Diary

Perry, Santorum, and the Evangelical Dilemma

[Cross-posted at my blog www.formidablecourage.wordpress.com]

I like Rick Santorum. I think he’s a very kind-hearted man and a great father. His courageous fight against abortion has earned my eternal admiration. His wife is a beautiful and delightful lady and the way they handled that disgraceful Alan Colmes was an outstanding example of the oft-quoted proverb, “a soft answer turns away wrath.”

But I do not believe Rick Santorum is the man for this hour.

I’m a Christian and a staunch supporter of Rick Perry. This is my attempt to persuade my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ why I think Rick Santorum is a bad choice for evangelicals. My prayer is that my words would be seasoned with grace and that my readers would listen with an open heart.

Michele Bachmann is no longer in the race, which leaves Perry and Santorum as the only socially conservative candidates. For sure, we can argue and quibble about whether Jon Huntsman or Newt Gingrich should be considered as well–but the fact remains that evangelicals are agonizing over whether they should coalesce behind the Catholic homeschool dad from Pennsylvania or the Methodist-Baptist Eagle Scout from Texas.

So what are their differences? What do Christians need to look at when they’re examining the records of Rick Santorum and Rick Perry?

For us Christians, perhaps the most pressing question is that of abortion, and rightfully so. I don’t believe God will bless this nation until we rid ourselves of abortion. The fact is that both Rick Perry and Rick Santorum are, thankfully, pro-life.  Santorum has been described as “unambiguously pro-life and pro-family,”[1] Perry as “a very proactive leader in Texas for the [pro-life] cause.”[2]  But thus far they are both equals, and Christians must dig deeper.

The second most-pressing social issue is probably gay marriage. Both Perry and Santorum are opposed to it. HOWEVER, how they believe we should deal with it is a completely different matter.

And here is where Christians MUST pay attention, because here is where we start hitting the differences between the two. Please read this with an open mind, taking into account that both Biblical AND Constitutional principles must be considered here.

Rick Perry is opposed to gay marriage. So how do we deal with it, according to Perry? Well, he came under fire last year for saying that New York’s decision to legalize gay marriage was “okay” with him. He clarified the next day, saying,

“I probably needed to add a few words after that ‘it’s fine with me,’ and that it’s fine with me that a state is using their sovereign rights to decide an issue. Obviously gay marriage is not fine with me. My stance hasn’t changed…My comment reflects my recognition that marriage and most issues of the family historically have been decided by the people at the state and local level and that is absolutely the state of law under our constitution.”[3] (emphasis mine)

There is nothing–absolutely nothing–in the Constitution that outlaws gay marriage. In fact, because the 10th Amendment says that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states alone, then it stands to reason that states, not the Federal Government, should be allowed to decide about traditional marriage.

But the Founding Fathers provided us with a loophole: a Constitutional amendment that would apply to all the states.

“In 2005, Texas voters approved a marriage amendment to the Texas Constitution which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

“Perry supports a federal marriage amendment despite being a strong supporter of states’ rights. ‘To not pass the federal marriage amendment would impinge on Texas and other states’ right not to have marriage forced on them by these activist judges, these special interest groups.  Our constitution was designed to respect states including the amendments process.’ ”[4] (emphasis mine)

Some have called this a flip-flop. On the contrary: it’s consistent Constitutionalism. To pass a federal marriage amendment isn’t taking power away from the states because an amendment must be approved by 2/3 of the states. The states have the final say. And Rick Perry is confident that the states (or at least 2/3 of the states) will be in favor of traditional marriage.

So what is Rick Santorum’s opinion? Well, he has this to say:

“I’m a very strong supporter of the 10th amendment . . . but the idea that the only things that the states are prevented from doing are only things specifically established in the Constitution is wrong. Our country is based on a moral enterprise. Gay marriage is wrong. As Abraham Lincoln said, states do not have the right to do wrong. And so there are folks here who said states can do this and I won’t get involved in that. I will get involved in that because the states, as a president I will get involved because the states don’t have a right to undermine the basic fundamental values that hold this country together. America is an ideal. It’s not just a constitution, it is an ideal. It’s a set of morals and principles that were established in that declaration, and states don’t have the right, just like they didn’t have the right to do slavery.”[5] (emphasis mine)

Yes, I agree with Rick Santorum that gay marriage is wrong. But there is nothing–absolutely nothing–in the Constitution that says states can’t legalize it. Does that mean they should? Well, morally speaking, I don’t think they should–but that doesn’t mean they can’t. Until and unless a federal marriage amendment is passed, states have the right to legalize whatever they want.

That’s the law of the land. And we are a nation of laws.

One very informative article explains it this way:

“A more charitable interpretation of Santorum’s remarks would be that there is nothing in the 10th Amendment that would prevent a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage.  That would be true, but trivially so.  There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents the adoption of additional amendments on anything…But this only makes the point.  Were a constitutional amendment  adopted prohibiting same-sex marriage, then states would be specifically prohibited from recognizing such marriages  by the Constitution, not by some conception of America’s “moral enterprise” or the “basic fundamental values” of the nation.”[6] (emphasis mine)

Rick Santorum is advocating an outright trampling on the Constitution here. He is as big-government in this instance as, say, Barack Obama. To declare “I will get involved in that because the states don’t have a right…” is no different than anything Obama has said to Arizona and Alabama concerning their immigration laws, or to Texas concerning their opposition to the TSA last summer.

This is statism. The dictionary describes statism as “a political system in which the state has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs.” We already have that with Barack Obama. Just because a Bible-believing Christian exercises the same power doesn’t make it lawful.

Rick Perry is determined to do things the Constitutional way and has said so; Rick Santorum has said, point-blank, that he will use executive brute force to prevent states from recognizing homosexual marriage. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of executive brute force, whether from Republicans or Democrats.

There’s also an unfortunate trend among Christian conservatives, and it’s this: they tend to throw the Constitution out the window and use these two social issues as the only standards for a candidate. It’s as though they think, “Well, if a candidate is pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, then he must be conservative.” Sadly, this isn’t true. Although these are crucial issues, they aren’t the only ones.

When your house is a wreck, you don’t focus on cleaning up one bedroom. You go through the entire house, right? In much the same way, when we’re examining a candidate’s record or trying to root out the problems in this country, you can’t zero in on just one or two things. There are so many problems that need to be dealt with besides abortion, problems that are just as deadly to our society as we know it:

–High inflation
–A wasteful, do-nothing Congress
–A bloated, activist-ridden judicial system
–An unsafe border
–An unbalanced budget
–Terrorism
–Labor unions encroaching on the rights of businesses and individual workers
–Radical enviromentalism
–Obamacare

We cannot afford to miss these and many others. And yet this is where my brothers and sisters in Christ have completely dropped the ball. In their (well-intentioned) eagerness to stop the moral decay of this country (which cannot be accomplished through government alone), they have completely ignored these other pressing horrors.

Neither Rick Perry nor Rick Santorum are perfect. Both have made mistakes. But who has a consistently conservative record? Who has followed both Biblical AND Constitutional principles?

Rick Santorum was Senator for 12 years (1995-2007).

–He voted to raise the debt ceiling FIVE times (keep in mind that our debt ceiling was recently raised and our debt is now 100% of our Gross Domestic Product [GDP]).[7]

–He also voted against the National Right to Work Act, which would “repeal those provisions of Federal law that require employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, and for other purposes.”[8]

–He voted for the Lautenberg Gun Ban in the 90’s, and as recently as 2005 sided with Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Frank Lautenberg to mandate locks on handguns.[9]

–He voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, which dramatically increased the federal government’s role in education.[10]

–He also voted to increase spending for the Department of Education by $3.1 billion in 1996.[11]

–He voted for Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation as a U.S. Circuit Judge in 1998.[12] Sotomayor, described by Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network as “a liberal judicial activist of the first order,” was appointed by President Obama to the Supreme Court in 2009.[13]

–He voted AGAINST requiring Congressional authorization for military action in Bosnia. (Perhaps this set the precedent for President Obama going into Libya without any Congressional approval whatsoever.)[14]

And this is just scratching the surface. Erick Erickson laid out Santorum’s voting record in terse but ghastly detail here, if you want to go deeper.

Rick Perry has been Governor of Texas for 11 years (2000–).

–He signed six balanced budget amendments in Texas. Though he did allow various debt/tax increases in the early years of his goverorship for roads repairs and school funds, he has opposed a state income tax and increasing sales tax rates. In 2009 he also signed a pledge to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”[15]

–He is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Assocation (NRA)16; just last June he signed legislation allowing Texas employees to “store legally owned firearms in their locked, privately owned motor vehicles while parked at workplace parking lots.”[17]

–He recently turned down $700 million in federal education aid, because to accept the money would have forced Texas schools to adopt a “national standard.”[18]

–He has nominated staunch social and fiscal conservative judges in Texas, much to the chagrin of some.[19]

–He’s had hands-on experience with the dangerous U.S.-Mexican border; since 2008 Texas has spent $400 million on “equipment, weapons and the overtime salaries for sheriff’s deputies and local police”–proving once and for all that he is serious about securing the border.[20]

–He has fought the harsh and burdensome regulations mandated by the Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA)[21]. One conflict between the EPA and Texas even erupted into a lawsuit last year[22].

–He reduced business regulations in Texas over the past 11 years and even passed revolutionary tort reform legislation[23]. Perry was also described as “a promoter of stability in regulatory policy and stability in spending” by Talmadge Heflin, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Fiscal Policy and a former Republican state representative.[24]

I have no doubt that Rick Santorum tried to do good things as a Senator. But his record shows that he is, as Erick Erickson recently described him, “a pro-life statist.” He has not embraced the Tea Party principles of limited government. In fact, I would argue that he advanced the cause of Compassionate Conservatism as senator and even contributed to our horrifying debt crisis.

Rick Perry, on the other hand has had stumbles in his record, no doubt about that (I point to the oft-mentioned Gardasil debacle), but unlike Santorum, his record shows him to be of a “less-government-is-the-best-government” mindset. If we want a leader who will defend babies, mommies, and daddies, and at the same time focus on rescuing America from radical enviromentalism, Mexican drug lords, anti-capitalism, staggering debt, and overbearing federal agencies–in short, if Christians truly want someone who will rein in an increasingly tyrannical federal government, then we need someone like Rick Perry as our President.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

1 Pro-Life Activist Gary Bauer Endorses Rick Santorum (http://www.lifenews.com/2012/01/09/pro-life-activist-gary-bauer-endorses-rick-santorum/)

2 Who is Rick Perry? – Part II: A Texas governor’s pro-life legacy (http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/who-is-rick-perry-part-ii-a-texas-governors-pro-life-legacy/)

3 Saenz, Arlette Rick Perry: ‘Gay Marriage is Not Fine With Me’ (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/07/rick-perry-gay-marriage-is-not-fine-with-me/)

4 Ibid.

5 Rick Santorum Doesn’t Understand States Rights (http://www.opposingviews.com/i/politics/santorum-%E2%80%9Cstates-do-not-have-right-do%C2%A0wrong%E2%80%9D)

6 Ibid.

7 FACT CHECK: Santorum a “big-government conservative”? (http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/pr/?postID=1007)

8 On the Cloture Motion (motion to invoke cloture on motion to proceed to consider s.1788 ) (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=104&session=2&vote=00188)

9 “Rick Santorum’s anti-gun history,” National Association for Gun Rights (http://www.nationalgunrights.org/rick-santorums-anti-gun-history/)

10 FACT CHECK: Santorum a “big-government conservative”? (http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/pr/?postID=1007)

11 “To revise provisions with respect to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.” (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=104&session=2&vote=00027)

12 “Sonia Sotomayor, of New York, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit” (http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=105&session=2&vote=00295)

13 President Obama unveils ‘inspiring’ pick in Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court justice (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22962.html)

14 “Rick Santorum – Candidate Information,” Tea Party Candidates Info (http://ccofal.org/TeaParty/tea-party-candidates.phtml)

15 “Rick Perry: Fiscal Policy: Tax policy” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governorship_of_Rick_Perry#Fiscal_policy)

16 Rick Perry’s unwavering support for gun rights could boost his presidential prospects (http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/InTheNews.aspx?ID=15316)

17 Gov. Rick Perry Signs Legislation Protecting Texas Workers’ Right to Self-Defense (http://www.nraila.org/News/Read/NewsReleases.aspx?id=15241)

18 Perry, Rick. “Fed Up!” page 166

19 “Perry’s Texas Supreme Court picks criticized as too business-friendly” (http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/perry-watch/headlines/20111031-perrys-texas-supreme-court-picks-criticized-as-too-business-friendly.ece)

20 Rick Perry takes military-style tack to protect Texas border from Mexican cartels (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/americas/perry-deploys-his-forces-to-protect-texas-border/2011/10/10/gIQAJs1JkL_story.html)

21 “Rick Perry has made Texas one of the most industy-friendly states in the nation” (http://blog.chron.com/rickperry/2011/10/rick-perry-has-made-texas-one-of-the-most-industry-friendly-states-in-the-nation/)

22 Court backs Texas revolt against EPA’s new greenhouse gas rules (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/05/court-texas-epa-greenhouse-gas)

23 “Rick Perry revives hope for tort reform” (http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/conserving-freedom/2011/aug/25/rick-perry-revives-hope-tort-reform/)

24 “In Texas Jobs Boom, Crediting a Leader, or Luck” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/business/in-texas-perry-rides-an-energy-boom.html?pagewanted=all)