Romney won the Nevada caucuses on Saturday. It was another blow to Gingrich’s hopes. Paul’s libertarian message played fairly well there, which is to be expected in a state where even prostitution is legal. That’s also the reason why Santorum didn’t do well. His solid Christian message apparently is out of sync with Nevadans’ worldview. He’s going into friendlier territory now, though. Polls show he currently leads the field in Missouri, Minnesota, and Ohio, which are all coming up very soon.

One of the attacks on Santorum from those with whom I normally agree is that he is a big-government conservative. It is true he has voted, on occasion, for some things I wouldn’t have, such as No Child Left Behind. To his credit, he now says that vote was wrong, and he wouldn’t do so today. At least he can admit when he voted wrongly. Are you listening, Mr. Romneycare?

What exactly is Santorum’s view of the role of the federal government? He answers specifically in his book It Takes a Family:

Conservatives see “the village” as, well, the village: the local community, with the family at the center of it. We believe that only strong families can improve the lives of individuals, especially children, and make for healthy communities. In our view, the real village elders are the parents, the ministers, the Girl or Boy Scout leaders, the grandmothers who sit on their porch watching the neighborhood kids at play, the youth baseball coaches. It is these village leaders who are really generating social capital, first in the family, and then in the community. The liberals have it exactly the wrong way around.

The villages elders [of the liberal stripe] believe in top-down because they believe in the supposed goodness of the central government and the Bigs—and, I think, because they distrust families and local communities. They think the federal government is fairer, more just, more trustworthy, even more moral, than families and local community groups with their “parochial” and “provincial” concerns. I believe in bottom-up, however, because I believe in the power of the natural family and the mediating organizations that support it.

He then explains the concept of subsidiarity, a word more common in Catholic circles than Protestant, but one that should be more widely known and understood:

Only when a “lower”—i.e., smaller—level of society is manifestly incapable of handling a problem may a “higher” level legitimately intervene. And even then, the “higher” level may only intervene to supplement, not displace, the function of a lower level. When you want the Bigs, led by the federal bureaucracy, to run the village—as liberals do—you have completely inverted the principle of subsidiarity.

The Constitution established subsidiarity; it’s called federalism. His overall philosophy of governing is consistent with both the Constitution and the Biblical basis for how a society should operate. The only ones who could conceivably be upset over it are liberals and libertarians, albeit for different reasons. Since I am neither, I am comfortable with Santorum’s position.