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Opinion: It is Time to Bring Rick Santorum in from the Field

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I watched the Republican debate(s) in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 15, 2015 with some friends. I should clarify, I watched both of the debates. The earlier one had four candidates whom a self-appointed new expert class unilaterally decided were not ready for prime time. They excluded candidates based upon an antiquated poll strategy with no relationship to reality in our digital age.

As the 2016 republican presidential contest moves into the caucus and primary stage, the field has several candidates whom I could enthusiastically support. However, the news reports are  straining to promote internecine rivalries among the Republican candidates. I write this column to express my personal opinion on one of the candidates.

We are facing the most important presidential election of my lifetime. I know that such a claim is expressed every four years. However, I am convinced that the very future of the American experiment in ordered liberty hangs in the balance. I am 61 years old and have been politically active for decades because I believe that faithful citizenship is a part of my Christian vocation.

I deeply love this Nation. My wife and I have been married for forty years. We have five grown children and seven grandchildren. I want to pass on to them a Nation not only conceived in liberty but still striving to embody its promise. That requires a President who understands the indispensable moral foundations of freedom and is able to lead a Nation in distress.

The American public wants an outsider

Many Americans are drawn to political outsiders in this election cycle and I understand the sentiment. Let me share some of my background. I am not an establishment Republican; I am a reluctant Republican. I grew up in a blue collar family in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. We considered the Democratic party to be the party of the working class. We considered the Republican party to be the party of the blue-bloods who used silver spoons while failing to even to see the poor.

I now know this assessment was a caricature, but it stuck with me. I stayed in that mindset until the Democratic Party was hijacked at the leadership level by people who, though they mouthed a concern for the poor, all but stopped their ears to the cry of children in their mother’s womb. It was Mother Teresa who called our first neighbors in the womb, the “poorest of the poor” – and she was correct.

Some in the leadership of the Democratic party pay lip service to the blue collar worker but form corrupt alliances between big government, big business and big labor. I am not against labor unions. In fact, they are an example of the mediating institutions which should play a role in governance.

However, some in the leadership of the American labor movement have lost their working class soul. Thy reject the moral foundations of freedom, the dignity of every human life, and the truth about marriage and family. They have been seduced by the siren song of an old paganism which rejects the foundations of what can lead us forward to real  freedom. They have formed increasingly corrupt alliances with both big business and big government. That kind of alliance finds its home now in the Democratic Party.

The leadership of the Democratic Party has little or no respect for the role of the Church in serving the common good of the Nation. I know that some of its public figures claim otherwise. However, actions really do speak louder than words on this point. Though they feign a respect for believers, and for the Church, they reject the values informed by faith and actually seek to suppress the Church.

This Nation which was founded upon a robust vision of religious freedom as a fundamental human right is now hostile to religious expression in the public sphere. That hostility is especially anti-Christian. I say that because, although the faith of a Christian may be personal, it can never be private. Christians are commanded to share it publicly in word and deed.

This hostility also rejects the real meaning of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. There is a growing effort to reduce the free exercise of religion to a freedom to worship and a soft but accelerating persecution of Christians underway in the United States.

To borrow a line from Ronald Reagan, “I didn’t leave the Democratic party, the Democratic Party left me.” If the Republican Party continues down the trajectory some in its leadership is pursuing, I may find myself unable to continue my participation. But, as far as platforms go, the difference between the two major political parties is clear.

So, I will continue to do all I can to fight the forces within the Republican Party which oppose the core values which still keeps me in its ranks.Part of that requires standing for candidates who are truly committed to those values.

We need a President with blue collar and family values who recognizes and respects the dignity of every human person. We need a President who will expose and oppose Islamic supremacism. A President with the inner strength of character which makes him unafraid to call out militant, radical Islam as a real and present danger and defend against it. A leader with real experience in national security issues. There can be no learning curve.

We need an inside/out candidate for the Republican Party. Someone who has inside experience – but is not held captive to the culture of corruption. Our Nation faces enemies, foreign and domestic, without and within. We need a real leader who will not have a learning curve upon assuming office.  We live in a serious moment which requires a serious response from a serious President.

The next President needs to know that “In God We Trust” is more than a motto or a platitude. It is an indispensable cornerstone of the American experiment in ordered liberty and holds the key to unlocking the potential of our Nation going forward.  We need a President who actually trusts in God – and is unashamed to express that real and active faith. A President who will defend religious freedom as the first freedom and welcome again the irreplaceable role of the values informed by faith into the National conversation.

We have several very good candidates who fit this abbreviated list of qualifications and are morally coherent. This is the first time in many years that voters cannot say there are “no good candidates” because there several. I choose to write only about one of those candidates today. I also do so as a private citizen.

Finally, laying all of my cards on the table, I begin by disclosing that the candidate I am writing about, and his wife Karen, are friends of mine. That candidate is Rick Santorum. I think it is time to bring him out of the field. I will explain the reference.

David and the Five Smooth Stones  

One of my favorite stories from the Hebrew Scriptures gives an account of the selection of David as the leader of ancient Israel at a time of crisis. It is found the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Samuel. Samuel asked Jesse to present him with his all of sons so that he might discern whom he should anoint as the leader of a Nation which was in serious need.

After meeting all of the sons Jesse presented, Samuel did not believe that any of them could provide the much needed leadership. He asked Jesse if this were all of his sons. Jesse told him that there was still the youngest son named David, but he was out tending the sheep. David was brought in from the field and he was the right one.

The story makes me think of Rick Santorum. I am NOT implying there is any sort of divine selection process of Rick Santorum among the several good candidates offered by the Republican Party. That would be heretical for me as a Christian and inappropriate, given my public activism. I am simply using an analogy to express my personal opinion.

Just as David was considered to be an unlikely leader to Jesse, many of those surveying the current field of Republican Presidential candidates say the same kind of thing about Rick Santorum. Though I respect some making such a claim, I disagree. I think Rick Santorum needs to be called in from the field and considered by some who agree with him on the major issues but have written him off and others who have not yet considered his candidacy.

I am tired of the main stream media passing over Rick Santorum. I know that the polls do not show him in the position which political prognosticators think makes him worthy to have a place at their news table. The main stream media and the pundit class remind me of the Greek mythological character named Narcissus. They are enamored with themselves.

Rick Santorum is rock solid on the most important issues, experienced and gifted. He has stood up to establishment politicians on both sides of the aisles, with courage and determination. He has certainly made what I believe were some mistakes, but he has allowed time to become a tutor and has continued to grow and mature in wisdom and generosity of heart.

He has also withstood vile attacks from an extremist wing of a movement which is now seeking to eradicate marriage by redefining it. He has heroically stood against the peddlers of procured abortion as some newly minted right and walks the talk in his own family.  He has courage, an indispensable attribute for our next President.

There is another part of the story of David I bring to this analogy. It follows in the next chapter, 1 Samuel 17. David is the only one who will confront that feared giant named Goliath. Against all odds, David slays him, using one of five smooth stones given to him by Saul. Many sermons have been preached on those five smooth stones, I simply want to use them as a metaphor. We need a candidate who will defend the moral foundations of freedom against a modern day Goliath. I believe that Rick Santorum is such a candidate in this hour.

Rick is morally coherent. By that I mean that he does not separate the moral, economic, social and international issues. Just as the human person is a unity of body and soul – and separating the two can lead to dualism – so, analogously, in the body politic, the separation of moral truths from economic, social and international concerns erodes the strength of a Nation.

There is a moral foundation to freedom. I suggest that Rick Santorum is a political David for this hour, with a slingshot, ready to topple a contemporary Goliath.  Let me reflect on those five stones using policy metaphors.

Five Smooth Policy Stones

I suggest there are five stones of public policy positions which Rick Santorum holds in his figurative slingshot; life, family, freedom, solidarity and subsidiarity.  I will treat each one of them briefly.

Life

There is no question where Rick Santorum stands on the fundamental Human Right to Life. For Santorum, the dignity of every human life is the lens through which every other policy issue is approached. It is not a single issue. He is unafraid to state what is objectively true, every person has human dignity, whether they are in the womb, a wheelchair, a soup kitchen, a hospice, or a prison cell. He is a truly Pro-life candidate. His record on life is second to none. He is pro-life without any compromise.

Family

There is no question where Rick Santorum stands on the truth about marriage as solely possible between one man and one woman, intended for life, open to children and formative of family. No-one can redefine this objective truth. It is revealed by the Natural moral law, confirmed by medical science and serves the common good. Family is the first vital cell of society, the first church, first school, first economy, first hospital and first government. Santorum will stand up for this truth and push back against the growing assault on marriage and the family and social order founded upon it.

He affirms that children have a right to a mother and a father. Having a compassionate approach to single parents and making room for splintered families does not run contrary to the necessity of recognizing the two parent marriage bound family as normative. Santorum supports parental choice in education or what is often called “school choice.” I prefer to use the phrase parental choice because the buildings do not make the choice, parents do. That is the whole point! He affirms that parents are the first teachers and that all children, no matter what their economic means, have a right to a safe, effective and productive education outside of the first school of the family.

Further, Santorum is unafraid to speak truth to power and will reign in the escalating abuses of the judicial, executive and legislative branches of Government which threaten our future as a free people and threaten the very future of marriage and the family.  One of the most important but rarely discussed facts about this coming presidential election is that our next President will probably select four Supreme Court Justices. I have no doubts about the kind of Justices a President Santorum will select.

Freedom

There is also no question where Rick Santorum stands on authentic freedom. Freedom has two sides, a freedom from and a freedom for – bringing along with it an obligation to choose what is right and true and good and noble. Otherwise, what is called freedom collapses into a counterfeit notion of freedom and can lead to anarchy or collectivism. That is what is happening in the west. The exercise of freedom must always be undertaken within a moral consideration because freedom has a moral foundation. Freedom is a good of the human person, not some ethereal concept which floating around to be debated by academics or used as a slogan to promote an agenda.

His vision of freedom also has economic implications of real distinction. Rick Santorum has a robust understanding of the primacy of human capital which permeates his support of the free market economy. This is critical for any understanding of what is meant by a free economy. This is also what makes him a champion of fairness for all workers as well as an advocate of an economic order which rewards creativity, initiative, and entrepreneurship. He is a champion of the worker because all human work has dignity. That is because of the dignity of the worker engaging in it. He is an advocate for a free market who calls for expanding participation and not concentrating the control of the market in big business or big government.

Santorum is also a tireless champion of the first freedom of religious freedom, affirming with the American founders that religious freedom is a fundamental human right which no civil government can take away. He is an outspoken defender of the First Amendment and the free exercise of religion. He affirms that our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness do not come from the State – but from the Creator.

Rick Santorum will stand up against the growing attacks on Christians and other believers, exposing and opposing efforts to confine religious expression to only worship behind church doors and keep it out of the public square. He affirms that the values informed by faith serve the common good, protecting all people.  He will also stand up against the horrid and bloody assault on Christians and members of minority religious groups by Islamic supremacists around the globe.

Solidarity and Subsidiarity

Rick Santorum affirms both human solidarity – the truth that we are our brother’s keeper and have an obligation to the needy in all of their manifestations- as well as the application of the principle of subsidiarity.  The two must both work in tandem. The word subsidiarity is derived from a Latin word which means to provide help and assistance. This is why Santorum is a small government conservative. Big government is inefficient, impedes freedom and is no good at charity and compassion. Top down economic policy stifles economic growth and human flourishing.

Santorum affirms that governance must begin with the smallest unit, the individual and the family, and then involve the mediating structures. It is bottom up – and not top down. All other government exists to provide these governing units with the help and assistance they need – and not usurp their proper role. The proper role for any government above the family, and the mediating associations we build together, is to provide assistance and help.

There are many voices eager to point out the failures of the current centralized, bloated and corrupted federal government. There are few voices articulating an alternative vision of governing. Rick Santorum calls for an inside out and bottom up restructuring of how we govern ourselves. Because we are by nature social beings, we cannot experience human flourishing without moral values, strong family and an economic and social order which promotes authentic freedom. How we govern ourselves is the real question we need to address. To borrow from Abraham Lincoln, we need a new birth of freedom at every level of our life together.

Conclusion

I find in Rick Santorum precisely the qualities most needed in this urgent hour. We are choosing a President to both defend the Nation home and abroad and lead us in a time of rebirth and renewal. We are losing our moral compass and, as a direct result, we are proceeding down a dangerous path both at home and abroad.

We need a true National renewal from the inside out. We need a restructuring of self-government from the bottom up. We need a courageous leader with proven character who can help us to face the twin problems of militant jihadist ideologies from abroad and the erosion of our national moral foundations. We can turn this National decline around, with the help of God and the right leadership. We need a figurative David with a slingshot who is unafraid to confront a new Goliath.



 

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