If the elections were held today, I would vote for Mitt Romney rather than sit out the elections or cast a protest vote for a third party candidate. But I would do so with extremely limited hopes, and my very act of voting in November would be a reminder to me that I cannot expect the radical changes America needs to come from the White House.
The fact is that I am a follower of Jesus more than I am a conservative (my strongly conservative moral values are the direct result of my faith), and although I have voted for the Republican presidential candidate for many years now, I am not a registered Republican nor do I identify as a Republican (as in “us” vs. “them”). And while I recognize the great importance of the political process, I am convinced that the frenzied state we get into every four years is the result of us placing too much blame on the person we’re voting against and too much expectation in the person we’re voting for.
Has Barack Obama done extremely serious damage to our nation? Without a doubt he has, and my vote in November will be a vote against President Obama more than a vote for Governor Romney (although I would be thrilled to have my serious misgivings about Romney proven wrong, just as I would have been thrilled to have my much more serious misgivings about Obama proven wrong since 2008).
But we must remember that Obama is not the reason more Americans were killed so far this year in Chicago than in Afghanistan, nor is he the reason that we are drowning in a self-made pool of narcissism, materialism, and greed, nor is he the reason that our educational system continues to limp and falter, nor is he the reason that we read of more gruesome, violent crimes by the day, nor is he the reason that “there are now more Americans in jail than there were in Stalin’s Gulag Archipelago,” nor is he the reason that there is an ongoing exodus of young people from our churches, just to mention a few serious concerns out of hundreds that could be listed.
To repeat: I agree that the Obama presidency has been nearly catastrophic, and at this point, I believe a vote to unseat the president is the best course of action, even though I have raised concerns about the “anyone but Obama” mentality. But the emergence of Romney as the Republican candidate has reminded me that many of us put far too much stress on the presidential elections and not enough stress on our personal responsibilities as citizens and leaders.
And so, even if Obama has been a “great destroyer” (to borrow the title of David Limbaugh’s important book), he is not the principle cause of America’s greatest problems nor will Mitt Romney be the principle solution to our greatest problems. Surely that is a truth we must take to heart both before and after the November elections.
Obviously, as a conservative commentator and a talk radio host, I have followed the presidential primaries with great interest, just as I have observed President Obama with great concern. And I do understand the critical nature of the 2012 elections. But when the best we can look forward to is the swearing in of President Romney, we really need to take this opportunity to step back and reflect.
Just think about the amount of time and passion and energy and money we put into electing our president (or defeating his opponent) and then ask yourself what would happen if we put that same amount of time and passion and energy and money into bringing positive change to America through our own spheres of influence. And what if the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent on vicious political ads were spent instead on ad campaigns that sought to impart vision and direction to our young people? (I admit that I’m dreaming with this last suggestion, but at least you get my drift.)
Certainly, the rise of Romney as the Republican candidate has already led to indifference among many conservative voters, but that is not a positive in itself. Instead, it will be positive if: 1) we don’t get caught up in the typical election year fever; 2) if we do vote for Romney, we do so remembering that he is not the answer; 3) we realize instead that the answer to America’s greatest problems is looking at us in the mirror if we align ourselves properly with God and with our neighbor.
Yes, Barack Hussein Obama has done great harm to our country, but he is not the primary cause of America’s current malaise, we are. And if we have messed things up, then by God’s grace, we can turn them around.
My lack of enthusiasm for Mitt Romney underscores this for me, and for that, I am thankful.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.