Rick Santorum is on a mission from God. He believes that, with all his heart. I do, too: I think that God has a plan for Rick Santorum, and that God wants him to save the United States of America. That plan, though, doesn’t include being president, not, at least in 2012.
In his most recent fund-raising pitch (which – full disclosure – I receive as a Santorum contributor), the Republican presidential candidate appears in a video, telling a story about his first campaign for congress, when he defeated a seemingly unsinkable incumbent.
Knocking on doors in Pittsburgh, Santorum encountered an invalid shut-in, and chose to sit down the old man and chat a while, rather than hustle off to the next house. The old man had a big family and mobilized them all for the young Santorum. An act of kindness, Santorum explained, gave him an electoral advantage by the grace of God. The old man was dying, and refused to go to hospital before Election Day, mindful of his promise to vote for Santorum. He did so and died a few days later.
I buy into every word of Santo rum’s’s story. A lot of things happen that don’t seem accidental. As the 18th century founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov said, when you go on a journey, you only think you’re going to do whatever you set out to do, whereas in fact, God has sent you on that journey, to do something that only you can do. You’ll find out what that is when you get there. I have no trouble believing that Santo rum’s’s courtesy to a sick old man was part of God’s plan to put Rick Santorum right at the fulcrum of American politics.
It’s within Santo rum’s’s power to be the savior of his country. All he needs to do is issue something like the following statement some time during the next two weeks:
“I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Mitt Romney for president, and I will devote all my energy between now and November to ensure that he wins the general election. To all the people who devoted time they did not have, and gave me money they could not afford, and offered me the ultimate trust, I say this: We have triumphed, more grandly than we had a right to hope only a few months ago. Together, we have demonstrated that the voice of faith cannot be stilled in American political life. Whether people of faith form an electoral majority or not, is not the point: Together, we have demonstrated that we form the backbone of this nation under God, and that the founding principles of the United States America and the faith that holds together our families are of the same fabric.
“By supporting me in this great challenge to the Republican Party’s establishment, you have shown that faith can beat the odds and confound conventional wisdom, and you have forced traditional values back onto the political agenda in a new and powerful way. You have given me the honor to speak for what is best in America and to bear the sacred flame of American values.
“Now I ask you to redouble your efforts and your passion and help elect Mitt Romney. I’ve been tough on Mitt, and rightly so: that’s what political campaigns are for. I’m not asking you to settle for half a loaf. I’m asking you to acknowledge that we’ve won. Mitt Romney is a man of faith and family, as well as man of knowledge and skill. I’ve had questions about his commitment to conservative values, and the way to get those question answered is to call him out before the voters.
“And we have seen that Mitt Romney is listening to our wing of the party. He’s moved to the right, not the center. He’s committed himself to Reagan-style across-the-board tax cuts. And he’s committed to keeping America the strongest power in the world.
“The future of our country depends on reversing our economic and military decline during the next presidential administration. We can’t stand another four years of economic depression and obeisance to every miscreant on the world scene from Vladimir Putin to the Muslim Brotherhood. The economic disaster that Barack Obama has brought upon us is destroying tens of millions of American lives and ruining tens of millions of families. Mitt Romney has shown that he’s with us on the critical issues. We have won the battle inside the Republican Party, and now it’s time to win the battle before the nation.
“I want to say one more thing. I know that many Christians have questions about Mitt’s Mormon faith. We know him by his works. Here is a man who is married to his college sweetheart, surrounded by five sons who love him, who achieved great worldly success and then devoted himself to good works. What a victory it will be for people of faith and family to have a man like Mitt in the White House! I ask you to let his good deeds and virtues speak for themselves, to set aside your doubts, and rally behind him with the same spirit you brought to my campaign.
“I haven’t discussed this statement with Governor Romney. I ask nothing of him but the opportunity to help him win the presidency next November and lead this country back to greatness.”
If Santorum were to issue this statement on Monday, Romney would be 10 points ahead of Obama in the polls on Tuesday.
By one of those coincides, Santorum was one of the first people to learn the identity of the anonymous essayist “Spengler”. My friends Michael and Barbara Ledeen were among the handful to whom I had confided the secret. In January 2009. I was about to join the masthead of First Things magazine, and prior to the announcement I traveled to Washington for get-acquainted meetings with board members.
Walking into the Ethics and Public Policy Center, I ran into Barbara. She said, “There’s someone you have to meet!” and ushered me into a conference room. There sat former senator Santorum. Barbara said, “Senator, this is Spengler!” Santorum started for a moment and said, “God bless you!”
God bless you, too, Rick Santorum. I believe, as you do, that God has a plan for you, but it is not just a plan for you personally, but a part of his plan for the United States of America. He has elevated you to a position of great influence from which you can determine the outcome of great events. You have rallied Americans of faith-including many from the observant Jewish community-and galvanized voters around the core values of this country. That is an inestimable contribution, and you have had the inestimable privilege to make it.
But now you stand at the crossroad. You are not going to be president in 2012, but you can make the president in 2012. You can be a beacon for generosity and disinterested patriotism, and in a moment become one of America’s senior statesmen. You are young enough to be president eight years from now. But if Obama is reelected through your inaction, what will be left over which to preside the next time around?