Utah is considered one of the “Reddest” of “Red States” (Republicans.) Mitt won 90% of republican votes in the recent primary, and Utah has had a Republican Governor for the last 22 years, and counting. However, it was not always so.
Between 1917 and 1985, 6 of 9 Utah governor’s were Democrats. When the Republican party was founded in 1856, it was mainly opposed to “the twin relics of barbarism— slavery and polygamy,” and pledged themselves to rid the country of these two evils. Mormons were understandably anti-Republican Party, and voted for Democrats in droves.
In the 1840’s there was no Republican party. Abraham Lincoln was in the House of Representatives as a member of the Whig Party, while Stephen Douglas was a Democrat. The Mormons under Joseph Smith weren’t sure which party they were for, and often would vote en masse with Joseph, often switching between the parties, causing heartache to both parties. They would vote for the candidate who promised the most protection. It is interesting to note that Democrat Judge Stephen Douglas (of Lincoln-Douglas Debate fame) acquitted Joseph Smith from some trumped up charges from Missouri during the persecutions. So Democrats were preferred by Mormons at the time…
Anyway, I’m not sure as to what caused the demise of the Whig Party, but it could have been slavery. The Republican Party was established in the 1856. As part of its platform, it said the twin evils of the country were “slavery and polygamy.” So most church members hated republicans. I believe that Abraham Lincoln was the first republican president.
And as a side note, did you know that when the California Compromise was passed by Congress, California was admitted as a free state, while Utah was a slave state? Some of the early apostles held slaves…. So Utah was moderately democratic leaning back then. It’s kind of funny that Joseph Smith was an abolitionist, while Brigham was much more accepting of slavery.
As this blog says, in the 1970’s and 80’s, the democrats became more liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay, etc. Most of the southern states, had been democrat leaning up until this point. About then the Christian Coalition, Moral Majority (Jerry Falwell), and Focus on the Family (James Dobson) became more political than ever heavily influencing the republicans. At the time, many of the southern states, switched to the republican side. Utah felt more at home with these groups and saddled up, although the evangelicals have always been suspicious of Mormons, as this election bears out. Anyway, it’s quite ironic, that now Utah has turned 180 degrees to become republican….
When Joseph Smith ran for President of the US in 1844, he wanted to ban slavery. (Of course Joseph was killed about 6 months later, due to the issues of slavery, polygamy, and too much governmental power in Nauvoo.) A future presidential candidate adopted Joseph’s proposal about 15 years later….
Why does it seem that Mormons now think the Republican Party is “true party” of the church? I’m pretty frustrated with the Evangelicals treatment of Mitt, and I’m becoming much more moderate in my views. I’m very disappointed that the Republicans are spending money like Democrats. Is there a real difference between the two parties any more?
I enjoy some of Mormon Paleo Thoughts, especially in regards to government spending. Perhaps I’m becoming more Libertarian, but I don’t know that I would go that far yet. I am certainly sympathetic to some things.