James Fallows is irritating in a different way from Andrew Sullivan. He’s reliably…middle. Safe; predictable; good at thinking what Everyone thinks.
Sometimes what Everyone thinks is just wrong. Fallows as Everyone thinks anti-Mormonism is simply another bigotry, like racism.
I do understand the political handicapping aspect of stories about the “Mormon angle.” It’s like asking three years ago whether America was “ready” for a black president. Or whether we’re “ready” for a Hispanic, female, Jewish, Asian, Muslim, atheist, gay, unmarried, overweight, etc President.
Not quite. Some of those items are based on ideas or beliefs, while others aren’t. It’s not sensible to treat them all as the same kind of thing for this purpose.
To be against Mitt Romney (or Jon Huntsman or Harry Reid or Orrin Hatch) because of his religion is just plain bigotry. Exactly as it would have been to oppose Barack Obama because of his race or Joe Lieberman because of his faith or Hillary Clinton or Michele Bachmann because of their gender or Mario Rubio or Nikki Haley because of their ethnicity.
No, no, no, no, no. Not “exactly as” – differently from. Religion is not the same kind of thing as race or gender or ethnicity (it is however the same kind of thing as “faith” – does he really think Lieberman has a “faith” as opposed to a “religion”?).
It’s very very simple. Race and gender aren’t systems of ideas; religions are. It really is necessary to know what candidates think and believe, because what they think and believe will (obviously) influence what they do in office, even if all they think and believe is “I will do whatever it takes to stay in office.” It really is necessary to know, for instance, whether or not a given candidate can separate her religion from her work. Some people can, but it’s no good just assuming that everyone can. It’s also no good just assuming that Mormon beliefs couldn’t possibly inspire or motivate any whacked actions in office. “Mormon” isn’t just a label or an identity and we can’t treat it as such. Imagine if a Dominionist were a candidate for president – we would really have to discuss that!
I do understand that voters assess a whole suite of traits, including race and gender and class background and religion and family status, in deciding whether or not they are comfortable with a candidate.
See what I mean about Fallows? That’s so…what is it, it’s so normal and so clueless. He’s not a clueless guy but he has this instinct for the wrong-by-banality. It’s not about being “comfortable” with a candidate, it’s about doing our best to get a sense of what the candidate will do in the job.
But for people to come out and say that they won’t back a candidate because he’s Mormon and therefore a “cult” member is no better than saying “I’d never trust a Jew” or “a black could never do the job” or “women should stay in their place” or “Latinos? Let ’em go back home.”
Not the same thing. Mormon beliefs and political beliefs are the same kind of thing; being black and political beliefs are not.
I disagree with most of the LDS church’s political stances, and I hated the role it played in the California Prop 8 struggle last year. But to be against candidates because of their religion? That should be seen as bigot talk — yes, even when applied to Mormons.
So there he just comes right out and says it (yet apparently still doesn’t realize he’s said it). “I disagree with the candidate’s politics, but to be against candidates because of their politics? That’s bigot talk.”
Really? So does this also apply to libertarians, socialists, communists, anarchists, centrists, reactionaries, fascists? You disagree with their politics but to be against candidates because of their politics is bigotry?