Tuesday, November 28, 2006
by Francisco Gonzalez
For the past 12 years, Rick Santorum has been an outspoken conservative voice in the U.S. Senate. Described as “more conservative than his state of Pennsylvania,” Santorum has been a champion of conservative principles and perhaps the leading spokesman in the Senate for the pro-life issue and for preserving the sanctity of marriage. While only a few politicians today dare to speak openly on the abortion issue, Santorum has not hesitated. He raises his voice for the right to life no matter what audience he is talking to. Some call that confrontational. I call it honest.
After 12 years of being the leading conservative voice in the Senate, especially on the hot-button cultural issues of the day, Santorum’s successful run in the Senate has finally come to an end. But, he went down fighting and will maintain his role as a leading advocate of conservative principles.
Last year, ISI Books published Santorum’s first book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, which outlined his vision that family and community lie at the heart of conservatism. Publishing a book gave Santorum the opportunity to put his staunchly conservative ideas into print. Some of his own political pundits thought that putting such a conservative-minded book out before his election was not a wise political move for the Senator. Santorum told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “One of my fellow congressmen from Pennsylvania asked me, ‘Why are you doing this now? Why not wait until after the election?’” Santorum responded to his colleague, “Because people will read it now and they won’t read it after the election. I really do want people to read this. I believe it."
He put his book out before his election because he wanted to get his conservatives ideas out there - he wanted people to read what he thought because he believed more people would digest these foundational conservative ideas before the election rather than after. He’s a true statesman, who not only wants to represent the people of his state, but convince those that disagree with him why they should reconsider their own views. Santorum is not afraid to fight for the losing cause in order to try to sway others on the ideas he believes in. He came into the political arena in order that the principles he stands for will some day win. Unlike some Republicans, he leaves office with those principles.
Besides being known as the leading spokesman on socially conservative issues, Senator Santorum has not strayed away from the issue of the war. This summer, he gave some stirring speeches around his state of Pennsylvania, trying to rally support for what is becoming perhaps another losing issue for President Bush and the Republican Party. With the economy doing well, the Democrats have seemed to win the House and the Senate by running an anti-war campaign.
Santorum reminded his constituents and all Americans that no matter how they choose to fight (or not fight) this war, that this war cannot be avoided. “The war is at our doorsteps, and it is fueled, figuratively and literally, by Islamic fascism, nurtured and bred in Iran.”
“This is an unpopular war,” said Santorum. “I have been ridiculed by the media and my opponents for defining the enemy Islamic fascism - they say words don’t matter. But words do matter because words are what define the enemy we confront. Words are needed for Americans to comprehend what motivates the deeds that the enemy is planning, so we can effectively defeat them. And defeat them we must.”
No matter where one stands on the divisive issues of abortion, gay marriage, and the war, all can agree that Senator Santorum, unlike his Democrat opponent Bob Casey, has not stayed away from confronting these issues - issues that define the true evils of our time. He is a conviction politician at a time when the political arena is desperately in need of conviction. Despite Santorum’s loss on Election Day, he has fought to keep these ideas fresh on the minds of all voters, not just in Pennsylvania, but across America. The laws he helped fight for may be overturned, but the ideas he has nurtured among millions of Americans with his stirring speeches and published book title, will last far longer than the twelve years he lasted in the U.S. Senate.
As T.S. Eliot reminded us, "We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors' victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that it will triumph."
I thank Senator Santorum for his outspoken convictions to fight for those causes that at times haven’t seemed to be winning with voters. He can rest assured that he has inspired this young voter and millions more across America to follow his example and fight for the values we believe in, for the country we love, and to stand up against evil when no one else will.
Francisco Gonzalez is Director of Membership and Campus Leadership at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute