Mitt Romney’s Speech: Wrong But Successful

I suppose that it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that there was an awful lot about Mitt Romney’s speech that I disagreed with, and in some instances, disgusted me quite a bit.  But that also shouldn’t take away the fact that this was a big speech, and I think will turn out to be a rather successful one as well.

But before I get into the big wins that Mitt scored, there are a few things that I need to get off of my chest.  The first one Kevin Drum picks up on immediately in that while the Kennedy speech that Romney cited at least tossed a bone to the atheistic community, Mitt wasn’t so kind.  I think what really irks is that he does not malign the non religious community but ignores them completely.

It may make me bristle when members of the Religious Right call secularists and atheists evil, but at least that gets us to the table, at least that acknowledges our existence and therefore our side of the argument.  By contrast, the subtext of Romney’s speech is that everyone has a religious belief, a sentiment that completely erases the existence of those who don’t.

But erasure I suppose was the order of the day as Romney quoted Adams quite a few times, but ignored the contributions of Jefferson and Madison.  I say this specifically because, as I seem to have to remind people from time to time, these two men who were so instrumental in the framing of our country weren’t Christian, and represented the driving force behind the wall between Church and State.

Which brings me to the distorted role that Christian values played in the creation of our government.  The fact is, and I want some back up from the libertarians on this, “God” is never mentioned in the constitution, nor is “Creator” which Mitt Romney evokes (that would be the Declaration of Independence; a document that has zero power in regards to our governance).  The Ten Commandments are, further, not represented in our constitution at all, if they were, murder would be a federal crime (which it isn’t), and we would have to establish honest to goodness Thought Police to enforce the whole coveting thy neighbor’s wife thing.

But, and that’s where the speech starts to actually get good, he addresses this and more.  The true brilliance in this speech is that from one paragraph to the next Romney comes out swinging from the left or the right.  He alienates the secularists and the atheists, but given that a vast majority of this country identify themselves as people of some faith is significant.  Also significant is the fact that while they are different, the right has adequately mitigated secularists by making them synonymous with atheists.

Thus, Romney does alienate, but that’s the price you pay, and given his core audience, it’s a very cheap one.

If this were a Democrat giving the speech, it would be a deal breaker; the brushing off of the secularist base resulting in a deep wound.  But it’s important to remember that Romney’s audience is Republican, his plea is to broaden the tent at least enough to allow his faith in, and to this degree I think he was fantastic.

Further, I think the speech served a secondary goal of directing the dialogue towards the general election.  While much of the speech is very socially conservative, there are occasional nods to the middle and even the liberal.  This following paragraph actually kinda got me going:

“I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.

This theme of religious inclusion seems so terribly antithetical to many of the religions described, and to the religiously fueled power centers of the Republican base, and yet here he is, expressing admiration not only of Christian faiths but also Judaism and Islam.  If only he could have said something nice about those folks who don’t pray at all…

Captain Ed points out another nod to the left in Romney’s referencing his father marching with Martin Luther King Jr.  Going far beyond merely assuaging fears of Mormon racism, this little nugget also speaks to the General Electorate, reminding folks that some of the most awesome of liberal successes were also religiously motivated as well.

His language is lofty and ambitious, and apparently his delivery was strong and emotional.  It was a presidential speech, even if the president in question is one I would never vote for because of the sentiments touched upon in the speech.

Yet, only time will tell exactly how well this speech works.  Right now he’s getting flanked on the right by Huckabee in Iowa who is beginning to look more and more like a potential albatross to Romney’s presidential hopes.

But overall, I think he nails this one.  I think he picks up some points, and I think this gives him a little movement now, but should he pick up the nomination, sets the stage for a strong faith based campaign that still manages to aim for the middle of the road.

I remember at the beginning of the primary season expressing apprehensions towards Romney.  It was Romney up on that debate stage, lined up next to all those really pissed off looking white guys, who appeared to be the spoiler, the Republican centrist Democrats would vote for.

Since then, Romney’s had more than his fair share of gaffes, but it’s speeches like this that make me think he’s still the Republican with the best shot at upsetting the Democratic nominee for the White House.

6 Responses to “Mitt Romney’s Speech: Wrong But Successful”

  1. xranger says:

    Nailed it, Kyle.

  2. Tom says:

    Why would a nonbeliever like yourself even care who is or isn’t acknowledged by someone who believes in something you say does not exist. Perhaps you are not secure in your non belief. Open your mind and God is visable in everything. I know, you are too educated to believe any of that, well,
    GOD bless you anyway.

  3. Thanks, X.

    Tom: You assume too much. You first assume I am an atheist, which I am not. I am best described as a Deist like that great evil heathen Jefferson before me. And it is important because this is not just a nation of people who believe in any faith, but people who don’t believe as well. Further, given the fact that god is not part of the Constitution, that the Constitution was meant to create a governmet based on the reason of man, not the tenets of a bible, it is a grave mistake and danger to inject Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any other faith into the governance.

    Have your faith, practice your faith, and you are free to do so. You are free to sing it from the mountain, and the sidewalk, or whatever. This is fine, it is, in fact great, and I celebrate your right to be religious, to choose your faith, and express it as you see fit. However, it is neither your place to restrict me by law to the tenets of your faith, nor do you have a right for your religious beliefs to be recognized above anyone else’s.

    I am a secularist, but as I hinted at in the post above, that does not make me an atheist. Secularism does not preclude faith, and for some of us, we believe it strengthens the rights of all Americans to practice their faith without persecution. The driving force behind secularism is to ensure that religion is kept not from the public sphere, but instead from the governmental sphere where it is subject to abuse by power hungry politicians, where it is subject to persecution by other faiths endorsed by those who govern, etc.

    Faith is a precious part of many people’s lives, and I believe strongly that letting the damn break, by letting the Religious Right have their way, by turning this government into a Christian one is the beginning of the end. Look at the Catholic/Protestant conflicts of the past; no matter how much you may want to say that there can be a unifying religion, it’s just not so, and if we let God into the government, it will at first go unquestioned by any but the secularists. But then there will be a question as to which God? Which Bible? Should it be the methodist God? The Catholic God? The Jewish one?

    And yes, you may say they are all the same God, but they are each worshipped in differing ways, and eventually faiths will suffer at the cost of whatever faith prevails in this question.

    And that’s when religious persecution begins.

    Love God all you want. Go to a sidewalk and preach about him, but for my sake and yours, keep him out of the halls of Congress, keep him from our judicial bench, and save him from the pitfalls of the White House.

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  5. Charlie says:

    It’s nice to know that this site’s comments on religion being exclusionary does not publish my post from almost a week ago. You RDDB liberals can dish it out but conveniently do not acknowledge viewpoints apart from your own. What hypocrites.

    Charlie

  6. tom anglin says:

    greetings:

    this speech by mitt romney, which i also heard on radio, was one of the finest and best speeches i have ever heard.
    mitt of course did talk about religion, but in such a way as to nullify anyone’s thoughts or ideas that his presidency would be geared in any way to the mormon or any other religion.
    his words, gestures, etc, were really so spectacular; right in the exact place they should have been at.

    congratulations to the candidate on a job really well done; keep it up, and give us some more of the same. OUTSTANDING TALK, to say the least.

    tom anglin

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