I largely agree with the general theme of Bruce N’s post below, which is that there is (some) anti-Mormon sentiment in the endless attempt for Republican voters to find “anybody by Mitt Romney.” Ideology is an issue, but it is clear that for many evangelical Republicans Mormons are not acceptable.
There is substantially more empirical evidence, however, that Democrats are less likely than Republicans to vote for a Mormon. It should be self-evident and noncontroversial to say that Democrats hate Mormons even more than Republicans hate Mormons.
Let’s start with the polling. Gallup has asked voters the question, and 27 percent of Democrats say they would not vote for a Mormon president, while only 18 percent of Republicans make the same statement. Independents are at 19 percent, closer to the Republican position, so clearly anti-Mormon sentiment is stronger among Democrats than anybody else.
The obvious retort is that most Mormons are Republicans, so clearly Democrats don’t agree with them. This is certainly true. Pro-life, pro-free market and pro-traditional marriage are not positions that modern-day Democrats are likely to embrace, so we must grant that some of the Democratic hatred of Mormons is simply about political ideology.
But while evangelical pastors have been saying nasty things about Mormons, the leaders of the secular left have been equally vociferous (if not worse). We can of course start with Laurence O’Donnell’s obscene rant on public television where he called the religion demented, crazy, etc, etc. Then we can move on to Democrat Jacob Weisberg’s prominent article in Slate magazine saying that there should be a religious test for the office of president, and any Mormon fails that test.
More recently, we find the disgusting sight of Bill Maher inviting Mormon-hating right-wing pastor Robert Jeffress onto his show so they could have a lot of fun bashing Mormonism. Maher is a famous left-winger and Jeffress is a right-winger, but they both agree that they should put aside their differences so they can right the real enemy, a church and its hateful members.
But it gets worse. Left-winger Harold Bloom actually had some good things to say about the LDS religion a few years back, but now that there is a possible Republican president out there who is an active Mormon, Bloom has completely gone off the deep end. His nonsensical essay wanders around trying to find a point, but finally comes to the conclusion that Mormons are Bad with a capital B.
The New York Times and New Republic and a few other newspapers and journals form the nexus of left-wing politics. So it should be no surprise that the New Republic has an entire section of its web site devoted to articles and blog posts attacking Mormon politicians. The Church has a “race problem” and all Republican Mormons are right-wing extremists, etc, etc, etc. Meanwhile, the New York Times was absolutely obsessed with Romney’s dog and other issues crucial to choosing a good president. Editorial page editor Gail Collins has mentioned it at least 19 times in print.
What about the top Democrat, the president? Empathetic as he is with suffering from bigotry, he couldn’t possibly be bigoted, could he? Well, the evidence shows that President Obama will not let anything get in the way of another four years of presiding over America’s economic decline. So, his surrogates, at least a dozen of them, told reporters that they will be out to “kill” Romney by concentrating on the fact that he is “weird,” ie Mormon. Obama’s principal strategist said recently that Romney has “no core.”
The narrative is clear: Romney is weird because he is Mormon. His church is racist and homophobic. Romney has no core because he is Mormon. He straps his dog to the roof of his car because he is Mormon. And, of course, his church is demented, crazy, etc.
More than 11 years ago, Al Gore chose Jewish Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate. It was clear to anybody who read the mainstream press that Lieberman never suffered anything close to the kind of bigoted attacks for his religion that Romney has had to suffer. This is partially because Lieberman was a Democrat, but is is also because it is politically correct to attack Mormons but it is not politically correct to attack Jews. The double standard should be obvious to anybody watching the national scene.
Evangelical anti-Mormon Republicans say Mormonism is a cult and imply that Mormons should not be in office because, among other things, we think Lucifer and Jehovah are brothers. But left-wingers are much nastier and much less likely to vote for somebody simply because they are Mormons. As I have said before, this is just the beginning: the professional left will be launching an unremitting attack on Romney and his religion int he days and weeks ahead. I hope all good people will join together to condemn the hatred, whether it comes from Democrats or Republicans or anybody else.