Rick Santorum: Apostle of the Common Good?

Rick Santorum

By Alan Bean

Now that Rick Santorum has emerged as a viable candidate, media scrutiny will likely revolve around his highly traditional positions on abortion, contraception and gay rights (apropos of which, check this out). But David Gerson, a political advisor who has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations, sees Santorum as a compassionate conservative with a vision of the common good. 

Consider this, for instance:

In a 2005 speech at the Heritage Foundation, Santorum argued that men and women should not be treated either as “pathetic dependents” or as “radical individuals.” “Someone,” he argued, “always gets hurt when masses of individuals do what is only in their own self-interest. That is the great lie of liberal freedom. . . . Freedom is liberty coupled with responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self. It is a self-less freedom. It is sacrificial freedom. It is the pursuit of our dreams with an eye towards the common good.”

Gerson doesn’t think the former Pennsylvania Senator stands much of a chance of getting himself nominated, but sees his rise as a sign that Republicans are remembering the need to add a pinch of humanity to the small government stew:

Libertarians may wish to claim exclusive marketing rights, but there are two healthy, intellectual movements in American conservatism: libertarianism and religious (particularly Catholic) social thought.

Libertarians may damn Santorum as a heretic for supporting prison ministries and expanding colon cancer screenings for Medicare beneficiaries, but Republicans abandon themselves to a radically individualistic libertarianism at their own peril.  Gerson’s column in the Washington Post can be found here.