Saturday, October 27, 2012

Voting for Romney: One Last Stand Before Election Day

Voting for Romney: One Last Stand Before Election Day

by Sarah Geis, MA

I mailed in my ballot about a week ago, which contained a vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Many conservative voters have been hesitant to vote for Romney, and some have decided to support third-party candidates instead. There are many reasons for this, but I am convinced that the Romney-Ryan ticket is the right choice, despite the fact that I do not consider Governor Romney to be a true conservative. While this little essay may be an exercise in futility, I hope it will serve as an explanation of why I believe that conservatives and Christians can and should vote for a politically moderate Mormon (this time around, anyway).

The first step in my argument is to address just what I hold to be the purpose of post-primary voting. Many people, including individuals whom I know and respect, believe that we should vote for the person who most closely aligns with our values. But this is not always so. If voting equals support for the person most closely aligned with our values, then we should not feel confined to voting within the two-party majority. The problem is, why limit your selection to the people listed on the ballot? Is not the person most closely aligned with your values you yourself? It seems that this view would at the very least allow, if not compel, people to write in themselves (or at the very least their best friends) at the voters block. Take care not to misunderstand here, for values is still a vital consideration. However, it is not the only consideration.

In addition to considering the candidates’ values (such as ethical theory, political philosophy, voting record, religion, etc.), the other main quality to consider is electability. In my estimation, this is the most important principle of major voting decisions. The reason for this is simple: if we assume that all candidates are imperfect (a safe assumption, that), I am most concerned that my vote represent one less vote for the candidate whom I believe to have a real chance to do the most damage to the country. In other words, we should vote against the greatest of the evils. After the primaries, according to this view, voters have the responsibility to find out who is the most dangerous of the frontrunners, and do everything in our power to ensure that the worst of the lot does not get elected. This requires a very different approach to the vote. It requires that we not view a vote as an endorsement, as a claim to identify with a certain candidate, nor as even a vote for. Rather, it is a strategic vote against. A vote, in this view, is a strategic move to ensure the preservation of our country.  In the two-party system, the only way to take votes away from the worst candidate is to vote for the other major contender. Thus, to those who hold to this view, a vote for a conservative third-party candidate is, in fact, a vote taken away from the Republican candidate, and therefore, increases the gap between the Republican and the Democrat candidates. This is how voters of this mindset can, in good conscience, say that a vote for a conservative third-party candidate is a vote for the Democrat (in this case, Obama).     

The next task becomes to determine who is, in fact, the worst candidate. This season, we have a major candidate (Obama) who poses a direct threat to our Constitutional system as we know it (my purpose is not to convince the reader of this here—the evidence is all around for those who care to responsibly research), and the other major candidate (Romney) represents a religious group-- theologically a cult-- which is fundamentally opposed to historic Christian orthodoxy. However, Romney does still believe (generally) in the founding political principles of this nation. What is a politically conservative Christian to do? Are we not to oppose all perversions of the faith? Yes, the Christian should of course be primarily concerned with preserving and defending historic, biblical Christianity. However, without the religious freedom provided by our Constitutional system, the defense of the faith becomes exponentially more difficult. Moreover, the role of politicians is to protect and uphold the Constitution, not to defend the Christian faith. The uniqueness of the Constitution is that it is a Natural Law document. The candidate who believes that all rights come from God, not from the almighty State, is going to be more predisposed to limit the role of the federal government. When rights are believed to be given by the State, then those rights can also be revoked by the State. Given these considerations, the greatest threat to America is the candidate who believes (at least in practice—deciphered by past speeches and voting record) that rights come from the State, not from God. That candidate is Barack Obama. Yes, Mormonism is heretical, and idolizes America and the Constitution for religious reasons. However, it is better to vote for a non-Christian who makes the mistake of too much reverence for our Country and founding documents than a (possible, but unlikely) Christian who wants to “fundamentally transform America” and believes the Constitution to be outdated.

So, I am not voting against my conscience. My conscience tells me to preserve the American experiment as long as possible, for although ailing, it is America qua America that is the last great stronghold of religious freedom, justice, and economic prosperity. A vote for Romney-Ryan is intended to stop the bleeding, and set us up for greater reform later. A vote for Obama—whether directly or indirectly—is a vote to pull life support, and we may not have the chance to reform later. Therefore, I voted strategically for Romney, even though I do not endorse him politically or religiously. And given the reasons discussed, I am not compromising my values by so doing. 

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