The pivot that would help Rick Santorum

posted at 9:32 pm on February 22, 2012 by J.E. Dyer

Rick Santorum is resonating with voters because he is committed and unabashed on his moral ideas, and because he affirms that moral ideas matter – that they are indispensable to government performing its proper role in society.

Conservative voters who are alarmed about the direction of government recognize that procedural mechanisms and ephemeral election-year sentiment can’t fix it.  They perceive that our problems with government can only be addressed with moral decisions: difficult decisions made when much is at stake and there are deeply compelling interests in competition with each other.  Moral courage exists for such scary things, and doing the right thing when all of the choices at hand will break someone’s china requires a kind of moral courage that rarely sounds soothing to the ears of a harassed public.  It is more likely to resonate as trenchant, annoying, or painfully necessary.

Many of the voters are down for that this year.  A growing number of them are less put off by the sting of astringent than they are afraid of what will happen if America tries to avoid it.  They aren’t irritated by “moral talk”; they are interested and primed for it.

As regards Santorum’s suitability to this mood, however, a question in my mind is whether moral courage for the hour has to sound particularly theological, oddly detailed, or hectoring.  Along these lines, William McGurn offered Santorum good advice in a column on Tuesday:

[W]hen Mr. Santorum discusses [social] issues, he needs to fold them into his larger narrative about the free society. …

There is, however, one area where Mr. Santorum needs to demonstrate a discipline it’s not yet clear he has. That is the ability to resist the efforts to drag him out of the public questions into the weeds of theological debate.

I would go a bit further and suggest Santorum take a page directly from Ronald Reagan’s book.  This would entail a pivot in emphasis.  John Podhoretz has nicely identifiedwhat we might call Santorum’s “presentation” problem: his tendency, at least in his non-campaign speeches from the past, to dwell on rebuking a fallen America.

The point is central, because rebuke of the past is not a guide to policy for the future – and the “rebuke” theme gets old quickly, as demonstrated by a similar tendency in the current president.  Something like Santorum’s now-infamous “mainline Protestants” comment may get vigorous agreement from a lot of evangelical Protestants, but it isn’t the basis for an action plan or a useful source of vision for national government.  Granted, Santorum made that remark in what was essentially a religious speech at a Catholic college.  But when you’re running for president, your memorable comments need to have a more positive and visionary emphasis.

Fortunately, there’s a lot to be positive about in the American tradition Santorum invokes.  It is also an excellent source of vision.  And one of Reagan’s greatest strengths was in defining and celebrating the important elements of that political tradition: the trademark American idea of government that is limited, constitutional, and federal.

Reagan saved his rebukes for left-wing ideology and policy.  He didn’t approach the American people as a sick society in need of exhortation, even though America was putting up plenty of soft targets in that regard in the 1970s.  Rather, he predicated his political approach on expecting the best of the people.  He spoke often about liberty and small government in terms of their unique power to unleash the people’s virtues.  He couched his message in positive terms, speaking far less about the evils of welfarism, for example, than about the benefits of liberty and opportunity.

With his positive approach, Reagan was unusually convincing on an essential principle: that the people do better with less government.  Santorum may embrace that principle, but it’s not readily associated with him, because he spends so much time talking about things like the societal problems that arise when contraception is considered a cheap “out” from moral decisions about sex and procreation.  He may have good points on that and other topics, but as a practical matter of communication and point-making, those essays in forensic pessimism don’t really advance the argument for political liberty.

Republicans this year should emphasize encouraging the people with reminders of what America was constituted to do right, and what Americans have done right with their freedom.  In 2012, it may be necessary to speak in some explicit detail about the moral principles behind American liberty.  Today’s voters are less likely to have been reared on them than the voters of 1980 were.  But if there’s one thing this primary season has shown, it’s that the voters want that discussion.

That is a tremendous opportunity.  Santorum can seize it best by concentrating on what we’ve got going for us and why we can turn this thing around.  If our focus is on social negatives, and if we are discouraged as to whether we will do good things with liberty and small government, it’s hard to make the case that those conditions frame a better future for the country.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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Santy doesn’t know positive. He’s a zealot. They do doom.

Fear his doom.

Elect him to prevent it.

One trick pony.

freshface on February 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

Santorum would be a catastrophe for the GOP and some should tell him that israel is not the 51st state.

aniptofar on February 22, 2012 at 9:41 PM

I’d vote for him or whomever, but…If only Dad quit baring his teeth when he scolds me.
:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on February 22, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Certainly, unlike Romney, Santorum has given conservatives a reason to vote for him.

But I don’t think there is much of an issue with what he has said.

Yes, coastal elites don’t like American conservativism, but…so what?

That Romney would lose MA by less then Santorum would is no reason to support Romney.

18-1 on February 22, 2012 at 9:51 PM

All of this rings very true. It’s there for the taking (assuming Romney doesn’t give the nomination to Ron Paul or Other by trotting out his hapless Death Star one more time) for Santorum, but he needs to show discipline when talking – or rather, not talking – about social issues.

It doesn’t matter if America is a “Christian nation.” It’s not a Christian government, especially at the federal level, because Americans of all levels of belief prefer it that way. The fact is, I can’t name the specific denomination of a single President, good or bad, since Kennedy. That’s not by accident.

Santorum already gets full marks from social cons. It’s not possible for him to gain a single vote by engaging the media. He needs to get over his fixation on winning the argument. The people trotting out old comments and goading him with hyperbolic accusations are not trying to have an Aristotlean debate with him, they’re trying to establish a meme that Rick Santorum is obsessed with sexual and reproductive morality by goading him into talking about it so they can report that he did.

The fact is, the election will – or should – revolve around things like this. Arguing about contraception or gays or whatever, even to “clarify” his position, only loses votes. No, “they said it first” is not an excuse; for one, “they” aren’t running for President, and for another, 99% of Americans won’t know or care that it’s the media’s fault, only that Rick Santorum is talking about something irrelevant again.

HitNRun on February 22, 2012 at 10:02 PM

Bad night for Santorum.

BobScuba on February 22, 2012 at 10:04 PM

Santorum botox his forhead much?

Dork B. on February 22, 2012 at 10:07 PM

because nattering on about a country in the thrall of Satan as if he’s in a pulpit not on a political podium in a democratic republic with no state religion is so positive and uplifting….

he’s been in practice a big government social conservative-in other words a run of the mill beltway RINO save concerning his puritanical streak toward the private intimate relations consenting adults.

mittens on February 22, 2012 at 10:08 PM

************* HIGHLIGHTS ******************************

Candidates Fight Over Earmarks At Arizona Debate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YK6ugr3JI4
===========================================

Ron Paul: Foreign Aid Should Annoy All Americans!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-zQfNR9T3g
============================================

Ron Paul: Santorum Is a Fake
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R99hCsAchDk
===========================================

canopfor on February 22, 2012 at 10:05 PM

canopfor on February 22, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Santorum botox his forhead much?

Dork B. on February 22, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Perhaps, the toupee was off kilter a bit.

residentblue on February 22, 2012 at 10:11 PM

That was an excellent post, Mr. Dyer, and would have been even better had you framed it in terms the Republican nomination in general, rather than Santorum in particular.

The American tradition is an excellent source of vision for any candidate, and yes, moral conviction does resonate with voters. Of all the candidates, Newt at his best invokes that vision with a clarity and power that is sometimes awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, he lacks the discipline to hold a steady course. Romney, for all his great strengths, is all discipline; he struggles because he is either unable or unwilling to abandon himself to the uncontrolled flow of it. Santorum nibbles around the edges; his moral vision, while passionate and real, too often seems crabbed, cranky, and regressive.

This is, as Newt would say, a world-historical moment. It remains to be seen whether any of these guys can fully harness the opportunity.

Mr. Arkadin on February 22, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Satan/Beelzebub 2012!

John the Libertarian on February 22, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Excellent column, J.E. Now if only you know who would let this play out and stop inserting herself in the process.

Buy Danish on February 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Now if only you know who would let this play out and stop inserting herself in the process.

Buy Danish on February 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM

OMG, a politician playing politics?! Say it ain’t so.

John the Libertarian on February 22, 2012 at 10:23 PM

Rick Santorum is a complete and utter jackass and an empty polyester sweater.

He doesn’t even need the big media folk to box him into responses that make him sound like Elmer Gantry, he does it all by himself. He’s a sure bet for four more years of Obama along with a larger majority in the Senate and likely Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

With his positive approach, Reagan was unusually convincing on an essential principle: that the people do better with less government. Santorum may embrace that principle, but it’s not readily associated with him, because he spends so much time talking about things like the societal problems that arise…

Santorum doesn’t have a “positive approach” he’s got a “moral approach” that a good chunk of the electorate will associate with a holier than thou attitude. Santorum may well be poised to take this country down because the idiots who support him don’t understand the basic fundamentals of politics.

mbecker908 on February 22, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Certainly, unlike Romney, Santorum has given conservatives a reason to vote for him.

But I don’t think there is much of an issue with what he has said.

Yes, coastal elites don’t like American conservativism, but…so what?

That Romney would lose MA by less then Santorum would is no reason to support Romney.

18-1 on February 22, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Too bad you missed tonight’s debate where Mitt proved once again to all but the most benighted fools why he will be the nominee and next POTUS.

Basilsbest on February 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM

freshface on February 22, 2012 at 9:37 PM

When you come up with something different let us know. You are so predictable/ Paulist /Mittite.

Fuquay Steve on February 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Too bad you missed tonight’s debate where Mitt proved once again to all but the most benighted fools absolutely nothing and why he will be the nominee and next POTUS lose resoundingly to Obama in the general election.

Basilsbest on February 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM

FIFY.

Myron Falwell on February 22, 2012 at 10:34 PM

That Romney would lose MA by less then Santorum would is no reason to support Romney.

18-1 on February 22, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Santorum would win more states than Mitt. In key conservative areas, no less.

Hell, even Newt would win more states than Mitt.

Nice to see so many liberals and RINOs in the Republican Party are all so committed to losing in November by propping up such a total disaster in Mitt.

Myron Falwell on February 22, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Too bad you missed tonight’s debate where Mitt proved once again to all but the most benighted fools why he will be the nominee and next POTUS.

Romney, Obama. America’s just as doomed under either liberal.

18-1 on February 22, 2012 at 10:44 PM

Little Ricky knows all about being a pivot man from his bath house years. No sunrise really all religions whack a doddles are screaming closet queens that don’t want to admit they like to play with their own team.

Your Mamma loves me on February 22, 2012 at 10:46 PM

That was an excellent post, Mr. Dyer, and would have been even better had you framed it in terms the Republican nomination in general, rather than Santorum in particular.
Mr. Arkadin on February 22, 2012 at 10:15 PM

That thought occurred to me also. It’s an excellent guidepost for conservatives in general…

Buy Danish on February 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM

I think all 4 did a good job, even Doc had some good moments. The Economy questions were few again. What do we let them do that?

KOOLAID2 on February 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM

OMG, a politician playing politics?! Say it ain’t so.
John the Libertarian on February 22, 2012 at 10:23 PM

I thought she was a well-paid Fox News analyst.

Buy Danish on February 22, 2012 at 10:56 PM

So, today’s lesson in campaign strategery is:

Leave preaching to preachers. Discuss policy which a President can and should impact, not personal behavior which he cannot and should not. Meanwhile, the facts that among the remaining candidates, Santorum is the most likely to oppose the entitlement juggernaut, to lower taxes, and to repeal Obamacare, are drowned out by the knuckleheads screaming that he’s going to institute a theocracy.

Conservative Priorities for 2012/2013:
1. ABO
2. ABR
3. Reaffirm American excellence
4. Oppose Obamacare
5. Oppose unconstitutional entitlements
6. Secure the borders
7. Enforce existing law as written

Whoever is best suited to accomplish those priorities is the preferred candidate. Since Romney wouldn’t ever touch 3-6 on that list, his supposed “electability” has no value. We need a conservative, not Obama-lite.

Freelancer on February 22, 2012 at 10:59 PM

Outside of the far right of the Republican party, nobody in the country is particularly excited over Santorum.

He just can’t win the national election. You are doing a disservice to the country by continuing to pretend he is a viable candidate. You are certainly doing a disservice to the Republican party.

crosspatch on February 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM

Reagan saved his rebukes for left-wing ideology and policy. He didn’t approach the American people as a sick society in need of exhortation, even though America was putting up plenty of soft targets in that regard in the 1970s. Rather, he predicated his political approach on expecting the best of the people. He spoke often about liberty and small government in terms of their unique power to unleash the people’s virtues. He couched his message in positive terms, speaking far less about the evils of welfarism, for example, than about the benefits of liberty and opportunity.

Thus is defined how conservatism can be communicated and understood, yet today we are “Reaganless in Gaza, at the mill with knaves.”

TXUS on February 22, 2012 at 11:40 PM

I’ve said it a million times, but conservatives who are against the government telling you how to live your life should be just as against any religious organization doing the same thing. Santorum seems like he’ have no problem with laws that limit peoples freedoms based on his religious beliefs. You think contraception is immoral? Awesome. Don’t use condoms or birth control pills. But don’t make it one of your main issues during your freaking presidential primary campaign. Stuff like that will get you the far right religious vote and it might ever win you the election, but most people don’t want someone who comes off as a theocrat running the country. Guy needs to focus on other things or that’s all anybody’s gonna know about him if he’s on the ticket in November.

Cyhort on February 22, 2012 at 11:42 PM

Reposted from the other thread:

Spot on once again. I’m sure the mittbots will be along soone enough to rebuke you for shilling for Rick.

I would go a bit further and suggest Santorum take a page directly from Ronald Reagan’s book. This would entail a pivot in emphasis. John Podhoretz has nicely identifiedwhat we might call Santorum’s “presentation” problem: his tendency, at least in his non-campaign speeches from the past, to dwell on rebuking a fallen America.

Like I was saying the other day on another thread, albeit clumsily on an android, was that we don’t need a chaplain-in-chief.

Santorum should take the story of Solomon and the baby to heart (1Kings 3:16-28). In his current mode, Santorum would rebuke the women for 1) being harlots, 2) sleeping with the babies in bed, instead of putting them in the cribs, and wind up with possibly no solution for resolving the dispute. As we all know, Solomon in his wisdom, determined a simple test to find the true mother.

Reagan was great at getting the average Joe to compare and contrast his own circumstances, which is why he carried so many democrats, by appealing to their positive desires.

At this point, Santorum doesn’t need to deny his faith, his past actions and/or speeches; he just needs to deflect them as just distractions from the real issues like the economy and foreign issues, which he does quite well. And he needs to go on the attack against Oboobi on jobs, unemployment and also talk about Solyndra, F&F, lightsquared etc. Save the theology for non-political events.

AH_C on February 22, 2012 at 1:06 PM

AH_C on February 22, 2012 at 11:56 PM

You’re right, J.E., but, in order to be positive, you’ve got to be able to positively explain your record. Santorum can’t. I don’t blame him for the votes he cast – he, no doubt, thought he did the best that he could, given the political constraints on him. But the fact is that Romney also did the best that he could, but 1) as a leader and 2)with much tougher political restraints. I believe that the reason that Romney refuses to “apologize” for Romneycare is because he knows that being positive is often more important than being “right.” So, he says, “I did the best I could. It was a good idea at the time. And it was a state plan. And I will repeal the national plan.” Action, not regrets. I respect Santorum for regretting all of those many votes he made as a team player, but how does that make him a positive leader?

Priscilla on February 22, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Good article.

That is a lot of the problem this cycle. Regan ran and lost the first time. He learned a lot by losing.

Mitt learned a bit but it worked against him because people started looking at his liberal actions and did not like what they saw. Regan did not have that problem as he actually believed in conservative values.

Santorum would be a better candidate in 2016. But if Mitt wins it in unlikely he will get that chance. Mitt will destroy the Republican Party for a generation most likely while losing. Santorum will win as God is on his side.

Steveangell on February 22, 2012 at 11:57 PM

I believe that the reason that Romney refuses to “apologize” for Romneycare is because he knows that being positive is often more important than being “right.” So, he says, “I did the best I could. It was a good idea at the time. And it was a state plan. And I will repeal the national plan.” Action, not regrets. I respect Santorum for regretting all of those many votes he made as a team player, but how does that make him a positive leader?

Priscilla on February 22, 2012 at 11:56 PM

So funny.

Mitt made the wrong choice 100% of the time but so what?

Santorum made a few bad calls so can’t have him.

I’m sorry but vetoes that were all overridden are meaningless. Problem is Mitt campaigned for Abortion, Civil Unions, Gay Rights saying his Democratic opponent was not liberal enough. He accomplished the liberal Democrats fondest dreams. But you seem to have no problem ignoring his record. Because he now speaks well and says pleasing things to a conservatives ear.

No Romney believes in Romney Care. He says he does but you say he is lying about that. Well then why are you for a liar? I mean if he will lie about Romney Care why on earth would he not lie about being conservative to win an election as President?

Steveangell on February 23, 2012 at 12:04 AM

Satan/Beelzebub 2012!

John the Libertarian on February 22, 2012 at 10:16 PM

No way, dude. They are from the same state.

Cthulhu / Satan 2012. Because compared to Santorum, they are the lesser evil.

Archivarix on February 23, 2012 at 12:14 AM

Outside of the far right of the Republican party, nobody in the country is particularly excited over Santorum.

He just can’t win the national election. You are doing a disservice to the country by continuing to pretend he is a viable candidate. You are certainly doing a disservice to the Republican party.

crosspatch on February 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM

MittBots are doing the actual disservice to the conservative movement by their propping up of Romney.

If Mitt gets nominated, the GOP fractures in two. Plain and simple.

Myron Falwell on February 23, 2012 at 12:38 AM

Santorum would be a better candidate in 2016. But if Mitt wins it in unlikely he will get that chance. Mitt will destroy the Republican Party for a generation most likely while losing. Santorum will win as God is on his side.

Steveangell on February 22, 2012 at 11:57 PM

For the sake of our country, it is better for Rick to win now, rather than have to wait four years.

I pray that you are right. It would be nice to see a true dark horse candidate emerge from totally out of nowhere, and win it all. A true embodiment of the American Dream.

Myron Falwell on February 23, 2012 at 12:41 AM

Suggesting Santorum to be like Reagan is like suggesting Dukakis to take a photo in a tank wearing a helmet.

joana on February 23, 2012 at 1:40 AM

Santorum doesn’t lie or distort the facts. Gingrich is prone to exaggeration. Ron Paul is a cynic, and an incomplete thinker. Romney is a great investor and prognosticator. He is not a man of deep belief or sound principles. His campaign,I suspect reflects his style in business.I can imagine him using his wealth as justification for entitlement and achievement. He uses his wealth as a hammer to destroy, not to build. Santorum is the best man to lead this country.

K Michael ODonovan on February 23, 2012 at 3:46 AM

Santorum lacks discipline – one of the problems with candidates without any significant management experience. After winning Iowa, he allowed college kids in NH to sidetrack him into a discussion about gay marriage. He wasn’t wrong in his position, but he lost the audience for the real issues of this campaign.

Whenever he is asked about these hot-button social issues, he answers honestly and well, but too readily and too fully. He tends to explicate his beliefs which are not central to the current debate. Ask him about homosexuality, contraception, etc., and he will bend your ear.

What do you suppose media types on the road and in debates will ask him about? Tax policy? Regulations? Deficits? Foreign policy? Not a bloody chance! It will be to those issues which divert attention from Obama’s failures and energize the leftist base and the apathetic young voters who might have stayed home in an election on our economic future.

NO, Santorum cannot turn it around and become Reagan because he isn’t Reagan, not even close. He is himself, a good and faithful and honest man, but not the sort who could beat Obama in ten tries.

Adjoran on February 23, 2012 at 5:13 AM

Santorum will win as God is on his side.

Steveangell on February 22, 2012 at 11:57 PM

are you high or just really really dumb? With that statement i would say its the latter. “god” is on his side its freak shows like you that guarantee four more years of the downgrade. KEEP YOUR DELUSIONS TO YOURSELF FOOL.

Your Mamma loves me on February 23, 2012 at 5:40 AM

Mitt made the wrong choice 100% of the time but so what?

Wow. You need to work on reading comprehension. Also, on not making stuff up.

Priscilla on February 23, 2012 at 7:24 AM

Outside of the far right of the Republican party, nobody in the country is particularly excited over Santorum.

crosspatch on February 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM

there’s wild excitement in the streets and in the republican party for Mitt though. The guy who has been running for 5 years and has a 10 to 1 money advantage but can’t seem to actually win the primary.

People seem to confuse “I like this candidate” with “electability”. Electability tends to mean winning elections. Mitt isn’t doing that and has no real history of it.

Not to say he can’t or won’t, but the Romney people need to ease up on the theme. It is not convincing and is a bit of a turn off. If your object is to persuade non-Romney people to support Romney, this isn’t the way to do it. If it is merely to vent anger, then I guess it is a good tactic. It seems to be working well for Ace.

Monkeytoe on February 23, 2012 at 7:34 AM

Rick Santorum gives me someone I can vote for and a platform I’d be proud to be associated with and fight for (finally). And contrary to the sky is falling cowards who feel conservative social issues are toxic, I think it’s high time we start fighting back and turning the tide against the onslaught of liberalism on all fronts. Not being afraid of our own shadows.

The other candidates – Gingrich, I took a few looks at but he’s too abrasive – Romney is a phony and too weak. Plus his hunkered down defense of Romneycare is very suspect and troubling- he’s a phony. After weighing all the pros and cons of each, Santorum is still at the top of the list.

mozalf on February 23, 2012 at 8:17 AM

He is himself, a good and faithful and honest man, but not the sort who could beat Obama in ten tries.

Adjoran on February 23, 2012 at 5:13 AM

Good post. It’s hard not to like Santorum, but equally hard to see him as an effective general election candidate.

Priscilla on February 23, 2012 at 8:31 AM

William McGurn offered Santorum good advice in a column on Tuesday:

[W]hen Mr. Santorum discusses [social] issues, he needs to fold them into his larger narrative about the free society. …

There is, however, one area where Mr. Santorum needs to demonstrate a discipline it’s not yet clear he has. That is the ability to resist the efforts to drag him out of the public questions into the weeds of theological debate.

Many of us have been saying that ever since Santorum went off on a tangent.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on February 23, 2012 at 9:11 AM

On March 8, 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave a speech at the 41st Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Here is the closing of that speech, which the media dubbed Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech:

The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

Whittaker Chambers, the man whose own religious conversion made him a witness to one of the terrible traumas of our time, the Hiss-Chambers case, wrote that,

“The crisis of the Western world exists to the degree in which the West is indifferent to God, the degree to which it collaborates in communism’s attempt to make man stand alone without God.” 

And then he said,

“For Marxism-Leninism is actually the second-oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation: ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ 

The Western world can answer this challenge, he wrote,

“but only provided that its faith in God and the freedom He enjoins is as great as communism’s faith in Man.” 

I believe we shall rise to the challenge. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last — last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man. For in the words of Isaiah:

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increased strength… But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary…”

Yes, change your world. One of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, said, “We have it within our power to begin the world over again.” We can do it, doing together what no one church could do by itself.

God bless you and thank you very much.

- President Ronald Reagan
March 8, 1983

Twenty months after delivering that speech, President Ronald Reagan won 49 of 50 states and was re-elected in a landslide.

ITguy on February 23, 2012 at 9:42 AM

In 2012, it may be necessary to speak in some explicit detail about the moral principles behind American liberty. Today’s voters are less likely to have been reared on them than the voters of 1980 were. But if there’s one thing this primary season has shown, it’s that the voters want that discussion.

There are 14 years’ worth of voters who weren’t even born in 1980, who have no memory of the disaster that Reagan inherited from Carter. Carter, despite all his failures, considered himself to be an evangelical Christian, and also tended to “hector” Americans about principles with his “malaise” speech, while being too wimpy to “hector” those who needed hectoring, such as Leonid Brezhnev.

Reagan was committed to his principles, but presented them very positively–he was for “morning in America” and the “shining city on a hill” which evoked the vision of the “New Jerusalem from Heaven” from the Book of Revelation to those who had read it. In 1980, Reagan had already been divorced and remarried, but his warm personality and upbeat vision for America led people to forgive him.

Preaching to people about what they’re doing wrong might bring them to church during Lent, but it won’t get their votes. Santorum is right in opposing a mandate for insurance companies to provide contraception to religious groups who don’t want it, but he should now focus on how he, as President, would lead America back to prosperity. He doesn’t have Gingrich’s baggage about divorces and ethics violations, nor Romney’s baggage on health care, so he needs to tell voters–What would he do BETTER than they would?

Steve Z on February 23, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Romney is a phony and too weak. Plus his hunkered down defense of Romneycare is very suspect and troubling- he’s a phony. After weighing all the pros and cons of each, Santorum is still at the top of the list.

Yes. One thing to consider, it would have been *highly* in Romney’s political interest to come out and say Romneycare was a mistake that he will not repeat.

There only two reasons why he would not…

1) He is not only not a conservative, he is so far removed from conservativism that he truly really believes health care mandates are a good conservative solution.

2) He is so stubborn that he will not admit to having made a mistake, even when having made an absolute critical one. He will stick with socialized medicine because backtracking will mean admitting an error.

Neither really puts Romney in a good light, and both show that he is highly unlike to attempt a repeal of Obamacare.

18-1 on February 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM