According to a Gallup poll, 84 percent of Mormons who are registered to vote in the United States plan to vote for Romney. As the icon of today’s Republican ideals, Mitt Romney does seem to be the face of the overwhelming majority of Mormons in this country.
However, while Romney is the face of 84 percent of Mormons in the United States, it may be that 84 percent of Mormons in the United States are not the face of Mormonism.
Mormons may be renowned for a legendary culture of self-reliance, but a distinctly collectivist philosophy is at the core of Mormonism. Joseph Smith experimented with collectivism in early Mormon communities. The great Mormon exodus of some 16,000 Mormons to the Salt Lake Valley between 1846 and 1850 was an exercise in the able giving to the unable without an expectation of a return in kind. The ongoing migration to Utah of thousands until 1886 was facilitated by a take-and-replenish program that floated financial assistance to migrants all along the route from Europe to New York to St. Louis to Salt Lake City.
Brigham Young established several settlements in the American West that practiced varying degrees of communal living. Some communities in Young’s Utah were designed specifically to accommodate the arrival of destitute immigrants from the East and from Europe—to house and feed them until Young could issue the immigrants a labor assignment in another community, suited to the trade skills they brought from their homelands. From the outset of the Mormon presence in Salt Lake City, Young prohibited settlers from subdividing or selling the carefully uniform plots of land that were distributed by lottery. Nineteenth-century Mormon Utah may have been the biggest, most successful implementation of socialism in American history.
(See also related Daily Beast story.)