Vail Daily columnist Jack Van Ens: Santorum supports big government | VailDaily.com
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Vail Daily columnist Jack Van Ens: Santorum supports big government

Sporting trademark sweater vests, the religious rights’ presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, doesn’t speak close to the vest. Rather, he’s blunt and recites a political creed that sometimes promotes big government.

This Roman Catholic obeys the biblical injunction: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from the Evil One” (Matthew 5:37).

His either-or mindset epitomizes what George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), the Irish poet and critic, described: “For every complex problem there is a simple solution that is wrong.”



Generally, Santorum desires to shrink government. Specifically, though, he’s for hiking the federal government’s intrusive power into our lives. This former Pennsylvania senator grows big government when he increases military spending, legislates social morality and bulks up pork barrel earmarks.

After George W. Bush’s freedom agenda in the Middle East became unpopular, Santorum rallied around the president.



Losing the 2006 Pennsylvania senatorial race in a landslide to Democrat Bob Casey, Santorum acted as if Bush’s 38 percent approval rating hadn’t dragged him down. He claimed in a debate, “I think he’s (Bush II) been a terrific presiden, absolutely.”

Though voters protested the Iraq War, Santorum pushed ahead with a big government military agenda. He warned that the U.S. must stop “sleepwalking” when a “gathering storm” of “evil enemies” plotted against America.

Roman Catholic Santorum allies with Protestant evangelicals who espouse Zionism. This political creed of favoring “God’s special nation,” Israel, gained traction when the Jews returned to Palestine and the state of Israel was established in 1948. Santorum and evangelical Zionists demand that big government protect Israel because since 1948 biblical prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes. During the Cold War, Christians of Santorum’s religious mindset predicted the USSR, with Arab support, would invade Israel. Fierce fighting would end with the cataclysmic Battle of Armageddon.



Such erroneous yet appealing end-times theology survived the collapse of the Soviets. In response, the religious right revised its scenario for stormy days ahead but didn’t equivocate on U.S. support for Israel. Though the United States isn’t mentioned by name in the Bible, the religious right identifies our nation with God’s promise made to Abram in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless thee (Abram and his Jewish progeny).”

Santorum counts on God to keep His promise to the Jews and the U.S. only as long as Uncle Sam sets our defense of Israel as the cornerstone in foreign policy’s arch.

Santorum demands that big government legislate social morality, too. He supported evangelicals who insisted that brain-dead Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman in a vegetative state, remain on life support. He believed the U.S. government had a right to meddle in this case.

Isn’t it obvious that Schiavo’s family should have had the final say for ending mere biological existence?

Santorum danced around the Roman Catholic Church taking responsibility for child-molesting priests. He blamed “liberal” Boston society as the instigator of such reprehensible carnal crimes. “It is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lays at the center of the storm,” he wrote.

Besides allowing big government to intrude into hospital rooms, where patients want to die with dignity, and wanting robust federal power to cleanse Boston of its liberal excess, Santorum demands the feds protect traditional marriage. He equated same-sex unions with bestiality, spewing over-the-top condemnation. Homosexual unions, along with “man-on-child, man-on-dog, or whatever the case may be,” are wrong, Santorum told an Associated Press interviewer in 2003.

Big government must also pave the road which financial earmarks travel. When serving in the Senate, Santorum excelled at steering “pork” to Pennsylvania. He inserted home-state funding riders and earmarks into major legislation. Now, conservatives disdain such politicking.

Prior to Iowa caucuses, Santorum sounded like a small government conservative in dealing with African-Americans. “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn money.” Such strategy didn’t apply, though, when Santorum funneled taxpayers’ money to fund a quasi-GI bill so that a generation of Pennsylvania coal miners’ children could go to college. Why isn’t what’s good for one group — coal miners’ children — good for others, including poor blacks?

Santorum flip-flops like colonial firebrand Patrick Henry. In the 1780s, Henry denounced Big Government flexing its iron-fisted confiscatory taxing power.

Because he feared the atheistic French Revolution’s immorality leaping across the Atlantic Ocean during the 1790s, Henry sung a different political tune. Doing an about-face, he endorsed a robust central government to fend off the French.

Like Santorum and Henry, many small government advocates want big government to protect and expand their pet political projects.

The Rev. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax-exempt Creative Growth (www.thelivinghistory.com), which enhances Christian worship through storytelling and dramatic presentations aimed to make God’s history come alive. Van Ens’ book, “How Jefferson Made the Best of Bad Messes,” is available in local bookstores for $7.95.


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