BY EMMA EDEN RAMOS
Political commentator and comedian Bill Maher may have been right when he announced, about a month or so before the election, on his show Real Time with Bill Maher, that the Republican Party can no longer consider itself the "Socially Conservative Party." Republican candidate and, now, President-elect Donald Trump has been caught on tape agreeing with Howard Stern that his own daughter Ivanka is a "Piece of ass," and has been quoted saying that pregnancy is an "inconvenience." Finally, he was recorded in 2005 bragging about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it, because, as he put it, "When you’re a star they let you do it." It strikes me as a contradiction that, despite all the evidence excluding Trump from the socially conservative category, 88 percent of evangelical voters, notorious value voters, backed him as their nominee.
Perhaps socially conservative pundits like Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity—to name a few—played a role in securing the evangelical vote. Trump’s misleading comment in the final debate that doctors provide abortions for women in their ninth month of pregnancy likely struck fear in the community and, as a result, contributed to his popularity among that demographic. Trump may have ironically seemed like the lesser of two evils to voters who hold tight to their religious convictions when selecting a presidential candidate.
I don't want to take issue with evangelical voters. It seems that irresponsible reporting, lack of fact checking on the part of the conservative media, and the fear mongering created by Trump’s campaign are at least in part to blame. Many fundamentalist Christians did not have a representative political figure (or figures) correcting the non-stop misinformation being spewed by Trump and his cronies. There is, however, a socially conservative religious group that needs to be called out for the hypocrisy of their vote.
Last June, 2012 Republican presidential nominee and proud member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), Mitt Romney, made waves within his political party by openly opposing Trump’s candidacy. "Presidents," Romney explained in a sit-down interview with Wolf Blitzer, "have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny, all these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America." Mitt Romney became something of a political pariah and, for a moment, it seemed as though he had sacrificed his career to maintain his integrity.
In 2005, the same year Donald Trump bragged on Access Hollywood about groping women, I was at a small, all-girls boarding school in Utah, a state that is 60 percent Mormon. The school, which I won't name, wasn't a "Mormon school." It had no religious affiliation, but with the exception of one person, the entire staff was Mormon. While there was only occasional mention of Prophet Joseph Smith and the Angel Moroni, LDS values and ways of living resonated throughout the school.
We weren't allowed to drink caffeinated beverages, we couldn't watch most PG-13 movies because they depicted and, therefore encouraged, unwholesome behavior, or listen to "crude" music—the word "shit" was enough to get a song banned. Talking about sex would get a student put on "Communication block," a time-out of sorts where one could not speak for two to six hours, depending on the graphic nature of the conversation.
When I mention the rules and regulations under which we lived at my boarding school, people ask how it was possible for the staff to police us to the extent that our private conversations and interactions were so well monitored. It's simple. After a while, we learned to monitor one another and, finally, ourselves. Personal integrity, defined by LDS Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "Is to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason—at any cost." Integrity is a core Mormon value. At my boarding school, the deeply religious staff members could not help preaching the importance of doing the right thing, no matter the cost.
Until Nov. 8, I defended the Church of Ladder Day Saints. In 2008, I even tried to explain to my liberal friends why Proposition 8 was not meant as an attack on the LGBTQ Community, a community of which I am a member. As far as I'm concerned, the Utah vote in this past election, as of now, Trump is ahead by 177,000 popular votes, has seriously damaged the religion's integrity.
The state even had its own candidate, Evan McCullin, running on the ballot. Yes, a vote for McCullin would have been a protest vote, but it would have been a protest against a morally unfit Republican candidate. On Nov. 8, the majority of voters in Utah did not do the right thing, for the right reason, regardless of the cost. They sold out and backed a candidate who has little-to-no personal integrity.
I have no plans to return to Utah. If I do, however, I will not go out of my way to hide my sexuality, watch my mouth and keep my political beliefs private in an effort to be respectful. We are living in a time where the term "Value voter" is no longer synonymous with "Republican." If you consider yourself socially conservative but voted for Donald Trump, you are seriously misguided. These next four years will be a rude awakening.
Emma Eden Ramos is the author of two novels and one poetry chapbook. Ramos' novels have been reviewed in The San Francisco Book Review, The Roanoke Times and other well-known papers. Ramos' poetry chapbook was shortlisted for the Independent Literary Award in 2011. Ramos has written for Agnes Films Journal, Women Writers, Women['s] Books, Luna Luna Magazine and other publications. She has had her writing mentioned at RogerEbert.com, Examiner.com, and on WBAI 99.5 Pacifica Radio. Ramos occasionally writes book reviews. Her most recent, a review of a collection of poems, was republished in The British Mensa Society's Arts and Literature journal. Ramos studied psychology at Marymount Manhattan College. She is currently teaching at a high school in New York City.