Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Reaching out to the Dead: Why Romney was a Huge Missed Opportunity for McCain

Many people are wondering why the McCain camp apparently leaked information hinting at Romney as his running mate if that was not the plan all along. For you puzzled LDS folks who got your hopes up, here's the secret story behind all that. The leak was a strategic move aimed at probing the response of one of the most important voter groups in modern elections: the deceased.

You might be surprised to hear how important the dead vote is these days. It's something of secret due to heavily biased reporting. After all, the vast majority of reporters and editors employed in the media are living, giving rise to a heavy pro-living, anti-dead bias in their political reporting. But more and more deceased voters are turning out and playing a role that may be even more important in 2008 than it was in 2004.

Romney was expected to be popular among dead voters partly because he is a member of a Church with a tremendous outreach program to the dead. The LDS and early Christian concept of "baptism for the dead" actually has significant political consequences on the other side, according to some pundits. With LDS missionary work on the other side and proxy baptisms being performed, you can imagine that the Church is well known. Actually, the LDS missionary work there looks a lot like free counseling and socializing. Even many who have no interest in the religious message enjoy the attention and occasional "love bombing" they get, though the Church certainly has its critics among the dead.

Here in Wisconsin, our politicians know that they need the dead vote to win. In the last presidential election, for example, anti-dead bigots (a handful of Republicans in this case) cried fowl when Milwaukee reported 4500 more votes than there were registered voters in the 2004 election. How could there be more than 100% voter turn out in such a large city? Easy -- the officially reported registered voters excluded the dead, almost like they were non-entities. But this institutional bigotry didn't keep them from turning out to vote.

The so-called "pro-living" forces called it "voter fraud" when they knew full well that they were actually seeking to disenfranchise the dead. If anyone has given their all to build up this country, it's the dead, and the least we can do is to let them vote without railing against them and spreading anti-dead bigotry. Let them vote and rest in peace. But no, the anti-dead used their political machine to drive an "anti voter fraud" bill through Wisconsin's legislature, a bill which required some allegedly minimal form of ID for voters to vote. Sounded nice in theory, but it was thinly veiled anti-dead bigotry, exploiting their natural inability to use tangible ID that the living take for granted. The anti-dead contingent cried fowl when Governor Doyle vetoed the bill. But Doyle, to his credit, remained true to his promise to make the votes of each voter count. Especially those who have already given their all (and kept giving quite a lot after death as well, thanks to probate and our high estate tax).

Anyway, McCain floated the Romney idea to see what kind of lift it gave him among the dead. The lift, unfortunately, was obscured by bad polling. Instead of sampling both sides of the spirit world, paradise and that other place, lazy pollsters just surveyed the other place where the elections and polls tend to be highly rigged. The Romney balloon popped, even though he could have brought in a lot of valuable dead voters.

I try to stay away from politics on this blog, especially given my profound distaste for party politics and for both major parties, but the theological aspects of the presidential campaign demand attention.

What's done is done, but if McCain had gone with Romney, could the LDS angle make a difference in the 2008 election? At least for Wisconsin, the statistics are impressive: 74% of deceased Wisconsin voters surveyed said they have positive feelings about the Church for its outreach efforts to the dead. While 87% of dead prospective voters surveyed planned to vote for Obama, when asked how they would feel about a Mormon Vice President, 36% of the deceased pro-Obama forces said they would consider switching their vote to McCain. And nearly two-thirds of those willing to switch in favor a Mormon VP indicated that they would vote more than once. Finally, over 53% of the dead surveyed said they would vote for a Mormon presidential candidate regardless of party affiliation. Harry Reid, take note.

To gain further insights, we interviewed one frequent deceased voter, a man who for reasons of personal privacy asked only to be identified as "Bob from Wisconsin." Bob helped settle central Wisconsin in the 1840s, and while he was apathetic about politics at the time of his death in 1868, in recent years he has become a frequent voter. He voted eight times in the 2004 presidential election.
Mormanity: Bob, have you heard of the LDS Church?

Bob: You bet! I'm Lutheran, but I've had the missionary discussions about thirty times over the past century and have been to some of their meetings over here. A bit different, but the people are great.

Mormanity: Are you aware of LDS baptism for the dead?

Bob: Aware of it? Hah! I've been baptized by them at least 16 times. I've got distant Mormon relatives all over the country now, and they keep duplicating my work, failing to check the records and see that I've already been taken care of. Way too much, if you ask me.

Mormanity: It's a nuisance?

Bob: Sure is! Every baptism means I get another little message informing me -- kind of like e-mail, you know -- about the . . . Ooops, I'm not supposed to talk about details here. Never mind.

Mormanity: So you're not Lutheran, but have positive feelings about the LDS Church, apart from some redundant baptismal work -- is that right?

Bob: Sure, they're about the only group among the living the really seems to treat us as more than just a name to use for occasional elections.

Mormanity: So if there were a Mormon candidate, would you vote for him?

Bob: I think so. All else being equal.

Mormanity: What about a vice presidential candidate? Would that change things?

Bob: I'm not following this campaign too closely, but it might.

Mormanity: What if I told you that a Mormon had been named as the running mate of --

Bob: Don't tell me that Hillary picked Harry Reid! I'm all for Hillary, but Harry's a different story. That guy -- was he really baptized Mormon?

Mormanity: No, I'm talking about Mitt Romney for the Republicans. For McCain.

Bob: Whew, I didn't see that coming. Romney, eh? Well, Maybe. Might consider it. Will that be on CNN tonight?

Mormanity: Maybe - at the moment it's just reliable speculation possibly leaked by insiders in the McCain campaign.
And there you have it.

Don't underestimate the impact of the dead in the election this year. Though both parties will operate under the handicap of not having a direct LDS connection, we may still hear party spokesman preparing the faithful for election day by chanting that famous old campaign motto: "bring out your dead, bring out your dead." I just hope the media (not just the mediums) will be more open about it so the dead won't feel like second-class citizens.


Anonymous said...

Oh come on, you know that only dead people in Chicago can vote. Heck, in 1960 Mayor Daley was able to get dead people to vote 3 maybe 4 times for Kennedy!

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff.

"Vote early, vote often," I always say. But if you don't have time for that, getting dead voters to vote works to. What else they got to do on election day.

Anonymous said...

It would be funnier if there weren't so much truth to this! It's not just the dead - it's the illegals, too.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your wit, Jeff!

And, oh, yes, the dead do vote in Chicago. I live in the western suburbs. A friend went into the city to take her elderly Mom to vote in the last presidential election, and saw from the slip in the book that her Dad had already voted. But her Dad had been dead over a decade! Her Mom is now deceased as well, and I wonder if she is also still voting. By the way, in Chicago, the dead tend to vote a straight Democratic ticket, for some odd reason.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the child vote. Why should we make them wait until they are 18 (The Mormon and Catholic vote would probably become much more important). Maybe we should take the lead from some of the role model democratic nations...like Iran.

A friend and co-worker of mine grew up in Iran and remembers that he and his cousins voted repeatedly for his uncle to become mayor of their town. It went something like this... wait in line to vote, cast your vote, and then run to the back of the line to vote again. This went on all afternoon, but his uncle still lost the election. His theory was that his uncle's opponent had even more kids voting for him.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, Jeff. Statistics show that 83% of all statistics are made up on the spot. How can we trust those you've given here? Can you reference a journal article? Such as "The Quick and the Dead: Differences in Voting Patterns Among the Pre- and Post-Deceased" J. Elysian Field Studies, 13: 666 (2005).

Jeff Lindsay said...

The study I cited had an accuracy of plus or minus 2%, so the numbers can't possibly be very far from the truth. Isn't that all you need to know, more or less?

Bookslinger said...

The new voter fraud is absentee ballots. That way you can get those in nursing homes, and state mental hospitals.

Bookslinger said...

Oh, and _legal_ immigrant communities too.

I liked how one Chinese enclave, enough to make up a voting precinct, in New York city had 100% voter turnout and all voted a straight dem ticket. And how hardly anyone in that precinct spoke English.

Anonymous said...

Jeff you never cease to amaze me your comment about Reid had me in tears (note I live in Nevada so I've had to put up with him my whole life)
keep them coming it's good to know that you still have your sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah one thing you might want to note to the dead vote is that there's plenty of space in the cabinet for Mitt and he'd even have more power then he would as vp.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. LOL

Considering the Dem candidate 'sees dead people' (Memorial Day comment) I have a feeling the dead will be turning out in record numbers this election.

In the last three elections a local Dem candidate has won by 26, 21 and 20 votes. This is a strongly Republican area. This last one though, had many dead people voting and should end up with said candidate behind bars... or is that in bars?


I've very disenchanted with our two-party system myself.

Jason said...

The film THE PRINCESS BRIDE (yes, that oft-quoted wonderfilm of LDS subculture) refers to the "mostly dead". Having served my mission in the Phoenix area and later lived there for 3 years, I met many people that could very well be considered "mostly dead". I think their votes should count in the dead camp as well.

Great entry, I had to double-check the URL just to make sure I wasn't really on The Onion!!

Confutus said...

Politically speaking, I think most people in most places in the US are mostly dead. However, it seems you have to get them all the way there to get them either baptized or voting. Is it cheating to hurry them along?

Anonymous said...

In the 2000 election, Gore carried New Mexico by about 250 dead people in Las Cruces. I never learned what the alien vote in Roswell was. I suspect that, in2004 at least, they were Kerry voters.

Anonymous said...

He may get a second shot at it now that Palin has announced that her unwed daughter is pregnant.

Anonymous said...

Do the dead really care since they have it better than us?!
Well,at least some of them do!
My son said with Romney out the scene is hollywood! MOSES:OBAMA.KHAN-BIDEN(star trek)
YODA-McCain(star wars),MOTHER TERESA-Palin!
Do we really want Mitt limked to
McMcain...I don't because Iam anti-
dead if your alive! And McCain is dead talking,looking,etc.! gene

Anonymous said...

Well, I am miffed that Georgia was left out of the polling. Not only do the dead vote, sometimes they vote for both parties!

Of course, being a living being I can't say fershure why the dead switch sides like that, but I am sure I will find out when I get to the other side.

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like maybe Chicago has embraced vicarious works.

1 Cornyithians 15:29

Else what shall they do which are voting for the dead, if the dead vote not at all? why then do they vote for the dead?

Rob Higginbotham said...

I believe you may find many voters still hanging out in the Cave of Caerbannog on the Chicago side of Gary, but beware lest the voters try to smite thee with the ever faithful Staff of Diebold.

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago I ran into you coming out of the Chicago temple with your son. I hope the photos came out OK. I think back over the years and realize that I have done a lot to help the dead register to vote. I just hope they appreciate the favor and vote for my candidate.

Richard G

Mose said...

If the dead can vote, why can't I? ...Maybe Romney can help get the voting age lowered...