Bill Murchison

Think the average Santorum voter doesn't know what's afoot here? Use the First Amendment as a pretext to shove aside non-liberal viewpoints on morality -- viewpoints with some grounding in Scripture or church tradition -- and the sailing gets a lot smoother.

The economy is an absolutely urgent topic for discussion, possibly even some rabble-rousing, as liberals sit tight on the welfare state apparatus they built and now want to protect by renewing Barack Obama's White House lease. Nonetheless, there can't be any excluding the social issues, whether or not one likes Santorum's dour and preachy manner of raising them.

The habits of a free people -- for stability, thrift, obedience to law, respect for others' rights, etc. -- are the formative elements in national character, without which you aren't going to have much that resembles freedom. Without freedom, you aren't going to have much of anything. Certainly, you aren't going to have an economy that produces jobs and prosperity on any long-term, contrasted with a Chinese-like short term, authoritarian basis.

The social issues aren't enjoyable to talk about in an election year -- least of all a year in which an irrational tax system and the federal takeover of the health care system urgently require attention. That's life. You don't solve problems by positing their triviality or even nonexistence.

Conservatives who couldn't, on pain of waterboarding, envision a "President Rick Santorum" should lay off him as much as possible for the nonoffense of raising issues that -- woe and alas -- have to be raised; issues, more to the point, that go far toward explaining why we're in the mess we're in right now.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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