This weekend Mitt Romney won the presidency, because he won the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans. If you are in the sizable minority immune to his message, you will not understand this, but in the hills of West Virginia, in upstate Michigan and in rural Nevada they will get it.
They may not know it yet, but the man who spoke at Liberty University is the man evangelicals have awaited. He was honest, he was plain, he was a gentleman. He did not pretend to agree with the theology of the Liberty University audience, but the crowd there knows their Bible and they know that a God who can anoint the Persian Cyrus can find his man any place.
And Romney, or at least his speech writer, was on point. He did not fall for the latest shiny distraction of the Obama campaign, but laid out the essential differences. Romney stands with Liberty for the future. There is no future in adopting ancient decadence sped up with technology. There is no victory in growing angry and merely reacting with the slogans of past campaigns.
Some media did not understand his message. They wanted the governor to fixate on one issue, but Romney is not a hater. He is an American happy to see people left alone, but unwilling to change the Constitution and our heritage lightly or because of temporal claims. A different things need not be a bad thing, but it can never be the same thing.
Many Americans have seen the future President Obama has painted and have decide: “No thank you.” Governor Romney suggested an alternate view at Liberty and the forty-six percent that voted for John McCain will be behind him with a large chunk of the middle that gave the president a chance.
Decent men will not lightly abandon a good man like President Obama, but a majority will vote him out of office if he fails. Romney is pressing the case that he is failing. Americans develop dispositions based on the economy, but they vote their consciences.
The economy has made them surly, but Romney refused to play to their fears. At Liberty, he appealed to the better angels within us.
Mitt Romney only needs evangelicals to come home, moderates to trust him and the base to give him a chance. Mitt Romney in Lynchburg showed the capacity to do all three. He did not ignore difference, but stressed common ground with the vast evangelical plurality. He is a moderate man by nature and expressed his views without rancor and he appealed to the grandness of the Grand Old Party.
He tied economic progress to moral decency. A rich, but wicked Babylon is no fit place for republicans. A poor, but virtuous nation cannot defend herself in a dangerous world.
I believe this man will win. Last weekend made Mitt Romney the next president of the United States . . . if he can repeat the Lynchburg mantra: a decent America works.
John Mark Reynolds is the incoming provost at Houston Baptist University and the founder of the Torrey Honors Institute.