Election night this year brings a unique kind of despair–as we reflect on what Mitt and Ann have lost, and on what this country has lost.
And there is a third part of the despair–it is the opportunity and possibilities lost to the Church. We feel strongly that, had Mitt won, we would have seen an awareness-sequence that would have unfolded something like this:
- The Church would have been consistently on people’s radar because they know it is Romney’s religion. People who have always ignored the Church wouldn’t quite be able to ignore it anymore.
- The somewhat stiff and forced “let me impress you” candidate Romney would have morphed into the confident and competent “let me do this job” President Romney.
- As the worldwide media covered every aspect of the new President, the personal attractiveness of Mitt and Ann and their five boys and their families would have become ever more evident, and people everywhere would have wanted to know why they are the way they are.
- The intrigue would have turned at least in part to the families’ religion, and, particularly in the traditional hundred day “honeymoon,” would have focused on attractive doctrines like eternal families and a pre-mortal life and on the results and “fruits” among practicing members like low death and divorce rates and high health and education rates.
- People would then pay more attention to the Mormons that they may have met and would see the missionaries less as someone to avoid and more as someone that might be able to answer their questions.
But with Mitt’s loss, things drift depressingly back to where they were, with stalemated government, and a Church that slips gradually but steadily out of its “Mormon moment” and back toward obscurity.
Politically, the saddest part of the outcome is that many are already saying that Mitt lost because he has no core–no stable and consistent set of values.
We know, of course, that the exact contrary is true. There has never been a presidential candidate with such a strong core of values and faith.
The problem is that, for whatever reason, Mitt tended to ignore, hide from, de-emphasize and run away from that core instead of embracing it and talking about it and running on it. What makes Mitt real, and what makes him most appealing and genuine is his family and his faith. If he had ignored his politics-as-usual handlers and run a completely positive campaign, laying out his vision for a better America that centered on parents and children and the basic unit of the home–and at solving and avoiding problems at that basic level and then in communities and churches he would have avoided that hint of disingenuous stiffness that shadowed him and could have become the kind of values-based, above-the-partisan-fray leader that so many Americans are waiting for.