23 October 2012

character in an age of none

Along with millions of other Americans, last night I sat down amidst great anticipation to watch the final debate of the 2012 presidential election season.  The main topic was foreign policy, and it appeared there was going to be a virtual bloodbath on the failures of the Obama administration, especially in the last few weeks.  At first, I was taken back at what appeared to be a performance by Mitt Romney that lacked in emotion and energy.

An example of this is that President Obama gave no less than three direct open-door opportunities for Romney to go on the attack regarding the Libyan crisis.  He took none of them.  We were waiting for this.  We were all waiting for this.  Then it dawned on me, that this is precisely why it was not going to happen.  Everyone 'knew' that in a foreign policy debate that we would have to talk about Libya - everyone includes President Obama.  He wanted to bait Mr Romney into the issue, for he had been prepared himself (perhaps thinking that he could turn it back around) with the 'right' soundbites and debate answers.  And one way for this not to happen was for Mr Romney to refuse to be taken in by it all.  He was going to be above the soundbites; he was going to be presidential.

The campaign has admitted post-debate that the strategy which was employed was Mitt Romney's own.  He did not get it from his advisors, prep team, or debate coaches.  He made the decision to go in with this demeanor and with this message, for he felt as though he was being guided in that direction.  I say this last piece because he, as a committed man of faith, submits himself to the guidance of the Divine on every decision and direction in life.  I know many who claim to be men and women of faith who do not exhibit this same humility before God, but Mitt Romney is not one of those people ... and it is becoming increasingly evident.

Let me say that, as an evangelical Christian, I do not agree with the faith to which Mr Romney holds.  I believe it is a worldview that is flawed and misses out on the heart of the gospel.  And I have heard many people who have wanted to cry 'cult' at the very word Mormon, but who have not one shred of the submissive character to Almighty God that this so-called 'cultist' displays every day.  Therein lies much of the problem with our society - increasingly quick to judge, quick to temper, quick to speak ... slow to pray, slow to listen, slow to commend our neighbors.  What we saw last night was something between a political debate tactic and the rise of a character that says 'enough' ... Enough with the Libya thing, we've spoken about it and, even though I could go for the jugular ... the point has been made, and the failure is known.

Rather than spinning down into this, Mr Romney sought to look presidential.  He spoke of foreign policy in a way that was intelligent and credible.  He proved that he could pronounce difficult names of world leaders, that he knew where countries and continents lie (which is all the media is interested in themselves anyway), but he knew that this level of rhetoric tends to put the American people to sleep, especially when the home front is in such trouble.  So, when the topic turned to strengthening the economy at home, he came alive, along with the rest of the American public.  For when the President was trying to take yet another opportunity to show that he is a (self-proclaimed) 'citizen of the world,' Mr Romney instead decided to show that even though he understands the world, he is a citizen of the United States.  And that is quite presidential.

All of this is guided by his character.  At this point in our nation's story, we need more character ... it is not about decimating the opposition, or of gaining revenge on our enemies (either foreign or domestic) ... it is about moving forward to rebuild a country that is hurting.  That takes character from all people on all sides, and there is a time when character counts regardless of its worldview origination.  And for those evangelicals to take issue with such a thought, then I encourage you deeply to display the profound character which Mr Romney shows, for that is how to move forward yourself.  Beyond religious camps, we have seen the character of a Mormon leader, the world sees the character of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, we see the character of Israel in their time of trial, and we see the character of who we as Americans think that we are ... and who we should be.

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