How I Picked Romney
Ok, I lit a firestorm by my endorsement of Mitt Romney for President. I put out a statement on why I made this choice, but here I’ll tell you how I made it:
First, long ago I abandoned my search for perfect candidates. They simply don’t exist. If you dig deep enough, you will find every candidate has compromised his or her principles, engaged in hypocritical behavior, and has pursued self-serving actions. Why? Because it reflects who they really are–human beings. Let’s face it, we have all done these things in our lives. “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10), “[T]here is none good but one, that is, God. (Mark 10:18), and, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:10)
So, knowing I would never find the perfect candidate, I considered other criteria:
1) On the question of a candidate’s faith: Again, long ago I concluded that a candidate’s claim to faith in Jesus Christ is not the sole determiner of whether that person will govern well. Jimmy Carter is only one example among many. Carter was a born-again, Bible-believing, Southern Baptist. That’s the only reason I voted for him. My colleague Rev. Pat Mahoney pointed out in a recent conversation that Carter spoke of his conversion and commitment to Christ before it was politically in vogue. There wasn’t even a constituency to exploit by doing so; he had nothing to gain by it. It goes without saying Carter not only governed poorly, he took stands that were inimical to Christian principles. Lesson: Presidential leadership requires far more than the right religious profession.
2) The road to the presidency is an enormously complex one. It requires coalitions. Committed Christians alone cannot elect a president. We may feel like a majority because we exercise more political muscle now than ever in American history–but that doesn’t mean we’re an electoral majority. We are, in fact, and in every way, a minority. Minorities don’t get presidents elected. A successful candidate must and will reach out to constituencies that may hold to positions opposite of his own. Reagan did it; both Bushes did it; and every successful president will need to it.
3) I used several measurements to evaluate the candidates:
– Was he or she a “good person”? Did they exhibit a basic, fundamental ethical code that guides first their private life, then their public life? (Again, searching for perfect records is futile. They simply aren’t there.)
– Was he or she open to advice, counsel, direction that may have been opposite of their own opinion? In other words, was he or she “teachable?”
– Did he or she hold to principles more in alignment with classical Christian moral teaching or less in alignment with it?
– Did he or she have a wide enough appeal to bring in a majority of the electorate, as well as enlist the required endorsements of a wide swath of different groups, influential public figures, state and local politicians, etc., etc.? You can’t win without these endorsements and supports.
– Does he or she understand and generally act in accordance with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?
– Does he or she have a quality family life? (Family is the first mediator in society. It is, in fact, the first form of government. If you get it wrong on family, you just can’t get it right in the larger government.)
– To be a successful candidate this time around will require raising upwards of $1 billion. Does this candidate have the demonstrated capacity to do that?
– Does this person have demonstrated executive-level private and public leadership experience? The private (real world) sector does’t behave according to the rules of government. A winning candidate must completely comprehend both worlds.
– And, finally, let’s get real: A candidate must be photogenic and likable. American voters will not elect unattractive and cranky people. There is a huge personality factor to be considered.
Having prayerfully taken all these things into consideration–not just a few–and having met all the candidates personally (those currently in the race, as well as those that have dropped out), I came to the conclusion Mitt Romney best meets the majority of these criteria. You may disagree, and I fully respect that. It’s the way our system works and it’s what makes it so wonderful. It would be the height of arrogance for me to believe I will in any way be a decisive factor in this election, but I hope to do my humble, little part by sharing my opinions with you.
May the best candidate win–for the sake of the American people and those we influence around the world.