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Morality, Not Theology

The importance of Romney’s Liberty University speech.

May 28, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 35 • By MEIR Y. SOLOVEICHIK
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Like Soloveitchik, Romney emphasized that these shared moral convictions revolve about essential aspects of our civilization:

You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal. Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the difference. .  .  . Central to America’s rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition. .  .  . The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the preeminence of the family. .  .  . Culture matters. As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

The speech produced rave reviews from evangelical leaders, and rightly so. There are many unexpected twists and turns yet to play out in the election, not to mention the conventions and debates. But if the first Wednesday in November leaves us looking at President-elect Romney, elected in part by a united conservative base whose divisions in 2008 destroyed his dream, we will look back on the Liberty University speech as a major moment.

Meir Y. Soloveichik is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.

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