One example comes from Democrat Martin Frost about Romney falling victim to voter descrimination because of his religion. Of course, "descrimination" is a catch-phrase in Democratic circles for those who need government (particularly Democrat) protection. He states:
As a Democrat, I wouldn’t vote for Romney in the general election if he is nominated by the Republican Party. But I’ll be damned if I can understand why he should be disqualified from seeking his party’s nomination because of his religion. This makes no logical sense in the world’s greatest democracy in the 21st century.
One of the reasons that this makes so little sense to me is that I have spent most of my adult life in the most religiously tolerant major city in the South -- Dallas, Texas.
Dallas, with a Jewish population of only about 35,000 out of more than one million residents, has been served by three Jewish mayors (Adlene Harrison, Annette Strauss and Laura Miller), numerous Jewish members of the City Council, two Jewish state representatives (Steve Wolens and Alvin Granoff) and a Jewish Congressman (myself).
Additionally, Dallas produced the first Jewish chairman of the Democratic National Committee (Bob Strauss) and the neighboring county to the north (Collin County) has been represented by a Jewish state senator (Florence Shapiro) for many years. All this has occurred in the last 30 years.
First, I think he overestimates the inclusive nature of Dallas, even by his own references. To be Jewish in the U.S. has been "mainstream" even by Evangelical Christian standards. They may think of them as lost, but not without hope or some sort of blessing from God as a "former" chosen people. What would really be impressive is if there were members of the Hindu, Muslim, or any other religion that were put in important politial and social positions.
What is really impressive, at least by Mormon standards, is his argument about the Mormon's place in U.S. society:
The answer that many people give is that Mormonism is a cult, not a religion. If that is so, then why do we permit Mormons who have served in our military to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery? . . .
Mormons pay taxes, can wear the uniform of our county, and can die for our country. There are Mormon members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. And yet significant numbers of voters believe they are not qualified to serve as president.
His argument shouldn't be refuted. It is a good and true one that I think should be heard. What I am looking at is the reason for such a "bold" declaration, particularly on Fox News. Anyone who knows the perception of that news channel knows exactly who he is trying to talk to; Convervatives. And Mormons are known as Conservatives, so they would be part of his audience. What he is doing, I think, is no so much talking to Evangelical Christians as he is Mormons. He is basically saying, I am a Democrat who is not voting Republican and yet I am more "enlightened and tolerant" than those large numbers of Mormons are voting with. This wasn't something I had thought possible until I read another article that sounded almost exactly the same.
In an op-ed article for The Carmi Times, another Democrat talks about the "Mormon Question" in relation to Romney and voters. He adds at the end, just to be clear:
I'm a Democrat and I'll be picking from among Hillary, Barack, John and the others when I step into the voting booth Feb. 5. And even if I were a Republican, I'm not at all sure that Romney would be my man.
What he has to say about Mormons comes right from the playbook if there was one that exists. There is the JFK and the Jewish reference:
And then, in 1960, we did the once unimaginable and elected a Roman Catholic, John F. Kennedy.
Since then we've further expanded our horizons. Millions voted in 2004 for an Orthodox Jew (Joe Lieberman) for vice president.
Again, Leiberman was a Democrat and second Evangelical Christians hold high regards if only in memorium for Jews because of (rather than inspite of) religious theology. He then goes on about the many respected and important people in the U.S. who are Mormons. Half way down, after he makes the list and confronts those who just don't know much about Mormons, the true group of his disagreements becomes evident:
Reason No. 2: Fear. A lot of evangelical Protestants believe that if Romney were elected president, the Mormon church would grow by leaps and bounds--at the expense of their own denominations. And, to be fair, many of them also believe that Mormons aren't Christians (despite the name of their church and their fervent claims to the contrary), and that people who convert to the LDS church are headed for Hell.
Are they right? Make that judgment on your own, if you care to.
But would a Mormon president open the floodgates of conversions to the LDS church? I don't think so. Ask yourself: Have the United Methodists blossomed under George W. Bush? Did Bill Clinton attract new Baptists in droves? Would you convert to another religion just because the president espoused that faith? . . .
Would a Mormon president do what the church president out in Salt Lake told him to do? Did Kennedy follow the pope's orders? Come on.
There isn't any concrete proof of a political move by the Democrats that they are courting Mormon votes. So far becaue of the minimal number of Mormons and the concentrated geography of membership it isn't a group that would spark much interest to court. However, it would seem that Democrats could make inroads if they were to adopt the stance of these two commentators and talk up the "protected minority" status they like to tout.
Not that I would vote Democrat because the party still doesn't hold to my political beliefs. That, perhaps, is the greatest hurdle that would need to be crossed. It isn't insurmountable with other Mormons. All it would take is a more libertarian (and less Liberal) position and greater religious (not dogmatic, anti- or a-religious) focus. Taken together, the Democrats have a good hand to criple the Republican party in the West if they play it right. Again, not that I would want that. Rather, I would just like to see rhetoric turn to action and conservatism become more a political (and generic relgious) than theological movement.