by Carissa Wolf
What do Mormons and Democrats have in common?
A lot, Mistie Tolman and Lisa Perry said.
Tolman and Perry share a lot in common. They’re both blue ladies in a red state. The two Idaho natives like to rock a Congressional candidate Nicole LeFavour campaign T-shirt and get out the vote. And by their own admission, they’re "recovering Mormons."
But their Mormon values still run deep – so deep they needed an outlet. And they found that outlet in the Democratic Party.
“Mormon values more closely align with that of the Democratic Party than those of the Republican Party. Mormons and Democrats both take care of each other. Mormons and Democrats are both blue collar, hard-working people,” Tolman said.
Tolman said the Democratic Party shares many of the values held by Mormons – ex, recovering or practicing. But Tolman, who also identifies herself as a recovering Republican, said most of her former LDS congregants aligned with the GOP.
“(Mormons) have a strict policy to not preach from the pulpit,” Tolman said.
“However …” Tolman and Perry said in unison.
“Every once in a while politics sneaks in,” Tolman said.
Tolman recalled an LDS bishop reading a letter in favor of a proposition that would have denied marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. The letter, Tolman guessed, came straight from Salt Lake City.
“I never quite got it,” said Perry.
When Tolman and Perry rattle off the list of Mormon values, they said they still find those same values on the Democratic platform.
Mormons place a premium on hard work. And ditto for the Democrats, the two say.
Education? You’ll find dual Mormon-Democratic support for that, too.
And families? Mormons love their families and family values, Tolman said. And Democrats value family, no matter what form it comes in, she said.
Tolman and Perry weren’t the only blue ladies that made the Mormon-Democratic connection. They looked around the Democratic headquarters for Mormons and the ex-LDS that found a haven in Idaho’s minority party. There’s one, there’s one, and there’s another one, they said, fingers pointing.
Lucy Juarez considers herself rooted in Mormonism via her Republican mother’s LDS upbringing. She credits her Mormon foundation for pushing her toward the Democratic Party. It started with all of that family time Mormons value, she said.
“It kind of just evolved from the way my parents raised us," said Juarez. "We would have conversations around the dinner table and we would talk about what was in the news. We talked a lot about the greater community. How can you only worry about yourself and not your neighbor? And that goes back to core Mormon values – concern for your neighbor, the community, and others.”
And Democratic values, Tolman added.
Tolman hails from 83709 – that’s South Boise, and for those unfamiliar with the Mormon map, there are a lot of Wards out there. It wasn’t easy for a young woman surrounded by the Mormon GOP to leave the church and the politics. Some from Tolman’s family refused to speak to her once she turned blue. And they’re still not talking.
“They’re good people,” she said of her family and the faithful. Tolman pauses. “It’s amazing to go from love with conditions to people who just love you for exactly who you are,” Tolman said of her Democratic family.
“And they give you the exact same rights and opportunities as anyone else!” Juarez added.
Tolman knows that some Mormons don’t get the Democratic connection. That’s OK, she said.
“The, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ conversation doesn’t work,” Perry said.
But Tolman does have a word of advice for the LDS faithful.
“Vote for Nicole. She will make Idaho better for Idahoans and Mormons!”