Sisters Speak: How Do You Feel About Romney and His Nomination?

This fall’s Exponent II issue will focus on politics, and we’d love to hear your voice in our Sisters Speak column. I will email some of you to ask if I might quote you in the magazine.

Since Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Mormons in their many varieties have received unprecedented attention from the media. A recurring question Exponent II has received from numerous media outlets concerns how Mormon feminists feel about Romney as a representative of their religion. Now is the time to make your voice heard! How do you feel about Romney’s nomination and the fact that he and his family will become the most recognized representatives of Mormonism in the United States? How do or don’t his policy positions represent core Mormon values you cherish?

 

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women’s Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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13 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    ‘How do you feel about Romney’s nomination and the fact that he and his family will become the most recognized representatives of Mormonism in the United States? How do or don’t his policy positions represent core Mormon values you cherish?’

    I don’t know that I’m responding as a feminist so much as I’m responding a Mormon women. Yes, I have left the church but since I was a member of the church for well over 20 years I still feel that I have a voice.

    I have deep concerns over his candidacy. The Church as a body politic has always stated that members are free to vote their own political conscience. This is whats’ stated in the CHI. but, yet, in practice I don’t really see this happening. Prop 8, proclamation to the world etc. I know that the Republican agenda was always pushed from the pulpit. Letters from salt lake read from pulpit. I’ve witnessed individual members giving political talks during sacrament meetings and then being told if we don’t support any of the churches agenda’ that we are not righteous enough, or we should just leave the church and leadership not saying anything to contrary. This bothers me. I feel rightly or wrongly, if he does get elected, this tenor would increase I get anxiety attacks just thinking about it.

    When Mitt was Governor of Mass he stated that he supported a women right to choose, but, once he got into office he has steadfastly worked on getting the laws changed and he publicly come out and stated that he will work to get Roe v Wade overturned. How much of this is his personal opinion vrs, The Churches stance on this issue we will never know. The fact that he would flip flop on such a critical issue with regard to women’ s reproductive rights deeply concerns me.

    I’m deeply concerned either rightly or wrongly that Mitt won’t be able to put aside his Mormonism enough to do what is fair and right for everyone. And I know that this is what they said about Kennedy, but, I can say as a former Catholic, Catholicism didn’t permeate and doesn’t permeate every members life, quite the same way that Mormonism does.

  2. Mhana says:

    When I first heard he was running I was glad, because I felt like he was a candidate I could live with, unlike many others in the field. I’m still not going to vote for him, but I thought if he won I could be okay with it. I was thinking of old Mitt, the one who was more tolerant, who could appeal to middle of the road voters etc. However, the more I hear about his economic plans for the country, the less appealing I find him because I believe that his program would drive us deeper into the recession, if not into an outright depression. My like or dislike has nothing to do with him being LDS, though it seems less likely that he’ll be caught in revolting sexual scandals so I guess that is a plus.

    I don’t feel like his ideals are particularly in harmony with Gospel principles. I don’t see much compassion (as manifested by action or plans of action, not just words) from him for the poor or marginalized in our country. I see his economic programs as contrary to our obligations to the poor. I think he has it somewhat backward from King Benjamin — he would enable people who already have riches to seek more riches, and claims that this would somehow help the poor and everyone else. I’m pretty sure we were told to seek the Kingdom of God, and riches are a possible pleasant byproduct. I think his politics are likely to divide our country even further (though to be fair I doubt very much that Obama could heal the nation either) and cause more unhappiness. I think it would be a hard sell to believe that he represents the kind of leader King Benjamin exemplified, one who labors only for us and who is not concerned by personal comfort, and that our society would be less characterized by divisions.

    In general I think their lifestyle is a bit of an affront in these deeply depressing times. I recognize they have a perfect right to spend their money how they choose, but to me it underscores how out of touch he is. I realize that a President is never going to have the same kind of intimate awareness as a Bishop might about his flock, but I can’t help but feel he is so far removed from my life he can’t begin to imagine how his actions help or hinder it.

    Finally I think SuperPACs, and Romney’s use of them, is not in line with the Gospel. People who pay more tithing don’t get twice the sustaining vote. They don’t get to choose the Bishop. They don’t get to set favorable tithing percentages for themselves. While the church doesn’t function perfectly in this way, I like that the wealthy people in my ward have to clean the bathroom on Saturdays just like I do. We all pay our share, we all get to sustain or oppose, we all enjoy the same building, hear the same speakers, go to the same activities, and have comparable opportunities to serve. Money does not buy power in the Kingdom of God, and it was never intended as a vehicle to oppress, only as a means to bless. Them’s be my thoughts.

  3. Romney’s change of positions on gay marriage and abortion in order to pander to the far right, his policies which privilege the rich and disadvantage the poor, his acceptance of money and endorsements from unprincipled people and groups (why would he court Donald Trump’s approval?), his refusal to give straight answers to questions on immigration and other issues, and his willingness to distort the President’s remarks all make me question his integrity.

    I know it’s not rational to expect a Mormon politician to have more integrity than other politicians, but I do.

  4. Brem says:

    I felt the same way many other moderates did about Romney at first … of all the Republican candidates he was by far the best choice. I liked what I perceived to be his policies on gay marriage, abortion, and health care. But as he’s changed those positions, swung further and further to the right, constantly backpedaling in interviews to cover for inconsistent statements, and as he’s made some very serious PR blunders, I am feeling less and less enthusiastic about the fact that he is going to be the most visible member of my faith. You asked, “How do or don’t his policy positions represent core Mormon values you cherish?” If I can rephrase this question to “How do or don’t his policy questions represent core Mormon values you don’t cherish?” it might be a little easier for me to answer. I support the basic structure of capitalism, but Mormon culture has taken it from an economic theory or model that members can choose to support, to a doctrine that they must believe in. And the way the “capitalism doctrine” is taught seems to me to directly contradict other Christian ideals we claim to adhere to. I’m all for free market, but there seems to be a belief among some members at least that if you are rich then you have no obligation to help the poor beyond some cursory fast offerings and that you must be more righteous because of your prosperity and therefore are entitled to keep and flaunt whatever you have. I feel I hear far less of King Benjamin’s “Are we not all beggars?” in Mormon world than I do about how any blessing we obtain is predicated on obedience with no qualification that we then have the obligation to share those blessings. I have no issues with a political candidate being wealthy and I’m sure there are presidential candidates who have been even wealthier than Romney, but his affluence and some of the choices he’s made with that money don’t really represent what I feel to be core Christian values. Unfortunately, however, he does seem to perfectly represent values in Mormon culture.

  5. Stan Beale says:

    I am very leery of applying the adage that you can judge a person by the company they keep. But when I look at how the economy is dealing devasting blows to the working and middle classes and examine who surrounds Romney, I only see rich white males who seem to share a belief in the gospel of wealth. It simply convinces me that it is foolish to think that he would change and become more moderate once elected.

    The politics of plutocracy, and that is what Romneyism is, is so far fom a Christian ideal found in Mosiah 2:17 , of helping your brothers and sisters that I cannot see how a Church member could vote for him.

    I know that is far from the Mormon mantra, but I am afraid many of us have lost our way. It was driven home this morning after reading of the numerous expensive horses that Ann Romney owns, a friend remaked about the many homeless she saw living by route of the Capital Express as she traveled to San Jose..

    Simply put, if you are wealthy, white and a male, Mitt is your man. Just don”t think of Mathew 19:24 as your guy whacks Social Security, Medicare, Education and worker rights .

  6. Rachel says:

    I resonate with many of the ideas already shared.

    Part of me loves the idea of having a Mormon in the presidency, but part of me also wishes that it wasn’t that Mormon. From many stories I’ve read with words from people who actually know him, he seems like a decent enough person, and sometimes even a surprisingly decent/giving human when it comes to real relations involving real, caring words, or real, caring service. Those articles make me proud, and the attributes they describe are attributes I WOULD like in a President. I even think it may be a positive that he is so boring. We don’t necessarily need someone exciting, just someone who can make good, sound, reasonable judgements.

    I feel less proud, however, when I read Romney’s statements about the poor, and how he is not concerned about them. I understand that the snippet shared everywhere was just a snippet, and belongs to a greater context. But, some of his policies, including those to weaken “safety nets” that he says the poor may rely upon, are part of that context.

    I also felt less proud when I watched and listened to him debate immigration with the Texas gentleman. Romney was clearly the better speaker (perhaps sophist), but Perry had the more compassionate view. Romney’s position is also much, Much harsher than the church’s stance, and needs to be revisited. That perhaps more than anything else made me personally feel like Romney wants to get elected so badly, that he will pander if he thinks it will help him. It is not always clear to discern what he really believes.

    Deep down I think he is a true moderate, and would find it much easier to whole-heartedly embrace him if he let those colors show. Unfortunately, he has not acted or spoken like a moderate as of late.

    One final note: I do like that he is running, if only because the increased scrutiny to the Church resulted in the clearest statement from the Church against harmful folk beliefs concerning Blacks and the Priesthood. If it could bring additional examination with additional positive changes, then I am all for it.

  7. Bradley says:

    Frankly, I don’t know what to make of Mitt. Looking through all the shifting rhetoric is like playing Where’s Waldo. A Mormon who aspires to be Caesar scares me.

  8. Caroline says:

    Thank you for all your comments. You all bring up interesting points. I can see that most of the commenters on this post swing left of center. Are there any lurkers here who support Mitt and his policies or who have a different take?

  9. Maryly says:

    Here’s the Romney I knew in BYU’s Honors Program: Very focused on his dad’s “sabotaging” by the press over the brainwashing statement. Mitt wanted to be president, even then. Unfortunately, personal conversations before philosophy class never make it into today’s papers. A waffler/opportunist/chameleon. Mitt needed to be liked, to be on the winning side, and also get what he wanted, all the time. As I have followed his career, he hasn’t changed. Controls the message. What coma after the accident in France? All we ever heard from Mitt was how the mission president trusted him and left him in charge when he took his wife’s body home to the US. No sad words about the dead woman, either; it was all about Mitt. The recent articles about the bullying incident when he was 18. Mitt declared, “I’ve moved on. I have a wife and chidren and grandchildren now.” Right. Three groups that are never bullied or abused by the patriarch in the home . . . Apology? “I’m sorry if anyone was offended”? Yikes! How many people have left the church because of callous pseudo-atonements like that one? Frankly, I think the entire Republican field this year is an embarrassment, Mitt included. Especially Mitt, after that bullying report. I thought he was a big jerk 44 years ago, and I still think he is a big jerk. Just wealthier, but still clueless.

  10. Diane says:

    I think its interesting to watch Mitt At Political Rally’s. I was watching CBS News either last night or the night before and they were talking about the success of his health care plan in Massachusetts. He statement sounded a lot like the language of code of Bishops in the Church. He said” Its not unkind to expect people to pull their own weight” And then they used the example of a recent college graduate who never had health insurance until recently. He (the college student) said that the insurance cost him $242.00 a month. and he is glad he is paying for it.

    Okay, so lets take my scenario . On my disability income of only 1000. After I pay rent utilities and my health insurance premium that only leaves 400. Now in a few years when I cola increases that will probably push me past
    the income requirements that make me eligibility for low income. So, that would leave me only 200 to buy food, laundry, transportation.

    How about a novel idea, let’s force Mitt to live on $200 a month for two years with out access to his 240 million and stand there and say its not unkind. It may or may not be unkind, but, it would be cruel.

    So, this may seem like it is off topic, but, this is what we, or rather poor people are going to have to live with and this is why I fear Mitt Presidency.

    • Diane says:

      I guess I should state, that for college student with an expectation of increasing earnings 242 a month does seem nominal, for someone income who is fixed this is an exorbitant amount of money

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