. They talk about personal liberty, a balanced budget, limited government, a strong national defense. They want free markets. I’m the best on all of those.” What many do not understand about Paul’s views is that he wants the power back in the states’ hands. He does not want to legislate morality at the federal level; he wants decisions like that made as locally as possible, to ensure as much personal liberty, or agency, as possible. Paul said, “Personal liberty is the purpose of government, to protect liberty — not to run your personal life, not to run the economy, and not to pretend that we can tell the world how they ought to live.”
Polls released this year show that 22 percent of Americans say they would not vote for their party’s nominee if that person is a Mormon. These polls are, of course, disturbing to Mormons. But really, when there is clearly a more conservative, constitutional choice, shouldn’t it be equally as unsettling to them that they would vote for someone just because he is a Mormon?
If you enjoyed this article, I highly recommend the book I reviewed here — Review: Connor Boyack’s must-read ‘Latter-Day Liberty’
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