Although my political leanings differ from Rick Santorum, I picked up the book in an effort to better understand my Congressman John Boehner, who was a co-member of the Gang of Seven with Santorum. The Gang of Seven became a household name in the early 90s by exposing fellow members of the House in the House Banking Scandal.
Whereas Boehner would remain in the House, Santorum would head to the Senate and would run for president in 2012. Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works is Santorum’s recounting of the presidential bid and the stories, problems and solutions he uncovered along the way.
As I read the book, I found Santorum to be a likable character. Because of his blue collar roots, I definitely felt I could connect with him and some of the points he makes in the book, I agree with. He puts a lot of emphasis on family as the smallest unit of government and cites various studies and research that link a strong country to strong families.
What I found most interesting about the book was his willingness (albeit constrained) to admit some of the shortcomings of the Republican Party and how it has not solved — or listened to — the problems of working class America. He deliberately hands over the numbers that prove the growing divide between those who have and those who have not. He even admits that the economic crisis America faces today is not the same as the one faced by his political idol Ronald Reagan (and should not be handled the same way).
“Everyone was struggling then — businesses, investors, and workers alike. Today, large businesses are doing well, and stock and commodity prices are strong. If you are an owner or investor, life has been pretty good. But for workers, it’s a different story: unemployment and underemployment are high, and the percentage of working-age Americans who have given up looking for a job is at a thirty-year high.”
Despite his willingness to shoulder some of the blame, in the sense that the Party has not adequately addressed the needs of American workers, the book, unfortunately falls back on political rhetoric as too much of the blame for the current situation is levied at one person — President Obama. In fact, the book overshadows any potential economic setback by sounding the alarm that the Affordable Care Act (often called ObamaCare) must be replaced.
Although, in the end he falls back on the common Republican — and Democrat — tactic of placing blame on a president, the book really is an interesting read. I would recommend it as it offers some insight into how a presidential campaign is run — and for the stories of the average Americans that Santorum met and successfully wove into his life’s story.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.