Santorum Surge Thanks to Power of Shared Idiocy

One thing you cannot fault Rick Santorum on: he is as he says the only true conservative candidate in this election – if conservatives are judged by current standards, which call for a lot less open-mindedness, a lot less fiscal conservatism and a whole lot more culture warrior: “Isn’t the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?” He is far from an old-time conservative. It can safely be argued that that breed is largely extinct. Nobody not already an adult in 1964 would recognize a pre-Goldwater Republican if they saw one.

This is a guy who obsesses over homosexuality and defends the Crusades (I won’t even get into the dead baby thing), and who claims gay people caused the 2008 economic collapse.  We should be treating him like we treat people who say they were molested by aliens.

Ray Madeiros showed here recently how far divorced from its 1956 party platform the GOP has become and his is a valid question: what the hell hashappened to the Republican Party? Ike wouldn’t recognize it; Goldwater saw it coming. But nobody could have foreseen the extent of the God-pocalypse of the past twenty years. And nobody has profited from it like Rick Santorum. Even bat-shit crazy Michele Bachmann couldn’t catch the wave, but Santorum did. And he’s still riding it.

But don’t let Santorum’s success disguise the general Republican malaise. Thomas Friedman argued yesterday in an op-ed piece that appeared in the New York Timesthat the Republican Party is out of date:

The party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases: anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub.

And he is right. Gingrich has his Tea Partiers, Romney his establishment Republicans and Santorum his culture warriors while Ron Paul has some misguided libertarians and a mixed bag of racists. As Friedman concluded, “you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions.” That’s the bad news for Republicans.

But there is good news for Santorum: the Tea Party is in disarray, the GOP establishment with their hard-sell of Romney doesn’t appeal to the base and there aren’t enough racists and anarchists to put Ron Paul into the White House. That leaves Santorum and a very zealous fundamentalist base that, if anything, is more powerful than ever and no longer distracted by the nagging presence of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann.

Listen to what he told his supporters the other day via the video from CNN:

We need somebody who is willing to go out and on these big issues of the day and draw contrasts. We’re not going to go out and win this election ladies and gentlemen because the republican candidate has the most money to go out and beat their opponent and win the election. Were’ not going to win this election with a lopsided money advantage. We won’t have one in the fall. President Obama will have more money than whoever our nominee is. So just think about what it’s going to take. It’s going to take ideas, vision, contrasts, a record of accomplishment that can go up against the failed policies of Barack Obama. That’s the winner.

We won in 2010 because conservatives rallied. They were excited about the contrasts. They were excited about the candidates who were put forth in that election. And that’s why we won. We always talk about how we’re going to get the moderates. Why would an undecided voter vote for a candidate of a party who eh party is not excite about? We need conservatives now to rally for a conservative to go into November to excite the conservative base to pull with that excitement moderate voters and to defeat Barack Obama in the fall.

Honor is a term that is not used very often in America but it is exactly what is at stake because this is our watch. We are stewards of a great inheritance and it is our responsibility to shepherd that inheritance to make it a greater and richer one for the next generation and if we fail to do that we have failed our duty and our honor as Americans.

So as you can see, Santorum has certain advantages with the base that Gingrich and Romney – and Ron Paul too – all lack. It’s not that what Santorum is saying is true – it’s not. Nor that his stance is historically valid – it’s not beyond the past 20 years – but he is – significantly – on the same wrong page as his base, sharing their misguided understanding of the Bible and of American history and fired by the same religiously fueled sense of entitlement and intolerance for the other. This cannot be said of Mitt Romney, the Mormon and near-liberal, or of Newt Gingrich with all his difficult to accept sexual and marital baggage.

Shared delusion links Santorum and his base. In other words, his idiocy is paying great dividends thanks to an equally idiotic audience: His appeal here to an entirely imaginary “great inheritance” for one thing. It is no wonder post-Goldwater Republicans don’t like our education system; our schools teach the inheritance of the secular European Enlightenment and its role in shaping the foundation of our country. The teach a universe governed by physics that can be explained through observation, not a universe in which we must search for God’s will in every natural phenomenon – as was the case a thousand years ago. It could be said of the Christian zealot Santorum that he has found the “sweet spot” in the American political landscape – that little pocket that still embraces the Dark Ages.

Nor is that love of the Dark Ages metaphorical and we should not expect a “Renaissance Faire”-type atmosphere from a Santorum presidency. There is no fun in Talibangelical Dark Age America. Give up that idea right now.

We should take a look at his appeal to his much vaunted “record of accomplishment,” Dennis examined that record just a couple of days ago, citing some useful examples:

  • Gutting welfare in favor of low wages and creation of a new working poor;
  • Attacks on education and pushing “intelligent Design”, basically Creationism for Dummies;
  • Allocating funds to support assassinations in Iran toward affecting a regime change yet supporting the right of companies like Halliburton to do business in Iran;
  • Support for home schooling (what better environment for Creationism for Dummies?) on the public dime of the public in another state

If we are looking for a record of accomplishment, this is a sad and tawdry record. But it is one that appeals to the Dark Age crowd: anti-science, pro-Crusade and pro-Bible. Santorum has since doubled down on the assassination gambit by saying that we are now justified not only in murdering leaders of countries we don’t like, but attacking those countries because we don’t like their religion. You can see the appeal.

So while Santorum is indeed the only true post-Goldwater conservative in the race (Romney’s pathetic “severely conservative” claims notwithstanding), that alone is hardly enough to recommend him to the highest office in the land, unless being delusional and lying for Jesus are pre-requisites (last I checked the Constitution, they weren’t). Since we can’t put him in the asylum with the guys molested by aliens (or at least medicate him and send him home) we have to deal with him and what he’s selling.  And the values he preaches are not traditional American values at all but they sell to the base because of their shared Bible-obsessed delusions. It should be clear to us if not them that this is not ancient Israel, but the United States of America and a firm reminder should be issued at the polls if not before.

The downside for Santorum and the upside for America (and the world) is that the wave he is riding begins and ends at the base and those shared delusions. That wave can get him as far as the Republican nomination but it can get him no further and it is difficult to see Santorum’s self-limiting rhetoric gain wide appeal outside the GOP.

Next up: Arizona and Michigan primaries on February 28. Right now, Public Policy Polling has Santorum ahead of Romney in Michigan, but as USA Today reports, Santorum has “no trace of an organization” in Arizona and a February 1 Rasmussen poll saw him in third place behind Romney and Gingrich.

14 Replies to “Santorum Surge Thanks to Power of Shared Idiocy”

  1. …”As Friedman concluded, “you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions.” That’s the bad news for Republicans…”

    He was speaking in “code”; what he was REALLY saying was (if I may…)

    “…you can’t address any of our real issues with that toxic mix of poison brewing in the cauldron of the GOP…” Eye of Newt, Semen of Santorum, Rats Tail of Romney and a pinch of Paul to seal the deed!

  2. As I recall, when Santorum was running for re-election, he resigned from the board of the Thomas More Law Center which at the time was defending “creationism for dummies.” I’m guessing he was trying to make himself more acceptable to intelligent independents who need no non-scientific alternative to evolution and who were appalled by his political grandstanding when Terri Schiavo was dying.

    Yet he still lost. (I’ve seen his 16 point loss explained as backlash against Bush. You see it wasn’t really against Santorum. It was just a bad year for Republicans. Another example of delusion).

    This primary season, he has clearly out-Santorumed himself. I know there are lots of rabid right-to-lifers, homophobes, women who are subservient to their husbands, and home-schooled voters who are unintelligent by design, but really? Santorum as the nominee? Please assure me that it would be 1964 2.0.

  3. I agree that Rick Santorum appeals to a strange group of people. But I also noticed that he has gotten away from talking about anything to do with homosexuality or any types of conflict which would show his radicalism. He has discovered like Michelle Bachmann did that it’s best not to talk about your religion as long as you can allude to it.

    Rick Santorum was a cheat as a senator, was classified as corrupt and was smoke out of office when he ran for reelection. Appealing to the base Darkside of your party by telling people that we need to kill people on the basis of the religion is pretty similar to witchhunts.

    I want religion out of our elections. Rick Santorum was right about one thing, money isn’t going to buy the Republicans the elections. I want money out of our elections as well. I can imagine right now that there are people in the Republican Party who are sane and who quite frankly probably don’t want to get out of bed in the morning and face the people that are running for them

  4. Shiva, I would hope that there are indeed sane Republicans out there, but I am beginning to wonder. I haven’t seen one on TV lately. And I haven’t heard one make a plea in the House for compromise. My Rep is Dave Camp, and even he has gone to the Dark Side with his Obama-bashing and his anti-anti-tax stands. He used to be fairly moderate, although I can’t remember one time he has not voted with the party…he has aspirations of being Speaker, you see….and is running for his 11the term. Being well-heeled from birth, he can afford outspend any Democratic challenger, and does. But he soends little time in his hometown of Midland, because there is a big group of us who no longer buy what he’s selling, and he just doesn’t want to talk to us…so we get no town hall meetings, and no response to our questions other than his stock letters.
    But back to Rick…this man is scary. I thought Bachmann was just crazy, but Rick believes every word he says. No pandering here…he really think a Christian can promote assassinations, and a real family man should bring a dead baby home to meet his siblings. Sick. And the people who like him are even sicker.

  5. both of my senators are Republican and they have stepped off the deep end as well. I wrote to one of them about the Keystone oil thing and told him that we all do that the oil was going to be sent to China and he wrote back with every talking point that the Republicans have on the oil pipeline. Everyone of them a lie.

    Rick Santorum scares me to death. I have no inclination to watch religion coming out of the White House.

    I lived all my life in Lapeer, up until the last 10 years

  6. They have gone so far off the deep end that it looks like they’ve reached the point of no return. It is dismaying, embarassing, and downright scary to see such ignorant and intolerant people, who obviously haven’t emerged from the Dark Ages.

  7. “The party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases: anti-abortion advocates, anti-immigration activists, social conservatives worried about the sanctity of marriage, libertarians who want to shrink government, and anti-tax advocates who want to drown government in a bathtub.”

    Again, they miss a very important point. ALL of those things are preached from the pulpits, and are solid dominionist goals. Every, and I mean EVERY goal and stated stance of the Republican party serves dominionist desires. You look at the things that Dennis said about Santorum, and those are all tied right in there. We’re looking at a package deal, and a support base that demands ALL of those things (and every other thing mentioned in this article as being extreme right).

    It’s pretty bad when an extremist conservative such as Romney is called a liberal. Many of my friends have decried how American politics have shifted hard to the right, so much so that true liberals aren’t even on the radar anymore and people seem to have forgotten what being Liberal means. By the standards I’d learned, Romney is a hard-right conservative, and Santorum… to the right of extreme (used to be fringe, except that anywhere between 20 and 30% of Americans follow that thinking).

    Santorum could win the White House, and the way it would be done is fairly simple. If the mainstream media doesn’t begin to cover his bullshit, and doesn’t investigate and expose his dominionist connections (they handle the “Religious Right” with more than extreme care… to the point where I suspect they’re stealthed dominionists themselves), the usual voter who ignores blogs like this won’t have a clue. A little whitewash, a little “Rah Rah America!”, a little demonizing of a Black President (America is far more bigoted than people realize)… and voilà, a dominionist with his (or her) finger on the big red button.

    I also feel a bit uncomfortable about “Shared Idiocy”. If by that you include diminished sapience, it’s OK. Most of their supporters aren’t idiots, but they’ve been programmed and brainwashed into going against their own best interests and their ability to think critically has been distorted. They actually think they’re doing the “Right Thing”! Also, as I keep harping – the dominionists motivate and manipulate people through emotions. Almost all of the things mentioned have strong emotional connections assigned to them… for instance, smaller government means that people can legally discriminate against minorities again (and thus feeding hate and beliefs about inherent superiority). I could break down each of these and show how they tie together and to emotions like that.

  8. Addendum: I need to state that the closest I get to reading “mainstream media” any more is the online version of the local paper. I really don’t know how the candidates are being portrayed in the news beyond that single sample, and my statements regarding how the Mass Media treats the dominionists are based on past experiences when we used to watch TV news. So far, the local paper has served as a pretty good proxy for what is on TV.

  9. And doesn’t DIVORCE, not gay marriage pose the greatest threat to “traditional” marriage?
    I’m sure when he gets into office, he will be busy killing all those other heads of state, so he can take over those countries for the glory of God and Christianity, outlaw birth control, abortions, divorce and tear down public schools so we are also a nation of dummies, but good, holy, Christian dummies, ready to follow our glorious leader into war to help the book of Revelations come true.

    We’d all better work our butts off so there is NOT a republican sittting in the White House in 2013!

  10. There is no way to write a gentle article on Rick Santorum, after all, you have to deal with the real Rick. And there are no pastels in the picture, it is all gory and dark as the souls of his supporters. Now, why we don’t take a walk to the nearest library and find some good history books on the rise of Fascism and Nazism. Then, look at was the support both Mussolini and Hitler had at their beginnings. Read their campaign speeches. If the sense of deja vu doesn’t hit you in the first ten pages, for sure, by the time you get to the year 1933 your skin will crawling and your hair shoot straight up…

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