The Evangelicals did! The Republicans had a winning candidate in the election. It was Mitt Romney. If he had been able to remain in the race, there is every likelihood that he would have prevailed over Barack Obama. The Evangelicals sabotaged his chances because of their hatred and jealousy of Mormonism. The Republicans have them to thank for their loss.
Mitt Romney was not only a strong candidate to win; he was also a man who was ideally suited for the job, with his track record of excellent economic management, at a time of serious economic and financial difficulties in the United States and abroad. The Evangelicals thought that if he won, that would be too good an advertisement for Mormonism, so they went into overdrive to do all in their power to ruin his chances of success. At first they embarked on a viscous round of negative campaigning centered on his religion. When they discovered that that strategy was not working (it was in fact counterproductive. Americans don’t like mixing politics with religion; even the religious ones don’t), then they finally hit on a winning strategy. They made Mike Huckabee to run as a stalking horse to draw away the Christian vote from Romney.
Huckabee was an outsider. He joined the race quite late in the campaign, almost as an afterthought. He and everyone else knew that he did not have a chance to win. So why did he do it? Well, he did have one qualification that suited the purpose of the Evangelicals: he was a Southern Baptist minister as well as being a politician. That made him the ideal candidate to draw the conservative Christian vote away from Mitt Romney—and it worked! He appeared from nowhere, and disappeared again into nowhere. He was like a meteorite that briefly appeared on the political horizon, and then just as quickly disappeared again. But that brief moment was sufficient for him to decoy the Christian vote away from Romney, thus robbing the Republicans of a winning candidate for the presidential election. Now they know whom to thank for their great loss.
I think that the Evangelicals and Mormons ought to declare a truce. They have more in common than they have differences. They share many of the same ideals. They can achieve a lot more by working together for the common good of society—the values that they share—than by working against each other. Romney’s agenda would have been closer to the Evangelicals’ than Obama’s. They have hurt themselves as well as their country by their unpatriotic act. When the country wakes up, I don’t think that they will easily forgive them for that. People have their own ways of punishing those who have deceived them, when they discover that they have been deceived.
Evangelicals will never be able to defeat Mormonism. It will go from strength to strength, and they won’t be able to stop it. In ten years time Mormonism will be twice as big; and in twenty years time it will be four times as big. What will they do about it then? The Evangelicals are “kicking against the pricks” (Acts 9:5) by fighting against Mormonism; and they will only hurt themselves in the process.
Mormonism has its own momentum. It will not grow faster or slower depending on who becomes the President of the United States—or who doesn’t. The only thing that will make it grow faster is opposition from its adversaries. Brigham Young said that you can only kick Mormonism upstairs, not downstairs! (JD 7:145.) That was a true statement born of experience. History and experience had taught him that Mormonism is strengthened and grows faster when it has been under the greatest pressure, and faced the greatest opposition. Evangelicals will only hurt themselves by fighting against Mormonism. Eventually they will have to come to terms with it and make peace with it, or suffer greater losses.
The purpose of this article was not to express disappointment with Obama’s victory, but to highlight the role of the Evangelicals (or of their leaders) in the Republican defeat. Obama is now the new President of the United States, and he deserves the support and good will of all Americans. He ran a good campaign, and deserves the victory he got. It was not his fault that he Republicans messed up.
Actually, the Republicans didn’t mess up. The Evangelicals (or rather their leaders) sabotaged their chances for them. What they need to do now is to put in place a mechanism in their party structure that will minimize the chances of that happening again. No religious group should have so much influence that they can change the course of political history contrary to the wishes of the majority of its citizens.
Imagine what would have happened if somebody had made Jesse Jackson to run alongside Obama in the Democratic primaries in order to split the Obama vote; chances are that neither of them would have won, and Hillary Clinton would have come out the winner. Well, that is what the Evangelicals did to the Republican Party.
A straight fight between Romney and McCain would have led to a Romney victory; a straight fight between Romney and Huckabee would have led to a Romney victory; but the presence of all three of them together led to the Romney defeat, and with it the defeat of the whole party. That is a perversion of the democratic process. It shouldn’t be allowed to happen.
The Evangelicals basically said, We would rather have a Democrat in the White House than a Republican President who is a Mormon. The result of that was that they got a Democrat in the White House. If the Democrats had said, We would rather have a Republican become President than a Democrat who is black, they would have been in the same situation as the Republicans are. But they had the good sense not to—and they won. They deserved to.
When religion (or racism) starts taking over the course of events in a political party, that is bad news for any political party that allows it to happen. I fear there is a faction in the Republican party which is guilty of both. The Republicans need to figure out how they can prevent that situation from arising in the future.
A note about the leadership in the Evangelical Movement will be instructive. The Evangelicals do not have a centrally organized structure like the LDS Church or the Catholic Church. It is a loosely organized body of independently operated Churches. Their leaders are not “appointed” to that position, or paid a “salary” for it. They are more “self-appointed” than anything else. They “emerge” by demonstrating talent, oratory skills, and the ability to attract a crowd. At the local congregational level they may be appointed and be salaried ministers.
Then there is another group of people in the Evangelical movement whom I would describe as “activists” rather than “leaders”. They are a larger group than the first, and they tend to be more extreme and fanatical in their views. They are the “foot soldiers” in the Evangelical movement who do the dirty work for them. Lawrence O’Donnell’s TV rant on Mormonism is a typical example (he is is not Evangelical, but he drinks from the same trough). A lower quality video (wmv) file of the same show can be downloaded here. Hugh Hewitt’s radio interview with O’Donnell is an interesting follow-up, the transcript of which can be read here.
That video clip provides an interesting case study. All of Lawrence O’Donnell’s raving and ranting against Mormonism and Mitt Romney actually backfires, because everyone else on the show (none of whom are Mormons!) is made to defend Mormonism and Mitt Romney. Pat Buchanan does a great job of it, and so does everyone else in fact who is there.
The Evangelicals’ initial strategy of smear campaign against Romney based on his religion backfired quite badly. It is only when that strategy manifestly failed that they had to think of a different one, which finally worked—that of making Mike Huckabee to run as a stalking horse to split the conservative Christian vote. The only trouble with that strategy was that it worked too well! It not only put Romney out of the race; it brought down the entire Republican Party! Served them right I guess. With such friends, who needs enemies? LOL!
This post was revised on the 25th December 2008.