Yesterday at Buzzfeed, McKay Coppins, a Mormon “embedded” with the Romney campaign, wrote a retrospective of his view of the issue. I have largely been disappointed in Coppins coverage of the campaign. He seemed more interested in making the Mormon issue an issue, presumably so he could uniquely “shine,” than in genuinely reporting on the campaign. That trend continues in this piece.
There was one part that I found very interesting:
This was how much of the political class was treating Romney’s religion at the start of 2012: too awkward to discuss in an open forum, yet too tantalizing to ignore altogether.
That lends credence to a theory I am working on about the election just passed. That is that in 2008 the issue was rendered “too awkward to discuss,” but that it remained an issue in the minds of many during this cycle. I would draw an analogy to racism in the deep South. Once segregation was outlawed and racist utterances were rendered politically incorrect, it was not discussed publicly in the South. But it lived, and still does to some much lesser extent, in dinner parties and bridge clubs. We do not have data, and likely cannot get since it is “too awkward to discuss,” whether this was an unspoken issue this election.
Maybe the tribalism I worried about yesterday is really coming to pass. Ann Coulter certainly seems to think so. The problem with Coulter’s piece and other like it is that it fuels a sort of lash-back tribalism that is not at all helpful. The American ideal is NOT that “Demography is Destiny,” but that we can change our demographics. That is to say, things like skin color that cannot change do not matter, but that people are free to move between economic and social classes thus rendering demographics a measure of societal change, but not a measure of destiny.
There is no doubt in my mind that this election was a move towards tribalism and away from the American ideal. The exit polling data seems to bear that out. Whether Mormonism fit into that picture or not is not known. But it is not a pretty picture, regardless.