by Robert Fantina
Ever since former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney bulldozed his way to the Republican nomination, pandering to every right-wing, Tea-Party element the GOP has, changing his opinion on every issue, and trying in vain to hide some of his vast financial fortune in Swiss bank accounts, the question of his religious beliefs has become a topic for discussion.
Mr. Romney is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), a religion that still gives pause to some, mainly, according to some national surveys, to those who don’t know any Mormons.
The discussions about the Church come chiefly from disgruntled former members, or those with only a rudimentary knowledge of the religion. Talk of ‘secret’ temple ceremonies, a possible recurrence of polygamy, a supposed requirement of absolute support and adherence to the directives from Church authorities in Salt Lake City, who, it is whispered darkly, have a master plan to take over the United States, all, it is said, make Mr. Romney unfit for the highest office in the land.
As a long-time, active, dedicated member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this writer can attest that there is nothing in adherence to the Church that renders a member unfit for any office, national or otherwise. Speculating that it does only detracts from Mr. Romney’s many, dangerous policies, which, if enacted, would cause untold suffering and misery in the U.S. and around the world.
It is his view of America’s role on the world stage, and not his personal religious beliefs, that should frighten any voter away from Mr. Romney.
Let us look at some of his ideas for America...
Aid for the poor. Mr. Romney said he’s not concerned about the very poor, because they have a safety net. But what would he do to that safety net? Among other things, Mr. Romney’s proposals would slash federal funding for Medicaid, which the poor rely on for medical services.
Foreclosures. Mr. Romney said that the housing market should have been left to run its course, unimpeded by governmental interference. He said that once homeowners lost their homes, investors could purchase them and rent them out, (possibly even to the previous owners, one suspects). He opposed any assistance to families struggling to keep their homes.
The auto industry. Mr. Romney said that the automakers should have been allowed to go bankrupt, despite the devastating effect that would have had on the middle class throughout the country.
Foreign policy. Mr. Romney believes that the cruel oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis is justified and should continue, with unabated financial support from the U.S. He also takes a belligerent tone toward Iran.
Same-sex marriage. During his unsuccessful senate campaign against Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994, Mr. Romney said he would be a better friend to the gay community than Mr. Kennedy. Today, he opposes any advancement of the rights of the gay community.
Workers’ rights. Mr. Romney has criticized the work of unions, and opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that adds penalties for labor violations.
The list goes on.
None of this has anything to do with Mr. Romney’s religion. It does, however, have much to do with the opinions of a grasping, extremely wealthy man, who wishes to use his fortune, and that of his equally wealthy friends, to purchase the most prized real estate in the world, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The candidate, the richest man ever to seek the White House, who made his fortune on the backs of the working class that he reduced to poverty while at Bain Capital, seeks to further enrich himself and his cronies, again at the expense of the poor and working class, at a level beyond his wildest greedy dreams at Bain .
If people wish to discuss Mr. Romney’s religion, or any religion, they are more than welcome to do so. However, focusing on his religion is completely irrelevant to his suitability as a candidate for president, and must not be allowed to overshadow the facts of that unsuitability. His extreme positions that so blatantly favor the rich; his apparent lack of knowledge of those who move in less lofty financial circles than he; his complete disdain for the poor, all render him a terrible choice for president.
In 1960, when then-Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Kennedy was viewed with suspicion because of his Catholicism, he made what was considered a campaign-altering speech. Part of what he said is this: “So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again – not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me – but what kind of America I believe in.”
Voters today should not care what kind of church Mr. Romney believes in. He has shown what kind of America he believes in. It is not one that offers opportunity or hope for the poor; it offers nothing for college students struggling to pay their tuition, or seeking employment after graduation; it offers no hope for those with any illness: a trip to the doctor for a minor ailment will be beyond the reach of many, let alone any catastrophic illness or injury. Mr. Romney’s America is no place for older citizens who have worked for years, struggled to provide for their families, and now hope to retire with some semblance of financial security. It is not a nation for women who only want equal pay for equal work, and to be protected from domestic violence.
A Romney presidency would bring increased poverty to millions of Americans, effectively destroying the middle class and reducing the U.S. to Third World status. Workers, women and minorities would see a backtracking of the gains they have worked for generations to achieve. Mr. Romney would cause even greater destabilization to the Middle East than President George W. Bush’s ill-advised war for oil did. There would be no accommodation with any nation that didn’t bow to the U.S.’s ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.
President Obama has had what can most politely be called a disappointing first term. Those disappointments (Wall Street, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, etc., to name just a few) are topics for a different essay. But with Mr. Romney as his opponent, the U.S. and the world should all hope that Mr. Obama wins a second term.