(Centennial Fellow) Many conservatives (Christian or otherwise), me included, are disappointed that Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President. They lament that a more principled conservative (such as Michele Bachmann, or, to a lesser degree, Rick Santorum) was not selected. Perhaps they stand for the libertarian principles of Ron Paul. Whatever the case, many will be tempted to not vote at all or to cast a protest vote. This is a deep mistake, based on faulty ideas about politics and the meaning of a political vote. In this short essay, I will labor to convince fellow conservatives, whether Christians or not, to support and vote for Mitt Romney for President. I have waited to endorse Romney until all the other competitors have been eliminated. I do not expect to convert political liberals to this cause, which would require much more argumentation. (For starters, see Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn's Leftism and William F. Buckley's Up From Liberalism.)
First, many demur from voting for Romney because of his less-than-stellar conservative bona fides. I share their concern. RomneyCare influenced ObamaCare, however much Romney now opposes ObamaCare. He has not always been pro-life, but now seems to be. One could go on. But we should remember that politics is not the church. It is the art of the possible. Often we must choose the lesser of two evils, which is also the evil of two lessers. We reside in a fallen world. Get over it. We should be romantic and optimistic in the primaries (as I supported Michele Bachmann, read her book, Core of Conviction, and contributed to her campaign), and then get realistic when things narrow down. You are not appointing a pastor but voting for a president. A vote is neither a letter of reference, nor an unqualified endorsement, nor an act of worship. A vote is the exercise of the franchise, one part you play in our Republican form of government. It is a right, a responsibility, and a privilege that should not be squandered.
Second, protest votes are pointless. Many say, "If my candidate is not the one, I opt out. I am above all that." This is wrongheaded. Protest votes send no message, except that you have robbed the better of the two candidates of a vote. Like it or not, we are stuck with a two-party system for the long haul. (On this, see Michael Medved's chapter on the failure of third parties in The Ten Big Lies about America.) If you are a conservative, you vote for the more conservative candidate who can win, as William F. Buckley said. Writing in Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul does no good whatsoever—except to aid the Obama campaign.
Third, the essential principles between the two parties, however each candidate may vary from them, are sharply divided. Democrats support a larger government and heavier taxation and regulation. They view the Constitution as a wax nose they twist any way they want (progressivism), pit corporations and "the wealthy" against "the common man" (call it class warfare, a holdover from Marxism), and support a weakened national defense (the only area of the federal government Obama is trying to cut). They do not support religious liberty, and they are pro-abortion with a vengeance. Under ObamaCare, every American would be subsidizing the killing of innocent human beings with their own tax dollars. Ponder that, for God's sake. It denies the First Amendment (by requiring many religious people to violate their religious principles) and sets a dangerous precedent for state intrusion into matters of religious conscience. Further, the Democratic party in general, and now Obama very pointedly, do not respect heterosexual monogamy as the norm. They favor same-sex marriage, which is not marriage at all.
Republicans support smaller government, lighter taxation and regulation, a higher view of the Constitution as a body of objective truths to be applied rightly today, and the opportunities allowed by a basically free market. They advocate a strong national defense (or "Peace through strength," in Reagan's formulation) and are much more pro-life. This means a Republican president is far more likely to appoint Supreme Court justices who honor the Constitution and oppose Roe v. Wade; to appoint dozens of federal judges with great influence, all of whom are likely to have a high and proper view of the Constitution; and to use executive orders (whether or not they are constitutional; they probably are not) in the pro-life cause, such as refusing to give foreign aid in support of abortions abroad and refusing to fund abortions in the military. While there are exceptions, Republicans support the historical and traditional family. While they grant all citizens the rights enumerated in the Constitution, they do not support same-sex marriage.
Fourth, Romney is far preferable to the alternative. There are, to be sure, significant weaknesses in Candidate Romney. He is 1) not a principled conservative, with a very mixed track record, 2) not particularly charismatic or eloquent, and 3) a Mormon.
I have been involved in counter-cult apologetics and evangelism for thirty-five years. Mormonism is a deviation from Christian orthodoxy on titanic theological issues such as the nature of God (or gods, in the case of Mormonism), the identity of Christ, and salvation, to name a few crucial issues. Yes, there has been some movement back to the Bible among some Mormons in the last twenty years, and some Mormons may be Christians in spite of what their church officially teaches. However, Mormonism as Mormonism is heretical. No one should be a Mormon. It is "another gospel" (see Gal. 1:6-11). I learned this in 1977, when, as a young Christian, I read Walter Martin's modern classic, Kingdom of the Cults. Nothing since has convinced me to the contrary.
If Romney is elected president, it would give Mormonism a platform it has never enjoyed before. That is bad, very bad. However, the president is neither Theologian-in-Chief nor Pastor-in-Chief. He is Commander-in-Chief. Moreover, Mormons have every right the Constitution affords our citizens, and conservative Christians can and should be co-belligerents with Mormons (and others) in political causes. Ecumenism religiously is another matter entirely.
But more soberly, the alternative to Romney is, truly, the end of America as it was founded and as we know it. The alternative to Romney is a state modeled after European democratic socialism: massive taxation, cradle-to-grave statist "security," and a more secularized culture. This is not the America envisioned by our founders. This is not the city set on a hill.
In Romney's favor, he has been a very decent man, who has given much of his income to charity. He is an accomplished businessman who (unlike Obama) knows how to solve problems. For example, in 1999, he volunteered to save the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. He did what he intended to do. He understands and respects the vital role of business to create jobs and create new products, unlike Obama, whose idea of job creation is endless "stimulus packages," laden with pork and barren of economic hope.
Obama, while not a Mormon, has no credible Christian testimony. Consider his twenty-year membership in Rev. Jeremiah Wright's racist, ultra-liberal, Nation-of-Islam-supporting church. Ponder his stance on abortion and same-sex marriage. He was one of only a few politicians not to oppose partial-birth abortions, which are cases of infanticide, the murder of an infant. (See David Freddoso's The Case Against Barak Obama for the documentation.) He took this outrageous stand because he was afraid it would chip away at Roe v. Wade, which he supports completely. Obama is far more sympathetic to Islam than he is to Christianity. I did not say that Obama was a Muslim, but that he is deferent to Islam and seems oblivious (or indifferent) to the dangers of Sharia law (see Robert Spencer's Stealth Jihad). This is urgent, since Sharia law is already being implemented on American soil.
Under another four years of Obama, we would experience more "historic" changes, such as:
1) The federal takeover of health care, leading to rationing, inefficiency, and a loss of personal freedom. You will be paying for abortions. Some would rather go to jail than submit to this. I imagine that Catholic priests would lead the way.
2) A growing and perhaps insurmountable debt, mortgaging our future and making us like the disaster that is Greece.
3) Further evisceration of our military and cut-backs in military benefits.
4) The continued deconstruction of the Constitution, thus removing us from the Rule of Law and putting us under the Rule of Man: One man, the man who would be King: Barack Obama.
For these reasons and many more, I, Douglas Richard Groothuis, will vote for, support, and pray that Mitt Romney becomes the next President of these United States. I hope you will join me. So much is at stake.
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, a Centennial Institute Fellow, and the author of Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. His views do not represent Denver Seminary.