Bob Bernick’s notebook: Will Mormon Republicans do the right thing on Prop. 4?

It’s been reported before on that Utah Republicans and faithful Mormons face difficult choices when it comes to supporting Republican President Donald Trump.

How do you square your political and Christian beliefs with such a morally deficient man?

But now Republican Mormons have another choice this year: Do you support Prop. 4, the bi-partisan, independent redistricting commission that may be good for Utahns overall, but harmful to your own political party’s power in the Legislature?

A new Dan Jones & Associates poll finds that Republicans and “very active” Mormons are wavering on Prop 4.

Utahns overall support the initiative, 52-18 percent, with 30 percent undecided.

But Republicans are starting to realize that Prop. 4 would take away from their party bosses/lawmakers the power to gerrymander U.S. House and legislative seats to the advantage of Republican officeholders.

Republican support for Prop. 4 – the Better Boundaries initiative – has fallen to 41 percent in favor, 24 percent against, with a large 35 percent undecided.

Meanwhile, “very active” Mormon support – somewhat following the GOP trend – is down to 42 percent support, 21 percent oppose, with 36 percent “don’t know.” Back in May, Jones found that 52 percent of “very active” Mormons supported the Better Boundaries initiative.

If you were to ask Utahns if state legislators should be redrawing their own districts – picking their own voters – after every Census, by far most would say no.

It is better to take such a clear conflict of interest away from legislators and give it to some independent group.

However, the Utah state Constitution, like others in our nation, specifically gives the responsibility of redistricting to lawmakers.

Utahns can’t change their own Constitution. The initiative process can’t do that. Only the Legislature can change the Constitution, with two-thirds vote, and approval of the voters in a general election.

The majority party in the Legislature is not going to amend the Constitution to take away the power to pick their own voters.

Not going to happen.

So, like other states have, citizens via the initiative process (Better Boundaries) is asking voters to adopt a new law that would give the power to recommend to lawmakers an independent redistricting plan, picked by a seven-member bipartisan, independent commission.

Now, under Prop. 4, legislators would still have to pass a redistricting plan. But if lawmakers don’t pick the Prop. 4 plan then there are well-crafted handcuffs, leading to court decisions, which almost assuredly would make it politically mandatory that lawmakers and governor adopt the Prop. 4 plan – which takes blatant gerrymandering off the table.

So, what do Republican Mormons do?

Do they vote for Prop. 4 come Nov. 6?

That is clearly what is best for Utahns as a whole; for who condones gerrymandering – the self-interest of a political party over the good of the citizenry?

Or do GOP Mormons pick party politics over what’s right?

If Democrats were in control of state government in Utah, I would be asking the same question of active Democratic Mormons.

For maybe they would be wavering in their support of Prop. 4, as well.

Politics and religion.

On Prop. 4, will Republican Mormons Choose The Right?