This post was written by Grayson W.
Most American Mormons are Republicans. Utah voters consistently give Republican presidential candidates supremely high voting yields, and both the State legislature and the federal delegation overwhelmingly consist of Republican members. For many members of the American LDS community, it may seem as though being a Republican is a part of being Mormon. Regrettably, some of them think there is no choice.
I’d like to briefly share some thoughts on the experiences I had as a member of the LDS community who spent some time in an environment that may seem foreign to some American Mormons. As an undergraduate from Idaho attending a rural college in Utah, I spent close to a year in Washington, DC, working with the federal Democratic caucus. The first segment of that time was spent in the U.S. Senate Democratic leadership office, and the second was in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs with the Obama Administration during the first legislative session of Obama’s presidency. I spent time working with people from plenty of Democratic offices. I had the good fortune to be there when President Monson, Elder Oaks and Senator Harry Reid came by to visit the President and present him his genealogy. I met them at the door and escorted them to the waiting room outside the Oval Office where we sat and talked informally for nearly an hour with the President’s director of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. I even brought the genealogical chart into the Oval Office and prepared it for the President, who was returning from an elementary school visit.
Virtually every person I encountered treated me with the utmost respect, and in many cases, with admiration. For those who knew I was LDS, my Idaho background and experiences as a missionary in Bulgaria set me apart from many of the other staff. Many people were curious and sincerely asked me great questions about myself and my faith because of it. The people I interacted with seemed to treasure the things that set people apart rather than to prefer a litmus test for party membership. One of them had studied religion as an undergraduate and, while Jewish, seemed to know more about the church than I did. Many of them seemed dismayed that the majority of American Mormons hesitate to be involved with them, as many other minority religious groups have worked exceptionally well with Democrats for decades, and they wanted to know what they could do to reach out to a population they considered vibrant and fascinating.
My intent is not to make the case that American Mormons ought to be Democrats or that they should reconsider being Republicans. My hope is for every citizen to be able to make informed decisions. My intent is for American Mormons to know that there are unlimited opportunities to be involved with a political organization that has many of the same goals that the Church does. It is a great time to be involved. I hope that American Mormons who are interested in politics will offer the same patient impartiality toward Mormon Democrats that many of them prayed to receive while serving difficult missions all over the world. In the words of Elder Ballard, I hope that they accept the ‘invitation to understand’.