Commentary: Debunking The Myth of Santorum’s “Big Government Conservatism”
By Christopher G. Adamo
The most often quoted passage from the Declaration of Independence is its proclamation of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as self-evident and unalienable rights. Sadly, in modern day America, only a comparative few have any knowledge whatsoever of the sentence immediately following: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Without a thorough understanding of the premise embedded in this statement, and its vital importance to what the Founders were attempting, the entire American experiment would have been rendered wholly unfeasible.
That so many people no longer recognize this principle or worse yet, choose to pretend it never existed, is evidenced by the ludicrous versions of the American ideal being promoted, even by some self-described “conservatives,” during the current election cycle. In particular, the accusations currently being leveled against former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum reveal a horribly jaundiced view of America and what made it great. In the wake of his outstanding showing in the Iowa caucuses he has become the target of a contrived defamation campaign based on this thoroughly flawed premise.
With so much of the nation’s foundation under assault, a failure to immediately reclaim those basic truths on which it was established, or the blind acceptance of a perverted substitute in their place, will only ensure the continuation of its orchestrated decline. And while certain elements within its culture would rejoice at this fate, others would be thoroughly shocked at such an outcome, though they have unwittingly but diligently lent their assistance to the ensuing disaster.
It is extremely telling that the post-Iowa assault on Santorum came first from the leftist media, but was then immediately picked up by supporters of Texas Congressman Ron Paul. In a manner disturbingly reminiscent of Senate and Congressional Democrats who, in the midst of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, jubilantly echoed the propagandists of al Qaeda and other Islamist organizations in their criticism of American policy, Ron Paul’s minions were quick to repeat and magnify the disparaging commentary from the liberal punditry. So much for their incessant claims of being in the camp of the “only true conservative.”
The essence of the attack on Santorum is that he cannot claim to be truly conservative, since he recognizes the responsibilities of a just government in the protection of the unborn, and maintaining such time-honored cornerstones of our society, and civilization in general, as traditional marriage. This sorry episode unmasks the bogus notion that Ron Paul supporters are interested in restoring the greatness of America. Rather, they promote a philosophy that would supplant traditional America with their “enlightened” libertarian version of how they believe society should operate.
It is intellectually dishonest to deny that Rick Santorum would take the nation in a drastically different direction than that in which it is currently heading under Barack Obama. Nevertheless, Santorum does understand that government is vested with certain responsibilities to intervene in the lives of the citizenry, particularly on behalf of those who are the most helpless. In sharp contrast to the misrepresentations coming from his critics, be they professing liberals or Ron Paul “conservatives,” Santorum upholds the indispensible need for government to perform specific functions, and these he fiercely advocates. So how does this square with the nation’s founding documents?
Referring once again to the Declaration of Independence, government was not intended to become a metastasizing tumor, leaching from the citizenry in order to enrich and enlarge itself. And admittedly, this is its current condition. Yet neither was it rendered wholly impotent and inconsequential. Rather, it was recognized as absolutely essential to the implementation and enforcement of certain standards, thereby enabling it “to ensure these rights” that are so cherished by the citizenry and so essential to a free and prosperous society.
In this role, it has specific and very legitimate functions. Santorum’s purpose for involving government in such “controversial” issues as the right to life of the unborn is simple and inarguable. He understands that if the rights of any one segment of society can be arbitrarily ignore or trampled, the rights of everyone are in jeopardy. Justice must be meted out to all, or it ceases to be justice. Thus, the horrific indifference shown to the unborn since the Supreme Court handed down its “Roe v. Wade” decision in 1972, if not corrected, could be fully expected to leach into the rest of society. And has that not been its exact effect on life in America during the past four decades?
Few would seriously argue that the timeline of eroding rights and freedoms in this nation has paralleled the institutionalized abandonment of traditional morality by federal, state, and local governments. In the name of “freedom” from the moral restraints of the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage, the people are increasingly subjected to a new and onerous “morality,” devoid of compassion or mutual respect for the plight of common folk. Such quaint concepts have been thoroughly supplanted by the insidious encroachment of a secularist “nanny state,” dictating every aspect of life from the amount of water per toilet flush to the kind of light bulb deemed “acceptable” by the state.
If one citizen’s right to life can be nullified at the convenience of another, should we be surprised that “liberty,” “the pursuit of happiness,” “property,” or any other venerated component of the American ideal will eventually be consigned to a similar fate? Any objective assessment of human history, and the unalterable nature of the human condition, provides ample proof that this is indeed the case.
Rick Santorum is no advocate of the “big government” that confiscates private property and redistributes it in the name of “social justice.” Yet he understands that government must be “big enough” to fulfill its constitutional role if the nation is to survive and flourish. Many of his critics are wailing and gnashing teeth over the dismal path the nation has recently taken. Yet they stubbornly refuse to admit that no shortcuts exist by which it can be restored.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming. He has been involved in politics at the local and state level for many years. His archives and contact information can be found at www.chrisadamo.com