As the 2012 Republican Presidential race continues, in a move that would certainly be a monumental surprise a year ago, former Senator Rick Santorum has positioned himself as the leading alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. It is likely that quite of few readers of this article prefer Rick Santorum. As Mike Huckabee did in 2008, Santorum polls highly among those describing themselves as conservative, especially Christian conservatives, and has done quite well in the both the South and the Midwest.
Is Rick Santorum a conservative? There is no doubt that he is socially conservative. But, does he embrace the ideals of Madison and Jefferson who called for a limited federal government bound to the principles of constitutional restraint? Does he believe, like Barry Goldwater, that Republicans ought to fight against big government programs, such as FDR’s New Deal, that expanded the role of Washington bureaucrats far beyond what Americans had previously known? Unfortunately for conservatives, as Rick Santorum stated in the following interview from 2008, the answer is no.
Interestingly, Rick Santorum has picked up considerable support among tea party members as well. Keep in mind, that the core aim of the tea party, at least in this area, is a return to the Constitution, restraining the federal government to its authorized functions, and opposition to the spiraling debt and massive spending. As the previous video indicated, Rick Santorum isn’t particularly favorable to this mindset.
So how does Rick Santorum view the tea party? Since his speech in 2008, has he changed his views and embraced the ideals of limited government conservatism? Well, in June 2011, he answered that question.
Now that he is officially running for president, Santorum has changed his tune, reaching out to unaware tea party voters even through his policy positions remain relatively unchanged since his time in the U.S. Senate. Given Rick Santorum’s troubling, although fairly consistent, stance opposing the conservative ideal of a small, fiscally responsible central government, opposing the branch of the Republican Party who advocates these ideals, and opposing the tea party movement, one does have to wonder why any self-described conservative or tea party member would support his candidacy for President. The only reasonable answer is that they do so solely based upon the idea that he has strong moral and religious principles. Although then the question becomes, should we support someone for a political office based on his or her religious beliefs alone?
Do we believe a person who labels him or herself a Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, or any multitude of faiths or someone with no faith at all is or ought to be the defining characteristic which makes a person suitable for elected office? And, if so, like the nation of Iran, should our country be ruled by a theocracy? Assuming that either the GOP or the government follows down this theocratic path, will we still enjoy the long standing freedom to criticize our leaders or their policies when their principles run counter to our own? When fascism comes to this country will it, like we have been warned, be wrapped in a flag carrying a cross?
Of course, anyone is free to support any candidate for any reason, however, it is useful to know where that candidate stands. Rick Santorum, by his own admission, is not friendly to either limited-government conservatism or the tea party movement. Therefore, it is particularly puzzling why some of these very same people should accept him as one of their own. Following this line of thought, one must ask if he or she wants a Republican Party, a tea party, or a nation primarily ruled by Rick Santorum or someone who embraces his ideology? It ought to be a fairly easy question to answer.