Why Santorum supporters should stand with Ron Paul

Rick Santorum and Ron Paul had genuine disagreements, but were the two most genuine conservatives in the race. Santorum supporters should now stand with Paul against progressives in both parties. Photo: Associated Press

TAMPA, April 10, 2012 — Rick Santorum and Ron Paul clashed frequently during the GOP debates. Santorum and his supporters suspected that Paul had made a deal with Romney, but that wasn’t it at all. Santorum and Paul had genuine disagreements about issues that matter. What is American conservatism? Is it libertarian or not? Should religious beliefs inform public policy or should the separation of church and state be absolute? In a way, it’s a shame that the race was not solely between Paul and Santorum. These are questions worthy of public discussion, unlike Mitt Romney’s tax returns or Newt Gingrich’s marital adventures.

I am a libertarian and tend to agree with Ron Paul. I tend to disagree with Rick Santorum on most things, but not on everything. However, I do grant him this. He was the most sincere of Paul’s opponents. Call me naïve, but I am convinced that he believes the things he is saying.

He didn’t try to run away from his positions, either, or dilute them with weasel words so as not to offend. In that respect, he was a lot like Ron Paul, who has paid the political price for sticking to his principles for over thirty years. I have to believe that Santorum supporters acknowledge Paul’s sincerity as well, whether they agree with him or not.

The two combatants have something else in common. They are both deeply devoted to Christianity. Santorum supporters who doubt this should read Paul’s statement of faith. Paul purposefully avoids talking about it in a political context, but he is as devout a Christian as Santorum and stands firmly against the progressive interpretation of the First Amendment as “freedom from religion.”

The differences between Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are identical to the differences between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Like Jefferson, Paul bases his political positions solely on the non-aggression principle, which is now the foundation of modern libertarianism. It prohibits the government from regulating behavior that does not constitute harm to others. It prohibits all redistribution of wealth, even for the purpose of creating jobs or fostering domestic production. It limits use of the military to defense against foreign aggression. Jefferson actually cut military spending by 95% during his first term as president.

Like Hamilton, Santorum believes that the government can and should regulate some behavior that doesn’t necessarily harm other people. He advocates using the tax system to give advantages to domestic manufacturers. He believes that the military should be used preemptively to prevent hostile nations from having the opportunity to attack the United States or its allies.

This is an old debate and one that is worth having. I side with Jefferson and the early “libertarians.” Many Santorum supporters may not, but imagine if that were the only disagreement. Given the choice between Ron Paul on one side and Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on the other, it shouldn’t be hard for Santorum supporters to choose. It’s a little like asking a Hamilton supporter to choose between Jefferson and Karl Marx. There’s a time to bury the hatchet and resist a common enemy.

Santorum’s supporters ultimately have to ask themselves this question. Of the three candidates left, who do they truly believe is the least like Obama and company? Mitt Romney, who supported “a woman’s right to choose” and pioneered Obamacare? Newt Gingrich, who supported the individual mandate in healthcare for twenty years and promoted the environmentalist agenda with Nancy Pelosi?

For me, Santorum’s finest moment came in an early debate when he spoke passionately against Obamacare. I believed him when he said that the program “has to be stopped.” Romney did the best he could with the issue, but did anyone really believe his “states rights” argument? He claimed that he supported the legislation because he was a representative of the people of Massachusetts. However, the executive is given veto power for the specific purpose of protecting the individual when the majority violates individual rights. Do Santorum supporters trust Mitt Romney to veto the next piece of progressive legislation at the national level? Do they trust Newt Gingrich?

Santorum supporters don’t have to wonder if Ron Paul will change his mind on the things they do agree with him on, like government health care, abortion, religious freedom, or free markets. He hasn’t in thirty-six years. They may not agree with him on everything, but at least they know where he stands. Unlike Romney and Gingrich, he’s never stood with the progressives.

Despite a contentious primary season, conservatives agree on one thing. It is important to defeat Barack Obama in order to reestablish basic American principles. If that’s true, then it accomplishes nothing to elect a president whose principles are as elusive as the wind. Their personal differences may not allow them to admit this, but Ron Paul and Rick Santorum have a lot in common, especially when compared with big government progressives like Romney and Gingrich.

If nothing else, they were the two most honest men in the race. Santorum has stepped aside for the moment. His supporters should stand by the only trustworthy conservative left.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.


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Thomas Mullen

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. He writes weekly columns on his blog and has been featured on The Daily Caller, The Huffington Post, Daily Paul, LewRockwell.com, 321 Gold! and Peter Schiff’s EuroPac.net. Tom has been a guest on Fox’s Freedom Watch with Judge Andrew Napolitano, Adam Vs. the Man, Free Talk Live, and numerous other programs.

Tom is originally a native of Buffalo, NY and graduate of Canisius College. He earned a Master’s Degree in English from State University of New York College at Buffalo. He now resides with his family in Tampa, FL.

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