Imagine, for a moment, that you are Mitt Romney.
Born to a governor of the Motor State, you are positioned early for a life of prominence, especially visible among one sect of Americans.
The Beehive State paid notice to the scion of this political dynasty. Of the hive, but outside the hive, Mitt caught the eye of Latter-day Saint leadership, and the imagination of the members, who whispered among themselves that this could be the “one, mighty and strong.” Mitt Romney, as the word went, would be the one to fulfill the White Horse Prophecy.
What’s the White Horse Prophecy? The Prophet, Joseph Smith, experienced many revelations in his lifetime. Some became doctrine. Some became advice. And some were deemed fabrication. The White Horse Prophecy was the latter. My great-great-grandfather, Joseph F. Smith confirmed, when he led the church, that the prophecy was false.
Nevertheless, the whispers continued ...
One dark day, so the prophecy went, in a time of worldwide financial and political catastrophe, the U.S. Constitution would hang by a thread as fine as the finest silk. Only the Latter-day Saints – the White Horse of the parable – could save the country. It was commonly believed that the mechanism by which the country would be saved was the presidency, and the ascendance to that office of a Latter-day Saint.
Mitt, for his part, says he’s never believed it. I take him at his word. He doesn’t. And yet ...
Imagine, for a moment, that you are Mitt Romney. Throughout your entire life, certain people have approached you with a kind of reverence. They’ve said to you – some joking, some with deference – that they believe you are the one to save the Constitution when it hangs by that fine silk thread.
Even though you don’t believe it, some part of you must wonder. Could it be true? Did my prophet, Joseph Smith — God’s chosen instrument on Earth — foretell my existence 104 years before I was born?
Flash forward to 2010, a time of worldwide financial and political turmoil. Conservative media is apoplectic with stories of death panels and government takeovers. More than two-thirds of the Saints suspect the president is not really a U.S. Citizen.
One man is uniquely positioned to ascend.
Mitt’s shot at the presidency was dubbed the “Mormon Moment,” and the Latter-day Saints rallied behind him. They said nothing in public, but amongst themselves a narrative quietly fermented. Didn’t it all fit so perfectly? Wasn’t the Constitution itself hanging by a thread?
Mitt didn’t even write a concession speech, so certain he had become in his own ascendancy. His shock in the aftermath was palpable as he offered to pray for the country.
The defeat was particularly crushing to those Mormons who just knew that Mitt was the one. Even those that said the prophecy was false still believed the central tenant — the one about the Constitution — was indeed once spoken by Joseph Smith. Brigham Young himself bore witness to that.
Flash Forward to today; an executive refusing to comply with congressional oversight while stonewalling the judicial branch. A genuine constitutional crisis.
Once again, one man is uniquely positioned. Eyes are turning again, only this time it’s the eyes of outsiders. Americans, who have never heard of the White Horse Prophecy, are suddenly wondering, could Mitt Romney be the one? Could he rally the 20 senators needed to end the crisis and save our Constitution?
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
To be “the one” meant to be rewarded. By virtue of your ascendancy you would vanquish the evil and get to be president all in one. You got to lead the free world and usher in the Mormon Renaissance.
But have we learned nothing from our scriptures, and those great men who inhabit their pages?
To be the one means your closest friends will deny you. Your chosen media will crucify you. Your own tribe will demand you be destroyed.
All your life you’ve been told you are the one. You never believed it. You still don’t. And yet ...
Imagine, for a moment, that you are Mitt Romney ...
Ben Rolly is the great-great-grandson of two presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant. He is also the son of longtime Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly. He works in communications and lives in Long Beach, Calif.