American Patriots: An Interview with Rick Santorum

April 29–May 3, 2013   |   Vol. 115, Programs 51–55

This week on Home School Heartbeat, Sen. Rick Santorum and host Mike Farris discuss the senator’s new book, American Patriots, which explores how ordinary people became American patriots while encouraging us to follow their examples.

When we throw freedom of religion and faith out of the public square, “we’re throwing out the very soul of America.” —Sen. Rick Santorum

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If you would like to learn about how ordinary people became American patriots by doing extraordinary things, you should read Senator Rick Santorum’s book, American Patriots.

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The Founders recognized that America’s liberty was secured by ordinary people, making extraordinary sacrifices. Join Michael Farris as he talks with former Republican candidate for president, Sen. Rick Santorum, about his new book American Patriots, which showcases some of these unsung heroes, today on Home School Heartbeat.

Mike Farris: Senator Santorum, you’ve been serving our nation in a sacrificial way for many years, and I want to thank you for your service and welcome you to the program.

Sen. Santorum: Thank you, Mike.

Mike: I want to talk about the Declaration of Independence. It proclaims that it’s the express duty of government to protect our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In your book, American Patriots, you highlight the lives of lesser-known Americans who you say have answered this call to secure our freedom. Why this book, and why right now?

Sen. Santorum: Well, the reason we did it was, as I travelled around the country running for president, I witnessed ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things fighting for liberty, and they recognized how critical a juncture we are in American history, that beyond the precipice of losing that ideal of the Declaration that we have God-given rights and inalienable rights that the government is there to protect; that that’s the role of the government. It’s not there to give rights and allocate rights, but to protect them. And, I thought, well, what better way of inspiring, maybe, others to engage in this fight, than highlighting average Americans during the time when we won the freedom the first time.

Mike: Senator, I know our listeners will be inspired by these stories of ordinary citizens whose sacrifices helped preserve freedom for generations to come. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Rick, in the introduction to your book, American Patriots, you mention one principle that separates this country from every other country in the world. What’s that idea?

Sen. Santorum: Well, it was in the Declaration of Independence, which is we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. That concept, that rights come to us from our Creator, there is no other country in the world, that establishes rights upon that premise, that limits the government by that very notion—that rights don’t come from government, but rights come from God, and that government is there to protect those rights.

Mike: Rick, what do you think is the biggest current threat to our freedom as a nation?

Sen. Santorum: I think it’s the erosion of faith and family. It’s the erosion of the very underpinnings of what made this nation great—a recognition of God and the primacy of God in this country, and the important critical role of families in building a country of virtue. With strong families, strong churches, and strong virtue in our society, government can be limited. But as those things deteriorate—we’ve seen it—government gets bigger and becomes more oppressive, and freedom is lost.

Mike: Join us next time to hear about an abandoned orphan who used his life to promote the cause of freedom. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Rick, you tell the story of Peter Francisco, which I think is a quintessentially American story. Can you explain why you found Francisco’s story so compelling?

Sen. Santorum: The more I . . . I just had to research more because I couldn’t believe what I was reading, that this man who was a giant at 6’6”, 280 pounds—I mean, the average person was 5’5”, 5’4”—and he wanted to join the revolutionary cause, and it turns out in almost every significant battle of the Revolution—amazing feats of heroism, and strength, and valor, and when I read about it, I said, it can’t be real because you’d have to know about someone who did these amazing things, and, of course, the more I read, the more I found out that these things were, in fact, true. And the interesting thing I found about Peter Francisco is he was an orphan. He was someone who showed up on the dock, a ship, came into port up the James River and left this 5-year old boy on the dock and sailed away. And it was the humanity of the people in that community and the judge, actually, to adopt him and to raise him, that allowed this man to be raised with the values and virtues that were necessary to him to take on this heroic role.

Mike: Next time, we look forward to sharing more about how Peter Francisco helped the American cause during the Revolutionary War. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Rick, last time we shared some about Peter Francisco, who is also called the “Virginia Giant,” what do you think motivated Peter Francisco to fight for the American cause during the Revolutionary War?

Sen. Santorum: Well, again, go back to foundational principles, you go back to what was taught to children at the time of the Revolution. His father was a judge. His mother understood the importance of law, and understood the biblical basis of the common law, and the law that was adopted in the colonies at the time. And so, this is the man who was taught about the virtue of freedom and how to use that freedom in a way that lifted up people. And you had a revolution being fought because you had a king who was imposing upon that, and trying to impress his will—that it was the king who was the sovereign, not the people, and not ultimately God. And that, like so many who fought in the Revolution, was the impetus behind their actions.

Mike: America relies on all of its citizens to play a part in defending and maintaining our freedom. We give thanks for our soldiers who serve the cause of liberty with the same spirit as Peter Francisco. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Senator, why do you think the Founders included the phrase, “the pursuit of happiness” in the list of unalienable rights from God that they wanted to secure?

Sen. Santorum: You know, that didn’t make any sense to me until a pastor in Iowa shared with me that happiness, at the time, was defined differently. They were talking about true happiness, and the Founders understood that true happiness only comes with doing what you are called to do by God—by doing things in consonant with your own nature—what truly can make you happy. Lasting, fulfilling happiness of a life well lived was, in fact, doing things in conformity with what God made you to do. And when we as a country, as we are today, are debating whether to throw that out—to throw out faith, and freedom of religion, and faith out of the public square, and God as any part of the public discourse, we’re throwing out the very soul of America—the very thing that made America different from any country in the world.

Mike: As you point out in American Patriots, true happiness results from doing what one ought to do, in obedience to God. Parents, you’ll find many examples here in this book to inspire your students to live up to this high calling. I’m Mike Farris.

Senator Rick Santorum

A native of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012 and became known as a voice for conservatives who didn’t feel their voice was being represented. His grassroots approach to campaigning—including visiting every one of Iowa’s 99 counties and his stunning victory in the Iowa caucuses—catapulted him to frontrunner status where he ultimately won 11 states and nearly four million votes during the Republican primary process.

In June 2012, Rick Santorum launched Patriot Voices, a grassroots and online community of Americans from across the country committed to promoting faith, family, freedom and opportunity in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Patriot Voices is working to unite one million voices through a common belief in American exceptionalism, entrepreneurship, and personal responsibility.

Rick and his wife of 22 years, Karen, are the parents of seven wonderful children: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick and Isabella. And during his run for president, Rick spoke passionately about his belief that strong families help produce a strong economy. He shared his views that we must expand opportunities for all Americans by encouraging incentives for marriage, children, and free enterprise. 

As an example of his commitment to improving our economy, Rick spoke often about his belief that we must renew America’s manufacturing sector to ensure that our nation isn’t just made of innovators but of those who can produce those innovations. Renewing our country’s manufacturing spirit will strengthen working families and help our struggling communities return to a path of prosperity during these tough economic times. Rick also believes we must support America’s domestic energy potential through pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms that will not only create jobs but strengthen our national security.

On the campaign trail, Rick was a voice for the voiceless. Voters across this country heard about Rick and Karen’s youngest daughter Isabella, who was born with a condition called Trisomy 18, and who wasn’t expected to survive her first birthday.  Beating all the odds, Bella celebrated her 4th birthday in May of 2012 and is a joyful and loving little girl. Bella’s miraculous life has only strengthened Rick and Karen’s belief in the dignity of each of every life. Furthermore, one of the key reasons that Rick chose to run for president in 2012 was because of the passage of Obamacare. He believes passionately that we must repeal Obamacare and replace it with a bottom up, patient-driven—not government-driven—system.

Prior to running for President, Rick served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995, and in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007, where he was known as one of the most successful government reformers in our history. Rick took on Washington’s powerful special interests from the moment he arrived in our nation’s Capitol in 1991. Along with John Boehner and Jim Nussle, Rick was a member of the “Gang of Seven” that exposed the Congressional Banking and Congressional Post Office scandals. It was this record of reform that prompted a Washington Post reporter to write that “Santorum was a tea party kind of guy before there was a tea party.”

Rick was also an author and floor manager of the landmark “Welfare Reform Act” which passed in 1996 that has empowered millions of Americans to leave the welfare rolls and enter the workforce.

He wrote and championed legislation that outlawed the heinous procedure known as Partial Birth Abortion as well as the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act,” the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” and the “Combating Autism Act” because he believes each and every individual has value and the most vulnerable in our society need to be protected.

Rick fought to maintain fiscal sanity in Washington before it was in fashion, fighting for a balanced budget and a line item veto. He bravely proposed reforming entitlements, cutting spending and even developed a “spendometer” that added up the cost of Democrat amendments to spending bills. This record made him one of the most conservative senators in Pennsylvania’s history.

Rick served eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee where he led the fight before the attacks of September 11, 2001, to transform our military from a Cold War force to meet today’s threats. He was a leader on US-Israeli relations, authoring both the “Syria Accountability Act” and the “Iran Freedom and Support Act,” which he successfully fought to pass in spite of initial opposition by President Bush.  Rick firmly believes that we cannot allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

An accomplished author, Rick Santorum penned the 2005 New York Times–best seller It Takes a Family.  He is also the author of American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom, which highlights the heroic men and women who valiantly fought to secure our God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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