A significant majority of U.S. Mormons vote Republican and tend politically conservative. In fact, we are the most Republican-voting religion in the country, beating even evangelical protestants. It's surprising, given that ours is a faith with no official political affiliation.
To be forthright, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. Neither really represent my political views. So, in a way, I wish for a third party (not Libertarian) and look on in wonder at those who find either one a good political platform. But more on that later.
Now I want to address the question that keeps spinning through my mind: Why are most Mormons Republican?
It's not like on their surface one is evil and the other righteous. Certainly politicians and candidates from both sides can demonstrate unchristian behavior. The high road is universally the road less taken. Furthermore, one could argue that both parties have their good moral stances. Democrats want to reduce poverty, fund research, promote equality and champion civil rights. They struggle to give power to marginalized minorities and the forgotten.
On the other side, Republicans exalt in personal liberties and are often unflagging patriots. Most are people of family and faith. They want to eliminate corruption and waste in government.
Democrats are forward-looking visionaries; Republicans revere the bold beginnings of this country. And both sides (barring any conspiracy theories) want more jobs, better schools, domestic security, safe streets, clean air and water, and personal rights.
After thinking about it for some time I came up with a theory that sheds some light on the decision most Mormons have come to. It revolves around this question: Shall we force morality onto the people (Democrats) or are they moral deep down and it'll come out if we let them govern themselves (Republicans)?
This theory requires a little Mormonism 101 to make it clear. Mormons believe that our spirits did not wink into existence at birth, but that we lived a premortal life with God, an existence that now we cannot remember. We chose mortality to prove we would obey God on nothing more than faith. But along came Satan--yeah, he lived there too--and said he would force everyone to be good. Conversely, God and Jesus' plan would allow us to freely choose good or evil.
How does this translate into politics? Democrats want to pass laws that make us good: Hate crime laws. "Wealth transfer" laws. Gun control laws. Gay marriage laws. Civil rights laws. Equal opportunity. Tuition grants. US AID. Republicans want to keep government out of our lives and schools. They champion personal liberties to the point that government looks very bad. Given that, I guess it's easier to equate forced goodwill with the devil and freedom to choose with Jesus.
This simple view isn't always accurate though. Republicans want fiscal freedom but often come down hard on controversial moral issues like abortion and sex ed. Both try to legislate morality. It's just that Republicans rhetorically emphasize personal freedom more than Democrats. Freedom to do whatever the heck I want.
Am I right? half-right? Anyone have any other ideas? Stay tuned: A few more blog posts on politics coming your way.