I’ve traveled a circuitous route to get to the place where I am today in deciding whom to support in the Republican primary. I began with an interest in Bachmann, but soon concluded she didn’t have the experience for the job. I then turned to Perry for a brief while, hoping he would be the political “savior,” but that soured for me pretty quickly, particularly after a few debates. Herman Cain came on my personal radar after I was his table companion at a Republican event. I liked his attempt to get us to a fair tax. When he imploded over what I still think may have been false accusations, I toyed for a while with the idea that Gingrich could be the man. But then I took a fresh look at Santorum and came away impressed with his foundational understanding of principles of government and society based on a Christian worldview. That’s where I am today, and next Tuesday, I will cast my vote for him in Florida’s Republican primary.
Some may ask why I cannot go for Ron Paul, since he mirrors my constant calls for a return to constitutionalism. The reasons are many, but they boil down to two: his doctrinaire libertarianism and his foreign policy. Paul would have no problem with a state allowing abortion and same-sex marriage; I want an amendment to the Constitution protecting innocent human life and one clearly defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Those are God’s standards for society, and I argue they should be national in scope. On foreign policy, he really doesn’t grasp the threat of Islamic radicalism. I don’t believe we would be safe on his watch.
That leaves the two frontrunners, Romney and Gingrich. What’s my beef with them? Let me be as specific as I can for each one.
- A new book, Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, written by a fellow Mormon, tells how Romney followed the advice of a pollster who said he could never win elective office in Massachusetts as a pro-life candidate. So he abruptly switched to pro-choice in his run for the Senate against Ted Kennedy. Both in that race and in the later gubernatorial race, he did his best to go to the left of his Democrat opponent. There is a viral video making the rounds of Romney pledging to uphold Roe v. Wade and a woman’s “right to choose.” Another video shows him saying that a minor seeking an abortion without her parents’ consent can go to the courts to get permission. It’s not that he has made a conversion to pro-life; in fact, he started out that way and changed to pro-choice for purely political reasons. Now he’s pro-life again, and I believe the reason is once again political.
- When the Massachusetts Supreme Court simply declared it was irrational not to allow same-sex marriage and told the legislature it needed to rectify the situation, Romney didn’t even wait to see what the legislature would do but took the lead in personally granting 189 marriage certificates to same-sex couples. He didn’t have to do that. It wasn’t mandated. So now when he says he’s opposed to same-sex marriage, why should we trust him?
- He still has the albatross of Romneycare hanging on him. Only Santorum has had the courage to take him head-on on this issue. His plan was a precursor for Obamacare. It has the identical individual mandate. It rests on the same philosophy. As I’ve said before, how can he credibly attack Obamacare when he refuses to acknowledge the wrongness of his own plan? And just in the past few days, comments from one of his advisers indicate he really doesn’t expect to repeal the entire Obamacare monstrosity after all, no matter what he has promised on the campaign trail. Can he really be trusted to keep his word?
- While he can talk a good talk, I have serious doubts that he is willing to walk his talk. Why? The many reports about how he carried out his speakership in the 1990s—from those who were with him in Congress—gives one pause. Testimony from reputable legislators such as Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Santorum himself paint a picture of a man with an outsized ego who was more than willing to break the pledges in the Contract with America for political gain.
- He lost the confidence of his fellow Republicans in the House, and thereby lost his speakership. He resigned from the post [and from Congress itself] when he realized he wouldn’t be reelected their leader.
- Like Romney, Gingrich supported the individual mandate in healthcare, advocated policies to fight man-made global warming [when its existence is doubtful], and toyed with cap-and-trade legislation. And, like Romney, he supported the TARP bailout.
- His tactics in attacking Romney have come from the Left, using the same arguments Obama will undoubtedly use about greed, “vulture” capitalism, and now even accusing Romney of being anti-immigration. These smack of political opportunism and deliberate misrepresentation. Of course, Romney is not innocent on this point either.
- His moral failings are an open book. Yes, I believe in redemption. I hope he has experienced it. But it becomes difficult to defend a man and promote him for the highest office in the land when he has that kind of background.
- He is a superb speaker, but also one who may doom himself one day with his unrestrained commentary. As Santorum noted, do we want a nominee who may embarrass himself and the entire party with his loose tongue?
This is my quandary: what to do if Santorum cannot win—and his chances are slim at this point. I will have no option but to vote for whoever wins this race because Obama is far worse than either Romney or Gingrich, and his party stands for ideas repugnant to a Biblical worldview.
Some Republicans are hoping for a stalemated primary season where no one receives the majority needed to clinch the nomination. That would mean the convention would later make the choice. While this would be a potential problem for party unity and might project to the electorate an image of a party in disarray, it could be worth it in the end. If a brokered convention can provide a nominee with a minimum of baggage and an ability to communicate the conservative message effectively, we will all be better off. It worked in 1880 when James Garfield got the nod and won the general election. Could it work again?