Five Reasons Why I’m Voting for Romney

My vote won’t matter at all in California, but I sent in my ballot last week anyway, voting for Mitt Romney. Am I super excited about everything Romney stands for? Not at all. I’m uncomfortable with his Mormon faith, regret that he supports drone strikes & the use of torture, and absolutely wince when he says things like “America is the hope of the earth.”

I’m also not one of those people who thinks Obama is an unqualified disaster of a president. I like a lot of things about him and had high hopes for his presidency four years ago. I think he’s a good guy, a family man, and not the villain the Ann Coulter Fox News crazies would label him.

But for this moment in America, I think it’s wise to switch course and give Romney a chance. Here are a few of my personal reasons for voting for him:

Abortion. I’m pro-life and this will always be a deal-breaker for me. Fighting for the “reproductive right” to destroy a living being will always be sickening to me, and I’ve been particularly sickened this year with the Democrats’ tactic of equating the pro-life cause with some sort of “war against women.” That’s just silly and makes disturbing light of the real issue: the war on unborn children, which takes more than 1.2 million lives a year in America.

The Economy: I have real concerns about the U.S. economy, both in its current state and its long-term viability. And so much else depends on a solid, growing economy: national security, the effectiveness of our foreign policy, our education system, the plight of the poor, and so on. The federal government is addicted to accumulating debt and spending money that isn’t there. On the track of spending and debt-accumulation we’re currently on, the world my children will inherit will look something like the landscape of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Dire. I have hopes that Mitt Romney’s business-savvy and focus on private-sector growth and job creation will prove much more effective for America’s economic recovery and long-term fiscal stability.

Religious Liberty. The HHS mandate, which went into effect this year as part of Obamacare and which forces religious institutions to cover contraceptives (including abortifacients such as the morning-after pill and the week-after pill), represents a disturbing narrowing of the government’s understanding of religious liberty. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed (including by my own employer, Biola University) by religious organizations of various stripe, including both Protestant and Catholic Christian schools, nonprofits and companies fighting to retain their religious classification/exemption. What’s frightening is the extent to which Obama’s administration has narrowed the understanding of who qualifies for a religious exemption: apparently a Bible-focused Christian university like Biola and a Bible-publisher like Tyndale House are not “religious” enough to qualify. Only churches are. In what universe does that make sense? I agree with Alan Jacobs when he notes that the government’s position “suggests a move to confine freedom of religion to freedom of worship… to confine religion to a disembodied, Gnostic realm of private worship and thought. Even those who support abortion and contraception should not want to see the government defining religion maximally as private thought and belief. The social costs of that restriction will, in the long run and perhaps even in the short, be catastrophic, because churches and other religious institutions have long been attentive to ‘the least of these’ — the ones that government habitually neglects or even tramples underfoot.”

“The Least of These”: As a Christian, I want to vote for the president who I believe will be better for the most vulnerable and suffering in the world, the “least of these” (Matt. 25:40). I believe that person is Mitt Romney, because of the abortion issue but also because I believe he will get the American economy back on track and will help create a more jobs-friendly business environment, where real opportunity is created and government dependency (which only perpetuates cycles of suffering) is reduced. I also have hopes that Romney will empower religious institutions and faith-based charities where Obama alienated them, allowing them to do the humanitarian work they already do and want to continue doing. Meanwhile, on Obama’s watch, the welfare state has grown substantially and spending on means-tested welfare programs has increased by a third in just four years, to an all time high cost of $1 trillion a year. Obama’s own budget plans estimate this cost to rise to $1.56 trillion by 2022. Where is this money going to come from? Also, food stamps have surged, with 71 percent more spending on the program in 2011 than in 2008. This explosion in federal spending on welfare is simply not a sustainable solution. Furthermore, government handouts do not address the systemic issues and underlying economic woes that are the true scourge of the poor and low-income in America. Building a stronger economy and creating jobs is a much better long-term solution to helping bring people out of poverty.

Bipartisan Efficacy: I thought one of Romney’s most encouraging lines in the third debate came in his closing moments, when he pledged to work across the aisle and help facilitate cooperation in a divided, broken Washington. Of course Obama made this a big talking point in his 2008 election as well, and look how that turned out. But Romney actually has a history of doing it, having successfully governed Massachusetts as a Republican when the state legislature was 87% Democrat. People often criticize Romney for being vague or flip-flopping, which is a valid critique; but when it comes to Washington and fostering a cooperative, productive government, inflexibility (on both sides) is disastrous. We need a leader who can build consensus in a climate where political divisiveness and belligerence lead to fiscal negligence (see the 2011 debt ceiling crisis). Maybe its naive, but I sense that Romney will be a better politician and dealmaker as president than Obama was, and I think we need someone new to perhaps break the stalemate.

Will Romney win? Probably not. But that’s democracy, and that’s OK. My hopes are not pinned on either candidate, nor on any political party or government. My hopes are fixed on Jesus Christ, who reigns supreme over all things, now and forevermore, regardless of who is in the White House.

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24 responses to “Five Reasons Why I’m Voting for Romney

  1. I have problems with both candidates, and if I can’t vote in good conscience, I don’t want to vote for either of them. Settling on the “lesser of two evils” still comes down to me supporting one of them on paper and I just don’t feel right about that. Therefore, once again, I will be writing in my hope for America’s future, Stephen Colbert.

  2. I have one reason why I am not voting for Romney.
    He can not be trusted as Colon Powell said.
    Which means, he’ll stand for anything to get elected
    which means he stands for nothing.

  3. And Colon Powell can be trusted? As a believer problems or no problems with both candidates. my hope is that people vote morally. vote pro-life. vote for Mitt.

  4. As a Massachusetts resident who endured Mitt Romney’s governorship I have to say that the example he set while in office here does not bode well for your hopes. Romney did not reach across the aisle in Massachusetts, and he was widely recognized as someone who would say anything to his audience in order to curry favor. He sidestepped due democratic process by not talking to the legislature but rather trying to appeal directly to the public – hardly a bipartisan act. Obama has at least tried to foster an environment in which bipartisan action is possible; the intransigence of the Tea Party has made that difficult to say the least.

    Sincerely,

    A pro-choice Independent from MA

  5. Hey Brett, I appreciate your thoughtful analysis as ever. While I will most definitely be casting my ballot for Obama, it is despite and not because of his generally pro-choice stance. If there was a true alternative on this issue I might have pause — but let’s not kid ourselves: the notion that Romney is pro-life is laughable. Moreover, the supposed ‘war on women’ primarily concerned contraception. And to a great many Christians, being pro-contraception is part and parcel of being pro-life; greater contraceptive access decreases the incidence of abortion.

    As Colin Powell said this morning, Romney is a moving target. Not just on Life issues, but on a myriad of others (Afghanistan, tax policy, immigration, health care, etc.). In the closing hours of the campaign he has shown a certain skill at salesmanship — particularly in the first debate — but buyer beware. His stated positions are troubling; even more troubling is his almost incredible willingness to change positions on a dime, demonstrated throughout his 20 years in public life.

    • Mark,
      Much as I wish Romney was more pro-life than he is, I do think he has moved decidedly to the right on this issue over time and that now there is indeed quite a difference between him and Obama. Obama is on the far left on abortion and has been throughout his political career. As a state senator he opposed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act and as U.S. Senator he cosponsored the Freedom of Choice Act, aiming to strike down restrictions on abortion at the state and federal level. Most recently, Obamacare needlessly and recklessly included mandates for religious organizations to act against their pro-life convictions to cover abortifacients (see my 3rd point above). Meanwhile, Romney plans to repeal Obamacare and de-fund Planned Parenthood. And you say there isn’t enough contrast between the candidates on this issue?

      And on the moving-target issue, I find it laughably hypocritical that Obama is pretending like he hasn’t been just as much or more of a flip-flopper. Obama, after all, is the guy who got tons of 2008 campaign mileage out of his promise to close Guantanamo, which he did not do. He campaigned on ending the Bush tax cuts, then ended up extending them. He campaigned against warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detentions, tribunals, secret renditions, drone attacks and The Patriot Act, all of which he ended up supporting or continuing during his administration. He said in 2007 that “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” but then he authorized military action in Libya without consulting Congress. As senator he voted against increasing the debt limit; then as president supported raising it. He also shifted positions on NASA funding, Darfur, the Keystone Pipeline, the “individual mandate,” Third Site missile defense in Poland, Cuban embargo, and the list goes on and on. Obama is just as amorphous as anyone else in Washington, or more!

      • Thanks Brett, and point taken. I don’t mean to suggest that Obama and Romney are carbon copies of each other on Life issues. They certainly aren’t. But for me as a pro-life person to feel comfortable with Romney’s position, I would first have to choose which versions of the man to highlight, and which to diminish. This is not simply a historical inquiry into 1994-Romney or 2002-Romney: there are discrepancies even in his current stated positions that amount to much more than shaded nuances.

        (And as has been noted elsewhere on this post, much also depends on where we draw lines around what are ‘Life’ issues in the first place)

        Anyway I know that we have settled on our own preferences, so I won’t belabor the back-and-forth. More generally, your post has prompted me to think a lot about how we as voters ultimately arrive on either side of an election. It seems like so much stems from a gut feeling about parties and their candidates…a feeling that maybe derives from an elusive and amorphous sense of confidence that ‘our’ guy or party will do the right thing on most issues. That gut feeling moves us in one direction or another, and then we construct arguments ex post facto in order to help us understand how me might have developed one allegiance or another. And since our allegiance (or predisposition) precedes rather than grows out of our proffered arguments, and attaches to something deeper, it becomes somewhat impervious to reason or counter-arguments.

        For me, I’ll concede that I have a vaguely defined feeling that the Democratic platform and candidate are more trustworthy (or perhaps more accurately: less untrustworthy than the alternatives). You could say I’m predisposed to support them. So then I choose to emphasize the things with which I agree, and explain-away or downplay problematic elements. In that vein, I look at Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo Bay and say, yeah, but that’s because Fox News nearly lit its hair on fire at the prospect of relocating detainees to the Thompson Correctional Center in Illinois. Or the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts: sure, that wasn’t what progressives wanted, but Congressional Republicans were so intractable that they were actually willing to let the country default on its own debt if it kept us from returning to the tax structure under Clinton. Or the individual mandate: since single-payor and the public option had no chance of passing Congress, this compromise represented the last hope for building consensus around a plan that would insure 30 million Americans in a fiscally viable way. And so on.

        There isn’t really a point here, just things I have been mulling over in light of your post :) There is a certain amount of irrationality in all of this (letting predisposition toward a party and candidate drive the arguments and descriptions we construct)…but it seems like maybe it explains what I see in my own political inclination, and that of others. Maybe our guts tell us to cast our lot with one guy or another, and then we construct a defense after the fact.

  6. I concur with Mark here. While I’m staunchly pro-life and won’t be voting for Obama, the idea that Romney is pro-life is truly laughable. I could not in good conscience vote for him on this point alone. I appreciate your well thought out points, and agree with where you are coming from on all of them. Yet, I disagree with your conclusion that Romney is the one to deliver. Deeper research beyond the top news agencies will reveal there is very little difference between Romney and Obama. Of course in the debates they will try to appeal to their particular bases. But this is just typical election rhetoric. Though I predict a Romney win in the end, I will be casting my vote for a true conservative candidate.

    • Adrienne,
      Thanks for your comment. Let me clarify that I did not call Romney “pro-life” in my post at all. I bring up abortion not because it’s an issue Romney is great on, but rather one that for me is a huge mark against Obama, who is not just pro-choice but aggressively so. I don’t necessarily think Romney will advance the pro-life cause very much as president (though he has promised to quickly move to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which I would be thrilled to see); however, I do believe that Romney will move the country in a generally more conservative direction and (hopefully) will be able to appoint a few Supreme Court justices with pro-life convictions. We shall see.

      • Abortion represents only 3% of PP activity the other 97% is healthcare for women like cancer screening and contraception. How can you as a Christian wish to have those impoverished and uninsured women left without access to medical care? Access to contraception has been shown to reduce abortion and so if that is your goal how can you support limiting access to contraception?

  7. The least of these argument is interesting. I don’t think either candidate is PRO-ABORTION. The most proven way to limit the number of abortions is to increase sex education and decrease prohibitive adoption costs. The candidate that is most supportive of these efforts is Obama. I think it’s difficult to say that Romney is most supporting of the “least of these,” especially when he advocates cutting welfare for the least of these (meaning orphans, widows, and the like).

  8. Brett

    1st reason – I agree with your assessment of the Democrats use of the abortion issue; however, Romney has clearly stated does not foresee any laws proposed by his administration that would limit abortions on demand. Therefore, the choice is not as clear as you make it out to be.

    2nd reason – Tax cuts for the rich and reduced regulations have never proven to improve the economy. A strong argument could be made that Pres. Obama kept our country from going into a depression and is steadily bringing us back to a healthy economy. With regard to the debt, Republicans in reality spend like liberals, but refuse to raise any revenues. No reason to think Romney would change that.

    3rd reason – I completely agree. This is my greatest disappointment with the Obama administration.

    4th reason – Not sure how cutting education, student loans, medicaid, infrastructure, unemployment, deductions for things like home interest, insurance premiums and student loans will help anyone get into or stay in the middle class. Certainly, economic growth lifts everyone, but in order to provide everyone an opportunity, we need smart government intervention.

    5th reason – George Bush and Barack Obama both said they would work across the aisle. Neither has been succesful. We are in age of polarization in which any hint of compromise by a politician will be denigrated across the web and cable tv. The days when politicians could work out a compromise over scotch and cigar are gone. Sadly, I believe we are as much to blame as the politicians. No reason to believe Romney could change this culture.

  9. Brett

    One final thing. The Tea Party movement has been one of the most destructive things I have ever witnessed in American politics, and I am conservative-leaning independent. I believe a refutation of the tea party movement through the re-election of Pres. Obama would be a good thing.

  10. Besides the fact that religious freedom of the right seems to be restricted to Christians (and certainly never to minority religions, especially Islam), I think that you have a really shallow understanding about what is occurring among the people who are the “The Least of Thee.” When you bemoan “government handouts”, you seem to be promoting an ideology that views the poor as the problem, rather than poverty. Namely, it is an ideology that thinks that dependence is a problem and underestimates the systematic divide between the rich and the widening poor.

    I live in a major city where they eliminated cash assistance in the context of a place with structural poverty and a conservative government that consistently slashes “entitlements.” Basically, most people in these areas have spoken about increased desperation, crime and people struggling in food deserts with a lack of available and adequate shelter and unsafe streets. Churches do some help but it is pretty inadequate on its own. It needs to be in a larger context of having a more substantial infrastructure where basic needs are provided. There is no country where the private sector has been able to overcome the problem of systematic poverty in the way that safety nets have. Safety nets often allow these children to feel safe enough and be fed enough to actually learn in schools that aren’t defunded and overcrowded. Safety nets allow people to not turn to illegal activities to get their basic needs met.

    I think too, in the work I have done for years with people at the margins of poverty and homelessness, there is a need for places like Planned Parenthood. I always wonder what people with your belief systems would do if you ever had to provide services to multiple 13 year old girls who are impregnated by older men, often relatives, including their fathers. Liberal governments offer more–including a wide range of services and supports available to these girls if they decide not to get an abortion. They are more likely to provide the government funding, including welfare, that allows these girls to raise their children if they choose. They can go to school and support their children. They often have access to day care. It’s even better when the schools are well funded and not fragmented and defunded by some half-baked voucher scheme that has never been proven effective at all. If you studied educational policy, the education gaps are largely attributed to a lack of social support structures outside the school and in the community, but blamed on public school teachers, who are part of only institution that many people have.

    Of course, unless you support all of them giving birth and then giving up the children they are forced to have. As a good Christian, you might not really care about the welfare of young girls who have been raped and impregnated against their will. But by all means, act like none of this is a war against women because really, women are just vessels for giving birth and it has nothing to do with our welfare.

    Even more so, Planned Parenthood provides birth control to girls at risk of getting pregnant. If being pro-life is your goal, defunding planned parenthood and eliminating paths to birth control and structures supporting young girls is basically work towards ensuring that more people will get dangerous, illegal back alley abortions. Sometime you should study countries where abortion is illegal and see what actually happens. No, there is not an embrace of life. But there are more dead women, so well, that’s something.

    You can support what you want to support. You can support the idea that Mitt Romney’s expertise in business wasn’t gutting businesses and sending them overseas. You can support the idea that privatizing everything will increase wealth among anyone but the people at the top, even though that hasn’t been proven anywhere ever. There is no evidence that supply side economics works–in fact, it’s been a disaster. But come on, I don’t know how you can act like Christian principles motivate you since there is very little Christian about the GOP in this incarnation.

  11. Hey man, don’t you have an idea that girls will go to drastic measures to abort their babies if they cannot take safe and professional recourse? Knives, coat hangers, metal rods, beatings, needles, and so on. In your divinely great system of forcing women to not be able to lawfully abort an unwanted child you ruin countless young girls’ uteri, vaginas, and in some cases lives. Congratulations, really, you’ve done a good thing. And I completely agree with you, women SHOULD be forced to have children if they are impregnated by irresponsible or coercive boyfriends, failed contraceptives, or rape. Because this is a life we’re dealing with, man.

  12. When people say they are pro-life, they really mean they are pro-fetus because they really don’t give a damn about the LIFE of the babies they are insistent of forcing women to raise. First, who in their right mind thinks that a woman who doesn’t want to have a baby, isn’t emotionally or financially prepared to have a baby, or who will give birth to a severely handicapped child will be a good parent? Second, restricting abortions doesn’t mean that women won’t have them. It means rich white women will get them in the comfort of their doctors offices or while away on European vacation and poor women will get them in back alley “clinics’ that are most certainly dangerous and deadly. Once the baby is born, once it’s a human being, Republicans will work to eliminate food stamps, welfare, WIC, Head Start, Planned Parenthood, and every other social program that is intended to help people in need. You know, like Jesus said. Pro-lifers will make sure that that poor child, literally and figuratively, will have no choice but to enroll in the military because college will be too expensive, there will be no manufacturing jobs because they have been shipped overseas, and they have been grossly undereducated in an urban school system that is designed to keep children of color ignorant. So off to war they go, to fight for oil when they are shot, wounded, traumatized, or killed. Pro-lifers LOVE that prison industrial complex. They love seeing people put in jail for life for stealing to survive, for smoking weed, and for generally being poor. And if they commit a crime deemed heinous, they are the first ones screaming that that person should be put to death. Yeah, that’s sooooooooooo pro life. All they want is that damn fetus to be born, after that, they work tirelessly to deny it every chance to live in any sort of healthy, validated, secure way.

  13. Brett, thank you for this reminder: “My hopes are fixed on Jesus Christ, who reigns supreme over all things, now and forevermore, regardless of who is in the White House.” It certainly puts all the partisan back-and-forth in perspective.

  14. I don’t see how anyone claiming to be Christian could vote for Romney, not because he’s a Mormon but because he has proven he worships mammon and mammon alone. The weakest and most vulnerable among us will suffer greatly under his brand of leadership and the 47% that he admitted he cares nothing about are the very same people that Jesus cared for most.

  15. May I first say how much I’m enjoying reading through some of your posts; you write well (obviously), are clear about your views and have some excellent insights. I know this is really after-the-fact, the election having been over for months, but I’m curious as to what it is/was about Romney’s religious faith that made/makes you uncomfortable.

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