Should Mitt Romney Be Trusted to Serve as President?
The point that Gov. Mitt Romney is most known for throughout his political career is being a chronic flip-flopper on matters of public policy. In view of this fact, the following question is pertinent to address during this year’s presidential election: If a candidate running for public office says one thing on an issue and then repeatedly changes his views, should he be trusted with our vote?
Mere common sense says “no” to this question; but more importantly, God’s Word establishes trustworthiness as a minimum standard that an aspiring civil ruler must possess and warns us of what to expect when we support untrustworthy magistrates to rule over us.
In Exodus 18:21, Scripture sets forth the standard for selecting magistrates: “Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy. . . ” (ESV).
In Hebrew, the word translated as trustworthy means “reliability, sureness, stability, certainty, [characterized by] truth, and trustworthy.” The clear implication of the term used in this context is that a qualified candidate must be a man of truth — a man worthy of trust because he tells the truth and is reliably consistent in his positions.
In Psalm 12, David writes with anguish of when men who spurn this virtue come to power. “With a flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak” (v. 2), David observes, noting that such men maintain no real allegiance with their words except to that which furthers their personal self-interest: “‘With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?’” (v. 4). The result, David laments, is oppression (v. 5) and a pervasive wickedness (v. 8) when such rulers are exalted to positions of authority.
The writer of Proverbs also sounds the alarm about what to expect when we lend our support to an untrustworthy man: “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19). John Gill offers the following observation on this proverb:
It is not good to put confidence in any man, not in princes . . . much less in an unfaithful, prevaricating . . . man; and especially in a time of distress and trouble, depending on his help and assistance, which is leaning on a broken reed, and trusting to a broken staff.
Mitt Romney’s Record as a Flip-Flopper
This video was produced by the Democratic National Committee.
Few would dispute the fact that our nation is “in a time of distress and trouble,” yet many Americans believe that a vote for Gov. Romney for president — whose reputation as a flip-flopper is widely known — will put our nation on more sure footing. While the problems with this thinking have been explained, we must not merely accept Romney’s reputation as a flip-flopper in considering his candidacy, but look at his actual record concerning his trustworthiness as a public official.
The Sanctity of Life / Abortion
The issue of abortion is of paramount importance in our nation as we consider candidates running for public office. Well over a million unborn children are slain in this country every year, an inconceivable number that does not even include those children murdered as embryos. The civil government has the jurisdiction and the duty to protect all of these children. However, not only has the federal government refused to fulfill its responsibility in this regard; it subsidizes organizations which perform such abortions. If there is any issue on which a candidate should not waver, it is this one. Yet Mitt Romney has been all over the map concerning the sanctity of life.
First Mitt Romney was pro-choice, then not pro-choice, then pro-choice again, and now he claims to be pro-life with exceptions. Here is a brief run-down of his history on the subject:
Pre-Political Career: He was in favor of legalizing abortion as early as 1970 (even before Roe v. Wade was decided).
1994 Massachusetts Republican Primary for U.S. Senate: When he announced for the primary, he said he didn’t think government should promote or prevent abortion. However, he stated that he was not in favor of government funding of abortions.
1994 Massachusetts General Election for U.S. Senate: Romney stated emphatically that Roe v. Wade should be sustained and supported. He also supported the “morning after” pill. Contrary to his earlier position, he believed that government funding of abortions was legitimate. He also supported the federal Freedom of Choice Act which would have enshrined Roe v. Wade as federal law.
Utah Season: Romney lost his run for Senate and went to Utah to run the Winter Olympics. While in Utah (a predominantly pro-life state), talk began to circulate about Romney entering Utah politics. In the midst of that talk, Romney made it very clear that he did not wish to be labeled pro-choice.
2002 Massachusetts General Election for Governor: Back in liberal Massachusetts running for governor, Romney bent over backwards to assure voters that he would support a woman’s “right to choose.” In one debate, he even repeated this at least eight times.
As Governor of Massachusetts: Over a year into his term as Governor, Romney claimed that he had an epiphany that changed his views about abortion. However, several facts cast doubt on the sincerity of this “epiphany.” First, within two months of said epiphany, Romney appointed as judge an openly pro-choice Democrat. Second, four months later, Romney stated that he was still “absolutely committed” to upholding abortion laws. Third, around that same time, he ordered Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraceptives (i.e. “morning after” pills) to victims of rape. Romney had initially said religious hospitals could opt-out, but he changed course.
Posturing for a Run for the Presidency: It was at the point that Gov. Romney sought to become president that his rhetoric became more pro-life. While he previously believed that individuals should have the right to decide whether or not to get abortions, he began to indicate that the states, not the courts, should decide the issue.
2012 General Election for President: Since securing the Republican nomination, Gov. Romney has punted the abortion issue by bowing to the judiciary: “Recognize this is the decision that will be made by the Supreme Court,” Romney said. “The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years, but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.” Recently, Romney has gone so far as to admit that he has no abortion legislation on his agenda. Not surprisingly, his campaign quickly retorted that Romney would support pro-life legislation. Nevertheless, the official position of his campaign is that abortion is an issue for the Supreme Court to decide, not the president.
In spite of these inconsistencies and oversights, recent news has refreshed our memory about one thing on which Gov. Romney has not wavered. Over the last three weeks, when the Obama campaign claimed that Romney would “outlaw all abortions, even for rape and incest,” the Romney campaign quickly reminded voters that Romney is not 100% pro-life. According to Romney’s official response ad, “Romney doesn’t oppose contraception at all. In fact, he thinks abortion should be an option in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life.” The net effect of this is that Romney has promised to do nothing to protect over 70,000 of those murdered in the womb every year. This is more than quadruple the national murder rate. As an aside, we should not be surprised by Romney’s pro-death exceptions; they are consistent with the official Mormon position.
Romney’s inconsistencies on the issue of life are also evidenced by his repudiation of the attempts some took to intervene in the state-sanctioned murder of Terri Schiavo.
The bottom line is this: Gov. Romney has not been very consistent on the issue of life. Where he has been consistent, he has frequently come down on the side of death.
The Sanctity of Marriage / Homosexuality
Next to the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage in the face of homosexual advocacy is arguably the most important public policy issue in our nation. God calls homosexual relations an “abomination” that defiles a land and declares that nations where this practice is condoned should expect to be dispossessed of their land — “spued out” as were the Canaanites in ancient times. In the debate over homosexual rights, however, Mitt Romney’s positions have been inconsistent in most areas and deplorable in others.
In 1994, Romney wrote to the Log Cabin Republicans of Massachusetts to tell them that he would do more for the homosexual agenda than Sen. Ted Kennedy. He went on to say that President Clinton’s institution of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was “a step in the right direction” and that it was “the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.” Romney also expressed his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) — federal legislation which would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
After winning the office of governor, Romney changed course and said he did not support the ENDA and that he would keep the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in place if he were president. In 2007, Romney altered his position again somewhat by stating that he would support laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on the state level, but not the federal level.
Romney has consistently been against homosexual marriage. However, even here he has been weak. When initially running for governor in 2002, Romney had refused to support a proposed state constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage because it would also have outlawed domestic partnership benefits which he had promised to make “a hallmark of my leadership as governor.” (Romney still does not oppose “domestic partnerships,” as long as they are not identical to marriage.)
Later, when the highest court of Massachusetts ruled that homosexuals had the legal right to marry, Romney did move to shut off non-residents from coming to Massachusetts to marry because he wanted to prevent Massachusetts “from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.” He then attempted to push a constitutional amendment which would have banned same-sex marriage but legalized civil unions, although he eventually dropped his support of it. Ultimately, however, Gov. Romney chose to enforce the ruling which legitimized homosexual marriage in Massachusetts. When he had the opportunity to stand against judicial tyranny, he declined to take it.
On another point, Romney’s position has appeared unequivocal. At the time of his debate with Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney was a member of the executive board of the Boys Scouts of America. When asked his opinion about the Scouts’ policy barring homosexuals, Romney supported their right to make their own decisions, but stated, “I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.” When the BSA recently reaffirmed its policy banning homosexuals as leaders and members just three months ago, the Romney campaign affirmed that Romney’s position is unchanged: Gov. Romney still supports homosexuals in the Boy Scouts.
Until as recently as the morning of May 10, 2012, Gov. Romney also supported the adoption of children by homosexuals. The next day, however, Romney backed away from this position.
Other Public Policy Issues
Gov. Romney positions have been troublingly inconsistent on numerous other public policy issues. Romney was for government healthcare, including the mandate, which he now intends to repeal and replace (replace with what?). He was for the TARP bailouts, then he was against them. He was for the stimulus, then he was against it. He favored immigration amnesty, which he later opposed, which he now supports again. On gun control, Romney supports the Brady bill, signed an assault weapons ban, increased gun registration fees, supports background checks, and yet now claims to be a friend of the Second Amendment.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:16).
Gov. Romney’s fruit is easily observed. Notwithstanding his occasional affirmation of a right position, his record is one of being a constant flip-flopper who cannot be trusted. Romney’s positions throughout his political career have changed from election to election and even primary to primary (and sometimes even more often than that). If he is elected as President of the United States, we should expect more of the same. At this point, the only thing surprising about Gov. Romney’s flip-flops is that some people are still surprised by them.
Most evangelical Christians admit that Gov. Mitt Romney has serious problems. However, they believe that he is the better alternative of the two major candidates. They say that we can vote for Romney now and then hold him accountable if he gets elected. But if he has not proven himself worthy of trust in the past, why should Christians think he will advance a righteous order in the future?
By taking this position, Christians communicate the message that Gov. Romney can say and do whatever he wants, and they will still support him with their vote. Indeed, by supporting candidates now who flip-flop so egregiously, Christians encourage future candidates to do the same, disregarding the biblical directive to support only “trustworthy” men for public office. This invites hypocrites and charlatans to seek positions of power in our nation and discourages those with integrity to enter the arena.
God’s Word declares that “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). Commentator John Gill describes such a double-minded man as:
A man of a double heart . . . who halts between two opinions . . . who is not sincere and upright in his requests. . . . [He is] very variable in his actions, and especially in matters of religion; he is always changing, and never at a point, but at a continual uncertainty, both in a way of thinking and doing: he never continues long either in an opinion, or in a practice, but is ever shifting and moving.
This describes Gov. Mitt Romney to a tee — a man “unstable in all his ways” because he refuses to be single-minded in what he says that he believes. Given this fact, for Christians to vote for him in this election is to put “confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble”; to place the governance of our nation, as it were, on a “foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19).
Given what is at stake in America — as well as the obedience we owe to God as our Sovereign — Christians should consider their own double-mindedness in being willing to rationalize casting a vote for a man who could well be described as the Flip-Flopper-in-Chief of modern politics.
The Book of James’ admonition is one we should heed if we hope for the blessing of God: “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:8,10).