Sunday, August 12, 2012

Romney Shows His True Colors

I have not supported Mitt Romney to this point, but his choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate solidifies my opposition to his candidacy. With this choice, Romney clearly demonstrates that his path to restoring America will come at the expense of those who can least afford it. As the chief author of the GOP's budget plan – Path to Prosperity, Ryan stands out as a staunch advocate for what Jim Wallis has described as “an immoral document.” This budget proposal and the principles that Ryan stand for run counter to fundamental principles of Scripture. God calls us to speak up for and defend the rights of the poor and needy, the widows and orphans. God does not call us to gut programs that help the poor while extending tax breaks to society's wealthiest members. For this reason the Republican budget plan authored by Ryan and the principles on which he formulated that document are immoral.

Unfortunately many other believers in this country will not see things this way. They have bought into a gospel that exalts wealth and success. Although not all would say it as clearly and directly as this, the fundamental American gospel holds that wealth is an indication of God's blessing and poverty an indication of God's curse. Consequently, those who have been blessed by God should be allowed to enjoy that blessing as they desire and the poor obviously just need to get right with God and get working so that they too can enjoy God's blessing. In adopting such a worldview, explicitly or implicitly, we forget or ignore the many injunctions in Scripture to care for the needs of the poor, to defend the cause of the weak and powerless. Yes, we need to do that first and foremost in our personal lives and in our churches, but we also need to advocate and strive to create governmental structures that do so as well. We will not achieve a just society simply by relying on the philanthrophy of individuals and private organizations. We need to reevaluate our understanding of the gospel message and speak out in defense of the poor, weak and marginalized.

I recognize quite clearly that this country needs to make some serious adjustments if we want to continue to have a healthy future. But those adjustments should not come at the cost of society's most vulnerable. We need to restrain government spending, but we can't do it primarily or exclusively on the backs of those who can least afford it. While advocating for cuts to welfare programs, Representative Ryan would expand military spending. While cutting programs to protect the environment he would extend tax cuts to the wealthy. His priorities are out of line and any progress he and Romney might achieve in reducing the deficit in this way would come at too high a cost. Yes, we need to make some hard choices as a country, but the ones offered by Romney and Ryan are not going to lead us in the right direction.

I wish I could say that President Obama offers a great alternative. Unfortunately that is not the case. The Democratic party has its own significant weaknesses. I wish there were a realistic alternative, a third party that would stand for a broad, Scripturally-sound, just society – a sort of Christian Centrist Party, although I'm hesitant to put the word Christian into the name of a party because it would be sure to be abused and misused. I am intrigued by the platform of the current Green Party candidates Stein-Honkala and may choose to throw my support behind them. But I simply cannot support a Romney-Ryan ticket that would attempt to right the American ship by reducing or eliminating support for those who most need it. To do that would be, in my mind, fundamentally unjust and immoral.

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