A belated comment from me, because I’ve overdone it on caffeine and can’t sleep. If you hadn’t already heard, Rick Santorum, latest incarnation of the US extreme-right, has suspended his presidential campaign. This is slightly earlier than I had expected; as a political geek and election junkie I’m disappointed. There were so many contestable primaries still to go, with most of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states due on the 24th of this month. Shame on the anti-choice candidate for aborting his campaign and not carrying it to full term!
As far as I can make out, Santorum has two positive qualities. 1) He’s seemingly quite fond of a drink before noon, and 2) he wears those lovely sleeveless jerseys (great for keeping your core body snug while letting your arms and armpits breath!) I liked having an “underdog” candidate in the race, and I was sympathetic to his plight of being massively outspent by the Romney campaign.
Then again, I loathe nearly everything that Rick Santorum stands for. There’s far too much for one post, so I shall focus on two prominent issues. Firstly the man is a bigot. He is a homophobic bigot. You cannot justify homophobia, not in the 21st Century, not in a civilised society. Dressing it up as a feigned defence of the “traditional family” cuts no ice; its like saying you don’t want any black kids in your white children’s class because you’re afraid they’ll learn bad habits. You assume there’s a threat and use that to justify your pre-existing bigotry. This should not just be an LGBT concern – if you’re capable of hating one group solely because of something intrinsic to their being, you can just as easily hate another. As a socialist and a social liberal I find it abhorrent.
Before I was a socialist I was already a scientist. Santorum’s second negative trait is his preference for non-evidence based policy. Here is a man who prefers to substitute his own reality. It is not enough to say that he is anti-science; he is anti-fact. From a genuine objectivist point of view, he is anti-reality. Call it creationism or call it intelligent design, it’s still bullshit. Then there’s the Dutch euthanasia epidemic which doesn’t really exist, except in Rick’s head. An oblate spheroidal 4.54 billion year-old Earth? Just a “liberal” media conspiracy. Probably.
Ultimately I suppose I should be glad he’s gone. Unfortunately there was his speech after Wisconsin last week, where analogies were made to the Republican nomination races in ’76 and ’80. Pick the moderate (Ford, ’76) and lose, pick the conservative (Reagan, ’80) and win was the message. Santorum sees this as his ’76, and he’s now positioning himself as nominee heir-designate for 2016. Be afraid. 2016 would be a much better year for him than 2012 could have been. Romney, near certain nominee, faces an incumbent President with decent approval ratings and an improving economy. The precedents aren’t good. But assuming Obama’s re-election, by 2016 the party political pendulum will be swinging the other way. Apart from 1988 the last time a party retained control of the White House into a third term with a non-incumbent candidate was 1928. Santorum will grow more electable not less, especially if a second “moderate” Republican loses to Obama.
On the other hand, as recently six months ago people were still speculating about Palin 2012. Hopefully Santorum will disappear into obscurity. Either way, the 2012 race just became much less interesting, with the next election results worth staying up for being the Big One itself in November.
Don’t assume from any of this that I like Romney. To me he represents an equally insidious hatred, though in a much more subtle flavour. His evil is a delicately refined one, and the more dangerous for it. I’ll deal with him later.