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.
Romney: "Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value. . . . For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2 percent. But, if those things are absent, 76 percent will be poor. Culture matters."
This is the key to understanding the underclass here and in Europe. But it is the antithesis of what is taught at American universities. They -- and the rest of the left -- teach that it is not values or culture that most determines human behavior. Violent crime is not caused by a murderer's lack of moral values, father, self-discipline, church life, or marriage, but by poverty and/or racism.
Romney: "Central to America's rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition . . . ."
Exactly right. Every free country on earth was formed by Christianity or shaped by a Christian country that imposed it (India and Japan, for example). And the freest of them all, America, has been the most Judeo-based Christian country in the world.
Romney: "The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family."
And each one of these values has been under siege by the left. The left undermines personal responsibility by excusing the irresponsibility of all but white Christian males; undermines the dignity of work with ever-increasing entitlements; shifts "the merit of service" from individuals and communal institutions to the state; and weakens the family by strengthening people's reliance on the government, and by removing all stigma to unwed motherhood.
Romney: "From the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man."
This is why one of the mottos of this country is "In God We Trust." This is the heart of the cultural civil war in which America is now engaged. Do human rights come from the Creator or from men?
Romney: "People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology."
A very significant statement -- a major Mormon figure stating that mainstream Christians and Mormons have "different faiths." But even more important is his truly American realization that all Americans, of every faith (including Islam, one might add), and even those who have no formal religion, "can meet in common purpose." And that purpose is living by and promulgating the American value system: "Liberty," "In God We Trust," and "E Pluribus Unum."
Barack Obama would not have given this speech. Making that clear will make Mitt Romney the next president.
Dennis Prager's new book, "Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph," was published April 24 by HarperCollins. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.Com.
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