During yesterday’s blogger conference call with Rick Santorum (DaTechGuy lists the participants), the former Senator was asked a question about the decidedly ecumenical nature of his campaign. Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, whose endorsement of Santorum was big news this week, is a Mormon who had endorsed Romney in 2008, and much of Santorum’s grassroots energy in Iowa is coming from evangelicals.
The blogger wanted to know why Santorum believes he is getting so much support from non-Catholics. Essentially, Santorum said that this is not a new phenomenon with him and he offered an overview of how people of diverse faith groups have recognized shared values with him for many years. Santorum reminded us that in 2005, TIME Magazine named him one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. That distinction was due to a solid reputation he had earned among evangelicals in his previous years of service in Congress. He also noted that he is the only one on the list who actually served in political office. Most of those on the list serve in a ministerial capacity, not in government.
The Senate’s third-ranking Republican may be a Catholic, but he’s the darling of Protestant Evangelicals. Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Committee, is the standard bearer of social conservatives on the Hill, regularly and vocally taking the point position against gay marriage, abortion rights and judges who defend either.
I don’t think the big question in regard to the Santorum surge in Iowa has as much to do with why evangelicals and Mormons would support him but rather why it was not Catholics who rallied to support him even earlier in large numbers. Considering that Rick Santorum is a faithful Catholic, one might have expected Catholics to be the first to jump on the Santorum bandwagon as Thomas Peters and I both did. That Catholic surge didn’t really happen. Why are Catholics just beginning to jump on board with Santorum’s campaign at the level that we could characterize as momentum? I think that there is more than one reason for this delay in Catholic support, but the main reason, in my view, is that Catholic conservatives wanted to know that Rick Santorum could generate support without them before they would agree to support him.
Contrary, perhaps, to popular belief, conservative Catholics really are very interested in coalition-building. The fact that we do believe in our Catholicism very strongly does not automatically mean, as some may assume, that we are unaware of the importance of working with others, especially in the political realm, toward building a stronger America. Many Catholics I know who have not supported Rick Santorum until now seem to have been of the opinion that if they jumped immediately on board with the Santorum campaign, it might be perceived as being biased and divisive. To be sure, I am among those who thought that way, but I realized very early that I was wrong about that. When I heard Rick Santorum’s response, back in May, to a woman who asked a question about children in poverty, it hit me like a ton of bricks that he is the one candidate who can make the conservative argument and win broad appeal among Catholic Democrats and Republicans, as well as non-Catholics. It is not a Catholic message, per se. It’s a common sense message founded in very basic moral reasoning. Only when I knew he could defeat Obama with a coalition did I support him. I just figured it out a lot sooner (May) than most others did.
Catholics are also somewhat battle-weary as we have long taken a lead role on social issues in the political sphere and have been demonized for it. Because our Church is visible, it is a lot easier for the Left to characterize social conservatism as a uniquely Catholic movement and to attack the family values argument as if it is nothing more than a Catholic theocracy. As an example, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” is a common mantra among the pro-”choice” crowd. Further, though studies show that public school teachers are about 100 times more likely to sexually abuse a child than a Catholic priest is, a large number of people (wrongly) think “pedophile” now when a priest is mentioned in conversation. That misconception about the Catholic priesthood is due to outright demonization of the priesthood on this issue by a leftist media determined to smear the name of the Catholic Church for political reasons.
Faithful Catholics don’t mind martyrdom, but certainly we are not going to be doormats, and we would prefer not to be characterized as being alone in this battle. We know we are not alone. We know that the family values message is deeply ingrained in America’s heart despite what we see on our television screens. Like people of other faith traditions, we are believers in Natural Law. Even further, we are truth lovers, and we want the world to know the truth that the family values message has broad appeal among all people of good will. That’s what reality is and we conservative Catholics are all very interested in reality.
Many Catholics have thought that Santorum could not win because they didn’t see in him what I understood back in May, that his message is a winning message that can and should catch fire among people from all walks of life. Santorum wrote a book — It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good — that is essentially “the” conservative response to Hillary Clinton’s book It Takes a Village.
Tip of the hat to Star Parker: Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do About It. Star says “Rick Santorum is right.”
Unfortunately, too many “conservatives”, including some “conservative” Catholics, seem to live in some level of fear that the cultural battle against Hillary Clinton’s values has been lost and that the only valid response to that presumed defeat is retreat in the form of libertarianism. This is why when Rick Santorum says things like “AMERICA SURRENDERS: Not On My Watch!“, the “conservative” blogosphere has generally cringed in fear. Rick Santorum built momentum without them because his message of “No Surrender” is more inspiring than the message of surrender is. Make no mistake. Libertarianism is surrender. Not only that, libertarianism is no more Catholic than socialism is. (See my article at The American Catholic: An Important Thing To Remember About Subsidiarity…and The Republican Party.)
As Santorum surges in Iowa, it is becoming more clear to many that far fewer of us have surrendered to Hillary than polls and blogs have been indicating. Even if more Americans have become somewhat complacent on these issues, social conservatism remains a much easier sell than libertarianism. ”Surrender” through libertarianism is not a message that inspires people to vote. Fighting back against the Left, who will always fight us at every turn, is the only way to win against the Left. As long as we have government, there will be Leftists seeking to control it and to use the force of law to attack the family. If we could possibly have silence on the law on these issues, many social conservatives like Rick Santorum and myself would agree to that gladly…..but the Left won’t ever go for silence in the law. They want laws about everything, even light bulbs, and will always seek to drive wedges between us and divide us on family issues. For that reason, a positive pro-family argument must always be there to answer back to them whenever and wherever they may pick a fight.
Those who identify as “fiscal conservatives” should understand that just as social conservatism is inherently social, so fiscal conservatism is inherently social.
Social: of or pertaining to human society.
The idea that America as a whole can and should be strong fiscally is a very social, and yes, moral, idea. I am confident that as more people tune in and listen more to Rick Santorum, they will stop focusing on the tree and see the forest. More and more Americas will see that a country that rejects the family will be a country that, in desperation to cure the resulting ills of society, will demand bigger and bigger government. In short, a country that rejects the Judeo-Christian ethic as an “evil” or a “problem” or an “obstacle” will demand bigger government to replace charity.
Catholic Charities announced Monday that it was ending its legal battle over Illinois’ civil unions law and no longer is providing state-funded services.
The move ends the group’s long history in Illinois of providing foster care and adoptions. Catholic Charities held foster care contracts with the state of Illinois for about four decades.
Stay tuned, America. Rick Santorum is well on his way to winning the Republican nomination. Across-the-board, consistent conservatism is the winning message because so many of us still know that it’s the message that will make America strong again.
A non-Catholic conservative leader, Sarah Palin, predicted a Santorum surge, so no conservative blogger should be incredibly surprised that it’s happening.