I was looking at an article posted on jewishjournal.com, a blog titled Jews and Mormons by Mark Paredes, titled “Why Most Mormons Are Republicans.”
He attributes it to Mormons’ belief in self-reliance rather than turning to the government, and to Democrats’ stands on certain social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, etc.
Those are valid points, Mark, but I think you missed the biggest part of the reason, and that is a fundamental belief that the overwhelming majority of Latter-day Saints have in individual liberty as opposed to the use of government force to promote the good of society. Mormons believe that the US Constitution is inspired and that the principles of liberty it codifies are inspired. To accept modern-day liberalism, you have to toss aside the Constitution the way it was written and believe, instead, in a “living, breathing” constitution that can mean whatever Supreme Court justices want it to mean.
The Joseph Smith quote you used at the beginning of your posting gets at that issue of personal liberty, but you failed to make the connection. Joseph Smith said, in explaining how he governed his people so well, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” This reflects an elevated view of humanity that ascribes to them common sense and the right to do as they please within wide limits of behavior. Yes, we need laws that protect people from injury by other people, but the notion that a government should take money from one person against his will and give it to another rubs the vast majority of Mormons the wrong way.
Let me illustrate the difference between Modern Liberal thinking and Conservative thinking with a common issue that comes up in every Congress: Tax Cuts. You can count on Liberals, without fail, when they talk of tax cuts, to want them to be targeted. You get a tax cut if you do this activity that we like. And by no means are we going to give tax cuts to the rich. Conservatives, on the other hand, will want across-the-board tax cuts: Let people keep their own money and spend it how they will – this is none of the government’s business. That exactly parallels the thinking of Mormons – let decisions be made as close to the people as possible, and where each individual can make his or her own decisions, that is the very best way to do it.