The Major Issue Is Not the Economy...
...but the Lack of Integrity and Morality in Our Leadership
Many Americans, conservatives among them, have been voicing the opinion that social issues have no part in campaign debates, are criticizing Rick Santorum for placing them in the forefront of his campaign, and are branding him as unelectable as a result.
I take issue with those points of view for two reasons: Firstly, social issues, when considered in their broadest sense, should play a major role in any campaign and none other than our Founders cautioned us to demand that they do. Secondly, it is not Rick Santorum who is declaring that social issues are the entire focus of his campaign; it is the left-leaning media.
John Adams, and most of the other Founders in their own way, cautioned, "Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other."
A conservative candidate's focus on social issues, issues regarding abortion, contraception, sexual openness, the breakdown of the family, etc., generally has at its core a desire to do what is right. The definition of what is right differs from person to person, based on his religion, upbringing, etc., but when social issues are of genuine concern to a candidate the desire to define and do what is right is personal and passionate, and it takes second place to no other. That central desire is something that is lacking in much of modern American leadership today, especially at the highest levels. During the era of Clinton-Lewinsky, the American people were, for the most, part appalled at the personal morals of the man in the oval office. His character also came into play many other times during his two terms in the White House, but was most obvious during his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice. Nonetheless, the majority of the citizenry re-elected him because the state of the economy was more important to them than the character of the man serving as their president. We all took part in debates about character during the Clinton years. Fast forward more than a decade and the American people are once again declaring that the economy is the major issue in this election. And yet why is the American economy imploding? The crisis is largely the result of the fact that our leadership in D.C. is sorely lacking in character. Corruption and lying have become a way of life, and the goal of being a public servant has given way to the goal of promoting an leftist agenda and amassing as much power and wealth as possible, and the nation's security, prosperity and fiscal and monetary integrity be damned. The state of the economy is just one symptom of a pernicious disease. Lack of morals/character in leadership is the underlying disease. Seeking to do what is right for the country no longer plays a primary role in decision-making in Washington, D.C. If we simply vote for the candidate who stresses "fixing" the economy, without considering his character and his willingness to stand on firmly-held convictions no matter the political cost, we are declaring ourselves more interested in treating the symptoms rather than eradicating the disease.
Despite what the mainstream media would have us believe, the candidate with character, the candidate who has deeply-held beliefs regarding social issues, is not going to insist that his personal convictions be forced down the throats of the rest of the country. He will not rule by executive order. He will not appoint dozens of czars to usurp constitutionally-designated powers from the legislative branch. He will respect constitutional parameters and call upon his moral convictions to do what is right, rather than what is politically expedient or part of a political agenda.
Rick Santorum has not made social issues the centerpiece of his campaign, not because he does not have strong and unwavering opinions on them, but because his belief system is the foundation on which he has built honest policies regarding, and realistic plans to attack, every crisis that is facing America. He very much wants to express his views on illegal immigration, the failing economy, the death of American manufacturing, the threat of radical Islam, etc., and he does so extremely effectively and passionately in his stump speeches.
However the mainstream media consistently attempt to see to it that any interviews in which he is involved focus almost entirely on social issues, simply because they know that doing so will indeed make him unelectable, because the citizenry will then begin to minimize, or believe non-existent, his experience and expertise in other areas that they may believe to be more pressing. The media would have us believe that a conservative candidate's devotion to principle is part of a zero sum game, that such devotion is an unhealthy, all-consuming obsession of sorts, somehow not leaving room for the ability to tackle real-world problems. In reality, it is such devotion to principle that serves as the catalyst for honest, genuine, common sense, moral solutions to real-world problems. I offer two words as evidence: Ronald Reagan. One recent of countless examples of the media's zero-sum game plan: The day before I sat here at my computer, Rick Santorum delivered in Michigan a major 50-minute speech on energy independence, restoring America's manufacturing base and the repercussions of federal bailouts, outlining in detail his plans for attacking all three, yet not a word of this speech has been mentioned by the mainstream media. Santorum delivers major speeches almost daily on those three topics, as well as the threat of radical Islam, and his plans to reduce the national debt and curb entitlement spending, and the mainstream media simply cover their eyes and hold their ears, pretending those speeches never occurred.
Yet whenever Rick is interviewed by any mainstream outlet, they insist on relentlessly hammering on his stances on social issues, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. Of course snippets of those interviews are what the average American sees on his television screen every night, so the average American comes away with the notion that Santorum is merely a one-trick pony who wants to speak about nothing else, and who may not even have a deep understanding of anything beyond the issues of abortion or birth control.
If the results of November's election are to steer our republic back onto the path our Founders so painstakingly laid, the campaign mantra "It's the economy, stupid" needs to give way to the belief that the state of the economy, no matter how fractured, must be considered secondary to the need for integrity in our elected officials, and a willingness to hold a biased media accountable for their skewed effect on the election process.
Franklin's prophetic warning, when asked if America was a republic or a monarchy, "A republic, if you can keep it", will find itself sorely tested between now and November. We must not allow our concerns about the economy to trump our far more urgent need to elect leaders of integrity. Likewise, we must not allow the unelected, unaccountable media to paint distorted portraits of our candidates. Allowing ourselves to follow the piper who would have us attack the symptom of a failing economy rather than the disease of corruption in leadership will do nothing more than weaken, if not dismantle, the foundations upon which our republic was built. Keeping our republic may amount to nothing less than demanding that virtue in leadership, and truth in journalism, will not be compromised.
Joan Fischer is a freelance writer from Lancaster, PA, and may be reached at email@example.com