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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
Fire and Fury,
by Michael Wolff (2018)
Trump Revealed,
by Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher (2016)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2016)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
by Cory Booker (2016)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Blue Collar Conservatives
Recommitting to an America That Works

by Senator Rick Santorum (R, PA)

(Click for Amazon book review)

OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:

This book, written in 2014 in anticipation of Santorum's announcement of his presidential candidacy in 2015, is a vision and message--not the usual policy book that precedes a presidential announcement. That means Santorum outlines themes rather than specifics--so we'll outline a couple of the themes below: Europe is bad; Obama is bad; even Republicans are sometimes bad; but faith is good.

We recommend reading our excerpts from this book, and our themes as outlined here, but we DON'T recommend actually reading this book, Santorum organizes the whole book under one more "theme": a fictional family named "The Harrisons." The problem with "The Harrisons" is that they are TOO realistic: they are supposed to be a "composite" archetype of blue-collar conservatives, from real examples. "The Harrisons" permeate the book, illustrating every policy problem and Santorum's solution -- sometimes for multiple pages at a time (pp. 143-6 details how "the Harrisons" lost their jobs when their town's manufacturing plant shut down). Then Santorum adds a fictional town too, called "Fishtown," the lower-class town to contrast the upper class fictional "Belmont". Sometimes "the Harrisons" get mixed in with "Fishtown," like on p. 89 where Santorum writes about educational prospects, and lends new meaning to the rhetorical sin of "mixed metaphor."

A reader who recalls "the Harrisons" introduction (buried in Chapter Two on p. 29) and the "Fishtown" introduction (buried yet deeper in Chapter Four on p. 64) will realize they are fictional--but a casual reader might forget that, or might have skipped the introductions. And for those who DIDN'T forget, "the Harrisons" and "Fishtown" lend an air of fiction to EVERY aspect of this book: readers must remind themselves "oh, this part is fiction," and that often spills over to the parts that are supposed to be non-fiction (for example, Santorum writes about a REAL family in medical trouble in a REAL town, on p. 109; the reader has to carefully check if they are fictional!). In other words, like with Reagan's fictional alter-ego "Dutch", the fictional aspects diminish the non-fictional aspects.

I quickly learned to skip over the fictional parts of the book, to focus on the non-fictional world, which Santorum does write about for the majority of the book. Santorum hopes the fictional family and town reinforce his themes, but in fact the reader must struggle to find the themes DESPITE the fiction. Here are the themes that we struggled and found:

  • Europe is bad: This book has no foreign policy in it, and no discussion of Europe at all, except to use European policies as what not to do in America. That includes Europe's "economic cycles caused by cronyism that have plagued Europe" (p. 25); European governments "tak[ing] care of every want and need" (p. 40); "ObamaCare will reshape the relationship between government and the people to resemble [the dependency] in Western Europe" (pp. 106-7); and Europe's "collapsing birthrate [making] a welfare state unsustainable" (p. 172).
  • Obama is bad: Santorum claims that Obama perfected the "divide-and-conquer politics of the Left" (p. 41). That's a common theme among 2016 Republican contenders; Santorum says the same thing about the Democratic Party in general (p. 2). Santorum elaborates on his version as "President Obama was re-elected because he rallied his base of minorities, single women, and youth." That sounds to pundits more like a "winning campaign strategy" than "divide-and-conquer politics," since those three groups account for an enormous part of the electorate.

  • Republicans are sometimes bad: Santorum, unlike other Republicans who criticize Obama, is also willing to criticize how Mitt Romney was viewed in 2012, and how the Republicans can improve upon their negative image. That includes:
    • Santorum advises Republicans "to look out for our fellow man" (p. 43; i.e. don't dismiss those at the bottom of the economic ladder, like Romney did)
    • Santorum says "we spend so much time talking to and about the 'job creator'… but we need to think about, listen to, and talk about the jobholder as well." That's useful political advice because 99% of voters are jobholders instead of job creators -- but it's not the Republican standard!
    • Santorum points out that "mandatory sentencing guidelines and three-strike laws… are putting too many people in jail," and then claims that "conservatives on the state level have been leading the way on reforming sentencing laws for certain nonviolent offenders" (p. 93). That is good political advice too, but it's wishful thinking: it's pro-marijuana advocates he's talking about, and sure, there are SOME conservatives involved, but they're not the leaders (Santorum is NOT one of those leaders, either!)

  • Faith is good: Santorum writes, "What book is at the heart of Western civilization…? The Bible, of course" (p. 182). Santorum's Christian faith permeates much of his political thinking and represents his "base" among the religious right, so this theme dominates all the others (but not so much in this book -- see his other books for that!).

You can expect to hear those themes in Santorum's candidacy -- having themes, rather than just policies, actually makes a candidate seem more organized, easier to understand, and more of… a leader. And better than most books, Santorum DEMONSTRATES that -- by organizing and explaining so many of his policies via these themes -- rather than simply ASSERTING it, as so many of his opponents do. We wish other candidates would get the message from Santorum: tell us your underlying themes, and tell us your policies based on those!

-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, June 2015
 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Budget & Economy
    Rick Santorum: Great Recession knocked away last struts of American Dream.
Civil Rights
    Howard Dean: America's greatest virtue is diversity.
    Rick Santorum: Diversity is a challenge, not necessarily a virtue.
    Mitt Romney: OpEd:Venture capitalist history let Obama focus on class war.
    Rick Santorum: People at the bottom get only a trickle from trickle-down.
    Rick Santorum: Congressional attention curbed outrageous corporate abuses.
    Rick Santorum: Reduce corporate tax to flat rate of 20%.
    Rick Santorum: Three-strike laws put too many people in jail.
    Rick Santorum: Governments running our local schools is a bad idea.
    Rick Santorum: Common Core is another version of mass-produced education.
    Rick Santorum: Schools with collective bargaining are worse for students.
    Rick Santorum: The Bible is at the heart of Western civilization.
Energy & Oil
    Rick Santorum: Fracking gives us enough natural gas for 100 years.
    Rick Santorum: Construct the Keystone pipeline: for jobs & energy.
Families & Children
    Barack Obama: Everything else is unfulfilled if we fail at family.
    Rick Santorum: Government policy facilitates breakdown of family.
    Rick Santorum: Marriage at historical low; illegitimacy at historical high.
    Rick Santorum: Double child tax credit to $6,000 per child.
Free Trade
    Rick Santorum: Think about the people that free trade effects.
Health Care
    Rick Santorum: ObamaCare is biggest threat facing the American Dream.
    Rick Santorum: Change Medicaid to block-grant system.
    Rick Santorum: Allow individuals to buy pre-tax insurance like companies do.
    Rick Santorum: Focus on jobholders as well as job creators.
Social Security
    Rick Santorum: 401(k) approach would provide better benefits.
    Rick Santorum: Increase eligibility age for Medicare & Social Security.
    Rick Santorum: CEO of EchoLight Studios, making faith & family movies.
Welfare & Poverty
    Democratic Party: OpEd: class warfare methods pit groups against each other.
    Mitt Romney: People in homeless shelters are used to being ignored.
    Rick Santorum: Parents generation never wanted nor spoke about state help.
    Rick Santorum: Extreme individualists don't look out for our fellow man.
    Rick Santorum: Tough love to end welfare as entitlement.

The above quotations are from Blue Collar Conservatives
Recommitting to an America That Works

by Senator Rick Santorum (R, PA)

All material copyright 1999-2022
by Jesse Gordon and OnTheIssues.org
Reprinting by permission only.

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Page last edited: Dec 19, 2019