If We All Thought Like Plato: Part 2
The New Year is upon us and has brought forth many things to anticipate. Individually, we have our New Year’s resolutions, gyms to go to and vegetables to eat. Globally, we have the excitement of the Summer Olympics. And nationally, our country will be on the bumpy ride known as the presidential election. For some of you that means a lot of talk on the news and in the papers of a race you eventually get sick of hearing about. And for others, it brings forth a hope for change.
Back in September, right as things were getting started, I shared my thoughts about Texas Governor, Rick Perry. And as the months progress, we are able to learn more and more about the other Republican primary candidates. After the Iowa caucus, things weren’t looking so great for Mr. Perry (see Perry, Perry, Quite Contrary); but things are looking better and better for Mitt Romney.
Honestly, I didn’t know much about this Romney character, except that he was the former Governor of Massachusetts and ran for office in 2008. I had never heard of Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. Ron Paul, well I’m used to seeing his name, but I’ll leave it at that. So I did some research. First I like to learn about the person, then about their politics. People are what make up a nation, and ultimately I want to like the person before I decide if I like their politics. That may be a tad idealistic, but for me to understand their policies, I have to understand their nature.
“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” (Plato)
Now for Mr. Romney’s politics. Until 1994 he was a register Independent, supports fiscal conservatism, abortion rights, and gay rights. He aims to restrain spending and taxing, be tolerant or permissive on social issues, protect the environment, be tough on crime, and try to appear post-partisan. Over the years his view on abortion and gay rights, as well as stem-cell research, has become much more conservative. Romney is now a classified Republican.
“While there have been many biographical parallels between the lives of George Romney and his son Mitt, one particular difference is that while George was willing to defy political trends, Mitt has been much more willing to adapt to them. Mitt Romney has said that learning from experience and changing views accordingly is a virtue, and that, “If you’re looking for someone who’s never changed any positions on any policies, then I’m not your guy.” Romney responded to criticisms of ideological pandering with the explanation that “The older I get, the smarter Ronald Reagan gets.”
Ironically for someone, like myself, who is very “black & white” and despises mediocrity, I actually love the above statements. I think in something as “sticky” as politics there has to be an element of flexibility. If you and I are allowed evolving beliefs, why aren’t politicians? As I have shared in previous posts, my way of thinking has changed as my understanding has deepened. I think it only fair to allow everyone that same opportunity. I might even go so far as to say that our forbiddance against that right might very well be the reason we are all so unhappy with politicians. This is not to permit a “flip floppy” attitude; but for someone with such a consistent behavior as Mitt Romney, I must believe any change in ideology was well thought out.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” (Plato)
But I have a confession to make. I would like to blame the “small town girl” in me, but I don’t think that would be fair. I have an issue with him being Mormon. Without going into the details of why I believe Mormonism is inaccurate, I’ll also admit would have a problem electing anyone of a different theological faith from my own. (And by “problem” I mean, it’s something for me to seriously consider.) Now I do not want to be close-minded, but if I believe a person’s relationship with God is supremely important, then I must also believe that how they practice their faith affects their decisions in all aspects of their life. (Remember I am first looking at candidates as people, not politicians.) It would be unnatural for me to honor and support an authority figure (such as a Commander-in-Chief) with core beliefs different from my own.
(Side Note: To briefly address my difference in religious beliefs against Mormonism, most simply, Mormons believe in the general accuracy of the modern-day text of the Bible, but they also believe that it is incomplete and contains errors (hence the use of the Book of Mormon). I disagree one hundred percent on that matter.)
But since we don’t live in “Randi’s World” where everyone believes what she does, I must then determine how to choose a candidate that most aligns them self with what I believe to be best for the country. From what I can tell Mitt Romney is devout in his faith, and I greatly admire that. But there are other candidates who may perhaps claim to have a faith that is more similar to mine, yet realistically you might not be able to tell them apart from an agnostic. Would it be better to support a lukewarm protestant Christian, or a devout Mormon?
I understand why our founders established the separation of church and state, but as a civilian and registered American voter, I am a faith-based person. Consequently, I make my political viewpoints based out of what I believe to be true. I am still researching candidates, thoughtfully and prayerfully discerning their person and politics; but I am glad to know more about this Romney character. So let the race begin!
Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous. (Plato)