It was an important speech, not only because it seems to have closed the gap between Romney and evangelical Christians but also because it spelled out major themes in Mitt Romney's understanding of America.
Romney: "You know who you are. And you know whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence . . . ."
This is a truism. Most American universities seek to graduate men and women who are as committed to secularism as nearly all the members of faculty are. In contrast, at traditional Christian and Jewish schools, the aim is, as Romney said, to produce students who know "whom [they] will serve."
What Romney is asking is this: If one is not morally accountable to God, to whom or what is one morally accountable? Most universities will respond: to one's conscience. But those who adhere to Judeo-Christian values do not trust the conscience alone. What Nazi or Communist mass murderer was not at peace with his conscience? The conscience is as easily manipulated as the heart (the heart being the other guide to behavior among most college graduates).
Romney: "Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning."
The death of God has not only led to moral uncertainty; the secular left actually boasts of its moral uncertainty. Unlike the religious, who have a black and white view of moral issues (so the left tells us), those on the left struggle with moral complexity. But this is self-delusion. The left is as morally certain about its positions as the most fundamentalist Christian. Where is the left's moral uncertainty about same-sex marriage? About abolishing capital punishment? About race-based affirmative action? About higher taxes? Indeed, about anything the left believes in?
Romney: "That said, your values will not always be the object of public admiration. In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world."
Is that ever true. Those of us who adhere to Judeo-Christian values and live a religious life are mocked as fools when not dismissed as dangerous. If you believe that nature was designed by a Creator, you are regarded as an anti-science buffoon. If you get your values from the Bible, you are considered a living anachronism.