I vote Republican pragmatically but I am really a libertarian. Politics is the art of the possible and candidates must build a consensus to get elected and affect change. I don’t think government has any businesses in our personal lives. Consenting adults should be able to do what they want as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Many readers out there might agree with Mitt Romney on taxes and economics, they might even agree that he would be a better commander in chief- but they still will not vote for him. Why? Because they disagree with Mitt on abortion or gay marriage or maybe another social issue.
I am going to deal with what I think is probably the number 1 and 2 issues that are keeping some from voting for Romney despite their agreement on the economy or national security: Abortion and Gay Rights.
There is perhaps nothing more contentious in our society than abortion. Many believe that women should make their own decisions about their bodies and leave the state out of it. Many others argue that life begins at conception and government must protect that life in its’ most vulnerable form. If you are of the later argument you probably already support Romney since he has advocated that position. I will deal with those of you who believe the former, the Pro Choice position.
The President of the United States can impact the abortion issue in a two major ways. He can nominate judges for federal and the Supreme Court and those judges, once approved by Congress can make decisions regarding abortion and abortion related issues such as notification and funding. The law of the land is based on the 1973 supreme court decision in Roe v. Wade, which basically forces the states to allow abortions on demand before viability of the fetus is reached. Since that ruling we have had 4 Republican Presidents all of whom were pro life. Despite that Roe v. Wade stands as the law of the land and in fact many judges that were nominated by those presidents were pro choice. If Romney were elected and if he were able to nominate two or three more pro life justices or more accurately anti Roe v. Wade justices there is a possibility the decision could be overturned. What would happen? Abortion would not be illegal, it wasn’t illegal before the ruling in 1973. About 20 states had laws banning abortions under some circumstances, meaning 30 allowed for abortion on demand. In absence of Roe the states would decide state by state how to deal with abortion. It is certain that women could still get abortions in many states. State laws are less forceful because we can vote with our feet and move to states that enforce our values.
It is important to note that Romney ran on a platform as governor of Mass. that he would not interfere with abortion rights. He changed his mind in 2005 after what he says was an illuminating conversation with a stem cell researcher. I have read the story and I accept Romney’s conversion, the reader will have to decide if they believe this conversion was an honest one or done for political gain- but it was done before announcing a presidential run.
The second issue is Gay rights, Romney has been consistent on Gay Marriage, he opposes it. However Romney does support Gay rights drawing the line at marriage.
Romney, to a gay republican group 1994, while running for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, From Politifact:
“I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.” He promised the group that he would support laws preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace and implied his hope for the eventual full integration of gays in the military, a policy that was ultimately approved 16 years later.
At that same time (1994), Romney was asked if he supported gay marriage:
“I line up with (moderate Massachusetts Republican Gov. William) Weld on that, and it’s a state issue as you know — the authorization of marriage on a same-sex basis falls under state jurisdiction. My understanding is that he has looked at the issue and concluded that certain benefits and privileges should be offered to gay couples and lesbian couples. But he does not feel at this time that he wishes to extend legalized marriage on a same-sex basis, and I support his position.”
In 2003 as governor Romney supported Civil Unions but not marriage- signing on to an amendment that would block marriage but not civil unions.
Gay marriage is not a partisan issue, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act which allowed states the right to not recognize marriages from other states among other things. Obama has only very recently said he supports gay marriage and hasn’t introduced any legislation or actions to force a gay marriage agenda.
Social issues are important but the way our republic is organized they are mostly relegated to the states and increasing to the courts who interpret the constitution. The President has much more power to set a tax and spend agenda that either favors real growth or stifles it. The President also has command over our powerful military and sets the diplomatic agenda. These issues are of far greater importance and much more likely to be shaped by the President. I urge voters that agree in principle with Romney but disagree as I do on some social issues to support Romney for the much more important economic and national defense agendas.