Skip to comments.Santorum, liberty, morality, and the culture wars (Liberals : the ones imposing morality on others)
Posted on 03/05/2012 6:21:36 PM PST by SeekAndFind
For one brief moment, Rick Santorum was the ideal Republican candidate for 2012, the perfect consonance of Don't-Tread-On-Me libertarianism and traditional cultural conservatism.
When asked about contraception, which Santorum and the Catholic Church hold to be destructive of marriage and family, Santorum replied, "You know, here's the difference between me and the Left, and they don't get this. Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean I want a government program to fix it. That's what they do. That's not what we do."
This helped explain why so many liberal politicians and journalists were misunderstanding or lying about what Santorum was saying -- why Nancy Pelosi would assert that Republicans want government to stop women from using contraception and a Salon.com writer would write that Santorum would "send the condom police into America's bedrooms." For many of today's liberals, if something is bad -- like the traditional light bulb, a very high health-insurance deductible, a gas-guzzling car, or a lack of racial diversity -- the government ought to outlaw it.
Maybe they can't comprehend the mind-set of many of today's conservatives, who revere both individual liberty and traditional morality as the necessary conditions for human happiness and thus say that certain behaviors are immoral but shouldn't be illegal. Not only are traditional morality and limited government totally compatible, today they are intimately linked, as the Left uses big government to subsidize abortion providers and force all employers to pay for their employees' contraceptives.
Santorum's debate answer hit the conservative sweet spot -- the moral law should guide our personal actions, and individual liberty should guide our political decisions. But a few moments later, Santorum showed he didn't really believe it. When Ron Paul pressed Santorum on his votes for federal family planning funding, Santorum explained his response: "I said, well, if you're going to have Title X funding, then we're going to create something called Title XX, which is going to provide funding for abstinence-based programs."
Sure enough, if you drill down on Santorum's record, he frequently thinks that problems of personal morality do merit a federal response. Nowhere in Article I, Section 8 does the Constitution authorize Congress to teach kids to forswear sex before marriage. Nor is Santorum's proposed federal funding of crisis pregnancy centers a legitimate federal function. Sure, the Left hits first in the culture war by imposing their morality, but that doesn't mean the correct response is subsidized conservatism.
While he doesn't want to outlaw contraception, Santorum does believe in federal vice laws. He suggested in an interview this year that Congress should outlaw online gambling because, "I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet." He said he opposed allowing gambling in Pennsylvania.
When liberals cry that conservatives are trying to legislate morality, that's typically projection and misdirection from liberal attempts to legislate morality -- they say we're trying to outlaw buying contraception because we oppose their efforts to mandate buying contraception. Santorum is the most frequent target of the bogus "condom police" arguments, even though he has repeatedly stated and written that he doesn't think government at any level should outlaw contraception. But the confusion is not totally unfounded, considering how often Santorum does try to legislate morality.
St. Augustine wisely asked "what does it really matter to a man whose days are numbered what government he must obey, so long as he is not compelled to act against God or his conscience?" This ought to be the Right's threshold in the culture wars. More often than not, in the United States these days, it's the secular Left imposing its morality on the religious Right.
Don't want to photograph a gay wedding? You're fined. Don't want to sell the morning-after pill at your pharmacy? You're driven out of your job. Don't want to pay for your employees' sterilization? You're a criminal. Don't want to subsidize Planned Parenthood with your tax dollars? Tough, pay up.
An alliance between libertarians and conservatives is natural and right today. But Santorum has not only behaved as if he wants to drive the libertarians away, he has openly stated so -- repeatedly.
The proper conservative response is to fight for the liberty of all Americans, including religious conservatives, to manage their own affairs according to what they believe is correct. Increasing the size of government, even in the name of a more moral society, simply gives the Left more weapons to turn on the Right in the culture war -- Obamacare is the perfect example.
Santorum has said he understands this. But his record shows how often he forgets it.
-- Timothy P.Carney is the Examiner's senior political columnist,
Last second spin before Super Tuesday by a Rombot.
Tim Carney Tweets:
“It seems that most of the reasonable Republicans are the most hawkish Republicans -McCain, L. Graham, D. Frum”
Kinda RINO central there.
Carney used the phrase “how often” twice. These are meaningless words since he never made the case of how often.
Laws against murder and theft, for example, are the outcomes of legislating morality. In a moral society, laws are congruent with the Natural Law, but Carney ignores this fact.
I say that the article is a backstabber.
The whole assumption that laws don’t legislate morality is bogus. That is the only purpose of law. All immoral acts destroy another person’s freedom or harms other people in different ways. (Laws concerning killing, cheating, stealing, assaulting, raping, etc. are all laws that promote morality.)
That is where Libertarians are stupid—they think Virtue has nothing to do with economies when all the Founders knew that Virtue was crucial for a Free Republic and was the necessary for Capitalism to work. Even Aristotle knew that teaching Ethics/Morality was the only reason to have schools. That was the worldview of all people until the Marxists got in control of education. CS Lewis writes about it in Abolition of Man.
Morality is taught—still—but it is the morality of dysfunctional perverts to destroy civil society. It is on purpose and our Laws are unjust and unconstitutional now because they have to promote Virtue and the General Welfare instead of Evil—it is part of the definition of Just Law. Like Levin says—we are a Post Constitutional Republic. We are no different than Moscow with their arbitrary made-up laws. Ours need to be made according to God’s Standards because that is where our Natural Rights come from which means there can be no “homosexual” marriage and laws that kill human beings—like euthanasia and abortion.
Here’s the other side of the story. VIA THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has been rating members of Congress for 20 years. NTU is an independent, non-partisan organization that per its mission statement mobilizes elected officials and the general public on behalf of tax relief and reform, lower and less wasteful spending, individual liberty, and free enterprise. Steve Forbes serves on its board of directors.
For each session of Congress, NTU scores each member on an A-to-F scale. NTU weights members votes based on those votes perceived effect on both the immediate and future size of the federal budget. Those who get As are among the strongest supporters of responsible tax and spending policies; they receive NTUs Taxpayers Friend Award. Bs are good scores, Cs are minimally acceptable scores, Ds are poor scores, and Fs earn their recipients membership in the Big Spender category. There is no grade inflation whatsoever, as we shall see.
NTUs scoring paints a radically different picture of Santorums 12-year tenure in the Senate (1995 through 2006) than one would glean from the rhetoric of the Romney campaign. Fifty senators served throughout Santorums two terms: 25 Republicans, 24 Democrats, and 1 Republican/Independent. On a 4-point scale (awarding 4 for an A, 3.3 for a B+, 3 for a B, 2.7 for a B-, etc.), those 50 senators collective grade point average (GPA) across the 12 years was 1.69 which amounts to a C-. Meanwhile, Santorums GPA was 3.66 or an A-. Santorums GPA placed him in the top 10 percent of senators, as he ranked 5th out of 50.
Across the 12 years in question, only 6 of the 50 senators got As in more than half the years. Santorum was one of them. He was also one of only 7 senators who never got less than a B. (Jim Talent served only during Santorums final four years, but he always got less than a B, earning a B- every year and a GPA of 2.7.) Moreover, while much of the Republican party lost its fiscal footing after George W. Bush took office although it would be erroneous to say that the Republicans were nearly as profligate as the Democrats Santorum was the only senator who got As in every year of Bushs first term. None of the other 49 senators could match Santorums 4.0 GPA over that span.
This much alone would paint an impressive portrait of fiscal conservatism on Santorums part. Yet it doesnt even take into account a crucial point: Santorum was representing Pennsylvania.
Based on how each state voted in the three presidential elections over that period (1996, 2000, and 2004), nearly two-thirds of senators represented states that were to the right of Pennsylvania. In those three presidential elections, Pennsylvania was, on average, 3 points to the left of the nation as a whole. Pennsylvanians backed the Democratic presidential nominee each time, while the nation as a whole chose the Republican in two out of three contests.
Among the roughly one-third of senators (18 out of 50) who represented states that based on this measure were at least as far to the left as Pennsylvania, Santorum was the most fiscally conservative. Even more telling was the canyon between him and the rest. After Santorums overall 3.66 GPA, the runner-up GPA among this group was 2.07, registered by Olympia Snowe (R., Maine). Arlen Specter, Santorums fellow Pennsylvania Republican, was next, with a GPA of 1.98. The average GPA among senators who represented states at least as far left as Pennsylvania was 0.52 or barely a D-.
But Santorum also crushed the senators in the other states. Those 32 senators, representing states that on average were 16 points to the right of Pennsylvania in the presidential elections, had an average GPA of 2.35 a C+.
In fact, considering the state he was representing, one could certainly make the case that Santorum was the most fiscally conservative senator during his tenure. The only four senators whose GPAs beat Santorums represented states that were 2 points (Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire), 10 points (Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona), 25 points (Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma), and 36 points (Republican Craig Thomas of Wyoming) to the right of Pennsylvania in the presidential elections. Moreover, of these four, only Kyl (with a GPA of 3.94) beat Santorum by as much as a tenth of a point. Its an open question whether a 3.94 from Arizona is more impressive than a 3.66 from Pennsylvania.
So, if Santorum was among and perhaps even topped the list of the most fiscally conservative senators during this period, who were the least fiscally conservative? That prize would have to go to the two North Dakota senators, who despite representing a state that voted 23 points to the right of the national average in the presidential elections, managed to achieve GPAs of 0.08 (Democrat Kent Conrad) and 0.00 (Democrat Byron Dorgan). Honorable mentions would have to go to Max Baucus (D., Mont.), who got a 0.84 GPA in a state that was 18 points to the right of the national average; Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who got a 0.08 GPA in a state that was 4 points to the right of average; and Utah Republicans Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch, who each barely cleared a 3.0 (3.11 for Bennett, 3.08 for Hatch) despite representing the state that, in the presidential elections, was the nations most right-leaning (38 points to the right of average).
As for Santorums potential opponent in the fall, Barack Obamas three years in the Senate (2005 through 2007) overlapped only with Santorums final two years. (In 2008, Obama effectively left the Senate to campaign for President and therefore didnt cast enough votes for NTU to score him that year.) In both of the years that the two men overlapped (2005 and 2006), as well as throughout Obamas three years worth of preparation for the presidency, Obamas GPA was 0.00 a rock-solid F.
Now thats acting like a Democrat something Santorum has never done.