Steve Deace, Rick Santorum, and the Reagan Democrat Zombie Apocalypse — Part 3 of 3

Part 3

Rick Family Leader 2014

photo courtesy of prezography.com

Steal the Message. Bury the Messenger

In August 2014 a number of likely presidential candidates, including Rick Santorum, spoke at The Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, and Deace did an extensive analysis judging the candidates’ speeches on his radio shows with a major focus on crowd reaction. It was at this summit that Santorum took a major detour from the typical pre-campaign stump speeches you’d expect to hear and dished out true meat and potatoes blue collar, solutions-based fare, not political rock candy to put the audience on a sugar high. He threw down the gauntlet on immigration policy, blasting both parties for exploiting the immigration issue at the expense of American workers and their wages. It was the most poignant, substantive speech of the summit, yet the only candidates who got any media attention for being there were those who chummed the audience with frequent applause-inducing, clever one liners and smack talk about how bad Obama and the Republican Party leadership were. Santorum is not one looking for the next applause line. He’d much rather his audience actually listen and digest what he says, not immediately react to it. During most of Santorum’s speeches I’ve watched or heard, for the majority of the speech you could likely hear a pin drop. It’s not because the audience wasn’t listening or was turned off, it’s because the subject matter and the seriousness of his message was full of tough truths they needed to hear, not what would tickle their ears. 

Santorum’s blue collar message was not overlooked by pro-American worker immigration watchdog groups NumbersUSA and VDare, both who roundly praised Santorum, alone, for putting the American worker first in his immigration policy. Despite the media blackout on Santorum, presidential wannabes were taking sharp notice of his message, and in January 2015 some emerged onto the campaign scene regurgitating much of Santorum’s blue collar message and policy near verbatim.

First Scott Walker, then Donald Trump, followed by Marco Rubio and now even Ted Cruz, all are now blue collar conservatives – at least they portray themselves that way. All have hijacked Santorum’s unique blue collar message and policies and are targeting those millions of Reagan Democrats that haven’t voted for a Republican president since Reagan.  If not for Rick Santorum’s tremendous success in 2012 and the blueprint he laid out in his book to unite this country and get it working again, we’d have every Republican presidential candidate running on the same old stale pro-business, anti-tax, smaller government message of the Romney campaign microwaved over for 2016.  Seems everyone wants to be a blue collar conservative now, and those at the top of the national popularity polls are running on Santorum’s message and have adopted his policies as their own. They only get away with doing this because of the total primetime media blackout on Santorum and his campaign. (See more about this in an upcoming blog.)  Donald Trump read Santorum’s book  in 2014 and it set light bulbs off in his head. Here we have a Corporate America billionaire whose lifetime interests have been largely focused on increasing his own personal wealth and affluent lifestyle now winning those blue collar Reagan Democrats over in droves running on Santorum’s blue collar message. Unbelievable.  

 

Roll Up Those Sleeves and Say “Cheese!”

We’ve had some pretty extreme makeovers in the Republican field of candidates to be sure. Over the last few months Ted Cruz, the poster boy for the government shut down and his cut, slash, and burn policies that resulted in actually hurting workers in middle America, has shapeshifted into a blue collar champion, donning folksy flannel shirts (his answer to the Santorum sweater vest) and he’s also hijacked Santorum’s pro American worker message and policies as well. What a total 180 Cruz has done since he first entered the race, performing some of the most incredible political gymnastic stunts we’ve seen since the Romney campaign of 2012.  His round-off, back handspring move from pushing immigration on steroids to adopting an American worker first immigration policy was a rather astonishing feat indeed.  Likewise, Marco Rubio has refashioned himself from an establishment, Corporate America go-along into a Hispanic Santorum clone echoing him on everything but immigration and he often quotes Santorum verbatim. Rubio’s 2015 book “American Dreams — Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone” is a knockoff of both of Santorum’s books “It Takes A Family” and “Blue Collar Conservatives.

All the presidential candidates have toured factories, assembly lines, farms, and manufacturing facilities for those trophy photo ops with these prized Reagan Democrats and they just seem to me to be, well, out of place. Yeah, it’s part of every candidate’s duty to go out and rub elbows with average Americans but there’s an air of disingenuousness about it when you know it’s more about racking up political brownie points than actually knowing who these voters are, their issues and concerns, and have policies and a vision that includes them.

Pandering to working Americans from all three of these blue collar newbies has hit a fever pitch heading into the first Caucus in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary, so clearly these voters do play a critical role in this election. But is it good enough to be a recent blue collar convert who talks a good game on blue collar issues or it is imperative our eventual nominee has a solid record on them to support all the rhetoric? What if their blue collar schticks don’t actually match their records? I believe in the general election a Trump, Cruz, or Rubio would be exposed as a blue collar fraud by either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders who both are running campaigns heavy on appealing to the average American worker via a major focus on income inequality. Trump, for all his blue collar bombast, poses the same election hazard in this election as Romney  in 2012, just another uber wealthy businessman whose record of supporting corporate welfare and bank bailouts makes him look more like an elitist “bleu” collar candidate instead. I know people are falling for him now, but if he’s the nominee you can bank on his past being fully exposed and exploited like nobody’s business by Democrats far and wide, doing the job all the top national conservative talk jocks refused to do when Trump first entered the ring: actually vet him.

 

 Like Reagan, Second Time is the Charm 

Why would voters take a chance on nominating a novice on these and a bevy of other critical issues in this campaign when we have a true master on every issue in the race who has already proven he can win in a national election including support and votes from these all important blue collar Reagan Democrats? The added beauty of Santorum’s pro worker, pro growth blue collar message and policies is that in winning back these disaffected Reagan Democrats and enacting actual policies that will positively affect their lives, we begin to change the electoral map nationwide turning those dark blue areas to purple to red and begin to break the stronghold Democrats have in elections in these areas for decades. Now that is a longterm goal only Santorum has espoused and he has the plan to make it a reality. Everyone should seriously take this into consideration. A blue collar rhetoric only candidate might win short term and lose the electorate he inspired by not delivering on his promises since they were good talking points only; but a true believer in the message will be a doer who will strive to put these policies in place and secure a path to build victories going forward. Just think about that. Think about that long and hard. When you factor in that Santorum, a coal miner’s grandson,  hails from America’s Rustbelt and for 16 years time and again was voted into office by these blue collar voters who populate the steel mill and factory towns of Pennsylvania,  you can’t deny we have a genuine blue collar candidate here. That’s a claim no one else in this field can boast. 

Who else in this race but Rick Santorum has won 4 of his 5 races as a conservative in a blue state with one million more registered Democrats than Republicans? Who else in this race has already won 11 states in a presidential election in critical swing states in the Heartland and Rustbelt of America and in the Bible Belt of the South, including 13 second place finishes and this was even with him suspending his campaign in April with 19 states still left to vote? Doggone impressive I’d say! Had Rick Santorum only had the funds to continue he no doubt have taken the majority of those remaining states as well, including his home state of Pennsylvania  as we learned from a Romney campaign internal pollster . It was Santorum’s message and his refreshing authenticity, not his money, that took him that far, but now we have the conservative establishment cabal pushing Trump or Cruz and they would have us believe the only factor necessary to win the nomination and general election this time is, again, to be able to outspend your opponent. That strategy was a monumental failure in 2012, yielded us the most disliked well-financed nominee in years, and subsequently delivered 4 more years of Obama. Those millions of Reagan Democrats who should have been out in force to vote for Romney didn’t see him as credible on the issues that pertained to them and their lives. Learn this lesson well, folks. An inauthentic conservative firebrand is just as ineffective with Reagan Democrats as the stuffed shirt executive moderate was in 2012. Authenticity matters. A LOT. We have a field full of well-funded candidates running on borrowed messages and with NO record of being able to win over Reagan Democrats, and some have no record of even running for office before. Talk about taking a huge gamble here. Go with what you know. 

Seems to me when you have such a strong horse from the previous election who is battle tested and battle hardy and who is right on all the issues central to this election and he’s got the fire in the belly to take it all on again, the smartest thing to do is stick with him, bring together his coalition from 2012, and build on that for 2016. That was the Reagan strategy after 1976 and the result was two landslide victories. We already do have a proven winner who only lacked financial support to go the distance. Imagine all that support, now splintered among the numerous candidates doing their best Rick Santorum impersonations, actually supporting Santorum this go round? Epic. It would be epic. Time to separate the wheat from the chaff and weed the field of imposters who may mean well but are a terrible fit for this job. Again we are stuck with the depressing mantra of “I really like Rick Santorum the best but he can’t win” and there are enough of these voters out there who actually can propel Santorum to victory if they go out and vote their convictions and not what giddy talk hosts and influential leaders tell them to — because they know so much better than we do. If you are allowing our conservative versions of Chris Matthews who fawn and gush over well-funded candidates who send thrills up their legs, to pick a candidate for you, you are selling out your vote and selling out America. Would you trust a talk show jock with a 3 year long mancrush on a candidate to honestly assess the field and choose a candidate for you? We absolutely cannot afford to nominate less than what we need in our nominee and in our president.

Rick Santorum’s record and platform hit home  all across America and he doesn’t need to remake himself or flipflop all over the place to appease any factions of voters. Unlike all these apprentice politicians and political neophytes, he is not a niche candidate trying to broaden his appeal with a message foreign to his actual background, nor does he require briefing books, tutors, or coaches to help beef him up. He knows this stuff inside and out from actual leadership experience. His message and policy is for ALL Americans and puts the interests of AMERICANS FIRST. Always. 

And I am still waiting for Steve Deace to divest himself of his self-appointed position as political coroner and retract his proclamation that Reagan Democrats are no more or affirm that Rick Santorum was spot on right. I’m not holding my breath, but honesty and integrity demand it.