The Common Good

Mitt Romney and Moral Imagination

The center of a Christian moral framework is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In order to maintain just legal structures it is necessary for policy makers to ask themselves how they would want to be treated by the law. This is why it always is disturbing when you hear of politicians who create laws that don’t apply to themselves or start wars that their children won’t be fighting in.

In 1884, Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Parker Romney, fled to Mexico from Utah. Miles Parker Romney was a practicing polygamist and he wanted to protect his family from persecution. Mitt Romney’s father was born in Mexico, his family returned to the United States and took up residence in Michigan.

While Romney wouldn’t agree with his ancestor’s practice of polygamy, I am sure he understands his great-grandfather’s desire to do what he thought best for his family. Luckily for Miles Parker Romney, there was a country that allowed his family to settle and try and find a better life.

What is unfortunate is that candidate Romney doesn't seem to have that same kind of empathy for families today who are also in difficult positions.

Families living in our country who are undocumented are often economic refugees. Rural farms in Mexico have long been in a downward spiral as they are unable to keep up with heavily subsidized products from other markets. This has left farmers desperate to feed their families.

To think about immigration in a Christian framework means starting with the right questions. If my family was being persecuted and were in danger because of their religious beliefs, how would I want to be treated? If my family was forced out of business and I could no longer feed my family, how would I want to be treated?

From there, much more complicated policy discussions must be had. But, the starting framework is clear. What if the tables were turned?

Would Mitt Romney want a presidential candidate in Mexico to talk about his family the way he has talked about immigrants in this country? Would he have wanted Mexico to turn his family away in the first place and tell them to wait another 10 years?

Tim King is Communications Director for Sojourners. Follow Tim on Twitter @TMKing.


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