This article was inspired by a tweet:
Important –> RT @KevDough: My father and I just discussed Santorum, told me he encapsulates what outsiders think all Republicans are like
— keder (@keder) February 20, 2012
First, I asked @KevDough — just to be sure — if that thinking were positive or negative, though I already knew the answer. @KevDough responded “extrememly negative.”
Rather than focus on Republican Party politics, I keep going back to how the perception of frontrunner Rick Santorum is dividing conservatives into two broad camps: those who value social conservatism and those who do not. The latter could be subdivided into many camps: those who agree ideologically with social conservatism but think it has no place in national politics, those who disagree because they are socially liberal, etc. But my interest is piqued by my non-scientific observation that the former division – those who integrate social conservatism – used to represent mainstream America.
For certain, any colloquialism like “mainstream America” can take on many meanings. I defer to Potter Stewart and his attempt to classify a somewhat subjective topic. Mainstream America generally holds certain views in common, though perhaps to different degrees or in different ways, such as belief in God. Fringe America would be the population holding views that fall outside of the mainstream, for example, the moral equivalency of a career as a drug dealer versus as a public school teacher.
From the Founders to the very recent time, social conservatism was the norm, a horizontal stroke of a cultural brush that crossed the political spectrum. Many of today’s hot button issues would not have even warranted a serious discussion among parties and people from all walks of life. One could spend hours reading quotations from the country’s founders, but here is a relevant example:
“He who is void of virtuous Attachments in private Life, is, or very soon will be void of all Regard for his Country. There is seldom an Instance of a Man guilty of betraying his Country, who had not before lost the Feeling of moral Obligations in his private Connections.” – Patrick Henry
And now to the point: what is it about Rick Santorum that “outsiders” would hate? Some MSM articles seem to suggest that Rick Santorum (or more properly, a caricature of him) is just eagerly waiting for the opportunity to seize all of America’s condoms. A good (or “bad”) example article that is light on fact and heavy on opinion can be found on International Business Time (side note: why would an international newspaper focused on business care about an American social issue? And why would anyone take that opinion seriously?) The article focuses on an oft-quoted excerpt of Santorum’s: “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is, I think, the dangers of contraception in this country. It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
The shaky logic hinges on a theoretical President Santorum cutting funding for contraception, thereby making contraception too expensive to use, and producing more babies to be aborted (yes, that’s really the argument in the article). I would like to reserve the right to decimate this fascinatingly poor argument for another article, in order to continue the point. In Santorum’s quotation above, one might not agree fully with every bit of it, but it doesn’t seem to be contrary to what “mainstream America” thought VERY RECENTLY. And by very recently, I mean in my lifetime, and then again recent enough that I was old enough to even be aware of these issues.
Have we come so far that even Conservatives think funding something as non-Constitutionally-mandated as birth control is ok? Or that we can’t even agree on simple tenets of generally Christian civilization, i.e. what the purpose of sex is? The disclaimer I am seeing more often now on twit bios, blogs, etc is something like ‘fiscal conservative, social liberal.” I think that in most cases, this is an attempt to placate certain audiences for the misguided purpose of increasing one’s appeal. In other words, it is the same tried and failed policy of conservative appeasers, who think that ceding some ground buys them anything with liberal media or liberals in general. So goes the social conservative disclaimant’s thought process: “if I disclaim social conservatism, more people will take my thoughts seriously.”
What else about the man is hate-inspiring? He’s religious? He’s married? He dresses funny? I’m at a loss to think of something that causes all of the hateful comments from the right I see in my timeline and my daily reads. If there really are two Americas, then I could understand how Rick Santorum could be a cause for alarm, fear, anxiety, or hate. But if, as I hope, we are not yet a nation divided, could Conservatives please dig deep and find the courage to stand up for some very rudimentary social conservatism?