I haven’t ventured into political territory in this blog very often. Maybe never. But that’s not because I have no interest in politics. Quite the contrary. I just choose not to make politics my focus here.
But I’ve done a lot of thinking since the election Tuesday. I might as well tell you; my guy lost, and I was disappointed in that alone. But the implications of the loss trouble me far more than the mere fact the man I liked and trusted better didn’t win.
For years I’ve heard that our country is conservative, or at least middle-right or moderate-right, but given the outcome of the election, I’m finding that harder and harder to believe. There’s a shift taking place, a change in thought that is slowly altering our country, particularly our youth.
Now this is the part where I could grandstand about the liberal indoctrination going on in our public school system, which I whole-heartedly believe is having a huge impact on the nation’s gradual move leftward, but I don’t want to do that. Not today.
But on talk shows and in print, all the pundits are asking the same question: Why was Mitt Romney unable to connect with voters?
Some say it was his wealth and perhaps that was partly the case. Of course, there was a time when the wealthy were admired and respected for their success. Now they’re demonized for it. Go figure.
Some say it was his conservative ideals, the kind that call for lower taxes, smaller government, and greater personal responsibility. And, sadly, I do believe more and more people are embracing the idea of big government for the safety net and, often, for the freebies it provides, never realizing the freedoms and the opportunity and the good sense they are sacrificing in the process.
But I’ve also been wondering if there’s another, more subtle reason Romney never connected with voters, even many of those in his own party. Perhaps, just perhaps, his inability to relate had just as much to do with his impeccable morality as it had to do with his wealth or his conservative ideas.
Because morally, Mitt Romney was as pure as the driven snow.
Now, let me state clearly that as an evangelical Christian I was very uncomfortable with Romney’s Mormonism. The tenants of the Mormon Church run completely contrary to Biblical teaching and I have no doubt that was a problem for a lot of evangelicals. But since I was voting for him for president, and not pastor, it was a conflict I overcame pretty easily. Would I have preferred a born-again, evangelical Christian candidate? Absolutely! But none presented themselves and I’d far rather have a principled, family-oriented candidate who is decidedly non-Christian than a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, obviously secular candidate who claims to be a believer in Christ.
But evangelical Christian or no, Mitt Romney is a paragon of morality. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He’s been married to the same woman for 43 years with no known marital indiscretions. Not only that, but he and his wife, Ann, raised five sons who also don’t drink, don’t smoke, and are married to their first wives with no known marital indiscretions. Accusations have been made against the governor implying he has been dishonest or greedy in his business dealings over the years, but the facts have borne out that the accusations are just that–accusations, with no basis in truth whatsoever.
People can argue that Mitt Romney walks so tightly only because he’s a Mormon and Mormons run the risk of being excommunicated from the church if they don’t! But it doesn’t matter. Whatever his motivations, he’s squeaky clean.
But I truly wonder if that same rare, wonderful quality that sets Governor Romney apart from so many other politicians was also another thing that kept him from being able to connect with voters. He’s simply too moral.
Sadly, Americans embrace immorality. College campuses and even many high schools are cesspools of depravity. I myself have heard despicable stories from friends about the goings-on in their workplaces. Even a lot of those who claim to oppose immoral behavior nonetheless welcome it into their homes on a regular basis through television and movies.
And honesty? Integrity? The terms are laughably out-of-date in modern times. A U.S. News report in 2009 cited a study suggesting most people lie 2 to 3 times every 10 minutes. Even the most conservative estimates claim Americans lie at least once a day. And the article sought to justify such dishonesty with a quote from a psychologist who said, “We use lies to grease the wheels of social discourse. It’s socially useful to tell lies.” You can read the article, the title of which I even find disturbing, here: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2009/05/18/were-all-lying-liars-why-people-tell-lies-and-why-white-lies-can-be-ok
Think for a moment of former president Bill Clinton, whose conduct in office I dread ever having to address with my children. He is still held in the highest esteem as one of the most popular ex-presidents in history, though he did deplorable, disgraceful things in office and lied under oath about it. He was unfaithful to his wife, apparently on multiple occasions with multiple women, and still he is adored by the general populace, so much, in fact, that Barack Obama utilized his popularity heavily on the campaign trail.
So why is he so admired with a past so sullied? Personally, I think a lot of people see in Bill Clinton some of what they see in the guy who lives next door or who works beside them in the machine shop. He’s a lying, woman-ogling good ol’ boy, never meaning any harm, just living his life for the moment. He’s a regular guy. Maybe he’s a little immoral. (Okay, a lot!) Maybe he’s a little dishonest. (A lot dishonest.) But for most of his fans, than just makes him a lot like themselves.
It’s a sad commentary, but in modern America things like honesty, integrity, and morality are more bothersome to people than they are admirable. Virtue is condemning and therefore unwelcome. People don’t like it. They don’t relate to it. And while I don’t believe Romney’s morality alone lost him the election, obviously it wasn’t a help to him like it might have been in another day and age.
My heart breaks at the thought of it. I liked the governor and I appreciated his decency, even while disagreeing strongly with his faith. I hated to see him lose. But I’m saddened far more by the shift I see in the hearts and minds of Americans than by the fact I’ll never see a Romney presidency.