So. The election happened. There were many surprises, most of them horrifying. And while my aim here is not to be too overtly political, there were a few trends among mormons I found… telling.
First, mormons across the country were deeply conflicted. I wrote to my dad in the days after Trump’s Access Hollywood tape went viral. He and I have never spoken much on the topic of politics. It’s always been a sore spot, mildly speaking, between us so as the good mid-Westerns we are, we mutually chose for many years not to speak of such things. But that tape was the last straw for me. I had to know where he stood. I knew that most mormons, my dad included were Republicans, in allegiance if not outright membership. And despite my own burning opinions regarding Trump, I wrote with sincerity to ask how my dad felt about the man and his policies. My dad thanked me for my thoughtful words (I wrote a 4 page diatribe) and told me he’d think on it and get back to me. He did. He told me that yes, he has always voted Republican, since that party aligns with his values, both moral and economic. He told me also that he could not stomach Trump, for many reasons (which he did not elucidate). Dad said he intended on writing in a third party candidate (which he did not say). I haven’t yet asked him who he actually voted for.
The night of the election brought us the results in Utah most of us who follow politics in the state expected: Trump took the state easily (46%), followed by a near split between Clinton (28%), and the Independent candidate, McMullin (21%). What became clear, both by these numbers and by anecdotal evidence, is that mormons experienced a crisis of identity this election.
Historically, being mormon has been culturally equivalent to being Republican, or at least on the political right wing. My own grandfather, my dad’s dad, ran and served in the Utah state House of Representatives as a Democrat, which educated me early on that Utah Democrats would be considered Republicans anywhere else in the country… or at least that was so in the 1980s and ‘90s. I had a bishop in my youth who supported McCain and Romney so overtly he preached their campaigns from the pulpit (needless to say, this display of reckless disregard for the separation of church and state and status of churches as apolitical organizations for tax exemption purposes disturbed me profoundly). And let’s not even get started on the church and Prop 8.
But as members of the church watched the ascension of Donald Trump through the primaries, they seem to have found two sides of their mormon identity at odds with each other. On one hand, Trump stands for many things that mormons embrace: conservative economic policies, legal restrictions of the LGBTAQ+ community, massive cuts to social programs for the disenfranchised, and so on. On the other, however, Trump is an outright bigot, misogynist, sexist, and racist. The modern mainstream Utah/ Brighamite (version of the) church is nothing if not PR friendly. One need only think of the frantic tap dancing shown in recent years over blacks in the priesthood and, in recent months, Mormon and Gay. Bottom line: mormons don’t want to APPEAR to be bigots. It’s not “chirst-like.” It’s not nice.
And yet, many members of the church are bigoted. Whether by conscious choice or through the twin mind fucks of blind obedience and institutionalized social phobias, the end result is the same: to condone is tantamount to support.
I have heard many stories of mormon women who voted for Clinton due to Trump’s terrifying displays of sexism (which are truly too many to enumerate). I have heard of many women who still voted for Trump even though they were fully aware of his stance on women and were hurt and disturbed by it. It is not for me to judge them or their motives. (For the record, I have no idea how my mother voted, though I suspect my dad had a hand in “helping” her decide). I will, however point out the glaring hypocrisy of this action by illuminating the unspoken dread felt by the leadership of the church over the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
Beyond her liberal policies, beyond her thoughts on women and abortion and gay people et al. and healthcare and immigration and all of that, Hillary Clinton is a powerful WOMAN. Love her or hate her, Hillary has a long and important career, a political career no less, and has been at the forefront of American politics and in the American cultural spotlight for as long as I’ve been alive. She is a woman of authority. And this, I think, is what troubles the church (and many of its members) so deeply: the figure of a authoritative woman wielding real power.
Women in the mormon church are taught from birth to be sweet and charitable and chaste and above all else, totally and unquestioningly obedient to men, be they husbands or leaders. While boys receive the priesthood at the ridiculously young age of 12, girls are denied these “superpowers” and instead are taught that their very eternal salvation depends of their husband literally deciding if he wants to call them across the veil. Women have no say whatsoever in church policies or institutions. Even the Relief Society and Primary are entirely subservient to male supervision.
Mormons hate Hillary because they are afraid of what she represents: the idea that a woman can lead, can not only determine the course of her own life but the lives of other women and (gasp!) men. The church will never change this policy of forcing submission upon women (the Ordain Women movement is utter bullshit in my opinion - why gild something that’s fundamentally broken?). And if they do, it will only be due, as with the priesthood and other issues, to immense external pressures and not by way of divine revelation. Such a sea change will prove once again the complete falsehood of the church’s cult of control.
Those of us who stand outside the mormon church and see it for what it is have a responsibility to help others - current members and never-Mo’s alike - see just how dangerous the church can be in the political and social arena, for national elections and the lives of individual women. The mormon church is just as sexist and misogynistic as the candidate they wouldn’t publicly endorse. And I, for one, won’t ever let them forget it.
It is the conventional wisdom that the Mexica Triple Alliance, or Aztec Empire as it is commonly refered to, was broken and destroyed by the Spanish in 1521, and the last rule, Cuauhtémoc, imprisoned and eventually executed several years later. And for practical purposes, this might as well be true. What the conventional histories generally leave out, however, is the attempt at continuing the Aztec rule by a small cadre of rouge Mexica who fled into the Sierra Madres.
They were led by the younger brother of Cuauhtémoc, Cloacatakaka, who claimed to have inherited rulership of the Empire upon his brother’s capture, and later refused to recognize the rights of Tlacotzin, the puppet ruler chosen by Cortes. Numbering some thousand men, women and children, with a core force of 200 Jaguar and Eagle Warriors, Cloacatakaka’s band continued to wage a small guerrilla war against the Spanish occupiers of their country, launching raids from their mountain base to harass the Spanish and steal supplies as needed. Their early successes led to many more people to flee into the mountains, and by 1540, the Aztec “Empire” numbered almost 5,000, mostly housed in their fortified city in the mountains, with several smaller settlements spread up the range to the north.
It was in 1548 that, finally fed up with the nuisance, that the Vicroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, organized an expedition to wipe out the rogue Aztecs once and for all. Led by Nalgas de la Cabeza, the force included an entire 3,000 man Tercio bolstered with a native levy of nearly 10,000 men. Well placed informants in the levies however were able to discover the plans, and the Aztecs were well forewarned. A cunning ambush was prepared in the approaches to the Sierra Madres, including several cannons that had been pilfered over the years, not to mention several hundred smaller firearms now wielded with expert precision.
With cavalier lack of concern given their opinion of Aztec abilities, the Spanish marched directly into the trap, and suffered accordingly. Several hundred of the Spaniards were cut down within the first hour, and the majority of the native levies fled in terror, while many that remained on the field did so in order to turn on the Spanish. It was an utter rout, compounded thricefold when the Aztec unleashed a well coordinated cavalry charge on the retreating forces - a total surprise to the Spanish, who did not know the Aztec had built up a stock of horses. It would be two months before a new attempt was made, and although better preparation avoided such a disastrous pitfall a second time, it took several weeks of hard fighting before the Spanish forced the passes and reached the new Aztec capital of Technotitlan.
Not one to admit defeat, Cloacatakaka was last seen in the thick of the fighting, with his elite Tiger Warriors, but all were eventually cut down. Their stand was not in vain, and served as an effective rear guard action for a significant portion of the population to flee and disperse. Aztec power in the Sierra Madres was finally broken, but several smaller bands, stretching from modern Chihuahua almost to the border of modern Utah, continued to fight on, although were never able to project any of the regional power held by Cloacatakaka. These Aztec warbands would be merely a minor thorn in the side of the Spanish, and interband squabbles over leadership and the true heir of the Aztec Emperorship served to further reduce their effectiveness. One by one the bands were eliminated, but it would be until 1649 that the last strain of Aztec resistance would be fully eliminated, with the ambush of Zappatafranka’s small group in the Nacimiento Mountains. Captured alive Zappatafranka would be summarily executed the next morning, July 17th, the last claimant of the Aztec Throne to have asserted his right through force.