Secular Right | Reality & Reason

May/11

10

Rick Santorum, No Thanks

Here’s the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin on Rick Santorum:

At the Republican presidential debate on Thursday Rick Santorum was asked about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s suggestion that there be a social truce. Santorum answered, “Anybody that would suggest we call a truce on moral issues doesn’t understand what America is all about.”

That is wrong. In fact, it’s the precise opposite of what America is about. As a matter of political tactics you can think a truce is a bad or good idea, but it does not define America or our system of government.

You can look to the Declaration or the Federalist papers or the Constitution and make a principled argument that America is about individual liberty or limited government (which secures the former). But it’s not about moral issues or any issue.

Our country was founded on the notion that limited government (bound by the rule of law and hemmed in by the separation of powers) is essential to maintain a free, diverse and prosperous people. It is precisely because we disagree on so many issues that we support a political system that tempers majority control with individual rights. It’s not about one side winning on certain issues or even demanding that certain issues be at the forefront of our agenda…

…Santorum’s assertion, quite frankly, reflects a certain constitutionally illiteracy and is at odds at a fundamental level with modern conservatism. Indeed, since the presidency requires that the chief executive “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” — which presupposes one understands what’s in it — Santorum has in the most concise way possible demonstrated his lack of qualifications to serve.

One can only agree. Next, please…

Read the whole thing.

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9 comments

  • Polichinello · May 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    You can look to the Declaration or the Federalist papers or the Constitution and make a principled argument that America is about individual liberty or limited government (which secures the former). But it’s not about moral issues or any issue.

    Maybe Rubin can spare of bit of time from flogging Santorum to remind her friends at Commentary and The Weekly Standard of this next time they start another campaign to spread democracy.

  • Mark in Spokane · May 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    The problem for the libertarian right — and the secular right as well — is that it is not nationally electorally viable without the religious/social conservatives, the sort of folks that tend to agree with Santorum on many if not most issues. It feels great to bash people we disagree with — and Rubin does that in her piece with great relish — but it doesn’t do anything to build a stable electoral coalition.

    At some point, one has to hold one’s nose and say, “these are the political allies I have” and move on from there. They aren’t going away, and the secular right/libertarian folks aren’t going to build large enough numbers to create a viable electoral coalition without them.

  • Mark in Spokane · May 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    By “we” in my last comment, I meant to refer to human beings in general, not to libertarians or secular right folks. Just to be clear, I don’t identify as a libertarian, and while secular, I am not an agnostic or atheist. Just to be clear…

  • Derek · May 11, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I disagree that Santorum’s constitutional illiteracy is at odds with modern conservatism. It is inherent in modern conservatism and is at the core of the conservative movement. Rawls’ fact of pluralism is anathema to their conception of American government.

  • Susan · May 11, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Yes, but if you make social issues your top priority–or give the impression that you do–you discourage independents, secular conservatives, and libertarians from supporting you. People, in general, worry a lot more about economic and national security issues than they do about whether the two guys down the street want to have a church wedding, with reception to follow at the local country club. You can ignore the two guys down the street if you wish. You can’t ignore the fact that you’re unemployed.

    Howsomever…in order to get elected, at least in certain parts of the country, you do have to pay lip service to social issues. Daniels said what most people think–the real message of Daniels’ words being “Can we please concentrate on what’s crucial right now and leave the other issues on the back burner for just a while?” But he was impolitic to have said it aloud and so bluntly.

    I do think that if someone is going to push social issues, or moral issues, those issues have to be framed pragmatically.

  • Mark · May 11, 2011 at 4:45 am

    Good to see that some of the “secular right” is still willing to dispense with the “secular” bit at the drop of a hat. Didn’t we have this out in 2010, about loonies like Christine O’Donnell?

    “No enemies to the right” has been the most noxious, self-debasing doctrine conservatives have ever embraced–at various times it has covered Birchers, unreconstructed Jim Crow fans (the Confederacy worshipers), and now the birther idiots. Sorry, there is a limit to the number of insane “allies” I can stand. But even if you disagree, you have to admit there is a certain point where you may need to reconsider just who has become the “useful idiot” in your vaunted “coalition”.

  • Dave · May 11, 2011 at 5:44 am

    As Dan Riehl wrote:

    “Now, thanks to faux-conservatives like Rubin, really just Liberals in military drag, we have allegedly converted liberals dressed up as Conservatives throwing in with them to help finish the de-construction [of the moral underpinnings so critical to the preservation of a civil society] thanks to the former’s superficial, though often elitist, appreciation for what Conservatism and a traditional America actually represent.”

    One can only agree.

  • Polichinello · May 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Please, Mark, even for you that post was ridiculously hysterical and wrongheaded. The worst damage to the right came from letting the neocons have their way in the Middle East, and they’re well to the left of most Conservatives.

  • Mark · May 12, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Jesus loves you, Polich.

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