Perry, Santorum, and the Evangelical Dilemma

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 Colmnes 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 staggering debt, radical enviromentalism, anti-capitalism, Mexican drug lords, 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.

[Cross-posted at RedState.com]

_____________________________________________________________

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)

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10 Responses to Perry, Santorum, and the Evangelical Dilemma

  1. That is a great article! I agree. As Christians we must stand up for all these important issues. If we choose Sen. Santorum we are choosing a candidate that is a big government enthusiast, who happens to have a firm belief and is guided by values, however he believes that the end justifies the means!

    If we choose Congressman Paul we may as well forget that our founders treasured any values and we are voting only for the economy….

    “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.”
    – George Washington

    The only candidate that combines both of these important realms is Rick Perry– and he can do it without tearing up our Constitution or ignoring our historic principles!

    “Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.” – James Madison

    Keep up the good work and may God bless you!!

    • Great point about Santorum: “the end justifies the means.” Your comment about Congressman Paul also hits on my biggest concerns about him. He’s the exact opposite of Santorum: Paul is great on fiscal issues, terrible on social issues.

      Thanks for the comments–and the Washington/Madison quotes! God bless!

      • I have a great many friends who buy in to the Paul agenda, Paul has some great ideas, but as a Conservative it is a concern of mine that he will give his supporters their dope [drugs] and they will follow him (or whoever/whatever is behind him) as children follow the pied piper straight into anarchy or socialism. This is a great problem and something we must consider.

        Also, any candidate that cannot/will not control his/her supporters does not deserve our honor and respect, although in some cases we must honor them regardless.

        There is a continual ongoing battle here that is unseen by many, it’s a battle of morals, of religion, defense of our founders values. If we give in an inch we may as well give in completely!

        “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” – George Washington

  2. melissa says:

    To the author,
    How was moral in this country before abortion was legal? Was the US blessed as you are wrote it was? How was black people, Hispanics, Asians, handicap, women treated? Jim crow laws was not exactly a blessing. What have these candidates come up with to find ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies (abstinence does not count because it doesn’t help, check out TX record on teenage pregnancies)? Saying we need to make abortion illegal is not going to help or have this country blessed. More unwanted children will be born and given up for adoption. I am curious, do you know the number of children who need a home and don’t ever get one? Stopping women from getting an abortion is not the solution. There will always be stupid, irresponsible women having children, we have to pick a compromise, as a country to prevent them from getting pregnant. Writing about how abortion is a sin and leaving it at that should not be enough to feel like you are doing the “Christian thing.”

    • These are good questions, actually. I’m glad you asked.

      The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and that “all” would include nations. So no, I don’t think America has been perfect in its long history. However, if you go back and read about our country’s history (and not just from left-wing history professors, who–sadly–fill this nation’s universities) you find that our country was based on Judeo-Christian values. Black people and Hispanics weren’t always treated in good and righteous ways, but there are many instances of good treatment as well. Not all slave owners in the American South were cruel, and in the Republic of Texas you find that both Hispanics and Americans worked together in their fight against Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the dictator of Mexico.

      As far as abortion goes, it must be illegal because it’s the killing of an innocent life. It is murder. It is a heinous crime. The Bible says that if a nation humbles itself and turns from its wicked ways, then God will hear their prayers and heal their land. Because abortion is a horrible crime and, I would argue, far worse than the Holocaust, I do not believe God will bless America until we put an end to the slaughter. What needs to happen for these unwanted children is for people to be willing to adopt and welcome these precious ones into their homes.

      I would encourage you to watch “180: The Movie.” (You can watch the whole thing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI) It’s a 35 minute movie about abortion. I watched it last fall and it was very eye-opening.

      Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions!

      LouisianaPatriette
      Zephaniah 3:17

  3. Susan Swain says:

    Thank you for your articles and responses of which I wholeheartedly agree. I hope you have also checked out Champion the Vote (Champion ID #964), if not, I encourage all Christians to check it out. While it’s not a political association it’s a way for Christians to encourage other Christians to register and participate in the election process to vote for a person who holds the same Judeo-Christian values.

  4. Toni Goodman says:

    I too support Gov. Perry even though I do not agree with everything he does, I think he would be better for our country. He too inherited the economy from Bush just like BHO. Alas, something is wrong with his handlers. He is not well prepared, not quick on his feet, and he does not poll well. I hope he doesn’t drops out.

  5. Toni Goodman says:

    Just finished watching the debate. My boy Perry did well. I do wonder why all the pundits are ignoring him? They never mention his name. Once in a while someone throws “Perry did okay”. It’s like they wish to make him disappear.

    • I think they do. They know that he has the potential to be Romney’s greatest and fiercest opponent. They know that if he was getting half the attention Romney or Gingrich (or even Santorum) receive, the American people would be embracing him. So they ignore him, very much like the “Taylor machine” in the classic film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

      I heard that he turned down Sean Hannity’s invitation to be interviewed last night. I’ll bet that was embarrassing for Sean–and rightfully so! Hannity has preached for years that “we should always support bold colors, not pale pastels!” And what does Hannity do in 2012? He supports the pale pastels and shuns the bold-color candidate, Rick Perry. It’s very disgusting. I’m glad Perry turned him down even if it cost him air time. Hannity would have just been nasty to him anyway, so why bother wasting your time there?

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