Today is a rather auspicious one in American political life. It is the day Americans will vote for Republican contender Mitt Romney, or to retain the present incumbent, Barack Obama. Much ink has been spilled and broadcasts made as to who is most likely to win or who, morally speaking, should do so. The race is still so close that it is anybody’s guess – though when I listened to the World Service during last night, the polls seemed to be slightly “trending”, as the commentators put it, towards Obama. Personally, as I have written before, I would prefer Romney as President. Many Americans would like him to win because “it’s the economy, stupid.” My gut instinct is that a proven and successful state governor and businessman might have better ideas on how to confront constructively the economic crisis in the US than the current president.
But it’s not the economy which most exercises me, as a conservative with a small “c”. It is the moral stance, the perspective on traditional values that exerts the greater pull. Leaving aside Romney’s strange religion – and he has also rather astutely managed to leave it on one side during the election campaign – he stands more for fundamental pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family values than does his rival. What has been disappointing about his campaign is that he left it so late – almost until the first public debate with the President – to show his intelligent, reasonable, personable side rather than the unattractive personality he allowed the media to invent for him: that of a deeply boring and very ambitious rich man, out of touch with ordinary Americans and with a privileged person’s sense of entitlement.
According to Michael Voris today on ChurchMilitant.TV, Romney “ought to win by every measure there is”, but Obama might yet win a second term because enough people will support him for his “ideological stances” rather than for his performance on the economy i.e. the modern, liberal American mindset will approve of his endorsement for changing the definition of marriage and his support for universal contraceptive and abortion “rights” and ignore everything else. Voris thinks in his pugnacious fashion that if Obama wins it may be “God’s judgement on a wicked and perverse generation” rather than “our judgement as to who is the best man to occupy the White House.”
Then there is the view of the US Catholic bishops who, according to LifeSiteNews.com, have pointed out that in the last four years America has seen “the largest expansion of abortion rights since Roe v. Wade” and which has “increased funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion vendor, by at least 30%.” They cite the words of Cardinal Raymond Burke in 2010: “You may in some circumstances…choose the candidate who will most limit this grave evil [of abortion] in our country, but you could never justify voting for a candidate who not only does not want to limit abortion but believes it should be available to everyone.”
What about American Catholics themselves, a bloc large enough to influence a close election? According to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Catholics have traditionally been Democrats – yet have failed to change their allegiance “when the position of the Democratic Party on abortion has got worse over time.” It seems that Catholics within the Party haven’t shown a willingness to abandon their ancient loyalties when their Party has abandoned its own ancient principles. On the contrary, many American Catholics are just as liberal in their ideological stance as any other voter for the Democrats.
Sheila Liaugminas’ blog today reminds us that the Democratic National Convention in August changed the Clinton reference to the desire for abortion to be “safe, legal and rare” to merely “safe and legal”; a significant shift. She quotes the writer and biographer of John Paul II, George Weigel, who comments, “Voting is… a noble privilege because it asks each of us to bring our best judgement to bear on matters of grave consequence.” She concludes “God help us make the right decision.” Amen to that.