“Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” was what then presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, said in reference about his (2008) Republican primary opponent Mitt Romney’s religion. There was no doubt that Huckabee played the ‘Mormon card’ to Romney’s detriment, in an effort to win the evangelical vote. Huckabee’s religious strategy worked; it did enough damage and raised enough doubt (and fear) in the minds of his conservatives to put Romney’s campaign to rest.
Fast forward to today’s Republican primary presidential race and we observe that Mitt Romney is now considered the Republican front-runner, even after supporters of Rick Perry (earlier on in the primary) attempted to play the same ‘Morman card’. That strategy appears to have been ineffective so far. In an almost miraculous twist to the Republican presidential contest, Mitt Romney seems to be converting Christian conservatives to his side. This is rather interesting considering that many on the religious right consider Romney neither Christian nor particularly conservative. The reason: Conservative Christians have issues with Mormons on theological grounds, but are coming to the realization that they share public policy goals for the most part, and that Mitt Romney may in fact be the best option to defeat President Barack Obama in November. All this, despite having two conservative opponents in Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.
In my opinion, this miracle is no short of a collective cognitive dissonance that we all experience at one point or another in our lives. This cognitive dissonance allows an individual provide overall support to an idea, person, or organization, despite having some divergent ideals which creates some internal conflict or discomfort. Conservative Republicans, for the moment, seem to expressing this cognitive dissonance by over-looking Mitt Romney’s deeply held religious beliefs and values for a much larger cause, to gain control of the White House after the November election. Not to be hypocritical, I, too, exercise cognitive dissonance as my personal faith and religious belief puts me at odds with what the liberal democratic base supports, which is abortions. As far as I can remember, my humble upbringing and African American cultural experiences, have led me to support the Democratic Party as my political affiliation. To me, this party fights for the “common man” and those less fortunate. And although I strongly oppose and disagree with the sentiments on abortion, I agree overall with the platform the party fights for.