LDS politicians should not lose focus
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we teach positive values, we teach standing above the crowd, we teach being in the world but not of the world.
And we teach the importance of upholding the standards taught us by leaders and exemplars.
All of which is why, when Jon Huntsman Jr. first announced his intention to conduct a campaign for president that would be civil, that would be respectful of his opponents, we applauded.
Win or lose, Huntsman seemed to say, he was going to conduct himself as befitting a member of the Church. He planned to take the higher ground, to avoid the slanders, the put downs and the cheap shots that normally characterize campaigns. He intended to be better.
And then political reality struck.
To say Huntsman’s subsequent trail to a hoped-for presidential nomination has been rocky is an understatement. He has weathered accusations against his religious affiliation, comparisons to his LDS opponent and criticism of the way he’s run his campaign.
None of which is surprising, since every presidential hopeful these days is exposed to intense scrutiny and constant assault, both from the media and opponents.
Huntsman, however, did not take the attacks in stride. He appeared to become convinced his announced plan to play the presidential game with civility backfired.
He tossed out what he seemed to believe was a tired excuse for a campaign strategy and has taken a more aggressive stance.
It all started when Susie Wiles, the campaign manager, parted ways with Huntsman’s team. In her place came the former communications director, Matt David.
With new blood came new tactics.
A statement by John Weaver, Huntsman’s top adviser, appeared in the Deseret News discussing this change in leadership.
“Now the campaign is moving into phase two, which will be more aggressive from a messaging and tactical standpoint,” Weaver said, “and Matt is prepared to take that on.”
“More aggressive”? Translation: Huntsman is willing to start playing dirty.
He didn’t wait long. In a “confidential” strategy memo sent to prominent donors (and apparently CNN, but that couldn’t have been intentional) Huntsman and his team listed several opponents by name and detailed their weaknesses.
The tone of the memo made it clear the Huntsman team did not think highly of his competitors.
“While many of Jon’s opponents have essentially been campaigning for presidency for years,” the memo read, “the rest of the field is very weak.”
It then went on to list the names of other prominent presidential hopefuls like Mitt Romney, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
So much for higher standards.
Some have openly worried an LDS president would turn into a puppet for President Thomas S. Monson. That would never happen, and it isn’t what we hope will happen.
But Huntsman would be wise to remember the things he’s already learned from people like President Monson and other Church leaders, who are much wiser and much more experienced than him.
President Monson, for example, knows the greatest success isn’t found in the Oval Office.
“Nothing will bring greater joy and success than to live according to the teachings of the gospel,” President Monson said.
That is the success Huntsman and Romney and any other LDS politician should look for. Winning is good, but winning while adhering to your standards is even better.
A presidential term is four years. Values are eternal.
This editorial represents the opinion of The Daily Universe editorial board. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.