Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
168:  The Mormon Election Autopsy:  Madson, Kramer & Baradaran

168: The Mormon Election Autopsy: Madson, Kramer & Baradaran

Credit: Lars Ploughmann

Mehrsa Baradaran, Joshua Madson and Brad Kramer discuss the history of the recent US Presidential Election.  They talk about the uncoupling of the Democratic party from the working class, the rise of neo-liberalism, and the way in which identity politics have come to replace class politics effectively allowing both the Republicans and the Democrats to usher in an era of market fundamentalism in which everyone but the wealthy suffer.

We also deal with the question of the Mormon vote and offer some ideas as to why Utah voted for Trump despite his vulgar politics.


  1. Quentin

    I can only speak anecdotally based on what I’ve seen in my Facebook feed and from talking to people this year, but I think the reason so many Mormons voted for Trump had more to do with their visceral fear and hatred of Hillary Clinton than anything else. I’ve heard her described as a murderer, Gadianton robber, “pure evil”, and more. There was a belief that voting for Trump would make it possible to end abortion in the United States somehow, which was reason enough for some Mormons to vote for him. In addition, the more conspiracy theory oriented wing of Mormonism appears to have been convinced that the Evan McMullin candidacy was somehow backed by the Clintons in order to keep Trump from winning Utah. This was evidenced by his past association with Goldman Sachs, the CIA, and the Council on Foreign Relations (a think tank which is apparently a secret combination plotting to overthrow the world).

    While I found Clinton a flawed candidate, I did not come to the same extreme conclusions about her that many Mormons around me did, and I spent a lot of time thinking about how we let our preexisting biases about someone influence how we interpret the evidence about them. Ironically, I think the best other example of someone who was accused of many things during his life, and whose supporters and detractors have very different ideas about the veracity of those accusations, is none other than Joseph Smith.

      1. Quentin

        Yes. I’m sorry if you found my comments somehow incongruous with the podcast discussion. I only meant to illustrate why I think many Mormons supported Trump despite finding him problematic, and mention some of the weird dynamics I observed in discussions about voting for third party candidates.

        I would also add that there was a lot of talk this year about Trumps lack of “political correctness” being a good thing, which is why it troubled me to hear the term used 2-3 times in recent years during general conference (in the context of condemning it). I predict it won’t be used from the pulpit again.

  2. clh

    I learned a lot from this podcast and the guests were insightful and well spoken. As a Utah Mormon who didn’t care for the republican or democratic candidates, one sentiment I heard strongly expressed by educated and conservative Mormon republicans was that despite how unsavory a candidate Trump was, the only reason to vote for him was for the candidates he would nominate to the Supreme Court, that they would reflect Mormon values vs those of Clinton.

  3. Kim

    Great podcast! I learned a lot and really appreciated how your guests took a longer/historical look at American politics in general. Very informative. It helped me gain a broader perspective. Yet it’s interesting too, that people vote from a place of emotion, not intellect. Personally, I am a disgusted that Trump won. It bothers me from both an emotional and intellectual stance. I had naively believed that women’s rights and equality had progressed much further than a president-elect Trump suggests.

    It seems to me that one of the driving factors for voting for Trump was the desire to “change Washington.” But it appears that people think that any change is better than the current system. It is entirely possible to have a change for the worse. I feel like putting Trump in politics because you want change is like putting an illiterate pedophile in charge of our educational system–that would definitely change the educational system, but it won’t solve the problems or make it better.

    My main hope now is that American Mormons, and all Americans, will stand up to any bullying, sexist behavior/speech, racist behavior/speech, etc. However, I worry that instead we will allow a little bad behavior and/or policies here, a little there, until our democracy is completely eroded.

    I was surprised at how this election affected my children. My 20 year old son said our new national anthem should be “Highway to Hell.” My 16 year old daughter said she thinks she should take self-defense lessons; she senses the threat. My 12 year old daughter was so excited thinking about how she could tell her grandchildren that her mother voted for the first female president. When she found out Trump had won, she said “what do we do now?” I told her we we show more kindness, we love more, we give a voice to the voiceless, we accept people more, and we stand up to bullies more. At least that’s a start.

    Again, awesome podcast. It really got me thinking.

  4. Mehrsa–thank you so much for your comments on the misogyny Hillary Clinton faced. That is exactly what I think, too.

    Fantastic podcast. Loved hearing the political history and the critique of both the Democratic and Republican parties. I had no idea that Johnson was so corrupt. I do have to ask–why do you say the Great Society did nothing for poor people? I’d heard that the Great Society was able to reduce poverty, though wasn’t able to eliminate it because the policies were too limited. I’m happy to read a reference if you don’t have time to respond directly.

  5. JJ

    Wow. Just wow! Perhaps the biggest echo chamber I’ve encountered in a long time. Everything said about Trump was the same BS that the media hashed out. And while Clinton may not have been praised, her blatant criminality and cronyism was given a blind eye. And please quit blaming white dudes. Most are actually decent folks!

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