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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why not Santorum?

I’m unenthused by Rick Santorum’s victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. One reason is … let’s be honest … that I’d already written a magazine column for March that basically assumes Romney will get the nomination. If Santorum pockets more victories in late February, that column will arrive pretty stale, though on the other hand a Romney comeback on Super Tuesday could make me seem brilliantly prescient. But let’s move on to the bigger issues involved.

I have been a Republican since I first registered, in 1983, and have cast plenty of votes for candidates who espoused a conservative agenda on social issues. By and large, I cast those votes despite those positions, giving greater weight to economic and foreign policy issues where I was more aligned with the party. I did this partly on the assumption that the candidates themselves were unlikely to press those social issues all that much, let alone successfully, once in office.

While I am not a social conservative, I do think social conservatives make some good points about the importance of intact families and responsible behavior. However, when that translates into a political agenda of banning abortion and gay marriage, and maybe even contraception, this runs afoul of my desire for a tolerant, modern society, and for a federal government that abides by some limits on its powers.

With Santorum, we have social conservatism in a brisk and undiluted form, and offered as his highest priority and most salient characteristic. I don’t see how anyone could vote for him without, to a very large degree, sharing that agenda.

May I add that the campaign to defile Santorum’s name by associating it with repulsive Google search results is a valuable reminder that not everyone who dislikes social conservatism presents an argument worth hearing. I recall losing some respect for a journalist with whom I used to work when that person exulted online about how satisfying he found that obnoxious effort.

Even if Santorum’s brand of social conservatism were not a deal-killer for me, his brand of climate science denialism would be. Like social conservatism, such denialism comes in varying degrees, the worst being the view stated by Santorum that global warming is a “hoax.” Anyone who says something like that has substituted a ludicrous conspiracy theory for analysis. Anyone who wants laissez-faire on the atmosphere, coupled with hands-on government in the bedroom, has his priorities so backward that it's chilling to think what he would do in the very unlikely event that he were actually to win the presidency.

1 comment:

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