"Saving The Soul Of America"

by Timothy Noah | January 11, 2012

In his victory speech Mitt Romney said, "Our campaign is about more than replacing a President; it is about saving the soul of America." It's a line he's used before in speeches and at least one ad, and it's not a good idea. Here's why.

1.) America's soul doesn't need saving. I'm a Democrat, but I'd think that even if I were a Republican. In 2004 I took John Kerry to task for adopting as his slogan, "Let America be America again." Partly I objected because the line was taken from a crappy propagandistic poem by the great American poet Langston Hughes during his unfortunate Stalinist period. But partly I objected because I found the hubris and grandiosity distasteful. America is America even when its president is someone I don't like. Even if I thought America needed a new president I wouldn't think its very soul in peril if we didn't get one. Its soul is doing just fine, thank you very much.

2.) The Billy Sunday-style rhetoric ill suits Romney, a politician whose soul is perpetually up for grabs. Even if I thought America needed a preacher-in-chief, I wouldn't hire a shape-shifter like Romney for the job.

3.) The language of evangelism inadvertently evokes Romney's Mormonism. This is a guy who actually spent some of his life trying to convert people (and not just any people; French people!) to Mormonism. What do missionaries do? They save souls. I think a Mormon has every right to run for president. But just as I wouldn't have advised John Kennedy in the 1960 race to employ sacramental metaphors, I don't think it's wise for Romney to employ metaphors that risk making people think he wants the Angel Moroni to come a-knockin' on their door.

You're welcome to seek my vote, governor. But leave my soul the hell alone.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/timothy-noah/99502/savings-the-soul-america