Choose The Left: Some Thoughts on Being a Mormon Dem

The above bumper sticker has been on our Chevy Suburban since early spring. Lyndee, my wonderful wife, let me put it on the vehicle after we decided to leave Wyoming. It was our way of saying that we no longer cared about what anyone in Wyoming thinks about us.

Being a Mormon made us black sheep amongst Wyoming Democrats. Recently, the state party promoted and championed a rant in the form on a letter to the editor which maligned religious people in general and Mormons in particular. With that, I officially renounced the Wyoming Democratic Party. I am still a Democrat, just not a Wyoming Democrat. I proudly identify with the national party and I look forward to soon being a Nevada Democrat.

Now, this is not just a Wyoming issue. Being a Mormon makes me an oddball on the left. I like it that way.

Being a Democrat, a liberal one no less, makes me a black sheep amongst Mormons. A friend recently asked if maybe I just really liked being oppositional. Well, that might have something to do with it. Yet, it is not so much that I am oppositional…I just see little reason to conform to either the Party culture or my religious culture…unless I want to do so.

Now I am an oddball Mormon for plenty of reasons, but as a political philosopher, activist, and one-time politician, my politics stands out…it is on my Suburban even. Plus, theological differences are more obscure and less identifiable.

Last week, as our family left the Natrona County Public Library after signing up for the summer reading program, we found a 3×5 index card on our windshield. It had a note:

"I LOVE your bumpersticker!"

I needed a kind note that day. I am grateful to the unknown angel that left it for us.

Follow this link to purchase the pictured bumpersticker.

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Categories: Blog

7 replies »

  1. While I am glad that the Mormon left has been finding and developing its voice(s) in a very public way since 2008. I do wonder if Mormon liberals aren’t making the same mistake that Moromon conservatives make. This being the synthesys (often conflation) of the religious and the political, as if an easy marriage between the teachings of Christ and political ideology is possible. It’s my sesnse that biblical ethics such as the practice of Hospitality provide a stout critique of the political and the easy synthesis of politics and biblical ethics / obligations. I’m not saying that you are making this mistake in this blog post, I see it as a general problem in Mormon culture. Part of me really likes the bumper sticker, and part of me thinks it misses the larger point.

    (PS- I’m a Mormon socialist who’s thinking has been heavily influenced by Moufee and Laclau.)

    • Yeah, we are being rather obnoxious…somewhat intentionally so. In many ways, I am moving away from my role of politician or teacher and reverting to my preferred role of gadfly. Whether that is productive in any way…

  2. President Faust was of the Democratic persuasion. It can’t be all bad.

    The problem I encountered in the recent political campaign is that all my liberal friends decided that I must hate them because I presumed to argue with their political convictions.

    One of the most common problems was demonizing Mitt Romney. I don’t have any dealings with Romney but several of my family members do. They characterize him as an admirable and honorable man. Liberals in my circle of aquaintence rather uniformly despised him, with various justification. The stories I heard about Romney from the two different channels were impossible to reconcile.

    Now the problem that ensues because of this election is that so many political leaders in the current administration tend to be Democrats and left-leaning types. As far as I can judge, they are almost uniformly deceitful and manipulative.

    Now if the Democratic Party were represented by men like trustworthy men like President Faust, and absent so many of those currently involved in Washington scandals, I might be somewhat inclined toward more progressive thinking. Right now, it just looks like a big stinking mess that makes me feel ashamed that ANYONE could be so untrustworthy.

      • Chris, political discourse is the foundation of good government. I think perhaps agreement is not that essential, but communication is.

  3. Gosh, Chris, it sounds to me like the Democrats in Wyoming have officially adopted hatred for Mormons as part of their party platform, in contrast to the LDS Church leadership that refuses to endorse parties or candidates and is visibly on good terms with Harry Reid, the most prominent Mormon Democrat in the country.

    When I was growing up in Utah in the 1950s and 1960s, the two major were pretty equal in Utah politics. My Dad was a letter carrier, like half the men in my ward, and the other half worked at Kennecott Copper. One of my near contemporaries became Ed Mayne, a prominent union leader and state senator.

    One of the most prominent Democrats in Utah and Speaker of the state House of Representatives was Oscar McConkie, father of apostle Bruce. Oscar Jr. Was chairman for Utah of the JFK presidential campaign. I was an intern during the 1972 elections with the Hinckley Institute for Politics at University of Utah. The actual political leaders of the parties in Utah deal with each other all the time and don’t display anything like the.animosity of many rank and file party members.

    My sense is that when the McGovern campaign took over the national party in 1972, the Democrats started becoming officially antimilitary and proabortion, alienating a lot of their natural blue collar but morally conservative.constituency. They threw away much of their existing support in order to maintain greater ideological purity. That polarization invited the Republicans to align their party at the opposite end of the spectrum. It used to be that the conservative-liberal axis in politics was 90 degrees from the Democrat–Republican axis, but now the two have become one. It has oversimplified the reality of politics, and pushed party leaders to extremes that make any compromise almost impossible. There are almost no areas.where Dems and Republicans can meet and mingle on common ground. Even many churches have taken sides. Thankfully, despite the strong feelings of many individuals, the LDS Church has avoided that.

    The reason so many Utah Mormons are conservative Republicans is the same reason why so many other Westerners are conservative Republicans, NOT because they are Mormons per se.

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