In November, religious conservatives will be forced to cast a vote for a candidate for whom they feel little enthusiasm. More than anything, it is a fear of an Obama victory that drives the religious right to vote for Romney.
Starting from when he was governor of Massachusetts, Romney has not been a favorite amongst Christian conservatives. Romney’s previously conflicted stance on abortion is not news to these voters. Similarly, Romney’s belief in the Mormon Church does not align with the views of the Evangelical Protestants of the religious right. Since this sector of voters specifically supports candidates for their religious beliefs, Romney is not a favorite when compared to past candidates such as Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush. A lack of enthusiasm for Romney is even more apparent when one considers the divide the Tea Party created in the Grand Old Party. Because of this divide, Romney needs to appeal to a group of voters to whom he has not appealed to in the past.
But even worse for this voting bloc, Obama’s policies directly oppose the beliefs of the Christian right. Obama supports gay marriage, abortion and contraceptive rights for women, among other progressive stances. The right-wing Christian constituency fears Obama for these reasons as his policies for these topics directly conflict with their core beliefs. However unwarranted these fears are, since they are based on policy, they are at least comprehensible.
It is a completely irrational fear of Obama that drives the Christian Right to reject him as fervently as they do in the current election. This passion is not in support of Romney, but stems from fear of Obama’s race and religion, and oddly enough, they still fear his birthplace. After four years, certain conservative voters still cannot accept the fact that an African-American leads their country, nor will they accept that Obama’s religion is much closer to the Christian Right than is Romney’s Mormonism.
While the Christian right illogically fears an Obama victory, they are simultaneously sabotaging Romney’s chances of election. Romney’s campaign is lacking enthusiastic supporters unlike Obama’s supporters who have been notoriously passionate for the ideals behind progress and change.
Perhaps to appeal to the religious right, Romney’s campaign consists highly of negative anti-Obama ads and rhetoric. This is not an unusual political tactic, but voters have shown a better response to positivity in a campaign that exemplifies that candidate and his ideas. A prime example is the rallying and support for Obama in 2008. One could argue that rallying behind this fear of Obama is a form of excitement and positivity for Romney. However, I question the morale and credibility of a candidate whose main source of campaign fervor comes from opposing the rival candidate. Which candidate projects confidence in his ideas and ability to lead, and which candidate has continuously based his campaign on negativity?
The religious right-wing’s fear of Obama brings a greater issue to the forefront of our current political environment: Are voters voting because they wholeheartedly support a candidate, or are they are stealing votes from the candidate they oppose? Regardless, we should all be casting a vote in November for a candidate whom we feel passionately and zealously should be the president; not a candidate who is the last resort.
Ally Girouard is a contributing columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.