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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Will the LDS Church’s declaration on political parties help Utah Democrats? (Fawson says no)

By Jessica Fawson

From LDS pulpits across Utah last week came an announcement from church leaders encouraging members to go to their precinct caucus meeting. This announcement contained a recently added line stating that: “Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties.”

Democrats in Utah have taken this sentence as a huge step by the LDS church toward creating a two-party system in Utah.

Unfortunately for Democrats, they’d better keep working-because most Mormons already realize that you can still be a good Mormon and a Democrat. The majority of people in Utah are Republican not merely because of their religious affiliation, but because it is the platform they believe in the most.

The statement issued by the LDS Church was a nice gesture, but it will not change the political landscape of Utah unless Democrats themselves do something to persuade voters to their way of thinking.

There are Mormons in both parties nationwide, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts and potential presidential nominee, is Republican and a Mormon.

Unlike the religious right, which includes such groups as the Christian Coalition of America, the LDS Church strives to get people involved in democracy, regardless of party-and it always has.

Democrats see this statement as church leadership telling members of the LDS Church to go become Democrats, while Republicans see it as something that has always been taught and preached by that church.

Democrats in this state have long believed they are the counter-culture to the traditional viewpoint and religion in this state. While Mormons may recognize that you can be a good Mormon and a Democrat, I am not sure that it works the other way around.

Can you be a good Democrat in Utah if you are Mormon? For many the answer is yes. Pat Jones, wife of professor of political science Dan Jones, is both a Mormon and a Democratic state legislator in minority leadership at the Capitol.

The vast majority of the nation’s high-ranking Democrats are not LDS, though-and it remains to be seen how they would welcome Mormons into their fold.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Democrats would like more power, especially at the state Capitol. But if this statement has a large effect, as many in the Democratic Party believe it will, how will Democrats’ platform and attitude toward Mormons change?

Republicans have nothing to fear from this statement. Their stances on various platform items still strike a cord with the majority in this state. There is no reason to believe that Mormons will start lining up in front of the county clerk, demanding to change their affiliation from Republican to anything else.

Independents are also not likely to change their affiliation, as they prefer to be unaffiliated.

The point is that this statement will have a minute effect, if any effect at all.

Utahns are not stupid! Voters are not mindless drones! They vote the way they believe, not the way any one else tells them to.

It is unfair to the good people of this state, the ones who truly care about the issues, to believe that anyone would mindlessly follow any edict-especially one that merely says there is good in both parties.

That’s obvious.

There are similarities in both parties, too. Neither party holds a monopoly on ethics or hard work; those two things lie in the candidate, not the party.

The majority of Mormons will vote as they always have, for candidates they like and who, for the most part, are good people.

So happy hunting for those good candidates. The season is now open.

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