Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Politics of Perception: Choose Your Battles Wisely ...

I'll say it again:  TIMING IS EVERYTHING!

Rick Santorum's statements regarding contraception have said --during the course of this current campaign-- that while he personally does not believe in contraception an individual has the right, under our constitution, to make that decision for herself [“right to choose”].  Santorum also made another profound statement in one of the earlier debates, where he stated that when he voted against some bill mandating 'right to work' in his state.  He had done so not because he disagreed with the bill in principle, but he voted the "will of the people" that he represented at the time. It was very refreshing to hear a politician recognize and affirm this: "the will of the people" ... so many elected officials seem to forget this when they go to Washington. These two statement by Rick Santorum were among the main reasons --along with his other economic ideas (e.g., his plans to return manufacturing jobs from overseas back to America)--  I began to consider Rick Santorum as a viable candidate for President of the United States. Santorum’s statements, coupled with his Senate voting record, illustrated to me that he clearly understands the true nature of our Representative Democracy"a government of the people, by the people and for the people." 

Rick Santorum is obviously a man of devout faith, which is a good thing. It seemed to me, however, that Mr. Santorum clearly understood the difference between holding a personal (moral) conviction and the infliction of those convictions upon others. The ability to make this sort of distinction is critical for the success of any elected politician in effectively serving his constituents … be they a congressional district, a home state or the entire United States of America.

The fact that we are such a diverse nation, with a corresponding diversity in our religious beliefs and practices, is why our Founding Fathers built a "Separation of Church and State" into our United States Constitution. I agree, this provision was not put into place in order that we would become a secular nation, as is the interpretation of the current administration and its supporters. The latter being said, I don't think that this issue should be at center of campaign narratives in the current Republican Primary.  To me, a candidate who ventures into this ideological argument runs the risk of getting off message and losing potential voters in the long run.

You should  be proud of your faith, Mr. Santorum.  To many, your faith will serve as evidence of your moral character and your ability to be trustworthy and ethical in your execution of the office of President of the United States. The latter being said, I don't think faith vs. secularism in government should be a critical issue of your election campaign. You have to get into office before you can effect change in the latter respect. Once in office, the change in attitude will naturally occur by the type of administration you put into place, appointments you make and the people that you will choose surround yourself with. I fear, however, if you start an ideological campaign on the issue of faith vs. secularism in government you might just loose the votes of mainstream American voters who may misconstrue your current focus for an inability to address the real concerns facing our nation:  sky-rocketing gas prices, no true energy-independence, people who have given up looking for work to give a false sense of "true unemployment", a soaring national debt, and weak foreign policy posturing that now heralds a potentially nuclear Iran.

Maybe, to quote your own words, Mr. Santorum ... You need to "take one for the team" and refocus your campaign narrative back onto the BIGger issues concerning all Americans.

3/2012 Update:  Rick Santorum's Plan for His First 100 Days in Office

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