By Ken Parkinson
I woke up in a funk this morning. Like about 72.8 percent of my fellow Utahns, I am Mormon, Republican and I voted for Romney. But I got up and went to work; I wanted to move on but could not put the presidential race behind me. I could not move on until I realized that I voted Romney for the wrong reasons.
I tried to focus on work but kept going back to last night. Distracted, I read several articles lamenting the loss of the first serious Mormon candidate for president of the United States. One article suggested that the LDS Church lost a great opportunity for exposure and acceptance when Romney lost the presidency. The author felt that Romney's wholesome Mormon family would put the church on the public radar and find broader acceptance.
As president, the author assured, Romney would quit trying to impress people and instead use his pragmatic Mormon work ethic to solve America's problems. And, with a Mormon in the White House, the public would finally understand how great we are. Some people would even be interested in the church and open their doors to the missionaries.
I did not realize until I read this, that I subconsciously supported Romney for the same reasons. I did not vote for the president of the United States; I voted for a "Mormon president" and that was a mistake.
I was wrong to think that Romney's increased exposure would somehow benefit my church with positive exposure and "soul saving" opportunities. Didn't we learn anything from the presidential race? During this Mormon Moment, we have been called unChristian, heard our sacred beliefs and practices spoken of in sinister tones, and been bludgeoned with tired anti-Mormon bigotries.
How many times have we heard people on television talk about "magic underwear?" What does that mean? Who came up with it? I am a lifelong middle-age Mormon and have never heard that term until Romney ran for president. I don't believe in "magic underwear," do you?
This presidential race has given us little reason to hope that a Mormon president would help the public understand our people. If Romney were president, Mormon beliefs would continue to be ridiculed on a national scale. The media seek out the sensational, not the informative. Coverage would continue to focus on underwear, polygamy and anything perceived as "weird."
Similarly, I had no reason to expect additional conversions or missionary success from a Mormon president. Having lived in Iowa and Georgia, I know this is why many of our evangelical friends were so against a Mormon president in the first place. It was not principled or pragmatic to expect Romney (or us) to use his office as a means of conversion. Constantine and Theodosis tried that 1,700 years ago. It was a bad idea then, and it is a bad idea now.
Speaking of bad ideas, there are few worse ideas than thinking Mitt would change once he became president. Don't we advise our children against marrying on the hope that a future spouse will change?
Mitt was too controlled by his advisers. He changed his views when it was expedient to advance to the next office. I would hope a Mormon president, if there ever is one, will base her policies on principles and not drift from position to position depending on how the political wind is blowing.
I voted Romney despite these reservations. This Mormon Republican could not help himself. But Romney's loss was probably for the best. If we believe in a God who intervenes in history to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men and women," then maybe He didn't see fit to intervene. Or, maybe He did!
Ken Parkinson is an attorney practicing employment law in Provo. He is a lifelong Mormon and Republican and is now over Romney's loss.