Santorum's intellectual evolution to a strong constitutional conservative

Rick Santorum's speech to the Chattanooga Tea Party's Liberty Forum is uplifting and convincing that he is the constitutional conservative we need as President of the United States.

The speech is brilliant in its scope and sincerity. It shows that he has a clear grasp of the constitutional conservative movement. It shows that he is one of us.

Neither John McCain nor George W. Bush could have delivered such a speech. Ronald Reagan could have.

Santorum is convincing in showing that he understands the purpose of the Constitution, why it is an extension of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and why following the Constitution is critical to restoring America's exceptionalism.

He spoke for over 50 minutes, and didn't use a teleprompter.

With Santorum in the White House, conservatives would be appointed to key positions, and in that regard he is different from other candidates. Santorum, you see, has always gone to conservative meetings. He knows conservatives, and is on a first name basis with longtime leaders of the conservative movement.

However, I wasn't supporting any candidate, and I was not convinced that Santorum was a constitutional conservative. The Chattanooga Tea Party speech changed my mind. In fact, it blew me away in its clear articulation of principles, how those principles lead to political solutions, and how those political solutions will improve people's lives.

Early in the speech, Santorum talks of the principles of our nation expressed in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

At 11:25 of the video, Santorum describes the principle of the pursuit of happiness, explaining why the Founders changed that principle from merely one of "property."

He says, "America . . . the purpose of our country . . . should be more than about stuff, than about property, economics. America's more than that. America's about bigger things, more important things than just wealth, property, stuff."

Exactly right. America is about the liberty to pursue property and wealth, if that's what makes us happy, the liberty to pursue spiritual happiness, the liberty to pursue fame, and the liberty to pursue simplicity. No outcome is guaranteed, but the American way is that government doesn't dictate the outcome -- or the path to it.

I've heard Rick Santorum speak at meetings of conservatives when I was angry about how he and fellow Republicans were part of the big-government spending spree of the Bush years.

His speech to the Chattanooga Tea Party shows that he has matured from big-government conservative to constitutional conservative. There's a difference. His delivery shows that this is no mere campaign conversion, but one of understanding how his core beliefs are shaped. It shows that Santorum has made an intellectual evolution in the direction this country needs desperately.

Watch the video for yourself. You'll be impressed.