Tuesday, September 4, 2012
A friend of mine and I talked over the holiday weekend. While she’s not at all happy with President Obama, she’s concerned about the Republican Party’s and Mitt Romney’s stands on social issues. She wonders about the politics of President Romney’s appointments to the Supreme Court, about his is being pro-life when she’s pro-choice, and about gay rights on which they disagree. Like so many people out there, she’s a socially liberal individual who understands the importance of electing a fiscal conservative, but isn’t sure she can compromise the one in order to do the latter.
Flattered that she would ask me to comment on her predicament, I wanted to put my advice in writing. I believe that it’s a not so simple matter of priorities.
Putting up with differences is something we all do all the time, some of us better than others. If you’re in committed relationship, married or not, I’m guessing you and your significant other are not exactly alike. Maybe you have different political or religious points of view, or maybe one of you is “country,” the other one “rock and roll” or, heaven forbid, “classical.” And yet, even though those different perspectives are important, even to the point of defining who you are, you get along and your relationship thrives. It’s not always perfect, but it works well. There’s even a term for the more extreme version of it: “Complementary opposites.” You get along, respecting and appreciating each other despite and sometimes even because of these differences.
If you think you know where I’m going with this, you don’t. I’m not talking about you, a voter, and Mitt Romney. Not yet. I’m talking about you and over 300 million other Americans. We’ll get back to voting for Mr. Romney in a minute. We are a diverse country two thirds of which, according to one recent Gallup poll, want some restriction on abortion rights. My friend is in the one third minority. A substantial minority of our countrymen, almost half in fact, are opposed to gay marriage. My friend who called me agrees with the slim majority.
Those other people who disagree with us, one way or the other, aren’t fools or jerks. They’re just people, like all the rest of us, with different opinions. So what? You either believe in democracy, or you don’t. Americans do. It’s the not so secret reason for our success. And you can’t have a democracy without differing opinions. What would be the point? So get over it, “it” being the fact that not everyone, including Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, is going to agree with you on all matter of stuff.
The point is that we all need to get along, especially in a time of crisis because working together is the only way we’re going to solve our most critical problems. When you and your wife or husband are facing, I don’t know, a health or financial crisis, you put aside the less significant differences between the two of you and focus on what’s most important. It’s absolutely essential that we do the same in our country if we ever want to get out of our economic and fiscal mess. Not incidentally, it’s something politicians need to do in Congress, or get out of the way to make room for someone who understands the essential need and power of mutual respect for the differences among all of us, and for cooperation in spite of them.
I don’t like the way people in Texas love guns, but they’re Americans just like me and really understand how to cook great barbeque. I love and respect them for that. I’m not fond of the evangelistic movement, but I respect it. I respect it, even if “it” isn’t all that crazy about my personal beliefs. I believe gay people should have the right to marry, but I know millions of smart, good people don’t. I’m not 100% sure where I stand on the unfettered right to abort a pregnancy, and I really don’t like the way it always seems to be female decision, but I try to understand and appreciate the other side of the debate. Get the point?
Our country is in a world of poop, most of it administrative, economic and fiscal, that our current President isn’t handling well. I believe that Mitt Romney, as a seasoned, highly successful manager and fiscal conservative, will be significantly better at helping our country resolve our crisis-level problems. That’s why I’m going to vote for him, even though he and I disagree on some important social issues. Am I fearless? No. Stupid or a jerk of biblical proportions? Occasionally, so my wife tells me. What I know is that a President Romney can’t confirm Supreme Court Justices on his own, not without Congressional approval. I know he can’t, not personally, not all by himself, define gay or abortion rights. He may be influential, but then so are we. We all have a voice in what our government does, and I’m willing to bet on America. It may take us time, but we eventually do the right thing.
Right now, we have a crisis. It isn’t about the Supreme Court or about gay or abortion rights, however important those issues are to so many Americans. “It’s the economy, Stupid,” so I say with great affection, and about a fiscal crisis of epic proportions. We need to put our differences aside and work together to fix our economic and fiscal problems, and get that 800 pound gorilla out of our collective head.
Mitt Romney is asking us to hire him to manage our government. I think he’s the better choice of the two people applying for the job. The lofty tile notwithstanding, Mitt Romney would be the first to agree that a President is nothing more than an employee of the American people, as are our Representatives in the House and Senate. I don’t have to agree with everything a President Romney thinks. I just want him to help get the economy and our government’s finances back on track, and we’ll all keep working on the other stuff together.