Like many of you, I was devastated by the results of this election. Devastated in a way that I never have been, even when the person I voted for lost, even when I had serious concerns about what the winner would do. I’ve never been through an election like this.
It’s probably not entirely fair of me, but I have to admit that I felt particularly betrayed by the Mormon vote for Trump. I’ve been thinking about why that is. And the reality is that I bought into the narrative being promulgated for a while that Mormons were different, that we, unlike evangelicals, were going to put commitment to religious values above commitment to party. I gobbled up that narrative. I loved it. I explained to non-LDS friends with pride about Mormons defying the national trend of Republicans, who were unifying behind their morally reprehensible candidate.
When I think about that now, I feel a bit gullible, honestly. And surprised at myself. I learned in Primary that Mormons were special, were different from other people. We could even be recognized by our unique glow. But I’d utterly rejected that idea by the time I was a young adult. We’re just people, it turns out, like other people, with some amazing attributes and some real flaws.
But then I fell for all the happy stories about Mormons denouncing Trump. Because the reasons they gave seemed plausible—he’s certainly no practitioner of the traditional sexual morality that Mormons prize so dearly, Mormons are more moderate on immigration, as a religious minority with a history of persecution we have a special care for other religious minorities, and so forth. Not to mention that those who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton even had another option in Evan McMullin.
And then—the election. I know someone is going to point out that he didn’t do as well as Romney among Mormons, but honestly, given the level of support he got, that doesn’t make it feel any better. To be fair, my very impressionistic observation based on watching my conservative Mormon friends is that they largely felt like they had no good options, and weren’t necessarily endorsing his bigotry and his many less savory qualities.
But it still hurts. It’s hard to accept that among my people, sexual assault, misogyny, racism, hostility toward many vulnerable populations, threats to Muslims, and so many other things weren’t dealbreakers. It makes all that talk of being a light to the world and examples of strong moral values ring a bit hollow.