By Rick Santorum
This week, Americans once again exercised their fundamental right to a free and fair election — a right that many have sacrificed their lives for and one that is denied to millions around the world. Many of us were deeply invested in this election as well. And although we may not all be happy with the outcome, we must respect the collective will of the American people and now come together to pray for President Obama and Congress as they confront the serious challenges that face our country in the months ahead.
For me, these election results reinforce the need to engage with even more energy and commitment. And not just engage in politics but in our daily lives and our communities to ensure that the values upon which our country was founded and has prospered will continue. We need to continue to stand strong for America’s first freedoms: family, opportunity, limited government, and our national security. Those are the freedoms on which our country was founded and have endured both through our nation’s prosperous times and many challenges. As the president sets out for this next term, we can only hope and pray that he revisits some of the original freedoms which we laid forth by our founding fathers.
As we confront the massive financial challenges of growing government and entitlement spending, we need to focus on re-centering our understanding of government and our expectations from government. President Obama’s first term saw a massive increase in dependency as food stamps hit record levels, and an enormous commitment to a social program — Obamacare — that will add significantly to our obligations, and a general expansion of the regulatory and welfare state. Not only is this massive governmental expansion untenable financially, as we now see quite clearly from in the severe problems faced in Europe, but I don’t believe this expansion is consistent with the views of our founders of our nation who espoused a smaller, more limited government that creates and protects the conditions for liberty and opportunity to thrive but whose main function is to protect all of its people from harm.
A popular Democratic President once famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” This was in a different time but a time when we faced equally significant challenges. Those words seem quite appropriate for our current debate regarding what the role of government is in our daily lives. Yes, of course, we need a safety net that provides for our seniors and our most vulnerable citizens. I think we can all agree on that. But where we need to continue the debate is, where does it end? Where the president now believes it ends is a place that will bankrupt us, and threaten the lives and liberties of future generations. We cannot accept this.
As a country we need to depend less on government and to ask less from government. We need to rely more on education and a country that ensures and protects opportunity for all. As Americans, we need to engage and do our part. Here’s what we can do for our country: instead of expecting government to solve our problems, we need to “love thy neighbor” and focus more on helping each other through our communities, churches, schools and local institutions, or as Edmund Burke once called the “Little Platoons.” These are the subdivisions of American life where we can affect such great and positive change. This is where each of us can contribute. We need to embrace the very American concept of loving and looking out for each other.
President Obama won re-election this week with just slightly more than half the country’s vote. The reality is that more than half of the country cares about preserving our basic freedoms, limited government, promoting strong families and healthy children, economic opportunity and upward mobility, and standing for our principles, values, and interests around the world. We wish him well and will support him when he is right, but will oppose him when he is wrong. We will stand for American principles and values and problem solving that reflects and respects that.
As he sets out to confront the major issues we face, we will continue to pursue our vision of an America where the government helps create the conditions for growth and opportunity but acts responsibly and prudently as to not weaken itself and our future with unsustainable financial burdens. And an America that embraces community, “Little Platoons,” over government dependence. These are the keys to a healthy, growing democracy where families will thrive and the least of these — the poor, the suffering, the infirm, and the unborn — will be protected. God Bless our great nation.