Mormons may seem like a Republican monolith to those outside of the church, but this election year in particular, Mormons are struggling to vote for Donald Trump for a variety of reasons, including unsavory personal life and hate speech against Muslims. Mitt Romney, the previous GOP presidential candidate and a devout Mormon, called Trump a "phony" and a "fraud". Trump is crass and has no ability to be "nice." Finally, Trump is religiously ignorant and has no understanding of religious persecution, such as that Mormons have faced for much of their history as a people. As a result, there is a growing group of Never Trump Mormons who are voting for Hillary Clinton.
It may come as a surprise, but the Mormon church does not endorse political candidates. It does encourage its members to become politically active and to vote. The official statement on this is as follows: "Latter-day Saints as citizens are to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are wise, good, and honest. Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties and candidates." In fact, 9 of the top 15 leaders are Republican; the other six are unaffiliated. When Mitt Romney heard of someone who said that no good Mormon can be a Democrat, he responded with " baloney and ridiculous." Harry Reid, US Senate Democratic leader, is a Mormon and has a large Mormon constituency, though on the other side is Orrin Hatch, a Mormon Republican.
Over the course of my adult voting years, I have voted both Democratic and Republican, but this year, my choice will be Hillary Clinton, specifically because I believe she upholds many of the family values that I believe are core to Mormonism including: a pro-immigration stance, attention to women's health care issues, keeping same-sex marriage legal, decreasing poverty, and improving education access for all.
There are many reasons not to vote for Trump and I certainly understand those Mormons who are choosing to vote for third-party candidates this year. I personally find Trump to be a disgusting human being. His views on immigration and race are abhorrent to me and the Mormon church felt the need to issue a statement directly in response to Trump. Trump is in my view a politician whose only interest in running for office is to increase his own bottom line. I would not necessarily hold his history of divorce against him, except that he is a misogynist and shows no awareness of this as a problem. He seems unable to speak a complete thought in a sentence, which makes me fear for his capacity to rule a country reasonably. But I am not voting for Hillary only as a vote against Trump. I honestly believe that she will be good for the country and good for families, which as a Mormon, I consider very important.
On immigration, Hillary Clinton says, "We need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to full and equal citizenship. . . I'll defend President Obama's executive order--and I'll go even further to keep families together. I'll end family detention, close private immigrant detention centers, and help more eligible people become naturalized." This is important to me, as a Mormon, a Christian, and as a mother. Seeing families torn apart by the government is anathema to me. People who come to America to work and to achieve the American dream and people we should keep here. As a Mormon, we know that these immigrants are largely descendants of the Lamanites, the covenant people of our sacred scripture, The Book of Mormon, and people who are destined to return to their status as Christ's own one day. We should treat them as our brothers and sisters, nothing less.
In addition, Clinton has stated that she intends to "take on the challenge of systemic racism, [and] invest in communities of color." As a Mormon who has embraced the 1978 revelation on blacks receiving full access to exaltation and the blessings of the temple, I want to vote for someone who is committed to making America the country it should be, a country where racial diversity is seen as our greatest asset and where we make an end to systematic government discrimination. Surely that is Christ's way and the way that The Book of Mormon would want point us toward, where the dark-skinned Lamanites eventually showed that they were more righteous and more ready to receive Christ at his visitation to them in the Americas.
I view Clinton's support of women's health care, including Planned Parenthood, as the best way to limit abortions and to support the children of women currently living in poverty. This essay explains how abortions have actually risen under every Republican President since Roe v. Wade and why poverty and lack of contraceptive choice are the real reasons behind abortion. Access to birth control is the best way to prevent abortion if that is your real concern, and not simply controlling women's bodies.
The extension of marriage rights to LGBT+ people is in my mind a family value. If we want all families to be seen as important, we need to make sure these rights continue. In addition, Hillary Clinton has pledged to end discrimination against transgender and gay people in the work place and in housing. This is not only fair; it is also a Mormon value. Even the Mormon church, which is officially against same-sex marriage, has been part of compromises including the Utah Compromise.
Continuing the fight against poverty is also something I feel strongly about as a Mormon. In The Book of Mormon, the cycle of pride and greed is a continuous one, and a lesson for us in our times. When people become rich and refuse to share with the poor, then there is destruction brought by God. I fear we are close to condemnation in our current state of inequality of the rich and the poor, which is at a thirty year high. Hillary Clinton promises to raise taxes on corporations and the rich who are not paying anything, like Donald Trump himself, who seems proud that he is not contributing to the country he supposedly wants to make "great" again. She also wants to raise the national minimum wage to something that can allow people to actually make a livable wage.
Finally, Hillary Clinton is in favor of improving our education system for children. She says "every child in every zip code" should be receiving a world-class education. In our current system, based on property taxes, this is not happening. In addition, we need to be concerned about the cost of a college education and the unreasonable burden of debt we are placing on young citizens who are just beginning to work. I have two children in college, one just graduated, and another who is a high school senior and will be applying for college soon. This means I'm very well aware of the enormous cost of a good college education and while my family is managing this, I can certainly see that many other families cannot. If we want to look to a better future, we need to do a better job. I have heard nothing from Donald Trump suggesting he has any plans for this at all.
Is Hillary corrupt, as many have claimed? She has certainly received donations from big business interest groups. In my opinion, this is one the realities of being a politician in America, where capitalism reigns. To win, a politician has to have money. To have money, a politician has to spend time listening to big business. This is not a deal-breaker for me, however. It is only an indication that Hillary knows how to work the system and has become very good at something no woman before her has been able to manage.
As for Trump and those Mormons who support him, of course, everyone must make their own decision based on their understanding of their religion. But the "Mormons4Trump" Facebook page has made me wonder if these people are putting Republican Party loyalty above Mormon values. The following is a quote from their page: "There is only one presidential candidate in this race who loves America and wants to protect it!" If gun proliferation and continuing to consider the use of nuclear weapons as part of a foreign policy is your idea of protecting America, I would beg you to reread The Book of Mormon and reconsider. I am a Mormon, and I am voting gladly for Hillary Clinton.