United Brethren has retired.

Mormon vs. Mormon, or What Would it Take For a Third-Party Candidate to Win a Presidential Election in America?

Long title, short substance:

My brother-in-law and I were talking in pure hypotheticals about the political prospects of a Latter-day Saint running for President of the United States. I have always been of the opinion that it is a true impossibility. Anti-Mormon bigotry simply will not let it happen. This bigotry stems from the ingrained and in-bred antagonism of Evangelicals against Latter-day Saints, which in turn might stem from myriad reasons (but I subscribe to explanations that look to the influence of priestcraft, although that is a topic for a different post).

What if, however, (and of course this is far-fetched) Americans only had a Latter-day Saint to choose from in a presidential election? What if, for example, the Dems put up their Senate minority leader, Harry Reid against MA's Republican governor, Mitt Romney? If this absurd hypothetical were to happen, I would stand firm on my belief that a Latter-day Saint cannot become the President of this country because of religious bigotry against Latter-day Saints. If I am right, then this might be exactly what is needed for a Third-party candidate to win an election in this two-party country. Short of this, I fail to see how a third-party candidate from any independent party can win a presidential election in the United States.

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Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 1:58 PM) 

Isn't there some prophesy of Joseph Smith or Brigham Young that says no Mormon will be president? *me sitting here waiting for someone else to look it up for me*

John, do you think that we are the only group of people who have politicians in both parties that could potentially run for president that aren't well enough liked by the general public? I mean, are there Jews on both sides and do you think someone would vote a Jew into the presidency? 

Posted by Rusty


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 3:23 PM) 

I think that a Jew could be president before a Mormon. When Lieberman was going for pres., I didn't hear much about his Jewishness in criticisms of him and his prospects. When Hatch, on the other hand, made such a bid, there was much noise about the fact that he was a "Mormon." 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 3:45 PM) 

If the Conservatives win the British election, then John Howard will be our first Jewish PM. But his Jewishness never, ever comes up. The majority of people have gotten over their anti-Semitism, I feel. 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:15 PM) 

Ronan, what of Disraeli? Wasn't he the first Jewish PM a century ago? I am probably remembering this all wrong. . . . 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:20 PM) 

Actually, I believe that a Jew could become President because most people believe that Jews are actually serious about their own beliefs. Evangelicals aside (there's no pleasing some people), I don't think most of the nation really believes that the Mormons take their own faith seriously. 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 4:32 PM) 

John C. wrote Evangelicals aside (there's no pleasing some people), I don't think most of the nation really believes that the Mormons take their own faith seriously. Now this is a statement that I would like to see you defend. What in the world can you possibly mean by this. It really is an outrageous statement. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 5:06 PM) 

Rusty, I think you are thinking of the "White Horse" prophecy which says that the constitution will hang by a thread and the elders of Israel will save it. Problem is I've never seen that prophecy documented anywhere either.

Mitt Romney's father ran for President in the 1960s. He made a statement about the government's whitewashing - covering up - misleading the people about Vietnam and was crucified for it. People said he must be and idiot if he thought the government would do such a thing.

Hopefully his son will run and do a better job. 

Posted by don


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 5:10 PM) 

At least he'll have the sex appeal that Hatch definitely lacked. Just get him on a commercial, shirtless, with his wife and family in bathing suits out on the boat, and that's part of the job of getting him, despite being a Latter-day Saint, into the White House. Even taking that step, I think Americans would sooner vote for a marginalized third-party candidate than a Latter-day Saint in one of the two mainstream parties. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 5:15 PM) 

Ronan, I checked up on Disraeli and he was indeed the first Jewish PM, but it was 150 years ago rather than 100 years ago:

Known as a dandy, a novelist, a brilliant debator and England's first and only Jewish prime minister, Disraeli (Earl of Beaconfield) is best remembered for bringing India and the Suez Canal under control of the crown. A Conservative, he was elected to Parliament in 1837 after failing to win election in four earlier elections. After Robert Peel formed a government in 1841, Disraeli was on the outs until 1846. He wrote a trilogy "Coningsby", "Sybil" and "Tancred" expounding his ideas and formed the Young England group as watchdogs over Peel's brand of conservatism. When Peel's government fell, Disraeli gradually became known as the leader of the Conservatives in the Commons.

Disraeli served as chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Derby as prime minister in Conservative governments of 1852, 1858-59 and 1866-68. The 1858-59 Parliament made the admission of Jews to Parliament legal, clearing the way for a Disraeli's prime ministership following Lord Derby's retirement in 1868. Defeated in a general election by William Gladstone that same year, Disraeli faced another six years of opposition which produced another novel entitled "Lothair" in 1870. He also established the Conservative Central Office, considered by some as the forerunner of modern party organization.

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 5:15 PM) 

Isn't the problem that people think we take our faith too seriously?
I think if one major party was clearly going to nominate a Mormon (highly unlikely), the other wouldn't throw away a sure thing on yet another Mormon.
And Rusty, someone should really tell Orrin Hatch about your prophecy if only to stop him from running again. 

Posted by NFlanders


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 6:21 PM) 

JF, take another look. I believe his mother was a Christian and that he was baptised a Christian. Therefore not a Jew. But close. 

Posted by Ronan


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 6:33 PM) 

Honestly, John F., some Evangelicals will never be happy with the church no matter what you do! ;) 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 6:47 PM) 

Ronan, I didn't see anything about his mother being a Christian, but I found that his Jewish father had him baptized.

Wikipedia says the following:

He was Britain's first, and thus far only, Jewish Prime Minister. He was born to a Jewish family and baptized a Christian, but nevertheless continued to think of himself a Jew. Officially, he was a member of the Church of England, as members of other faiths were not allowed to sit in the House of Commons. His Jewish beliefs were an open secret, however.So, "officially" he was a member of the Church of England, but it still took an act of Parliament in 1859 allowing Jews to sit in Parliament for it to become possible for Disraeli to become PM. Also, from what I understand, he is widely regarded as England's first and only Jewish PM. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 7:00 PM) 

Have I been blinded by the preponderance of Mormons in Grad Schools (business, chemistry, law, engineering, medicine…okay, probably a little light in the liberal arts)? It seems like most of my acquaintances (also grad schooled) have very positive views about Mormons (okay, maybe not those in Dept.s of Women’s Studies).

I just don’t see people equating us with Scientology or even the JW’s. So is it just the evangelicals that would be the decisive factor? Obviously Romney won in Mass. 

Posted by J. Stapley


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 7:35 PM) 

I think it is Evangelicals and atheists who would be the loudest voices against a Latter-day Saint PoUS. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 7:39 PM) 

Wouldn't JFK's presidency be instructive here? Many people thought that a Catholic would never get elected because he would be beholden to the Pope in the same way that (I suspect) people believe an LDS president would be beholden to the prophet. 

Posted by John C.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 07, 2005 9:31 PM) 

I have thought about that but it doesn't work here because even Catholics and Protestants both agree on at least one thing: that Latter-day Saints are cultists and that Mormonism is an absurd religion. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 08, 2005 10:16 AM) 

This is a bit off your topic, but it addresses your last sentence. A scenario I can actually imagine giving a huge opening to a third candidate is Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton. It is unlikely, but the arrogance and blindness the parties are capable of mean it is within the realm of the possible. 

Posted by John Mansfield


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 08, 2005 11:15 AM) 

John M.: you are right--perhaps there are other bizarre scenarios which could actually make the ascendancy of a third-party candidate to the presidency possible. 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 08, 2005 2:37 PM) 

I distinctly remember an interview with a woman during Liebermans run where she said point blank, that"America isn't ready to have a jew for a president." I almost fell off my chair in amazement... However, serving my mission in the south, this should have been of little shock to me.

I actually kinda liked Lieberman.(don't tell my friends... They think I am a die hard republican.) 

Posted by Jake


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 09, 2005 4:31 PM) 

"I don't think most of the nation really believes that the Mormons take their own faith seriously."

On the contrary, a Mormon can't be President because far too much of the country is aware that we take our beliefs seriously. And they think those beliefs are crazed. 

Posted by Adam Greenwood


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 09, 2005 4:47 PM) 

Well put Adam. That's why I took issue with John C.'s comment (not because it outraged me, as some later claimed, but because the substance of it was "outrageous" in general). 

Posted by john fowles


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 09, 2005 6:02 PM) 

I would like to publicly apologize to John F. I realize that I implied that he was outraged, but I was mostly reacting to his choice of words. My later post was also meant in that sense. To be clear, I understood John F. wasn't outraged, I found his choice of words humorous and twisted them to my own ends. Please forgive me for making you appear to be some sort of hothead when I am almost always impressed with the thoughts that go into your posts (even, heck...especially, the ones with which I disagree)

Also, I too agree with Adam. My point was an attempt to deal with how non-members who know Mormons and, in most cases, consequently know that they are not crazy (even though their beliefs are) deal with the disconnect between the person and the belief. My attempt at answering was to say that people in that situation would merely choose to belief that we can't really be serious (in spite of all evidence to the contrary), as opposed to cutting off all contact and calling out the men in white jackets. 

Posted by John C.


Blogger Mo in Miami said ... (February 23, 2005 3:15 PM) 

It's interesting that many of your posts are so negative with respect to the thoughts of the American public allowing an LDS president. Consider the current facts of the Romney vs. Mitt scenario:

#1 Mitt Romney is the governor of an extremely Democrat-controlled state. I find this particularly miraculous.

#2 Harry Reid is the Senate Majority Leader for the Democrats! Even more miraculous, isn't it?

In fact, I find that Reid represents one of the best opportunities for the Democrats to have a candidate that can actually bridge the two party extremes. And Romney, although not particularly amazing for many of his policies, has indeed shown a strong "Republican"-laden value system (see CNN.com article on Romney's South Carolina speech in today's news), and has also shown the ability to woo Democrats.

Thus, both candidates have proven that LDS politicians can rise to significant heights in what would be considered hostile environments given generally accepted Mormon beliefs of what non-Mormons think of them (in other words, I'm implying that what we think "they" think of us may be pretty far off the target).

Oh, and as far as a third-party opportunity, I'd bet my money elsewhere.


Blogger Mo in Miami said ... (February 23, 2005 3:18 PM) 

Before someone slams me on my typo, Reid's the Senate *Minority* leader, not the Senate Majority leader. A few letters different, but same miracle.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 08, 2005 12:46 PM) 

"I have thought about that but it doesn't work here because even Catholics and Protestants both agree on at least one thing: that Latter-day Saints are cultists and that Mormonism is an absurd religion."

I'm Catholic, and I disagree with both of those statements.

~Supernatural Rabbit Scribe


Blogger HP said ... (March 08, 2005 1:14 PM) 

Dear Rabbit,
Could we have a little more background? Have you had extensive experience with Mormons or have you come to these conclusions based on your own study of Mormonism? Or are you simply nice enough to refuse to pick on people you know little about? Enquiring minds would like to know.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 08, 2005 2:45 PM) 

I have had very, very little real-life experience with Saints. I have engaged in extensive online correspondence with them in an apologetics context, and I have read a great deal of material pro-LDS (Scripture; Givens; Ballard), anti-LDS (James White, Richard Abanes), and neutral (Shipps, O.U.P. series author whose name escapes me). It's just stupid to refer to you as a cult. In common discourse, that means "Scary guys stockpiling weapons in Idaho and brainwashing my kid," not "In my opinion, heterodox." I don't find the Church's truth-claims compelling, but "absurd?" I dunno. I worship a crucified God Who is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in bread and wine...

~Supernatural Rabbit Scribe


Blogger Bill said ... (March 09, 2005 11:11 AM) 

I just read through the comments from the T&S link. Sorry to break it to you, Ronan, but if the conservatives win, your prime minister would be Michael Howard -- John Howard is already prime minister of Australia


Blogger Bill said ... (March 09, 2005 11:13 AM) 

Excuse me, the M* link.

Many apologies


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