11 Apr Doug Wilson, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, and YOU
I apologize in advance if certain readers think these pre-qualifiers are unnecessary, and I imagine Pastor Wilson does not expect me to say this either, but I want to start off this article by saying that I hold Doug Wilson in very, very high regard. I consider him a tremendous ally in the cause of the Kingdom. He has always been civil and kind to me, even when we have disagreed. His wit and ability are undeniable. I am blessed by much of his ministry. I don’t really think it is necessary to flower up an article in which I may be expressing disagreement with a friend and ally, but Christians in the camp that Pastor Wilson and I have come from have muddied up the waters for so long with their inability to maintain a friendship for longer than an episode of Law and Order, that I think it is a good idea. I like Pastor Wilson, I think he likes me, and nothing I say in this piece changes that one iota.
I was distraught to read the Pastor’s piece tonight wherein he stated his intention to sit out the Presidential election of 2012. I respect where he is coming from, sort of, and if I thought that only HIS vote was at stake, or other voters in the state of Idaho, I would let it go. But Pastor Wilson has a following in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin too. And unlike Idaho, there is a mystery as to how those states will go this November in terms of the votes given to the electoral college. Doug’s piece may cause Idaho to go 75.89% Republlican instead of 75.9%, but I can’t bear the idea that we may lose Florida by 79 votes (hey, don ‘t say it can’t happen).
I am not going to write my piece defending Mitt Romney, though there is plenty about Doug’s article that warrants correction. Gov. Romney is going to make the case that he makes for people to vote for him, and he is either going to close the deal, or he is not. But I do not believe any of that is relevant here. I believe Gov. Romney could be as bad as Pastor Wilson says, though I doubt it. And I really doubt that Doug would think so either if he spent some time with him. However, he is certainly right about this: Romney is not Ronald Reagan, he is not a time-tested conservative, he does not generate a ton of enthusiasm for his conservative convictions, and he has said and done some things that cause conservative ideologues like me to be bothered. Fair enough. But some bigger points have to be made, and I believe they are points that the Pastor is well aware of.
This election is not between Mitt Romney and some other superior conservative (like the former Senator from Pennsylvania, for example, who voted for No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D on his way to telling us how RomneyCare was the end of the Republic). This election is not between Mitt Romney and a yet-to-be-determined candidate in 2016. It is between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Doug believes that they are practically the same thing, but one of them will cause more conservative rebellion and angst (Obama) than the other will (Romney). This is a highly dubious assertion (there is no basis in fact for this whatsoever), and it is also an odd standard for ethics in voting (as my good friend, Brian Mattson, points out here). But along the way, Doug references how strongly he feels about the life issue, and I believe him 100%. Everything about Doug’s background suggests that he is every bit the committed pro-lifer he says he is. I do not, however, believe that Doug is unaware of this: Obama’s re-election does irreparable harm to the pro-life cause as it concerns the future of the Supreme Court; an election of Mitt Romney AT WORST partially improves those chances, and AT BEST, dramatically improves them. Doug may say that he does not believe Mitt that he will appoint good justices, but he KNOWS that Obama will not. Does Doug REALLY believe that Mitt’s bench appointees would be NO better than Obama’s? That is just absurd.
But let’s look at another issue near and dear to Doug’s heart, and near and dear to mine as well. And that is the iceberg the U.S. government is about to hit called “the national debt”. I am skipping over the arguments that Romney and Obama are the same, and that all of these government politicos are cut from the same cloth, and that it does not matter if we are wearing red or blue when we hit the iceberg because we will hit it no matter what (etc.). It is true that whether we have a Republican or Democrat in office, Congress is going to have to dramatically change course to right the wrong that is the U.S. debt picture. The greatest initiative we have seen in this direction in my lifetime (by far) has come from Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. It is cogent, it is practical, it is reasonable, and no matter what the doomsdayers say, it does not create havoc for seniors and retirees. Some version of Paul Ryan’s roadmap for entitlement reform is going to have to happen. No realistic alternatives have even been proposed by either the Ron Paul Libertarians or the far left Obama-ites. I would be shocked if Doug was not reasonably comfortable with the approach Paul Ryan is taking to this conversation (though I do not know this for certain). What is the response from the two Presidential candidates on Paul Ryan’s budget reform? Romney embraces it (a huge political risk), and Obama shuns it, bashes it, mocks it, and lies about it.
I didn’t want this piece to go too far over 1,000 words, so I will wrap it up. On the life issue as addressed by Supreme Court appointments and on the pending budget/deficit disaster issue, Mitt Romney is incomparably superior to Barack Obama. One day, the Republican Party will have a better candidate than Mitt Romney. We didn’t this year. But one thing we do have this fall is a better candidate than Barack Obama. I will spend the next six months making the case against Barack Obama over and over and over again. I am done talking about Ron Paul, and I do not want to spend any time or energy this election year harping with the third-party guys. I am not going to try and tell people as bright as Doug Wilson that Romney really is super-duper, because he has flaws (though I promise readers that he is significantly more prepared on matters of economic policy than you would guess). Much of what conservatives like Doug and myself do not like about Mitt has more to do with his own stumbling over political gamesmanship than it really does with how I believe he will lead. I recommend Jonah Goldberg’s piece on the subject here. But back to the point at hand – Barack Obama is the story of this election, not Mitt Romney. Doug Wilson knows as much as any Christian leader I have read how false it is that politics will lead culture; Doug knows and believes that the opposite is true. Neither Romney nor Paul nor Santorum nor Obama nor my hero Ronald Reagan can cure what currently ails our culture. But along the way, while we all work for cultural progress, is it really too much to ask that we vote for the guy who is not guaranteed to increase the societal dependency on government beyond anything we could ever hope to come back from? Supreme Court. Deficit spending. Tax rates. Take your pick. It is not true that we can just get mad in the next four years and then get a super-duper Republican to take out the Democrat candidate. We are headed to the point of no return under Obama. Romney is not the savior, but he is so vastly superior to the current President, that I believe we have no choice but to work for his successful election. Pastor, will you at least ask your readers in swing states to do so?