There’s a lot of talk in the media and across the ’nacle to the effect that Romney’s Mormon identity was the critical factor that torpedoed his candidacy. The argument is that a large percentage of Republican primary voters have anti-Mormon sentiments that kept them from supporting the candidate who, by the numbers, shared all the values positions that mattered to them most. The comparison has specifically been drawn with Log Cabin Republicans: Are Mormons a second group in the GOP’s big tent that find themselves despised by their fellow Republicans?
If that’s where Mormons find themselves, we should ask: What lessons can they learn from Log Cabin Republicans?
In the first place, we should note that Log Cabin Republicans are not an interest/identity group. Gay people are the interest group. This is a critical distinction.
Mormons today are block voters. With only anemic exceptions, they vote Republican as a group as an identity issue, i.e., without regard to their own individual self-interests. This is the kind of voter political parties like the most: block voters are chicks that parties can count before they’ve hatched. Mormons today are among the most reliable voting blocks either party has.
But what’s a chick to do when he finds out he’s seen as an ugly duckling?
Let’s go back to Log Cabin Republicans. After the anti-Gay vitriol of the 2004 US election (which easily trumps the anti-Mormon sentiments shown this year), a lot of people were saying, “You’d have to be crazy to be a Log Cabin Republican” and who are these guys? I’m a gay small business owner and I have a bunch of Log Cabin Republican friends. If they’re crazy, I’ll tell you that it’s like a fox.
By maintaining a high profile in the GOP, Log Cabin Republicans are doing two things. In the first place, they are using considerable moneyed donations to support candidates in the GOP who avoid anti-gay demagoguery. This year they campaigned hard against Mitt (who flip-flopped from being pro-gay to being a bigot) and in favor of McCain, who is on record being opposed to a pro-discrimination constitutional amendment. This year the Gay foxes won while the Mormon chicks lost.
The second and more important thing that Log Cabin Republicans do is illustrate to the Democratic party that Gays are not just block voters that Democrats are free to keep in the bank and ignore. And frankly, they don’t ignore us and the contrast for Mormons and the GOP should be eye-opening to you. Gay people are a tiny, tiny minority group. Our population is concentrated in urban areas that are Democratic strongholds and even there, we don’t have the raw votes to be a majority in single municipality of any size. Mormons, by contrast, are geographically concentrated and have the ability to make a very serious and immediate political impact this election. And yet the idea that the GOP could lose Utah’s electoral votes this fall is hardly taken seriously by any pundit.
In 2004, Log Cabin Republicans showed their disdain by closing their pocketbooks to the GOP. It wasn’t enough to throw the election, but it did illustrate that their money, time and votes could not be taken for granted. After this primary season, if the Mormons still line up like good chicks and give their electoral votes to the GOP, how can the party do anything but take Mormons for granted now and in the future?