Rick Santorum spoke off the cuff, from notes, not text, with great passion and energy, and when he stopped speaking, he got a standing ovation.
If anyone is wondering whether CPAC delegates care about that social issue, wonder no more.
His great theme was that America is a special place because it was founded on the idea of moral truth.
Perhaps his biggest applause line was “The judiciary cannot create life, and it did not create marriage—and the judiciary has no business redefining either.”
He ended with a beautiful and moving encomium to his youngest daughter Bella, who is stricken with a disease (Trisomy 18) that kills almost all babies who have it before the age of 2. She’s two and half and a “miracle.”
“Some have told us it’s time to move on, to let go, to try something different, because she’s not perfect and they are embarrassed. But Karen and I fight for her because we see in her something valuable, we love her, we feel blessed to be with her. . . .The truth is that it is not evident that 'all men being created equal' but it is true.”
Some excerpts from his explanation for the place of social conservatism within conservative principles (He was talking faster than I can type, so this is as close as I can get it for now):
“We hear a lot about the three-legged stool. I believe in it because it is based on our founder’s vision of this country. (applause) . . .
Because we trusted people, for the first time in the history of the world, we liberated the world. He quotes the Declaration of Independence, “endowed by our Creator with certain rights.” The idea that our rights come from God and not from the government – that was revolutionary. Rights come from God not the government. . .In Europe they believed rights flow from God to the king and from there he sort of shares the wealth. (laughter)
We believe different: we don’t believe that people are there to serve the sovereign.. . .
The third leg of the stool is the leg that is often overlooked. Some believe that there is an optional one, one that there should be a “truce”. Start sawing off one leg of a three legged stool it’s not going to be stable for long.
America is about a moral idea: the belief in the dignity of every person. “All people are created equal” is not based on fact. He is not equal her. He is not equal to him. We are equal only in the eyes of God. People come to America because of what we are: we believe in the dignity of life, we believe in the stability and strength of the family; we believe in self-sufficiency, the very basic network of family, community and self.
Those are “the social issues”; those are the issues that matter, those are the issues that bind us together, those are the issues from which we cannot retreat.
I know this isn’t a popular thing. I got criticized in the Senate for standing up for the social issues. Just because it’s not popular doesn’t mean it’s not true. It is true. Our founders understood truth and about pursuing the truth.
We talk about the tyranny of Obamacare and all this government control and government telling us what to do, taking freedom away from us. That applies to judges too.
You live in the social conservative trenches, and you see a judiciary that is interfering in social issue, a group of smart people get together and decide they have the right to redefine life—we’re going to take that decision away from you on life, take that power away from you on marriage.
All of this government control of our lives, and government telling us what to do, if you lived in the trenches of the social conservative movement you know what this is, on the issue of life, judges took this power to decide away from the people. Or the recent issue of marriage. The judiciary cannot create life and it cannot create marriage, and it has no right to redefine either one of them (strong applause).
Two Q&A responses:
Can states challenge decisions of the courts?
“The federal government didn’t create the states.” The states have a right to challenge the constitutionality of laws. States have sovereignty and have a right to contest the decisions of the Supreme Court.
How do we know we’ve won?
We repeal Obamacare. We limit the size of government. We can take these decisions the court has made, and get the courts to back away from injecting themselves into the “social issues”, and allow Americans to make these decisions themselves.
[Full disclosure: Rick probably had an unfair edge in getting a good evaluation from me, because he's the only candidate who showed me an early draft of his speech and asked for my comments. The draft I read was not the speech I heard, however.]
On Life: A
On Marriage: A
On Social Conservatism: A+