With the Presidential campaign over, Obama victorious, and McCain graciously bowing out of the public spotlight, I find myself looking back on what has been a very long, very tiring, but very interesting election cycle. For Mormons, it’s been quite a ride for two reasons: Mitt Romney, and Proposition 8. Both topics have been talked about ad nauseum on the bloggernacle. But linking the two topics together, I think we Mormons can thank our lucky stars that Romney DIDN’T make it out of the GOP primaries.
If the Google alerts I’ve got on Mormon key words is any indicator, the press the LDS Church has received over Proposition 8 is downright ugly. Not a day goes by without several bloggers writing up angry posts about the Mormons – some of them verging on outright hate speech. We all know about calls from some liberal quarters for LDS donors to Prop 8 to be identified so that dirt can be dug up on them. Calls of bigotry, homophobia, and hate ring out endlessly. California newspaper coverage has not been kind to us, as far as I can see. And the LDS Church has received precious little defense from its Christian and conservative allies.
However, this coverage has been largely confined to California. It has not been headline news nationwide. The rest of the nation has been preoccupied with a dramatic Presidential race that has served up a whole slew of firsts. In all the bustle around Obama and McCain, Prop 8 – which would otherwise be the top news story nationwide – has taken a back seat. It’s been mostly a California issue and a Salt Lake Tribune issue. But that’s about it.
As a result, the damage to the Church’s image has been fairly contained. As much as we could hope it to be anyway.
This would not have been the case if it had been Romney running against Obama and not McCain.
If Romney had been the nominee, I guarantee you this battle over Prop 8 would have become a central issue in the national campaign. How would Romney have dealt with the LDS Church’s direct involvement in a key moral political issue? Would he endorse it, or distance himself from it? Remember all those reporters in the primary season talking about how Romney would take political marching orders from the Church Office Building? Oh yeah, that probably would have come up and taken center stage. Romney would have to give his whole spiel about “not running for pastor-in-chief” all over again. And just like before, people would be very, very skeptical.
It would have been an absolute fiasco for us. “LDS bigotry” (as our enlightened critics term it) would have been a national issue rather than a California issue.
I, for one, am rather happy we dodged the bullet on this one.