My vote won't matter at all in California, but I sent in my ballot last week anyway, voting for Mitt Romney. Am I super excited about everything Romney stands for? Not at all. I'm uncomfortable with his Mormon faith, regret that he supports drone strikes & the use of torture, and absolutely wince when he says things like "America is the hope of the earth."
I'm also not one of those people who thinks Obama is an unqualified disaster of a president. I like a lot of things about him and had high hopes for his presidency four years ago. I think he's a good guy, a family man, and not the villain the Ann Coulter Fox News crazies would label him.
But for this moment in America, I think it's wise to switch course and give Romney a chance. Here are a few of my personal reasons for voting for him:
Abortion. I'm pro-life and this will always be a deal-breaker for me. Fighting for the "reproductive right" to destroy a living being will always be sickening to me, and I've been particularly sickened this year with the Democrats' tactic of equating the pro-life cause with some sort of "war against women." That's just silly and makes disturbing light of the real issue: the war on unborn children, which takes more than 1.2 million lives a year in America.
The Economy: I have real concerns about the U.S. economy, both in its current state and its long-term viability. And so much else depends on a solid, growing economy: national security, the effectiveness of our foreign policy, our education system, the plight of the poor, and so on. The federal government is addicted to accumulating debt and spending money that isn't there. On the track of spending and debt-accumulation we're currently on, the world my children will inherit will look something like the landscape of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Dire. I have hopes that Mitt Romney's business-savvy and focus on private-sector growth and job creation will prove much more effective for America's economic recovery and long-term fiscal stability.
Religious Liberty. The HHS mandate, which went into effect this year as part of Obamacare and which forces religious institutions to cover contraceptives (including abortifacients such as the morning-after pill and the week-after pill), represents a disturbing narrowing of the government's understanding of religious liberty. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed (including by my own employer, Biola University) by religious organizations of various stripe, including both Protestant and Catholic Christian schools, nonprofits and companies fighting to retain their religious classification/exemption. What's frightening is the extent to which Obama's administration has narrowed the understanding of who qualifies for a religious exemption: apparently a Bible-focused Christian university like Biola and a Bible-publisher like Tyndale House are not "religious" enough to qualify. Only churches are. In what universe does that make sense? I agree with Alan Jacobs when he notes that the government’s position "suggests a move to confine freedom of religion to freedom of worship... to confine religion to a disembodied, Gnostic realm of private worship and thought. Even those who support abortion and contraception should not want to see the government defining religion maximally as private thought and belief. The social costs of that restriction will, in the long run and perhaps even in the short, be catastrophic, because churches and other religious institutions have long been attentive to 'the least of these' — the ones that government habitually neglects or even tramples underfoot."
"The Least of These": As a Christian, I want to vote for the president who I believe will be better for the most vulnerable and suffering in the world, the "least of these" (Matt. 25:40). I believe that person is Mitt Romney, because of the abortion issue but also because I believe he will get the American economy back on track and will help create a more jobs-friendly business environment, where real opportunity is created and government dependency (which only perpetuates cycles of suffering) is reduced. I also have hopes that Romney will empower religious institutions and faith-based charities where Obama alienated them, allowing them to do the humanitarian work they already do and want to continue doing. Meanwhile, on Obama's watch, the welfare state has grown substantially and spending on means-tested welfare programs has increased by a third in just four years, to an all time high cost of $1 trillion a year. Obama's own budget plans estimate this cost to rise to $1.56 trillion by 2022. Where is this money going to come from? Also, food stamps have surged, with 71 percent more spending on the program in 2011 than in 2008. This explosion in federal spending on welfare is simply not a sustainable solution. Furthermore, government handouts do not address the systemic issues and underlying economic woes that are the true scourge of the poor and low-income in America. Building a stronger economy and creating jobs is a much better long-term solution to helping bring people out of poverty.
Bipartisan Efficacy: I thought one of Romney's most encouraging lines in the third debate came in his closing moments, when he pledged to work across the aisle and help facilitate cooperation in a divided, broken Washington. Of course Obama made this a big talking point in his 2008 election as well, and look how that turned out. But Romney actually has a history of doing it, having successfully governed Massachusetts as a Republican when the state legislature was 87% Democrat. People often criticize Romney for being vague or flip-flopping, which is a valid critique; but when it comes to Washington and fostering a cooperative, productive government, inflexibility (on both sides) is disastrous. We need a leader who can build consensus in a climate where political divisiveness and belligerence lead to fiscal negligence (see the 2011 debt ceiling crisis). Maybe its naive, but I sense that Romney will be a better politician and dealmaker as president than Obama was, and I think we need someone new to perhaps break the stalemate.
Will Romney win? Probably not. But that's democracy, and that's OK. My hopes are not pinned on either candidate, nor on any political party or government. My hopes are fixed on Jesus Christ, who reigns supreme over all things, now and forevermore, regardless of who is in the White House.