After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” – Nehemiah 4:14
I’ve decided to vote for Mitt Romney for president. It is not a decision I reached lightly; it is not a decision I take lightly. But, having made the decision – and having done so for a reason very much related to the plight of my brothers and sisters – I thought it appropriate to share my reasoning here.
My reason can be boiled down to a single word – solidarity – which I’ll explain in a moment. First, a discussion of how I rank candidates. My criteria, in order of importance, are Principles, Policies, and Capabilities.
I believe in freedom – it is the only policy (in a democracy) that is consistent with the Golden Rule. (You cannot do the will of God by inserting yourself between me and God and making moral decisions for me.) As such, my preferred candidate in this whole election was Ron Paul. But, he’s not on the ballot (though I have thought long and hard about writing his name in … but I won’t, for reasons we’ll discuss shortly).
Barack Obama’s principles are unrepentantly socialist. He believes in elite rule (preferably himself) with a “deign to give you good things” attitude toward the unwashed masses. Now, this is not how he governs, mind you, but I do believe it describes his principles. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama (and many other presidents of both parties) we don’t live in a system that just allows those principles to run wild. No, you have to get the right permissions from the right power brokers and the right corporate interests who will or won’t back your candidacy. In the end, corporate elite takeover of dreamland socialist policies just looks like fascism – and so does Obama. (Consider Obamacare, if you will. Obama has stated that he prefers a “single payer” system [socialism] but the final outcome was a legislation that requires everyone to buy insurance … written by insurance company lobbyists! [fascism].)
Clearly Mr. Obama’s principles are not mine – because I believe we should be free. But what about Mitt Romney? I’m not sure. Because he is fundamentally a politician I can’t say exactly what his principles are – other than “don’t say anything too glaring that will offend voters” – which is pretty weak. Romney may well be a conservative deep down, but has snowed it over for so long that nobody really knows. At best, I’ll say his principles are “undefined” right now – though he has at least made some reasonable statements on the two main moral issues facing this country: abortion and central banking. (No, I did not include “gay marriage” because I don’t think this should be a public policy issue at all.)
Even if someone doesn’t share your principles (as Obama does not and Romney is still a “?”) it is possible that they have policies that are useful towards the goal of realizing your principles. On this I will say that Romney has a decided advantage over Obama.
Romney’s policies look more like freedom. For instance, Paul Ryan (Romney’s VP) has moved in the past to modify Medicare to allow for more choice and state bloc grants instead of top-down government control. Once you insert freedom, choice, and self-determination into these massive government social programs, you point them in the direction of their demise (and thus more freedom). These programs do not survive when people have a choice, they only survive when people are forced to participate and have no control over their level of involvement. This is the way of things with socialism, and policies that point away from it are good in my determination.
It’s not just the Ryan-on-Medicare issue though. Romney wants to cut taxes (good), cut spending (good), balance the budget (good luck …). Even if his principles are up in the air, or “unobservable” as we like to say, his policies point us more in the direction of freedom than do Obama’s.
The last of my criteria, and the least important (but not unimportant) is capability. Does this candidate have leadership capability? Is this candidate up to the job?
This is a hands-down win for Romney. He has clear leadership and management capability (those are different, by the way, and both important). He is “big enough” to do this job, to be a leader, to be cool under fire, and to manage a solution to difficult problems.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, was never up to the task of the presidency. He’s a rock star, but not a leader. He’s a campaigner, but not a manager. He’s an organizer, but not a decision maker. I don’t mean these things as slights against the man – everybody has different skills in this life (and mine aren’t exactly suited for the presidency either).
Even if you disagree with his principles and policies (two items that I hold are more important that capability), Romney has demonstrable leadership capabilities that far surpass Barack Obama’s.
So, on the whole, as I rank candidates, Romney is superior to Obama. His principles “might” be OK (though they could hardly be worse than Obama’s), his policies are better, and his capabilities are better. But, as I noted earlier, this is not the reason I will vote for Mitt Romney. No, I will vote for Mitt Romney out of solidarity.
I caught a piece at Real Clear Religion earlier this weekend by Mark Creech discussing the prospect of voting for the lesser of two evils. Don’t take this as an endorsement of Creech’s article, but it is worth a read for the Christian debating the vote and makes a few excellent points. Most notably, that every candidate is measured as lesser or greater evil since we are all fallen and corrupted beings. He also makes the following statement, which caught my eye: “To vote for a third party candidate this election, except to satisfy one’s conscience, will do nothing more than throw the election to one of the candidates of the two major parties.”
It’s the “satisfy one’s conscience” that caught my eye. Many conservative Christians do not want to vote for Mitt Romney. Perhaps some feel that way based on Romney’s Mormonism, but I suspect more feel that Romney’s pro-choice positions as Massachusetts governor are a disqualifier. They won’t vote Obama, for exactly the same reason, but may vote for a third party or nobody for president.
It is here that I realize that I have an advantage, a selfish advantage on over my brothers. If these conservative Christians are honest with you (and why wouldn’t they be?) they’ll tell you that they don’t want to vote for Romney, but they do hope that he wins. That is, they want to be able to keep a clear conscience by not supporting somebody with whom they disagree, but do very much want him to win the election as the clear lesser of two evils. I am in the same boat. I want Romney to win. I think him the far better candidate (for reasons discussed above) and I want him to win. But I also like being able to say that I didn’t vote for this-or-that candidate with whom I have sharp disagreements on moral issues.
My advantage over my brothers then is that my vote is caste in a non-toss-up state. I live in Maryland. It is nigh impossible to think that Maryland could vote for Romney over Obama. So, I could walk into the polls and vote for a third party candidate, or write-in Ron Paul, and walk out knowing that I didn’t help or hurt Obama or Romney in any way. My brothers and sisters in Ohio, Florida, and Iowa don’t have that luxury. My brothers and sisters in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Colorado face the real choice. They know they want Romney to win, they know that they might disagree with him on issues, they know Obama has been a horrid president and would likely continue to be – and so they face a difficult choice.
And so, I will not let them face that choice alone. I stand in solidarity with them. I will vote for Romney on Tuesday. And I hope that my brothers and sisters in the battleground states will do the same, and I hope, for my love of this country and its freedoms, that Mitt Romney wins the presidency.