THE BLOG

Is Moral Consistency Something One Should Look for in a Candidate?

10/11/2012 05:31 pm ET | Updated Dec 11, 2012

Bill Clinton asked, "Who is this moderate Mitt we saw in the last debate?" Over the years we have seen many politicians running for office change their mind on issues. It is natural and even a positive occurrence when new information comes to light about a subject. Most of us want our leaders to look at new science and current world events as they take positions and both of these can have a profound impact on what you believe is right both for the times and the nation.

The problem with some politicians is they change their mind on basic moral issues without any new information or explanation but rather change based on the particular campaign they happen to be running at the time. Mitt Romney is breaking new ground in this area. He is changing his mind or at least his positions by the hour.

On Wednesday in an interview with the Des Moines Register he said that he didn't see any actions he would be taking in the White House with regard to abortion. Clearly he said this to appeal to women in Iowa who are scared of him because in his own words he is now, "A Severe Conservative." When the Democrats heard about what he said they immediately challenged it and his campaign was forced to issue a statement saying that he is a 'staunch Pro-Life candidate.' A couple of hours later, apparently because his own severe conservative supporters questioned his statement to the press, Romney went further and said he would immediately draft a budget that would defund Planned Parenthood. All this happened within a few hours.

When that happens we have a right to question the core values of the candidate. What does he really believe on what many consider basic moral questions? Romney over the years has flip-flopped on this issue about six times.

But then Romney has flip-flopped on other questions that are considered both moral issues and civil and human rights issues. When he ran for Senator in Massachusetts against Ted Kennedy he claimed to be even more supportive of the civil and human rights of the LGBT community than Kennedy. Something difficult to do but then I assume Romney felt it was what that electorate wanted to hear. Today while polling clearly shows that the majority of the country has moved forward on LGBT issues including the right to marry, Romney has moved backwards. In his fight for the Republican nomination he stressed his opposition to everything including ENDA, the right to be free from discrimination in the workplace. He is now passionately opposed to marriage-equality and supports the fight to maintain the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Therefore a fair question to ask him is, "What is it you really believe on these issues and what moral argument do you make to yourself to justify your positions?"

Other questions that are fair to pose would include, "Do you base your beliefs on religious doctrine and if so how can you change your positions so regularly?"

"How do you understand the separation of church and state in our constitution?"

"If your being a Mormon should not be an impediment to your being elected (I for one feel it should not), then how do you see other issues being exempt from this separation that our forefathers obviously felt was very important?"

There is a stark reminder in this election of the differences of opinion on how ones religion should impact how one governs. Just look at the positions taken by the vice presidential candidates. Biden, a Catholic, supports marriage equality and states that he understands that while his religion doesn't support it, civil law can and must be netted out equally. On the other hand Ryan uses his religion to say why he is opposed to marriage equality and thinks that civil law should be based on his personal religious beliefs. These differences in their opinion on what is religious expression and what is civil law extend to a woman's right to choose, the right to contraception and even a right to basic health care for women.

It is a sad state of affairs when the public accepts with a cavalier attitude the flip-flops on moral issues of candidates without questioning them in detail about their views and how they came about. We sometimes forget that even though these are moral issues the laws governing them and how the constitution is interpreted often reach the Supreme Court for final arbitration. It is the president who gets to nominate people to the Court and we need to know that what the president believes doesn't get impacted by who talked to him/her last or the last campaign he/she was in. I for one want a president and all my political candidates to have some kind of a moral core and it is getting more difficult to figure out if Mitt Romney has one or what it is.