Rick Santorum Most Prepared In Whole GOP Field to Be President

Former Minnesota governor Rick Pawlenty recently asserted that GOP candidate Rick Santorum is “simply not ready to be president.” Pawlenty, who has endorsed Mitt Romney, based this view on Santorum’s previous support of congressional earmarks during his tenure in the U.S. Senate. This is a specious argument. If a two-term Senator is not ready to be president, then who is? I disagree with most of Santorum’s social views, but I firmly believe he is ready to be president.

The Constitution sets three criteria for assuming the executive office: (1) native-born citizen, (2) live in the U.S. for 14 years, (3) and be at least 35-years old. That is it. If the framers added more qualifications, then the country would have been less democratic and the presidency would have not been open (at least since 2008) to ordinary citizens 35 years and older. The great thing about the American system is that the electorate still has the final say, regardless of a person’s qualification. 

Santorum may be best positioned to be an effective president than the four other GOP candidates. The presidency is not a role in the mold of the chief executive of a large corporation. Presidents cannot simply pass down edicts that employees have to implement, regardless of the dubious authority of a signing statement. The president has to work with Congress on legislative affairs and serve as commander-in-chief of the military. Santorum’s experience demonstrates that he is best equipped to step in on day one and be ready to execute with an awareness of the various individuals (generals and bureaucrats), institutions (Congress, federal agencies, think tanks) and ideologies at play. His educational experience (JD, MBA) is an added benefit.

Santorum served four terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. During his last term in the Senate, he was the third-ranking member of his caucus. It is not a stretch to assume that Santorum has detailed knowledge about issues the country has faced since his election to the Senate in 1995. He would have been briefed on major national security and economic issues on a weekly basis. It is this type of exposure that makes a person, in part, ready to be president, regardless of their social views.

Santorum’s direct understanding of the policy process puts him in a better position to negotiate with members of Congress on legislative issues. Most Americans are unaware of the implications of the two-part process of policy making: enactment and implementation. The first part is pretty straightforward; the president signs (or vetoes) congressional legislation.  

The second part involves various agencies developing rules and regulations that govern the implementation of legislation. The Department of Health and Human Services is still developing rules for the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed in 2010. Congressional leaders work with agencies during this process, which Santorum has experience in. Santorum will not have to depend solely on the judgment of political aids when it comes to understanding how best to govern in this area.

Under no circumstance would I vote for Santorum, but I would never argue that he is not ready to be president. Based on his platform, he is just unfit.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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Joel Rogers

J. Rogers lives in SC and NYC.

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