Rick Santorum Talks Freedom, Civil Liberties and Trump at NYU

College Republicans invited former Senator Rick Santorum to NYU to discuss civil liberties on Thursday night.

Former Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum speaks at NYU about civil liberties on Thursday night. (Photo by Sarah Jackson)

Former Pennsylvania Republican Senator and two-time presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spoke at NYU on Thursday night about everything from the need for intellectual diversity on college campuses to his assertion that Donald Trump is a Moses-like character to Republicans.

The event titled “Mob Rule — Who is Undermining Your Civil Liberties?” was hosted by NYU College Republicans and co-sponsored by conservative youth organization Young Americas Foundation.

Santorum spoke to an audience of approximately 50 people about his appreciation of the Declaration of Independence before talking about the liberal leanings of many college campuses and emphasized the need for wide breadth of viewpoints among students. He spoke for roughly 20 minutes before opening up the discussion for a one-hour question-and-answer session.

“It is vitally important for colleges and universities to understand that testing your belief structure with someone who disagrees with you is a good thing, not an assault or an insult to you, not an expression of hatred,” he said. “The First Amendment isn’t about protecting speech you agree with. You need the First Amendment to protect speech you don’t agree with.”

Santorum advised the audience to avoid engaging in political arguments on social media, claiming liberals use emotions, not reason, in politics and that conservatives should break from the trend. He also dished out his opinions on a growing staple of liberal politics: diversity.

“I’m not a big fan of diversity,” Santorum said. “I’m not against it, but it’s not an organizing principle for a government, for a country. I mean, diversity is a reality, we’re all diverse. We may be diverse for a variety of different reasons, but that’s nothing that holds us together, in fact it separates us.”

Throughout the event, Santorum repeatedly alluded to his pro-life beliefs, the urgency of the opioid epidemic and his disagreement with the assertion that people can do as they please as long as they do not hurt others.

“Freedom has been redefined on the left and right to mean freedom without limits,” Santorum said. “That is not America freedom. That is not mainstream liberal freedom, nor mainstream conservative freedom. It is a different type of freedom.”

Santorum claimed his party faces a key hurdle in the next elections.

“The power in this country economically has shifted to the left, and I think that’s going to be a big challenge for Republicans going forward, to be able to match up,” he said.

On the topic of the 2020 elections, Santorum said it was “necessary” for Trump to win.

“I see Trump as Moses, he can get us out of bondage from the Mitt Romney establishment Republicans,” Santorum said. “But he can’t deliver us to the promised land.”

College Republicans member and SPS first-year Sam Bilofsky enjoyed the talk and said it motivated her to become more politically informed.

“I think it’s really important to not pin America down and to build it up [instead],” Bilofsky said. “My biggest takeaway is where to go from here, do some more research, become more aware of what we can do as a generation to become more aware of civil liberties as a whole.”

Email Sarah Jackson at [email protected]

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