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Why America Needs a Mormon President

Why America Needs a Mormon President

By Josh First
October 22, 2012

Among many other reasons also pleasing to Americans’ innate sense of fairness, America needs a Mormon president like America needed a Quaker president (Nixon), a Catholic president (Kennedy), and a black president (Obama). Expanding inclusiveness compels Americans to set aside theological differences, drop old bigoted views, accept diversity of faith and opinion, and embrace all the colors in the rainbow. A Mormon candidate for president is the latest color, and he deserves to be judged for his good character as have others before him.

Mormonism is an innately American faith, and perhaps it’s such a quintessential American faith that it may be our most American faith. So it’s rich irony that Mormonism is “new” to so many voting Americans.

Based on Christianity, Mormonism uniquely melds both America’s founding faith and its frontier identity. The frontier experience that created America from the ground up and shapes our most cherished liberties to this very day. Freed men, indentured servants, pioneers, adapting Indian tribes, all who lived the frontier experience contributed to all others living an individual freedom unimaginable in feudal Europe. Throwing off the British yoke unleashed a wave of liberty and creativity only recently checked by the very government grown out of its own founding documents.

Every one of America’s founding documents and rights therein is a product of the frontier, each a distillation of experiences and expectations by those who had come to live beyond the long arm of an unjust law. From “We Hold These Truths Be Self Evident,” to the Third Amendment’s prohibition against quartering soldiers in private homes, and so on, the frontier experience shaped every subsequent generation’s expectations. Even those living in liberal urban enclaves can own a gun for protection, if they so choose.

Enter the Mormons. Very much a distinct and integral part of the larger, defining westward migration that took the American frontier from Upstate New York to the California coast, the early Mormons saw themselves as an extension of the Biblical Jews, whose own frontier experience at Sinai and in its wilderness had rendered a code of life similar to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

Reaching their own ‘promised land’ in their own de facto colony, the early Mormons established independence in what is today Utah. Yes, polygamy in Western Civilization was last practiced hundreds of years ago, and it is odd to see people doing it today. Happily, polygamous Mormons are a minority. Overall, and most important, Mormons are a happy, friendly, law-abiding, quietly spoken, hard working, patriotic, tax-paying bunch. They are people we’d like as neighbors. Have you met a mean spirited, unpleasant Mormon? Neither have I.

In 1908, the famous author Zane Grey was so powerfully impressed by “Emmet,” a Western hunting guide, that he wrote often about him in his Field & Stream magazine stories. His first description verged on Biblical: “Emmet was a Mormon, a massively built gray-bearded son of the desert; he had lived his life on it; he had conquered it and in his falcon eyes shone all its fire and freedom.” That Mormons are emblematic of American liberty is not a new idea, and hopefully this 2012 election will re-introduce it powerfully.

Several years ago, I climbed on board a helicopter for a real estate project, and met two kindly older men. They worked for the Mormon church, and were buying farmland. Turns out, the Mormons own a lot of farmland, on which they grow corn, wheat, barley, and other grains. They also own factories that manufacture those grains into food. They also own planes, trains, trucking companies, ships, logistics and distribution centers that, literally vertically integrated from the ground up, freely and cheerfully give that food away to hungry people of all faiths across the planet. If you ask me, this is a good religion; it is a positive force. It gets my deepest respect and appreciation.

Mitt Romney is a bit too nice. He sometimes lacks that overt fire and passion that leaders typically use to inspire. Frustratingly, he has changed some political positions to suit political exigencies. But right beneath his smiling demeanor is a son of the American desert, a son of the American frontier, a true son of America. We really need that noble character right now, as we return back to our roots and to the basic elements that make America great, and as we move away from being ‘transformed’ into something unrecognizable and perpetually broke.

Tonight is the last of the presidential debates of what is the most defining, most important presidential election of my lifetime. Afterwards, for the next two weeks Mitt will be on the campaign trail. Join him, if you can. Please lend a hand one way or another. Go door-to-door with literature, make phone calls to voters, donate ten bucks, or talk to your family and friends about the kind of political change we can believe in and that we need. Our nation’s future depends upon it.

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