Rick Santorum, Values over Politics

I have always admired Rick Santorum as a politician.  You know what he believes; what he values; and more importantly where he will stand next week, next month, next year.  He can not sneak up on anyone.  His positions are well-known; and he sticks to what he believes regardless of how unpopular those views and values are with certain segments of the electorate.

From a political point-of-view, Rick Santorum is a breath of fresh air. 

That is why this moderate Pennsylvania Republican has always found Santorum to be a sound choice among state and national politicians.  Santorum’s stance on social issues – whether you agree or vehemently disagree  – are honest to a fault; based on a foundation of personal belief; and never affected by the expediencies of political popularity. 

This is important because I have become disgusted with the nature of National Politics and National Politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle.  The vitriol, the skullduggery, the deliberate efforts to undermine progress on the National Agenda has exceeded my patience.  It has gotten to the point that I prefer to limit my political interests and activities to local issues and offices. 

So when it comes to politics on the National Level, I’ll take predictable, principled, and reliable over swaying with the breeze of Public Opinion.  The Best Man should win over The Best Politician every time!

You do not see this principled approach from Mitt Romney, who is universally recognized as a politician that moves effortlessly from one position to another depending on how the political winds blow.  

You will not see President Obama taking politically unpopular positions on issues such as gay marriage – despite his steep Liberal Inclinations – or the sacrifices needed to save Social Security and the National Budget in a re-election year.  Remember the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Commission???  President Obama wishes you wouldn’t. 

Many fear Rick Santorum for the personal values he holds and the potential for how those values would play out in the realm of social issues.  This anxiety is not new.  Every conservative candidate for President has been feared by their liberal counterparts for their stance on social issues.  In Santorum’s case, the reaction is more visceral because he will not abandon those positions when campaigning.  He did it in his unsuccessful bid to win re-election to The Senate in 2006; and he is doing it now as well.  

But Fear of Santorum is misplaced based on what I would refer to as The Oval Office Effect.

  • The Presidency changes you.  Just ask President Obama.  Examine what happened to his pledges to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as he entered The Office, or how quickly his promise to empty Guantanamo Bay of terrorists in order to try them on U.S. soil went by the wayside.  Then ask yourself, what did he learn in the intervening months of transition that undoubtably changed his “hard and fast” campaign positions?   
  • When one ascends to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, layers and layers of National Responsibility are revealed and the weight of those charges is enough to make any President mindful of ALL the People he is bound to protect and serve.
  • John F. Kennedy‘s candidacy in 1960 faced some of the same fears of Religious Influence.  Many in the country feared his ties to the Vatican – solely because he was an active, practicing Catholic – as an open door for The Pope to influence U.S. policy and international relations.  Those fears were never realized.
  • A President is a National Leader, yet he controls only one-third of the Government’s check-and-balance structure.  All Presidents enter The Office with their own sets of values, priorities, and bases of power … be they Liberal or Conservative, religious or secular, progressive or populist.  The effects these positions have on public policy are limited through parlays with the House and Senate, as well as the challenge of running the gauntlet of Judicial Review.        
  • Mid-term elections in the House of Representatives offer the possibility of drastically changing political coalitions.  The threat that an entire National Agenda can be waylaid by such shifts in the political orientation of Congress tends to reign in the more controversial tendencies of any President.

None of this would reflect a change in Santorum’s long-held values.  But it does speak to the practical political reality of affecting sweeping changes to social policy based on those values.  

This rationalization will mean nothing to those on the opposite end of the Political Spectrum from Rick Santorum.  But for those who are more moderate in their politics and in their views on social issues, it is important to consider the political realities of National Leadership and to resist the temptation to toss aside such a principled politician as Rick Santorum simply because his position on social issues is seen as controversial or unpopular.

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6 thoughts on “Rick Santorum, Values over Politics

  1. My issue with Santorum is his mixing of political and religious beliefs. I don’t want laws produced or signed based on religion, I want them based on the COTUS. For instance, his stand on abortion. He is against it on religious grounds. I want the question answered from the point of view of the COTUS. There is nothing unconstitutional about abortion. Now, I do prefer that our leadership use their religious views to guide their honesty, intergrity and openess. Just not mix religion and politics to drive agendas.

    To be honest, I don’t get the conservative position against abortion. We want less government intrusion in our lives while at the same time telling half the population what they may or may not do with their own bodies. I suppose it’s the libertarian in me, but I can’t rectify less government with more governmental override of free choice.

    • Thanks for checking out the blog, Eric. Remember you from The Patch.

      It’s a risky venture when politics and religion mix; but it can be handled properly. I think Santorum’s biggest weakness is his tendency to sound demogogue-ish. He doesn’t seem to know how to diffuse a situation where he’s confronted by emotional opposition or when he’s being baited into giving a controversial sound bite.

      He also has a tendency to shoot himself in the foot, uninvited.

      I think we spend a bit too much time arguing over social issues, whether it’s gay marriage, women’s issues, or the relationship of church to state (or lack thereof) when we have so many other problems and challenges facing us. Even The President got in on the act recently over women’s health coverages.

      These issues should be resolved at the grass roots level. I think Governor Christie has it right. Put it to a referendum at the State level. If the people want it, don’t want it, so be it. Then you set the stage for constitutional amendments where REAL social change could be codified into law … IF the people want it.

      But frankly, I can’t see an issue where a constitutional amendment is necessary.

  2. It’s all about who can beat Obama. Social views aside, he doesn’t have the money or savvy (yet) to get the D’s out of the presidency.

    • I would agree for the most part. I think if the economy continues (?) to make progress, Santorum wouldn’t have a chance. Romney neither for that matter. But if the economy were to tank for some reason, all bets are off.

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