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Rick Santorum — The Servant

As the 2012 campaign season comes to my state with next Tuesday’s Colorado Caucuses, I’ve decided to attend as many of the candidates’ local speeches as can be managed.

First up, Rick Santorum.

Dateline: Mr. Biggs Event Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Wednesday February 1, 7:15 pm.  The event was moved to this location at the last minute to accommodate a larger crowd than was originally expected.  The hall was full, standing room only, and I estimate the crowd to have been about one thousand.

I’m not a professional reporter. First I’ll do my best to recapitulate the speech objectively and then offer my opinions of it at the bottom of the post.

Santorum spoke with a microphone in one hand and no notes.

He began his comments by reminding the audience of the importance of the Constitution to American life. The Constitution exists to ensure our enjoyment of those freedoms and rights espoused in the Declaration of Independence, which Santorum referred to as “the Soul of America”.

Santorum went on to mention Alexis de Tocqueville, who journeyed to America to compare the American Constitution with the new French Republic created by the French Revolution. While the French Constitution espouses liberty, equality and fraternity, America substitutes “paternity” for “fraternity”.  This paternity, Santorum says, is the paternity of God the Creator. Such paternity means that rights are given by God, as the Declaration says, and they do not come to us through the fraternity of our fellow citizens or our governments.  Indeed, even equality is to be understood as our equal standing with each other to God.

At this point Santorum switched from the philosophical underpinnings of American government to the specific issues of the day.  He says he entered the presidential race for one reason — Obamacare. Obamacare changes the relationship between people and government by giving government control over your health and thus your very life. With government controlling health decisions Americans will no longer be able to say that their rights come from God as the Declaration declares but, to the extent Americans still have rights, these rights will come from the government.  Such rights can be taken away by men as easily as they are conferred by men.

Next Santorum took up the subject of his standings in the polls, and specifically whether he could win the nomination. He explained that in Florida he had higher favorability ratings (60%+), than either Romney or Gingrich, but that since people were convinced he couldn’t win they voted elsewhere.

To finish, Santorum returned to his opening themes.  He is running on a slogan that is also an equation: Faith + Family = Freedom. He accepted the moniker “social conservative” and explained that he will gladly wear that moniker because it accurately describes him — even though many in the GOP say that what is needed is an economic conservative rather than a social conservative. But Santorum went on to argue that it is social conservatism that ultimately leads to economic prosperity. He reminded the audience that the word “economy” comes from the Greek meaning “household management.” Thus we need to have strong families (households) at our core to have a prosperous economy. When we have weak families we suffer. The poverty rate in single parent families is 40%. As marriage rates decline we can expect poverty to increase. Here he receives a standing ovation.

At this point Santorum introduces Dr. James Dobson as one of his endorsers.  Dr. Dobson states that as in 1980 “we’re not gonna vote for someone who people say can ‘win’, we’re gonna vote for someone who can govern.”

Dobson then posed a number of questions to Santorum:  Will you get the government off our backs? Will you get rid of Obama’s executive orders? Santorum replied that he will fire all of Obama’s czars. He will repeal regulations which cost business over $100 million per year.

Santorum finished the event with two personal stories.  When he lost his last Senate election in Pennsylvania he did so while “[standing] up for my principles even when they were not popular. Abandoning your principles is the one thing that is worse than losing. ”

Then Santorum recounted the story of his daughter Bella who was born with a genetic defect called Trisomy 18. Most children with this condition die shortly after childbirth but Bella is alive today at age 3. Santorum explained that Bella’s condition means she cannot walk or talk and never will, that she can do only one thing — love. That, he finished, “is the same relation I have with my Father in Heaven: I can do nothing for Him but love Him, yet He loves me unconditionally.”

Rick Santorum received a loud round of applause. He stayed near the podium to shake hands and take photos with dozens of well-wishers.

Upon reflection, I was struck by the fact that Santorum received only one standing ovation through the entire speech.  To be sure there was nothing in his presentation that was disliked, yet he doesn’t generate adulation the way some other candidates do.  In fact, most candidates package their stump speeches around key words and phrases specifically designed to make the audience swoon: Hope! Change! No New Taxes! 9-9-9! and the like.  Santorum is different from them, and I don’t believe his difference is an inadequacy or a failing.

Thinking of the current four remaining GOP candidates I think we can now apply a single word description to each.

Romney is The Executive. Give him a job like running the Olympics or building big companies and he gets the job done. Unfortunately he is incapable of knowing which job to do.  He’s been on both sides of so many issues (abortion, cap and trade, health care mandate, global warming, gun control, etc. etc. etc.) that he obviously will need some direction as President.

Gingrich is The Visionary. He has wondrous ideas every minute of every day. However, we end up bickering as to which of his ideas are brilliant and which are idiocy.

Ron Paul is The Ideologue. He doggedly sticks to his Free Market economic policy and his Non-Interventionist foreign policy like a Swiss watch sticks to its timing.  Unfortunately he cannot conceive of any flexibility in his ideology even when confronted with practical problems such as killing Bin Laden.

That leaves Rick Santorum.

Santorum is The Servant. He is the Servant of his Country, of his Constitution, of his Family and of his Faith. He was the Servant to the people of Pennsylvania when he voted against a national right-to-work law because he would not approve of a federal law which overturned his state’s law. He’s been criticized for that vote and indeed it went against his own politics, but he would not abandon his role as Servant to the State of Pennsylvania.

People stood up for Santorum only once tonight. He is more soft-spoken than dramatic and people politely listen to him speak as if he were their neighbor next door. He is not a Napoleon by character or temperament. You will never cheer Santorum like a purple-clad Roman conquering hero; you will never faint at his feet. He will never become a despot.

Santorum will never present himself as your provider. He will expect people to pursue happiness and he will see his role as service to that pursuit by securing those natural rights we all deserve as people. In this way he will endeavor to be the Servant to Freedom.

Throughout this process we’ve seen that we live in an age of great egos. We see pundits and journalists and presidents vying with each other for our accolades. Santorum is the exact opposite, a Servant, and that difference may be what the country needs right now.

Rick Santorum

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16 thoughts on “Rick Santorum — The Servant

  1. Heather on said:

    I love your breakdowns and one-word descriptions of each candidate. They are spot-on. While I do not support Romney, Newt, or Paul; I can find characteristics in them that would enable me to select their name against Obama’s come November. However, I am tired of going to the voting booth and voting for the “lesser of two evils.” This election, I finally have an opportunity to vote for a candidate that I truly support. Rick Santorum is that candidate!

  2. iPick-Rick on said:

    You did a great job of covering the event. I am an unabashedly bias Santorum supporter; so, I appreciate your reasoned approached to your opinion.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. We pick Rick 2!

    Thanks for your thoughts on Rick’s visit to Colorado Springs. Loved your analogy of Rick as a Servant. Good stuff. You pegged the others fairly also. We are excitedly expecting Rick tomorrow here in Mid Missouri. I will see him then. Great to hear also of Dr. Dobson’s presence also…Blessings!

  4. John DeFreese on said:

    This is one of the most honestly written piece I have read to date during this entire primary season. How refreshing it was to read. I have been a Santorum fan from the beginning. I hope his numbers begin to rise. It is important that a man of his character rises to the top simply because he will not take credit for the rise. Rick Santorum realizes that it is not about him, it is about the future of America.

  5. You want Rick “I hate the constitution” Santorum as president. Maybe you should read something he’s written or better yet watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1uzZTtIurE&feature=related

  6. The TimMan on said:

    Well I have read something he’s written but apparently you haven’t read what I’ve written, namely this post. Rick Santorum does not hate the Constitution — for the first half of his speech that night Santorum explained how he holds the Constitution as well as the Declaration as central to American political life. Other politicians feel less bound by the document. In fact, Santorum sees himself as the Constitution’s Servant, which is the point of my post and I stand by my judgement.

    You don’t provide attribution for the quotation marks around the phrase in question and I am certain that the quote was taken out of context, assuming Santorum actually uttered the phrase.

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  11. Tiffany on said:

    Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading it and feel it is spot on.

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