Why Utah Mormons Fell for George W. Bush

Hopefully most Utahns who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 realize by now that they made a cataclysmic mistake. Whether they do or not, they probably still don't know how the charlatan pied piper of Midland wooed them with his siren song. My opinion? He got them where they are most vulnerable--God, patriotism, and compassion.

I recognized George H. W. Bush for the establishment wonk that he was, and I didn't vote for him in 1988. Rotten fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, so I wasn't even tempted to support his dashing son, George W. Bush.

It is surprising, if only in retrospect, that so many Utahns supported this charlatan for president. But, having the presence of hindsight to guide my analysis, I think I know why. There are three reasons.

God. The Book of Mormon, considered by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be additional scripture, is replete with wars between the usually pagan group called Lamanites and the usually god-fearing group called Nephites. On several occasions the Nephites sought out advice from their prophets on how to fight the Lamanites. One of their most revered leaders, Captain Moroni, was the quintessential prophet/statesman. In large part because of the teachings of the Book of Mormon, Latter-Day Saints today generally believe that God will help the righteous to fight their battles.

George W. Bush, after coming into office with a pledge that America should not be in the business of nation- and empire building, used September 11, 2001 as a pretext to do perform just such "construction". He fooled many Utahns into thinking that it was America's God-ordained mission to stamp out evil wherever it may raise its ugly head--and that we had to strike preemptively in order that we would not ourselves be destroyed.

What Utah Mormons failed to understand from their Books of Mormon, however, is that Nephites were successful only when they fought defensive wars, and that God never fights the battles of the arrogant aggressor. Clearly, Bush's war in Iraq was not a defensive one, as overwhelming evidence indicated from the outset such things as that Saddam Hussein had no air force and no navy. Bush's focus on his "crusade" was not to be thwarted, however, and many Utahns became fellow crusaders. Leading Bush influencer and Neoconservative, Michael Ledeen, explains (approvingly) the essence of Bush and Establishmentarian foreign policy:
in order to achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have to "enter into evil".
Which, if they had been paying attention, Utah Mormons would have noticed that George Bush was doing exactly that. Somehow Utahns didn't notice that evil is not God, and God is not evil.

Patriotism. The fraudulent tactic of branding the war opposition was not new to the Bush adminstration--it was very successful during Clinton's flattening of Bosnia--but it reached fever pitch during the Bush administration's prosecution of the war in Iraq.

George W Bush tricked Utah Mormons where they are most vulnerable--God, patriotism, and compassion.

Utah Mormons generally revere the Constitution of the United States, and they like to think themselves the most patriotic of Americans. When they aren't being deceived by political platitudes, they do a fairly good job of actually being patriotic. Many of them weren't, however, about to be branded as unpatriotic for not supporting the war in Iraq against an aggressor that was able to attack us with aluminum tubes and remote-control airplanes! In a manner similar to the effect invoked on the body by oxygen's counterfeit--carbon monoxide, Utah Mormons scarcely noticed the intellectual harm they were suffering as they breathed the delusory air of Bush's imperialistic and unconstitutional foreign policy.

It was not patriotism in the least, but many Utah Mormons were too afraid to discover that truth for themselves in the midst of the fevered war cry.

Compassion. In addition to donating 10% of their income to the Church, Latter-Day Saints are encouraged to donate to other worthy causes, such as help for the locally indigent (fast offerings) and humanitarian aid projects around the world. Mormons are some of the most charitable people in the world. Naturally, then--or so it seemed--when George W. Bush began talking of "compassionate conservatism", Mormons exclaimed "That's my kind of president." In the process of suffering this third strike of a delusional strikeout, Mormons completely ignored the fact that many (if not all) of their prophets had counseled against ceding to government this very ungovernmental responsibility.

George W. Bush and his neo-conservative advisors milked the 9/11 tragedy for all it was worth and then some. Many Utah Mormons, unaware of the flimflammery of it all, got behind their leader in the most godless, unpatriotic, and incompassionate of causes.

I hope that those who succumbed have since recovered.


  1. Interesting insights. But there are probably at least a few additional reasons why Utahns voted for W. Among them would be the available alternatives. You suggest that you found someone else to vote for, but it is obvious that in the minds of most Utah voters, W was the best choice among the viable candidates. I was not very happy that he rose to the top in the 2000 nomination cycle. But, then again, I seem to have a habit of voting differently than the majority.

    When 2004 rolled around, there wasn't even a GOP primary. You could have voted for an unviable candidate, but for most Utah voters, the choice was between Bush and Kerry. What they thought of that selection is obvious by how they voted.

    But Bush has continued to get higher approval ratings in Utah than anywhere else in the nation. Since coming into the mainstream a century ago, most Utahns have a track record of respecting authority figures by default. It may be possible that LDS culture helps feed that.

    This is not a bad thing when properly balanced. But I think that for many Utahns, Pres. Bush seems like an authentic authority figure in ways to which Bill Clinton could never even aspire. Your suggesting that W is purposefully (or maybe unintentionally) playing us for dupes simply won't resonate with most Utahns, even today.

    I agree that many religious people (not just Mormons) fall for the compassionate conservatism thing. They fail to realize that compassion via a church organization is accomplished via free choice, while 'compassion' through government programs is accomplished via coercion (even if many vote for it). LDS folks ought to recognize this difference, as it is an essential part of LDS theology. But strangely, many have no problem with a big government approach.

  2. It's true that there were only 2 major candidates, but Utahns, of all people, should be looking around instead of voting for "the lesser of two evils" offered up to them by the Establishment. An excellent alternative candidate in 2004 was Michael Peroutka of the Constitution party. 2000 had Pat Buchanan of the Reform party and Harry Browne for the Libertarians.

    I really appreciate (and agree with) your statement:
    most Utahns have a track record of respecting authority figures by default. It may be possible that LDS culture helps feed that

    You make a good point as to the morality side of things. Clinton clearly was not; Bush appears to be for many Utahns.

  3. Frank - I have to agree with Scott here. You have to chose from the viable candidates sadly. Otherwise you have the mistake we had in Minnesota (Jesse "the Body/Mind) Ventura. While his gubernatorial reign was entertaining for the punditry class, it was an absolute disaster for Minnesota (roads and bridges suffered at the rails of LRT for example). I can not even begin to IMAGINE what kind of a national disaster someone like that would have been in the White House.

    What we really need to do is get rid of the consultancy class that is currently advising our politicians and get them listening to "we the people" once again....


  4. I agree about choosing from viable candidates. I suppose I think differently than you and Scott that there definitely were other viable candidates than Bush and his Democrat opponent.

    I completely agree with you, though, about Jesse Ventura, and when you say "we really need to do is get rid of the consultancy class that is currently advising our politicians and get them listening to 'we the people' once again".


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