'Hold the line': Rick Santorum and a New Year's message for the States

America’s constitutional tradition of federalism may serve as the anaconda to choke a growing leviathan. Photo: Ginger Saucier/API March 2012 Presidential Forum

BIRMINGHAM, Al., December 22, 2012 “Now what?” That is the post-election question many American families mulled over during the holidays, and Rick Santorum was asked to answer it at the Alabama Policy Institute’s 23rd Annual Dinner, held November 29th at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center.

As runner-up in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries and founder of grassroots online community Patriot Voices, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was the logical choice to tackle the question. “I thought the audience would be interested in what he had to say,” API President Gary Palmer told me via e-mail.

When Palmer himself addressed the audience of over 1,000 that evening, he reminded conservatives to put the election in perspective, noting that now more than half of the country’s states have Republican governors, with nearly as many Republican-dominated legislatures to match. Republicans have also strengthened their majority in the House of Representatives.

America’s constitutional tradition of federalism may serve as the anaconda to choke a growing leviathan. As Justice Kennedy wrote in Bond v. United States, “[b]y denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.” 

“Alabama has become one of those States that is on the first line of defense,” said Palmer, particularly in regards to Obama’s signature health care legislation, which 14 states including Alabama have passed constitutional amendments against. Furthermore, at least 25 states have refused to establish state exchanges, and a growing number are taking the Court-ordered liberty to opt out of Medicaid expansion.

Santorum agreed with Palmer, saying, “what the States can do is hold the line. You can hold the line against what this president is doing to this country.”

“Do not look to Congress to do this,” the 16-year-veteran of Congress advised. “It will not happen. The president won’t let it happen. The only opening that’s available as a result of the Court decision is right here in Alabama and the other states that are willing to step up and fight the implementation of the exchanges and Medicaid.”

Why did the American electorate not overwhelmingly reject Obama’s liberal agenda at the national level in the 2012 elections?

Santorum indicated that we are now at a cultural level beyond mere talking points of government dependency. It will take a revived individual resolve to elevate the dialogue.

“This election was the most important transformational election in our country’s history,” he said, “and nobody knew it.”

“I’m a little student of history,” Santorum explained, “and one of the things I’ve noticed is once the government has their clutches in everybody’s wallet – not from taxes, but from the standpoint of government benefits – government has a hook into you.”

According to Santorum, this was evident the last time there was talk about a “fiscal cliff” - the debt ceiling. Rather than present a plan for dealing with America’s fiscal crisis, President Obama told the people that they must swamp Congress’ phones in favor of raising the debt ceiling or else they would lose their government benefits.

Santorum told how the contrasting visions offered in the 2012 election season are rooted in the true tale of two revolutions: The American Revolution, with its soul encapsulated in a Declaration of Independence inspired by the belief that human rights come from God and that government should serve as a necessarily limited guardian of those rights – and the French Revolution, based on a secular humanist belief that human rights come from government (fraternity) through a top-down implementation of equality and liberty.

The first vision eventually brought forth what Santorum called the building of a “great and just society from the bottom-up,” resulting in America’s renowned prosperity and influence.

The second vision was equally world-transforming, but in a very different way. “It became the reign of terror and Bonaparte, and instead of kings we had emperors and tyrants,” said Santorum. “Europe today is a progeny of the French Revolution. The European Union is in the mold of the French Revolution … It is a secular society where the government controls.”

The current generation of Americans is being reeled into this second vision of government with a baited hook – a vision that is foreign to our foundation, but is not unique to Europe. Statism is the sin nature of government; any country is prone to statism when its citizens fall apathetic.

People are naturally more inclined to give up their freedom for the promise of greater security than to work toward personal responsibility. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration, mankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed

Santorum reminded his audience that America’s founders were losing the war in 1776 when they mutually pledged to one another their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to support the vision established in the Declaration of Independence at the risk of death for treason. To impart this larger-than-life lesson of faith and optimism to Americans today, Santorum has authored the book American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom, a 148-pg. history of behind-the-scenes, unsung heroes and heroines of the American Revolution such as James Armistead Lafayette, Nancy Morgan Hart, and Haym Salomon. 

“We need to pledge to each other,” said Santorum. “This has to be personal … feel blessed to be here at a time when your country needs you to stand for truth.” He also called on businessmen to “stop cowering to the popular culture.” 

“We need to stand up because the consequences of a destruction of the basic culture of America, of God-given rights, of strong families and strong communities, a bottom-up,” Santorum continued, “means the ultimate economic decline that Cicero talked about of a great empire and great nation.”

“You have an opportunity to engage in the culture, in the church, in your family, in your community,” said the homeschooling father of eight. “Build it! Engage with children.”

Santorum’s ending note on building a culture of life and liberty is especially poignant to reflect on in the wake of the Newtown massacre, a tragedy that caused even liberal actor Samuel L. Jackson to look beyond legislative attempts at salvation in favor of asserting the value of life.

Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once observed, “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart.”

It is a line we must hold firm, not erase in denial. Its existence is why G.K. Chesterton, in a story Santorum referenced that chilly November evening, responded to a British magazine’s column theme “What’s wrong with the world?” with the humbling answer, “I am.”

We as individuals are responsible for what happens in our country.

 

Amanda Read is a political columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. A professional writer and researcher, Amanda is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college student, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at www.amandaread.com.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Amanda Read

Amanda Read is a columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. Trained as a historian, skilled as a writer, and aspiring to be a filmmaker, Amanda investigates the ideas behind contemporary culture and politics. A professional writer and researcher, she is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college graduate, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at www.amandaread.com

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