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Santorum senses ‘turning point’

Published 10:21pm Tuesday, September 18, 2012

 

BENTON HARBOR — The presidential election coincides with a turning point in American history, Rick Santorum said Tuesday night.

The high level of angst and apparent divisiveness surpass the economy, which has been especially felt in Michigan, Santorum said, but there are other “disquieting” changes afoot in these “consequential times with big things moving here and around the world. I think we all know it.”

Since the world wars and the Soviet Union broke apart into Russia, America has been the lone superpower, exporting its values and “creed” to bolster security because it was capable of self-government.

Freedom cannot succeed everywhere, Santorum told The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan at Lake Michigan College Mendel Center.

“People who are going to save America are in this room,” he said of “ordinary citizens who put on the cap of citizenship and participate.”

Founding fathers knew the hardest job would be keeping the flame of freedom bright.

Today’s appeasement vision concludes America has not been a source of good and its allies are “complicit,” while allies, such as Egypt and Israel, feel America has deliberately turned its back.

“Our allies no longer trust us,” Santorum said. “And our enemies no longer fear us. We’re at a critical juncture as to what direction America takes” because the country has been withdrawing from asserting itself as it can no longer afford that presence.

Santorum said that’s because the United States typically spent 18 to 19 percent of gross national product on government, but has been at World War II levels of 24 to 25 percent for four consecutive years.

The credit rating has been downgraded to AA- due to trillion-dollar deficits, yet the Fed wants to borrow, print and pump more money into the pipeline to goose the economy.

Today’s vision doesn’t trust businesses and individuals to build from the bottom up, but relies on top-down government.

The culture has a huge impact because “the storytellers, by and large, do not share our values,” Santorum said while discussing Charles Murray’s white America book, “Coming Apart,” where 51 percent over the age of 18 are married, compared to 75 percent 30 years ago — a number “falling precipitously” by five points in three years.

“There are consequences to families not forming or falling apart. Forty-one percent are born out of wedlock” and more likely to struggle in school, use drugs, more likely to go to jail and less likely to find good jobs.

“A long list of problems comes from fatherless homes,” he said.

Eighty-five percent of the wealthy are married. More go to church.

“Cultural decay impacts where you stack up on the income level,” Santorum said. “There is a correlation. America is being stratified, but they won’t preach what they practice.”

Faith is the greatest teacher of virtue, he said. The less virtue, the more laws and enforcement.

“Folks at the top get it, but they don’t tell you or structure cultural encouragement, so we’re coming apart.”

Santorum’s answer is to return to “eternal” values that made this country great, as articulated in the Constitution — “the operator’s manual” revived by Tea Party patriots — and the Declaration of Independence, stating “who we are as Americans. It gave us a soul.”

Santorum’s grandfather came through Ellis Island from Italy in 1923, when “there were no benefits for immigrants, just freedom.”

As a 2012 dark horse presidential candidate, the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania (1995-2007), won 11 states, including Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan’s primary, before bowing out in April.

“I didn’t come here,” he said, leading off the 2012-13 speaker series for The Economic Club’s 70th program year. “Maybe that was the secret.”

He self-deprecatingly recalled his “irrational” decision to seek the White House and, given his proximity to South Bend, compared himself to “Rudy” —  a guy not given much chance after losing in Pennsylvania by 18 points.

In Iowa, he attended 385 townhall meetings in all 99 counties.

Santorum, 54, accompanied by U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra, is writing another book, “Gathering Storm of the 21st Century,” on the war against a radical Islamic fascist enemy and its growing alliances.

 

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