Yesterday Rick Santorum stunned Mitt Romney in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri by winning all three contests. Romney was expected to win Colorado, being next door to Mormon-dominated Utah, and was also expected to win Minnesota, the popular former governor of which, Tim Pawlenty, had endorsed Romney following the suspension of his own presidential campaign. Missouri was a so-called ‘beauty contest’, as they will have a formal caucus later in March to actually allocate their delegates. My candidate, Newt Gingrich, didn’t contest these three states heavily, instead deciding to husband his resources for the upcoming ‘Super Tuesday’. The wisdom of this strategy can be debated, but the outcome itself is what is interesting.

Once again, or I should really say thrice again, Conservative Republicans have indicated that they are not happy with Mitt Romney being crammed down their throat as the heir presumptive to the Republican nomination. We likewise weren’t thrilled with John McCain in 2008, either, at least until Sarah Palin was added to the ticket and began to ignite the true conservative Republican base. Unfortunately, Sarah Palin came so late in the race, and the McCain campaign squandered the opportunity her popularity provided so badly that not enough of the Republican faithful and the critical conservative independents contributed to victory over a freshman Senator from Illinois with no experience outside the campaign trail.

The Republican ‘Elite’ or the ‘Establishment’ or whatever you wish to call them didn’t learn from the experience, and instead lined up behind a northeastern liberal whose statewide healthcare plan was the blueprint for ObamaCare (aka, ‘The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’, which neither protects patients nor makes healthcare affordable). Mitt Romney arguably has some favorable points on his side. He left his investment company to help save the Winter Olympics from being a fiasco, and his record as the Republican governor of a heavily Democratic state was commendable overall. However, as many Republican governors of California have found out over the last several decades, you have to make a lot of compromises to have even infinitesmally small victories. Couple that with the general distrust or dislike of Mormonism by other Christians, which make up a large part of the Conservative Republican base. The secretive nature of Mormon rituals as you progress up the ladder in the church heirarchy reminds many of Scientology-like cults. The fact that their religion is based upon gold tablets allegedly found and translated by the founder of their church in the 1800’s (but that have never been revelead to or seen by outsiders) leads many Christians to dismiss them simplay as an apostate group that is not really a Christian church at all. The fact that Massachusetts, the state of which Mitt Romney was governor, was the first state where same-sex marriage was made available, also makes Christians uneasy. The argument is that if you break down the traditional definition that marriage is between a man and a woman, and allow women to marry women and men to marry men, that the next logical step would be to allow plural marriages, which takes us right back to the Mormon issue. Admittedly, one starts seeing tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists at this point, but it’s not wholly improbable. Many of these arguments about Mormonism are in the same vein that arguments against electing Catholics were before (and during) the 1960 election when John F. Kennedy was elected. One has to judge them based on his or her own faith, or lack thereof.

So with Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri, we see that if you combine the Gingrich and Santorum vote, you see conservatives voting overwhelmingly against the idea of Mitt Romney being the Conservative Standard Bearer, as they have in every contest to date, excepting Florida and Nevada. In Florida, Romney achieved 48% of the vote, not even a clear majority, and barely got 50.1% of the vote in Nevada, where he was heavily favored (and incidentally has a large Mormon population). Senator Santorum deserves much credit for putting the time into these contests. He has some good ideas that appeal to conservative voters, and he has actual experience in Congress, as opposed to Barack Obama. Still, for me, Risk Santorum doesn’t bring the really big ideas, the strategic view to the table, that I believe Newt Gingrich does. Newt engineered the first Republican leadership of the House of Representatives in 40 years with big ideas, including ‘The Contract With America’. Many of those ideas were left unfulfilled with Republican infighting and the eventual loss of the House back to the Democrats. There are big problems with the way government has been encroaching into our lives. Conservative Republicans have some ideas to correct the ills big government has wrought. There are ways to proide healthcare to more Americans without forcing ObamaCare or RomneyCare down everyone’s throat. There are ways to provide better education for our children without the federal government dictating to local school districts how they can spend their time teaching or how to spend money. There are ways to promote economic growth and prosperity without trying to steal money from people who have worked throughout their lives realizing their dreams and giving it to people who are too lazy to work at all. There are ways to encourage businesses to innovate and grow without imposing onerous regulation or bailing them out when they fail. There are ways to inspire Americans to reach beyond their grasp without mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren.

Many see the negative campaigining in the Republican field as a bad thing, and that we should be lining up behind Romney to focus our attention on making sure Barack Obama is a one-term president. That’s all well and good, but the purpose of the primary season is to vett our candidates and ultimately decide who actually will be our standard-bearer. The idea that anybody should breeze through as the ‘annointed one’ is not only ludicrous, but dangerous to democracy (or rather, a representative Republic, as the U.S. is). That’s not to say that Republicans should be running ads that are complete fabrications or distortions of the truth. Stick to the issues where you differ from your competitors and thos eof the other side. Carpet-bombing hurts the party as a whole, not just your opponent in the primary. Primary season makes the candidate stronger. It gets their ideas out into the public and ultimately helps the voters decide who most closely adheres to their philosophy. Ultimately, at least in primary season, that’s what voters are looking for, not which candidate is the most electable. Come time for the convention when we formally choose our candidate, we back whomever the best man or woman turned out to be. At least we should. After all, we identify ourselves as Republicans for a reason, because the party ideals most closely correspond with our own beliefs. It’s a big tent, and we want to be inclusive without compromising those core beliefs. Those include smaller government, lower spending, a balanced budget, lower (and fair) taxes, and overall less government intrusion into our daily lives.

The liberals have consistently attacked religion and fomented racism with their policies and yet they have people believing they are ‘protecting’ rights as they buy their votes with one government assistance program after another. Republicans have been the champions of the Civil Rights movement since Abraham Lincoln, but the Democrats have bamboozled minorities into believing that they desegragated the military (proposed by Truman but actually carried out first by Barry Goldwater in the Arizona National Guard); desgragated schools (opposed by Democrats but implemented by Eisenhower); eliminated poll taxes and literacy requirements (which were put in place by Democrats); denounced the Ku Klux Klan (organized by Democrats to terrorize Republican ‘carpetbaggers’); and created Affirmative Action (President Nixon). What have the Democrats done that they can actually take credit for, besides a bunch of programs that attempt to redistribute wealth, creating dependency on the government, instead of enabling people to get a better education, a better job and a better life?

Catholics have predominently supported the Democratic Party for decades and I can’t for the life of me understand why. Catholic Hospitals are being told they have to provide abortions and the morning-after pill. Catholic instituions like the University of Notre Dame are being told they have to provide contraception in their health plan. This is the single hot-button issue for Catholics. The sanctity of life is a basic tenet of our faith. We may have differing views on whether birth-control is beneficial, but the point is that the government is attempting to dictate to a religious organization how their faith should be expressed, where freedom of religion, freedom of religious expression, and freedom from government interference in religion is one of the foundational tenets of the United States of America. The liberals’ window of opportunity may be closing, and they know it.

The two candidates that most effectively espouse core conservative beliefs, in my opinion, are Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Both candidates are also Catholic, although one was raised in the faith and the other adopted it, like I did. They are both competing for the same audience in the Republican primary season. An audience that is larger than the ‘Republican Establishment’ believes it to be, that one only has to look at the results to date to clearly see. Ultimately, either Newt or Rick will have to drop out of the race, whether for lack of funds, momentum or what have you. It would be a travesty to abandon the race solely to ‘unify the party’, which is not needed at this time. Calls for one candidate or another to leave the race before even 10% of the delegates have been awarded are self-serving for the ‘establishment’ candidate. We will not be bamboozled. ideally, either Newt or Rick will have enough momentum coming out of the upcoming ‘Super Tuesday’ on March 6th to be declared the true conservative standard-bearer. Most important is that Republicans don’t give up or give in simply because ‘it’s inevitable’ that Romney will be our candidate in the fall, as that is not clearly in evidence today. We still have choices, we still have debates, and we still have 44+ primaries and caucuses to conduct.

Ideally, I’d like to see a Newt Gingrich/Rick Santorum ticket. I think Newt Gingrich, with the strategic vision and experience in conducting business in the House of Representatives, and Rick Santorum, with great ideas and experience in getting business done in the Senate, along with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, is exactly what America needs to stop the decline of our nation. We need to not only get the budget balanced, and begin to eliminate the national debt and our trade deficits, we need to reduce the burden on businesses and taxpayers, encourage innovation, we need to figure out how to lift the poor and poorly educated, not simply keep them where they’re at and placate them with free cheese. We also need to right our moral compass. It’s not the responsibility of government to try and correct society’s ills. It’s simply not good at it, never has been. Government has tried to take the place of religion and parenting and has failed miserably, creating a dependent class that can’t speak fluent English, can’t graduate from high school let alone college, can’t get a job, and have nothing to do but Occupy Wall Street to demonstrate their frustration to people who have been able to excel not because of government, but despite it.

We have nine months until the Presidential election. We will also be selecting congressional members as well as a third of the Senate. Voting is the single most important responsibility we have as citizens, as ultimately, we ARE the government. As Republicans, we need to decide what issues are most important to us, and vote for and elect candidates who represent our views. However, if our candidates don’t win, that doesn’t mean we give up and stay home. Our votes count, even if we don’t win outright. Our votes are represented at the national convention, in the official party platform, and in the minds of the candidates who do win, because they will know where they need to go for support. It’s important that we support the candidates of our party, even if they weren’t our first or even second choice. It’s important that we elect a Republican president. It’s even more important that we elect conservative Republican senators, congressmen and state legislators. The only way to stop the red ink coming out of Washington is to completely reverse the course President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and former Speaker of the House Nacy Pelosi set our nation on.

It’s a national and moral imperative that we do so.