Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Common Cause

Thanks to the doomed candidacy of Mitt Romney, we're learning some interesting things about faith in these United States. It turns out that the founders' insistence on the separation of church and state was "profound," for one thing, which'll come as an unpleasant surprise to many of Romney's prospective voters.

Romney also claims to share "moral convictions" with Americans of all faiths. Although my moral convictions are at least as otherworldly as the next person's, I've seen no sign that Romney understands them, let alone shares them. Still, I suppose that when it comes to things that really matter - like killing Iraqis, or punishing the poor for their failure to thrive - the political differences between the hellbound fanatic Romney and his God-fearing rivals are indeed vanishingly small.

But then, that's Romney's whole problem. "I do not define my candidacy by my religion," he says. Unfortunately, many of the voters who were put on this good earth to appoint our nation's pietistic autocrats feel differently:

Fifty-six percent of white evangelical Christians — a major portion of likely participants in the early GOP presidential contests in Iowa and South Carolina — expressed reservations about a Mormon candidate. Among non-evangelicals, 48 percent said it troubled them. Almost a quarter — 23 percent — of evangelicals said they were very uncomfortable with the idea.
Well, why shouldn't they be? Why on earth should they choose an unregenerate infidel like Romney over a Godstruck golden boy like Mike Huckabee? What's in it for them?

Nothing, that's what. And yet, Romney adds insult to injury by insisting that every faith - except for "the religion of secularism," natch - is basically equivalent, even though the rest of us know that "the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those that find it":
"If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."
Romney's crazy if he thinks this is the way to win over suspicious values voters; America's cause is God's cause, and Mormonism's role in these final days is to lure otherwise viable souls to Hell. My problem with Romney's ecumenical platitudes is that I don't think he believes them; the evangelicals' fear is more likely to be that he does.

You don't have to be Karl Rove to see the solution: Conversion, in as media-friendly a form as possible. The prophetic dream (crescent moons rise to form a swastika in the sky over Jerusalem). The dark night of the soul (staying up late reading Left Behind). Long twilight walks on the beach with Michael D. Evans (honeyed light pours through a sudden break in the roiling clouds). Mormonism his path, not his destination (he has been humbled!). A manly tear before the baptismal font, while Mrs. R undergoes a tasteful but compelling attack of glossolalia. The zeal of the newly converted (girls gone wild? Not on Mitt Romney's beat!).

I reckon that if Romney took this approach, and spent a few million dollars more on his campaign, he could easily cut his unfavorable rating among white evangelicals to 16 percent or so.


Rmj said...


chris said...

Jeeze, man, don't give him any ideas!

Question: If one believes in the Seven Deadly Sins, and the penalties, could one even begin to run for any high political office?

four legs good said...

You're correct that Romney doesn't believe a word of this. He's a sociopath. I

He was just playing to the evangelicals- he might as well have been blinking out morse code to them with his eyelids.

And don't be too sure that they won't go for him. He looks just like a cross between and revival tent huckster and max headroom. If Huckabee fades, the modern fundy (especially the women) will fall all over him.

Though I've had a couple of highly placed republicans here speak of Romney in tones of fear and revulsion, I'm not convinced that the rank and file won't fall in behind the Mittster because they'll rationalize that "he can win. "

And I don't think your conversion idea is out of the question. No doubt in my centaur mind that Mitt will say or do anything it takes to win. And, being a complete and utter sociopath, he won't lose a second's sleep over it.

Phila said...

He was just playing to the evangelicals- he might as well have been blinking out morse code to them with his eyelids.

To a certain extent, I agree. But I really feel that most of his arguments fall flat in that regard. In particular, I don't think they want to hear about how all faiths (including Islam!) bring people closer to God. That's a proposition that they've dedicated an awful lot of effort to fighting over the years, and I can't see them being very pleased with his attempt at "multiculturalism."

Hecate said...

Romney also claims to share "moral convictions" with Americans of all faiths.

I bet he'd draw the line at my faith.

Anonymous said...

That's some good writing right there...

Anonymous said...

If he believes in his faith as much as he says he does, conversion to another will never, ever cross his mind. He would be excommunicated from his present church, his wife would divorce him, his money would be removed from his care (don't think "they" can do that, you'd be wrong), and he'd lose his sons forever.
Oh, and he'd never get his own planet when he dies.
He may be a power hungry fool in temporal life, but if he grabbed it the way you suggest, he'd be nothing in the celestial next and I DO think he fears that above whatever lust he holds for temporal power.

Anonymous said...

Three words ... pay-per-view

Doctor Biobrain said...

Why on earth should they choose an unregenerate infidel like Romney over a Godstruck golden boy like Mike Huckabee? What's in it for them? Nothing, that's what.

I'm not sure how likely evangelicals are to think this way, but you've got this backwards. Romney needs to bend over backwards to prove himself to these people, and if he were to somehow gain the Whitehouse, he'd have to give them everything they asked for and more to keep their approval. But Huckabee owes them nothing. He's already holier than they are, and has nothing to prove. So while he might give them what they want, they won't be in a position to demand it from him.

It's the same dynamic we see with Democrat's "Support the Troops" efforts. No matter how much support Democrats give to the troops (pay raises, etc), it will never be enough and they keep having to do it. But Republicans already have that in the bag and are therefore permitted to insult soldiers they don't like and push policies that are bad for the troops. Similarly, a Democratic president could push welfare reform that a Republican president would be doomed for pushing. That's just how it goes.

So if these people were smart, they'd support Romney and try to make him their bitch for the next nine years. But looking at who we're talking about, that's a fairly big if.

Anonymous said...

Willard's already being portrayed as a "flip-flopper" just because of his policy positions; religious conversion, no matter what the rationalization, would only enhance that image, and no one would (or should) take it seriously.

Not only that, but even if we put aside his character flaws (not that I'm saying we should!) we should never forget that one of the tenets of the LDS "church" is that it's okay to lie for the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Max Headroom! *facepalm* THAT'S where I've seen him before!

Thanks, four legs good.

Anonymous said...

wConversion is also the way for Palestinians to get back their lands. Just convert to Judaism; apply for citizenship in Israel - hey, genetically they're pretty much the same - and then vote out the other religion.

Religion, can't live with it; can't live with it.

-- An atheist; (also an a-astrologist, a-fairyist, a-creationist, etc)

Pope Ratzo said...

Hecate, not only would he draw the line at your faith, but also at the faith of the brilliant, devout Hindu man who is sitting at my table in the coffee shop with me.

He's a professor of South Asian languages and literature here at the UofChicago, and when we watched Romney's speech yesterday between
classes, I could see his face fall when Romney enumerated the religions that would be acceptable in Mitt's America.

He would also, apparently, draw the line at people of no particular religious belief, like yours truly.

I find it interesting that, for a guy who claims to be unwilling to engage in theological discussion (at the urging of his future press secretary, Hugh Hewitt) he was so quick to proclaim belief that Jesus Christ was the "Son of God".
I wonder if he realizes that Jews don't exactly hold that belief.
The guy is bad, bad news. He's George Bush, except more disciplined.

Soprano said...

If I were Max Headroom, I'd be insulted at the comparison. Max Headroom has more honesty in one of his pixels than Willard has in his entire body. And Max is funny.

Phila said...

I wasn't really serious about his need to convert. I'd just enjoy seeing him try it.

Willard's already being portrayed as a "flip-flopper" just because of his policy positions; religious conversion, no matter what the rationalization, would only enhance that image, and no one would (or should) take it seriously.

Agreed. Hence my gag at the end.

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't the fundies fall for a live-on-teevee conversion by the Mittster? If they fell for George Bush's "conversion," they'll fall for anything.

Don't rule it out.....

Pneumatikon said...

You're correct that Romney doesn't believe a word of this. He's a sociopath.

No, he's not a sociopath. There is something off with him though - as if he's not a full person.

He's very steady under pressure, but I don't think - to use Jungian parlance - he's at all in touch with his feeling function. Too much has been sacrificed to thinking. So there's a lot of unconscious psychic content kicking around there, not to mention the fact that his ideas are sterile; lacking all warmth.

Also, it's almost like he doesn't want to make a mistake, because people wouldn't love him anymore. I don't know. Something like that. I don't feel like he's malicious.

It's kind of sad. I wish him well.

Phila said...

It's kind of sad. I wish him well.

I do too, in the sense that I hope he's kept away from power to whatever extent is possible.

Flinger said...

I dont know dick about the right, let alone the religious right, but judging from Huckabee's NINETEEN point bounce today, I'd say you're right.

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