Everyone brings something to the table. A passion perhaps that he or she uniquely brings that’s quickly embedded into the conversation and thus impacts the emotion and dialogue going forward. Such is true whether your last name is Goldwater or Gore, Sharpton or Nader, Clinton or Quayle. Today my focus is on the contributions of former Pennsylvania senator, Rick Santorum.
This is not an endorsement; that’s not the Intramuralist’s calling nor desire. Just as Ron Paul prompts us to consider the limits of constitutional government — or as Ronald Reagan reminded us of a national sense of renewal and “Morning in America” — or as Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama each embraced the inspiration of “change” — Rick Santorum has left his mark on the table and on the progression of our dialogue going forward…
Santorum reminded us that family comes first. The involvement of his family in his decision to both enter and exit the campaign seemed genuine, more than a convenient, political photo op.
Santorum caused us to wrestle with the reality of life. What’s most important? When is life viable? How as a nation do we desire to move forward with the government’s involvement in this deeply, divisive and sensitive issue? While opinion varies, as a nation, we need to extinguish our infighting and discern how to best move forward.
Santorum modeled that quality of life is not always ours to assess. All one has to do is look at his precious Bella. Ok. True. As a special needs parent — the parent of one considered “on the margins of society,” as the former senator said — Bella touches my heart immensely. I never voted for Rick Santorum, but when I witnessed the authenticity of his love for that beautiful, almost 4 year old girl, never did Santorum catch my attention more. He never treated Bella as if her life was somehow lesser… a judgment the most intelligent among us sometimes feel free to make.
Santorum challenged the standard economic thinking when he suggested that “the bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing… We hear this all the time: cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything’s not going to be fine. There are bigger problems at stake in America.” While his words were unconventional and not necessarily garnering of votes, Santorum brought attention to the perspective that not all of the ways the American family is evolving are healthy. Not all societal development should be celebrated.
Santorum taught us that money isn’t everything. While the election bank accounts of both Romney and Obama continue to boom, Santorum began his campaign with very few financial resources. He had so little money and momentum, that few thought he could make a splash in the presidential pool. So Santorum instead focused on individual contact and face-to-face meetings. Piquing at seemingly just the right time, he won the first caucus of the year. For years to come, historians will examine Santorum’s strategy, what he did well and what he did not.
Don’t let me act as if Santorum never irritated any of us. Whether it be how he articulated passionate social issues or proudly donned that sweater vest, that’s not my point. Most all candidates irritate us somehow, in some way, about something. In fact, if we ever feel a candidate agrees with us 100%, then we probably haven’t realized that candidates sometimes share different words in different circles, attempting to “be all things to all people” or at least generate future votes. I appreciate that Santorum didn’t attempt to be “all things.” Like him or not, I appreciate that he didn’t change his words as much depending on the circle. I appreciate what Rick Santorum added to the conversation at the table.
Yesterday, after his official exit, Santorum was asked, “What’s next?” To which Santorum responded, “I’d like to get some sleep.”
Get some sleep, Rick. Regardless of who’s elected in the fall, thanks for adding to the national conversation. I appreciate your spot at the table.