Santorum’s Sway, or What Is Conservatism?, or “Constitution? What Constitution?”

Who really likes Romney? I mean, besides soulless automatons (birds of a feather…). Okay, that’s cruel. But in all seriousness, I hear about the “not-Romney” vote about as often as I hear about Romney winning another state primary. For some reason, those who vote in primaries think Romney’s worth it. I wish they could have him without me having him – I’d let them.

But the “not-Romney” candidate seems to be clear now: Rick Santorum. Lots of people – calling themselves “conservatives” or “tea partiers” – like Santorum. But I don’t really understand why.

I don’t hate Santorum. I just think he’s, at best, disingenuous. The problem is that his disingenuousness (spell-check didn’t like that one) has led lots of people to circle his name on the primary ballot.

Don’t listen to Limbaugh. Or listen to him, but don’t believe everything he says. His primary interest is not truth but profits – one must remember that his radio show is not a charity operation. Limbaugh’s most glaring and most powerful lie of late is the unbelievable assertion that Rick Santorum is the only candidate who hasn’t transgressed against conservatism.

Another talk radio pundit – Mark Levin – recently rebuked a caller (a Ron Paul fan) who was complaining that Santorum is not a real conservative. “You Ron Paul people don’t get to define conservatism!” he cried. “I think Santorum is a conservative,” he then asserted.

Fine. Ron Paul people don’t get to define conservatism. But does Mark Levin? Does Rush Limbaugh? Who has defined it thus that Rick Santorum soundly fits the bill?

I’ll ask, then – since those men won’t.

What is conservatism? I would like to try to answer it by way of etymology. The simpler form is the word “conserve.” What, then, are we “conservatives” conserving?

The answer to that question must be, categorically, “The Constitution.” Alternate answers include “liberty,” “life,” and “justice,” but those three are all addressed in The Constitution.

The Constitution is not God-breathed. It is not infallible. It even has its own built-in mechanisms for change. We conserve it, not because it’s perfect (“complete”), but because it represents the will of the people, beginning with the Founders. As a democratic republic, the will of the people, expressed through their representatives, is the law. And without the law, tyrannies and injustices run rampant.

Tyrannies and injustices run rampant. [The end of habeus corpus; The Patriot Act; Endless invasions of privacy; Bailouts; Dirty money in Washington; The Federal Reserve; Heavy regulation and taxation; Taxpayer-funded abortion; Mandated violations of religious liberty - this is America today]

The Constitution must be not only conserved. It must be restored, so that tyrannies and injustices may cease.

So that answers our question: “What is conservatism?”

Now we must ask, “Is Rick Santorum a conservative?” or, in other words, “Does Rick Santorum uphold and defend the Constitution?”

The question is not, “Does Rick Santorum say he is a conservative?” The question is, “IS Rick Santorum a conservative – a friend of liberty – a man who will restore justice and constitutionality?”

I don’t know Rick Santorum today. Few do. But based on who Rick Santorum has been for years as a politician, the only answer I can see to the question, “Is Rick Santorum a conservative” is a resounding, “NO!”

Many of Rick Santorum’s actions in Washington have transgressed against conservatism – against both my above definition [which, for the sake of this essay, I'll call "Constitutional conservatism"] and against the perhaps looser, broader definition many Republicans would give: pro- small government, pro-life, pro- free markets, anti- labor union, anti- government regulation [which I'll call "mainstream conservatism"].

Here are some samples from his voting record:

1) Rick Santorum endorsed Arlen Specter in Specter’s 1996 presidential campaign. Arlen Specter was notorious for being a Republican who was pro-abortion. In this video (around the 4:00 mark), you can see Specter proclaim his pro-abortion views in his speech announcing his candidacy for the presidency. Note Santorum sitting on stage, tacitly endorsing Specter and his views. Is this not a transgression against mainstream conservatism?

2) Rick Santorum voted to raise the federal debt ceiling five times [H.R. 2015 (1997), S. 2578 (2002), H.J. Res. 51 (2003), S. 2986 (2004), H.J. Res. 47 (2006)]. Lately, of course, since Americans are awakening to the financial crisis, politicians like Santorum wouldn’t dare mention these votes. Small government talk is what the people want, so Santorum gives them small government talk – even though he voted for bigger government many times. Is this not a transgression against conservatism – both Constitutional conservatism and mainstream conservatism? While there exists no balanced-budget amendment, in reality the debt-ceiling hike was to pay for continued unconstitutional government expansion. And mainstream conservatives these days fight debt-ceiling hikes tooth and nail.

3) Rick Santorum voted to give Planned Parenthood millions of dollars. He voted “Yea” on a federal spending bill named “Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.” This bill – other than generally wasting taxpayer dollars – funded the Title X Family Planning Program, from which Planned Parenthood draws. Is this not a transgression against conservatism? All three of those government departments are massive, wasteful regulatory agencies whose existence is provided for nowhere in the Constitution – therefore, under the Tenth Amendment, the tasks they perform are left to the states and the people.

4) Rick Santorum voted against Right to Work. He voted against cloture on H.R. 1279 (1995) – the National Right-to-Work Act. The summary of this act, as written by the Congressional Research Service, is as follows: “Amends the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to repeal those provisions that require employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.” In other words, Santorum voted to keep the requirement (made by the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act) that employees pay union dues. Is this not a transgression against conservatism? If states want to require this kind of thing, then the Constitution has nothing against it – but where in that document is the authority to regulate the labor force given to our government? And what mainstream conservative would approve of this? Now, Santorum has twisted this to make it sound as though he was just trying to represent his state, which was not a “Right to Work” state. But this was a bill that dealt with federal requirements on workers. Voting for this bill would have meant less federal involvement at the local level.

The list goes on. Of particular interest is this radio interview (and impassioned commentary by Judge Napolitano of Fox News) in which Santorum seems to discount the need for protecting individual liberties. It is clear that Santorum – while perhaps a nice guy – is not a friend to liberty as the Constitution would define it (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” – The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States)

Again, I don’t hate Santorum. I just love my liberty too much to vote for him. I want a President who will do everything in his power to protect individual liberties, which means the restoration of a stable currency (and ending the destructive actions of the Federal Reserve) and a devotion to the Constitution as the law of the land.

Only one candidate fits this bill. That’s why I will vote for Ron Paul.

If the preceding hasn’t convinced you, I would refer you to two things:

1) Ron Paul’s voting record and budget proposal. He’s never voted to raise the debt ceiling, and he’s voted against every unbalanced budget. He’s introduced (more than once) a bill to audit the Federal Reserve – an organization that is single-handedly devaluing Americans’ wealth by creating money and handing it to Washington. The destruction of wealth is equivalent to thievery. But government thievery is nothing new…

2) The Dos Equis guy.

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9 Responses to Santorum’s Sway, or What Is Conservatism?, or “Constitution? What Constitution?”

  1. thelyniezian says:

    “Conservatism” as a political movement is hardly limited to America and thus cannot be defined by your Constitution alone. Howthen if at all could any links be made between your ‘conservatism’ and, say, the British form? I’d have thought it meant more, simply, acting to ‘conserve’ the existing order or the old tried and tested means, rather than trying to be ‘progressive’ as such. It could also mean trying to preserve what is taken as core in a given society, which could include your Constitution.

    • Fair enough. I was (obviously) only thinking about American conservatism, in its current form. But yeah, there are obviously conservatives across the globe. I think of Daniel Hannan – he promotes the rule of law (as agreed upon by the people) and small government. I’d think of him as a good example of a British conservative.

  2. friendmouse says:

    Nor do I hate Santorum, but he is a bit of a “dweeb,” and, imo, not electable. He may possess enough natural charisma to sway enough votes to garner the GOP nomination, but his charisma can’t hold a candle to BHO’s…with the TOTAL electorate. And his “policies” or “record” are not concrete enough to win without substantial charisma. Paul has nearly zero “conventional charisma,” but his “retro-charisma” or “anti-charisma” (a certain charisma derived from an attitude that charisma is unimportant and irrelevant) actually works for him…especially amongst young and non-traditional, non-party-affiliated voters. But charisma aside, his “policies” and “record” ARE concrete and substantial enough to secure victory. As I see it, there are your two choices: our President one year from today will either be BHO or Ron Paul.

  3. friendmouse says:

    Just empty randomness, but perhaps part of the enigma of what makes “the Most Interesting Man In The World” is, “Why does he wear his wristwatch on his right arm?” Likely a southpaw; definitely enigmatic…and definitely a Ron Paul supporter!

  4. Rick says:

    Is it still possible for Ron Paul to get enough delegates to secure the GOP nomination? If not, I guess some people won’t be voting for president in November.

    • Yes, it is still possible. It pretty much hangs on the existence of a brokered convention – the possibility of which is pretty strong. At that point, all bets are off.
      Abe Lincoln went to his national convention without a single delegate, and ended up being elected president.

  5. GiveMeLiberty says:

    A glaring omission in your examination of conservatism is the issue of foreign policy and America’s role in the global community. Earlier in the primary campaign, Jon Huntsman stated: “I believe the world is a better place and our own interests are best served when America leads. American exceptionalism is not only about who we are as a people; it also speaks to how the United States alone is positioned to promote freedom, democracy, human rights, wealth creation, and security. It is a role we should not shrink from, but rather embrace.” While Huntsman’s conservative cred could be questioned, I find that this summation of America’s role on the world stage is consistent with conservative principles.
    So your decision to overlook this critical aspect of conservative ideology is not surprising, and almost certainly intentional, as Dr. Paul’s position of “non-interventionism” (synonymous with the less attractive label, “isolationism”) places the blame for nearly every world conflict primarily on America or Israel, and finds much more support among the world-wide left.

    • Okay, I’ll bite.
      You’re right in saying that mainstream conservatism embraces the idea of “American exceptionalism.”
      You’re wrong when you equivocate non-interventionism with isolationism.
      You’re also wrong in the way you characterize Ron Paul’s position on world conflicts. Not “nearly every.” Only some. And among those that he has pointed out, strong evidence exists to indict America as at least one of the instigators.
      Is it impossible to imagine that America could do something wrong? Is THAT the definition of “American exceptionalism”? Surely not – as that is identical to the kind of religious nationalism that has permeated groups such as the Nazis and more recently the North Koreans.
      So, if you can’t concede that America could ever do something wrong, then our conversation will, sadly, have to stop there.
      If you can concede that, then you must be willing to dialogue honestly about where we might have gone wrong (Iran is a great place to start). Overthrowing a democratically-elected prime minister? Not exactly the promotion of democracy…
      Finally, if you can concede that we could blatantly do something wrong, you must concede that we could do something wrong, even with good intentions. So, while getting rid of Saddam is, in isolation, a good thing, the fact that we invaded a country without a declaration of war, under false premises, and then bankrupted our own country in order to try to set up a government in that one…well, actually that just sounds foolish.
      I actually just saw Ron Paul speak in Springfield this evening, and he spoke about American exceptionalism. He believes in it, and so do I – but he believes that the way we promote democracy is to MODEL it! – not to force it on every country we don’t like. Forcing a people to be free only establishes an artifice of freedom that, after we remove the supporting beams of our dollars and soldiers, will crumble under the weight of confusion, politics, and the hunger for power.
      So Huntsman is right – and so are you. We should EMBRACE American exceptionalism. But that does not mean we should try to militarily force other countries to be like us – that is NOT the promotion of freedom! It means we should lead the world by our innovation and business dealings, by our respect for others, by our devotion and adherence to the law of the land (the Constitution), and by our willingness to let other countries deal with their problems their way. When that happens, who wouldn’t want to be like us?

  6. Pingback: Conservatives Focus On Obama To Their Detriment | The Ozark House

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