Yesterday I wondered whether Mitt Romney can connect with voters. It’s not like he hasn’t tried. But it is always so awkward. On ideology, he is “seriously” conservative. When he tries to connect personally, he seems to overreach. He understands the plight of immigrants because his father, a CEO and former governor, was born in Mexico and was a drywall man. He understands what it’s like to worry about losing your job because he faced that anxiety as a young Harvard B-school graduate on the track at Bain.
All this rehash is not meant to bash Romney, who seems like an okay guy and is more pragmatic than his ideological contortions suggest. Rather, it is intended as background for this speculation: Perhaps Romney seems inauthentic because he is prohibited from accessing and embracing the real source of his passion and strength: his religion.
As I understand it, Mormonism isn’t only a religious belief but a way of organizing one’s life. It is at the root of the faithful’s views on culture, the economy and society. But some of its precepts and history may seem alien or exclusionary, or at least that concern may explain Romney’s reluctance to discuss its influence on his life. I have commented before that Romney’s reticence on his father’s Mexican roots may have had to do with the polygamy of his great-grandfather, however irrelevant that may be to the modem faith.
Again, having raised a problem, I have no solution. I do think it is a bit sad, however, that Romney has to hide what may be his greatest strength.