Up until Tuesday’s insane reversal of every single thing anyone with sense thought about the election, they were the conscience of the Republican Party. Mitt Romney called The Big Racist Cheeto on his racism and wouldn’t support the guy from day one. Evan McMullin gained a lot of momentum within Utah as an eleventh-hour independent who was LDS and Not Trump. Had McMullin carried Utah’s electoral votes, Mormons would be on record as having been the one demographically conservative group to defiantly reject the BRC’s sexism, racism and violence.
So what happened? Well, forty-six percent of the dang vote still went to the Big Racist Cheeto. But more than that, six electoral votes went to the BRC. This despite an outcry of conservative Utah politicians just a few months ago. What happened?
Orrin Hatch happened. He told electors to vote for the party, for the Big Racist Cheeto, despite the outcry from members of his state and religion. And they fell in line. Mormons heartened by the moral stance of Romney and McMullin seemed to forget that Romney & McMullin didn’t actually have electoral votes!
But it’s more than that. Look at those red, red results. Other than liberal bastions of Salt Lake & Park City, the 90+ percent of Mormons in Weber County, Davis County, Wasatch County, Kane County, etc… voted Trump. Even in Utah County, home of Brigham Young University, McMullin couldn’t carry the vote.
Statistically, Brigham Young University voted for Trump.
And I have a theory why. And we need to talk about that theory, Mormons. Because this election has made me feel weirdly close to my LDS roots. I don’t often attend church these days, but when I do, I am proud of my roots in a persecuted religious minority, especially one known for solidarity with Muslims.
But it’s also a religion that has a deeply sexist tradition. Any Mormon over the age of 25 probably remembers the chastity lessons where church leaders were encouraged, by official Church manuals, to lick the frosting off a cupcake and explain that the now bare, saliva-covered cupcake represented a girl–never a boy–who’d had premarital sex.
Elizabeth Smart has rightfully critiqued these teachings and this attitude, but years of lessons that reduce womanhood to virginity/marital sexual fidelity and years of rhetoric about “our mothers and daughters” instead of language of equality, and now look… the most LDS state in the nation voted mostly for a man who is defined by treating women as objects.
A lot of Mormons, with their votes, said that they didn’t care how many sexual assault allegations Trump had against him. And he has a lot.
One can’t help seeing a trend. Years of objectification of women in church ≈ an excuse for an objectifier & abuser, as long as he’s Republican.
It’s time for Mormons to get up in Elders Quorum and Relief Society and not just condemn sexism, but find a different way to talk about sex and women. It’s time to have that awkward conversation about Helen Mar Kimball and say that maybe we need to be more critical even of Church founders in regards to sexism, and that’s okay; it won’t destroy our faith in Christ.
If you’re a Mormon who is horrified that the Big Racist Cheeto won, well, a lot of your fellow Church members helped elect him. And they weren’t just hicks out by Bryce Canyon. They were people like Orrin Hatch. They had the same lessons and the same leaders as you.