One of my professors sent the class this article in an email. It pertains to some of the material we are learning about. The author, David Brooks, is supposedly a conservative writer for the NY Times. However, he starts the article with how he is “to Rick Santorum’s left on most social issues,” including same-sex “marriage” and abortion. So he supports gay “marriage” and is pro-Choice. Doesn’t sound like a conservative to me, but y’all can decide.
A New Social Agenda
By DAVID BROOKS
I’m to Rick Santorum’s left on most social issues, like same-sex marriage and abortion. I’m also put off by his Manichaean political rhetoric. He seems to imagine America’s problems can best be described as the result of a culture war between the God-fearing conservatives and the narcissistic liberals.
Like most Americans, including most evangelicals under 40, I find this culture war language absurd. If conservative ideas were that much more virtuous than liberal ideas, then the conservative parts of the country would have fewer social pathologies than the liberal parts of the country. They don’t.
But having said all that, I’m delighted that Santorum is making a splash in this presidential campaign. He is far closer to developing a new 21st-century philosophy of government than most leaders out there.
One of Santorum’s strengths is that he understands that a nation isn’t just an agglomeration of individuals; it’s a fabric of social relationships. In his 2005 book, “It Takes a Family,” he had chapters on economic capital as well as social capital, moral capital, cultural capital and intellectual capital. He presents an extended argument against radical individualism. “Just as original sin is man’s inclination to try to walk alone without God, individualism is man’s inclination to try to walk alone among his fellows,” he writes.
Communities breed character. Santorum argues that government cannot be agnostic about the character of its citizens because the less disciplined the people are, the more government must step in to provide order.
His political philosophy is built around the Catholic concept of subsidiarity — that everything should be done at the lowest possible level. That produces a limited role for Washington, but still an important one.
Over the years, Santorum has sought to use the federal government to nurture healthy communities. Welfare reform, which he helped lead, was a paternalistic way to use state power to encourage hard work.
He seeks to triple the size of the child tax credit, to make families more financially secure. He has supported flex time and transportation policies to make life easier for working parents. After initial opposition, he came to support AmeriCorps, the federal community service program.
Santorum believes Head Start should teach manners to children. He has supported efforts to police the airwaves and corporate marketing campaigns. He believes that felons should recover the right to vote if they stay out of trouble for five years after their release from prison.
Santorum’s policies on tax reform, entitlement reform and the other big issues are similar to Mitt Romney’s and most of the other Republican candidates. But he seems to understand that simply cutting is not enough to build a healthy society. To avert decline, America has to restore its values.
Santorum understands that we have to fuse economics talk and values talk. But he hasn’t appreciated that the biggest challenge to stable families, healthy communities and the other seedbeds of virtue is not coastal elites. It’s technological change; it’s globalization; it’s personal mobility and expanded opportunity; it’s an information-age economy built on self-transformation and perpetual rebranding instead of fixed inner character. It is the very forces that give us the dynamism and opportunities in the first place.
Santorum doesn’t yet see that once you start thinking about how to foster an economic system that would nurture our virtues, you wind up with an agenda far more drastic and transformational.
If you believe in the dignity of labor, it makes sense to support an infrastructure program that allows more people to practice the habits of industry. If you believe in personal responsibility, you have to force Americans to receive only as much government as they are willing to pay for. If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable.
If you believe social trust is the precondition for a healthy society, you have to have a simplified tax code that inspires trust instead of degrading it. If you believe that firm attachments and stable relationships build human capital, you had better offer early education for children in disorganized neighborhoods. If you want capitalists thinking for the long term and getting the most out of their workers, you have to encourage companies to be more deeply rooted in local communities rather than just free-floating instruments of capital markets.
I doubt Santorum is going to win the nomination. Main Street Republicans like Romney usually beat social conservatives like Santorum because there are just so many more of them in the Republican electorate. But social conservatives and libertarians often provide the ideas that Main Street leaders co-opt.
America is creative because of its moral materialism — when social values and economic ambitions get down in the mosh pit and dance. Santorum is in the fray.
When I sent it to my Grandfather, he told me that he didn’t think Santorum could win the Presidential nomination. Unfortunately, I have to agree with him. I strong believe, however, that he is way better than Gingrich or Romney.
This is my response to my Grandfather’s email (sorry for the weird formatting):
I really like Santorum. A lot of people (**cough** liberals) dislike him because he has a very strong, Catholic faith and he lets people know that. He doesn’t separate his faith from his politics, because it is essentially impossible to do so. What kind of Christians would we be (would Santorum be) if we practiced our faith in private but acted differently once in the public sphere? Santorum would be a horrible Christian and wouldn’t be able to be taken seriously. He has my vote. I pray that America wakes up. I pray that conservatives realize what a risk it is to nominate Romney or Gingrich. Neither of them have great track records, nor are they true conservatives. Look at Romney… legalized gay marriage in Mass. Passed a pro-choice bill, was pro-choice but now realizes he’s Pro-Life? How can we trust him? He passed RomneyCare, but disliked ObamaCare which was influenced by his health plan in Mass? It would be an illogical decision to nominate him as a Pres. candidate under conservative values. And Gingrich just has a lot of personal issues. Too much baggage, too much uncertainty.
Time to pray folks. Pray for the candidate that is going to help restore conservative values to this great nation!