It would be a mistake to glance at Sen. Sam Brownback (R- KS) and his upstart campaign for president and think, “ahh, just another fundamentalist running for president.” Yes, he opposes abortion and same-sex marriage. But – and this is a real but – he pays far more than lip service to real compassion issues. Consider:
- He has worked with Sen. Ted Kennedy on behalf of refugees in Sudan and North Korea;
- His opposition to sex trafficking paired him with Senator Paul Wellstone, a liberal Minnesota Democrat who died in 2002;
- His focus on improving the prison system, lead him to spend the night in Angola State Prison in Louisiana soon after he announced his exploratory committee.
A new story out today highlights his blend of traditional social conservatism and new-wave social conservatism:
“I am pro-life and whole life,” Mr. Brownback said Saturday, explaining that that meant fighting for the unborn but also for “the child in Darfur” and “people that are being trafficked out of North Korea.”
He traces his interest in humanitarian causes to a cancer scare in the mid-1990s, when he was a member of the House of Representatives. With the prognosis uncertain, he said he awoke in the middle of the night tormented about his life’s direction. Concluding that he was too consumed with worldly ambition, he said he crumpled his résumé into a ball and threw it away.
“To me, it was a very symbolic moment,” Mr. Brownback said in an interview. “That this is not what my life’s about.”
He lives it out at home too with a family that includes two adopted children from overseas. I like it when a politician forces people to raise an eyebrow in confusion and admiration. Sam Brownback does that.