All four of the remaining candidates have flaws that make most conservatives a bit queasy, but there is a “best” choice, I believe, and his name is Rick Santorum. Rick has a blue collar message that will play very well in swing states (whether or not you actually believe that American manufacturing is in the tank right now and needs special attention is a bit beside the point…the American people believe it), has a long history of being solidly economically and socially conservative, and possesses deep personal convictions that have actually played out in his real life, not just in his voting record (a record which, while not perfect, reflects a strongly principled compromise between Conservative beliefs and the needs of his constituents in Pennsylvania – that’s how politics works, like it or not).
He doesn’t pay lip service to Catholic ideals – he lives them. He allowed himself to become attached to an non-viable baby boy and brought him home from the hospital so his family could experience him as a real person and better understand death and life and the deep connection between them. He doesn’t back away from his personal belief that Gay Marriage (as an issue) is wrong and should be stopped at the Federal level. You might disagree, but you can’t say he doesn’t courageously defend what he believes. He won’t shy away from media criticism. There’s a website with his name on it depicting depraved sexual content as a cruel way to marginalize views certain activists didn’t like – classic Goggle-bombing (or as Amy Alkon puts it, web bullying by mobs of tiny minions). He won’t dignify that site with a response – even a negative one. He’s a genuinely nice guy when you talk to him face to face – that’s why he’s so good at retail politicking and why he won in Iowa and is about to win in Missouri’s so-called “beauty contest” primary poll. People like him when they give him a chance to speak his mind. He’s never had a bad debate and zealously defends his positions without fear.
So…why isn’t he the guy we’re choosing?
We are to blame if we elect as our candidate a man who none of us seriously believes is a true Conservative with the guts to stand up to the media. We let the media pick our candidate yet again. Romney is the ideal media choice for the Republican vote because he is the one who played ball with the media, the one who won’t challenge their assumptions, and the one least likely to do a whole bunch of (from their perspective) scary things to undo the progress made by Obama in socializing this country. We are doing this to ourselves. Santorum is the last true conservative in the race (well…I guess Paul is a true Constitutionalist…but…no one really wants to see him in the White House if he won’t come out of fairy-tale land and see Islamist states as the deep threats that they are) and he is getting zero press…we’ll have to force them to change that…but it’s an ugly catch-22…because we tend to pick candidates we know well…and if the media doesn’t cover a man…we tend not to know enough about him to feel confident in voting for him.
I believe Santorum could unite true conservatives, fiscal conservatives, union blue dog democrats and tea-partiers and win us the White House…but first…we need to hear that message. Here’s hoping we do before it’s too late.