This post was taken from Dave Alvord's blog: docviews.blogspot.com
I have found it strange that the people who have the most pessimism about Mitt Romney's chances as a Mormon candidate are Mormons themselves! Why is that?
It may have to do with the fact that many members of the LDS faith have served missions, or are married to those who have. As missionaries we have had doors slammed in our faces, have been ridiculed, and have had to endure more rejection than acceptance. Even though many do accept our faith, most reject it. We are used to being rejected. I think that it is this psychology that could be the cause for so many of my friends and associates to have such a grim outlook...when it comes to not only Mitt, but any LDS candidate.
But to vote for a leader, one doesn't have to accept the testimony of the prophet Joseph. He doesn't have to pay 10% of his income. He doesn't have to convert to Mormonism at all.
I think that we may be mistaking religious rejection for political rejection. After all, today's highest-ranking member of the United States Senate is, well, a Mormon. Harry Reid may be a democrat, but he is also a Mormon. His kids attended BYU, and he happens to be pro-life. That is a strange selection for the top post among the democrats...a pro-life Mormon. But there he is.
It's really not all that strange. If you think about it, the LDS people are natural-born leaders. We dress up every Sunday, give talks, and attend loads of meetings. We have faced opposition and rejection throughout our lives. We don't drink, smoke, or gamble...and most of us would bleed on the flag just to make sure it's stripes stay red (MI3).
Some may cite recent polls that suggest that the majority of Americans would not vote for a Mormon. While there may be a few who would never vote for a Mormon, I think that many may have cast their opinion in ignorance. There was another survey a few years ago that asked if people would vote for a "heterosexual" for president. Surprisingly about 1/4 said No to that question. It was ignorance that caused that response...and it is probably ignorance that has caused the Mormon polls to look like they did. A person may not want a polygamist in the White House, or an Amish-type president (these are some common misconceptions of mainstream Mormonism). But they may be okay with a family-man, with one wife, from Massachusetts...who just happens to belong to the LDS church...as long as their taxes stay low, and they think that the candidate is a man of integrity.
There is no doubt that Mitt's candidacy will require educating many Americans about the LDS faith. He will need to clear up many misconceptions about the chruch. But he won't be doing it alone. The Media will churn out piles of stories about all of the candidates...and Mitt will not be an exception. In fact, there is such a fascination with Mormonism that it could turn to Mitt's advantage. Mitt may be talked about more than other candidates BECAUSE of his religion.
Some advantages that Mitt Romney has:
1) Strong support of many LDS throughout the country. Do not underestimate the influence of the members of the church...we have influenced many elections in years past. For example, we recently helped defeat a gay marriage amendment in California. We also may have given the ERA the decisive blow in the 80s.
2) Strong support in Michigan. His father was a beloved Governor and is still remembered. 17 electoral votes.
3) A very successful term as Governor in Massachusetts. He balanced the budget without raising taxes. He also provided health care to every person in the state, again without raising taxes!
4) Mitt has raised the most money. His PAC tops them all.
5) In Tennessee, a presidential straw poll put him in second place among republicans. The only person with more votes was Frist (who announced last week that he will not run for president).
6) Governor Schwarzenegger was just reelected in California. A republican in California! With a goofy name! An immigrant! He defends Bush! He was an actor! A meat-head! Despite these obstacles, the "governator" was reelected. No doubt, he is a huge star...but he also ran as a fiscal conservative and pro-environment. California will forgive a multitude of sins if you will be for the environment. If Mitt can be a pro-environment Republican...he may have a shot at those tasty 55 electoral votes in California. And guess which church is the second largest in California? Hint: it's the true one.
7) Mitt is the most conservative of the known possible '08 candidates. John McCain has ticked off too many of us...also he has that grouchy-old-man thing going. He made a fool of himself on SNL. All that McCain's opponents need to do is play those SNL tapes during the primaries. It will be "so" over! Rudy is pro-abortion. He better start whistling a new pro-life tune or he will not get the republican nomination. Period. Newt Gingrich is awesome! But I am the only one who thinks so. Whoever wins ought to consider putting Newt in some kind of advisory role. He just isn't "presidential" enough (whatever than means). Among conservatives, Mitt fits the bill almost perfectly.
8) This is America. Anything can happen here. A tall, ugly, and awkward Republican from Illinois can get elected, free the slaves, then guide us through a civil war. A divorced actor from California can lead us against a communist super-power, and win...without a shot being fired. A fellow from Virginia can lead a rag-tag army against the largest military of it's time and successfully achieve independence for our country.
I do not say that Mitt will win the presidency, but I do say that he has a chance. If you believe that our leaders can be foreordained (and I do), then we may likely see a Mormon president. We may see several of them! I don't know if Mitt will achieve the presidency or if he will pave the way for one who will.
But would you just do one thing for me?