Wednesday, March 21, 2012

America's Taliban strikes out again

Rick Santorum's campaign is going down in flames, as I suggested it would. His thinking is disorganized, and his campaign reflects that. His campaign was unable to correctly file in at least three states: Virginia (didn't make the ballot), Ohio, and in Illinois (reducing his eligibility for delegates in these latter states). His campaigning in Puerto Rico reduced his support there when he fabricated a provision of the Constitution that mandates English. The only consistency he's capable of is his crazy religious conservatism, and that will not sell with most Americans.

I've occasionally argued that this is unfortunate: if Santorum were the GOP candidate, he'd be utterly crushed by Obama, and the landslide would greatly discredit religious conservatism as a political force. Instead, when Romney loses, the religious nuts and their conservative bedfellows will claim it was because Romney wasn't sufficiently conservative, and no doubt because he isn't Christian. That's unfortunate, because we desperately need a sane opposition to the progressives and leftists.

But in truth, the Republican primaries ought to be enough evidence that the religious right is not a crucial political force. After all, it is Romney who is gathering all the delegates, not Santorum. If the religious right were a politically decisive force, one would expect Santorum to be clobbering Romney, instead of the reverse. When Santorum does win, he just squeaks by with maybe a third of the vote. That even among the Republican party core only a minority is infected with Santorumitis ought to be enough evidence.

Despite not being a decisive political force, the religious right is a dangerous one. It's able to get its crazy ideas a hearing, and in doing so poisons our political debates. There's no war on religion, but the in pandering to the religious right, the Republican party has repeated the crazy claim. And why is contraception a political issue? This is utterly crazy. I can only hope that the exposure the religious right's ideas are getting is discrediting them.

It would be a good thing if the religious extremists are badly humiliated in an election. It's unlikely they'd learn much from the experience, but it might teach politicians that pandering to this crowd is not worthwhile. What we really need are politicians with enough courage and sense to tell the religious right to mind their own business and stop trying to seize the state to force their theology on the rest of us. What we need are politicians with actual convictions who are willing to speak out against religious lunatics, instead of trying trying to win their votes. We need more people with the forthrightness of Barry Goldwater:

"The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'"

More from Goldwater:

"I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics. The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength."

And more:

"By maintaining the separation of church and state the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars . . . Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers? Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northem Ireland, or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state? ... The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives. . . We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn't stop now. ... To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic."

Amen Brother Goldwater!

I suspect America's Taliban will not go away, but I certainly hope they lose all credibility.

Rick Santorum has many faults, but he has never supported the government (not Federal, State or local) making either homosexual acts or contraception illegal - on the contrary he has said (over and over again) that he is AGAINST making these things illegal.

Calling Santorum an example of the "American Taliban" is the sort of smear I would expect from the socialist (sorry "liberal") media, rather than a libertarian.

As for abortion - vast numbers of people share Santorum's opinion that abortion is murder. Perhaps they are totally wrong, but to smeer at people as Islamic terrorists ("Taliban") is an utterly contemptable thing to do.
I concur with what Paul Marks just said.

He is by no means an ideal presidential candidate from a (properly) Liberal point of view, but your line on him rests on nothing other than presumption (at best).

You deserve all the discredit you get for this - or a job at the NYT, which is pretty much the same thing.
Thanks for your comments. They are always welcome, and I appreciate that these are civil.

I completely disagree with both of you, of course. Mr. Santorum has clearly stated that individuals must not be free to choose their sexual behavior themselves -- they cannot "go it alone" but must be guided by the state. He's also explicitly stated that there's only the moral and the immoral, and the state cannot be neutral. He has also stated (as has Ron Paul) that state and local governments have the right to regulate our sexual behavior (both oppose the SCOTUS decision in Lawrence v. Texas). And Santorum has explicitly stated his opposition to SCOTUS' decision in Griswold, which elimiated state restrictions on contraception.

Criminalizing private sexuality among consenting adults, contraception, etc. -- making other peoples' sexuality a political issue is exactly what makes this the American Taliban. It's obviously an attempt by one particular subset of the people to legislate -- i.e. impose by force -- their own personal fundamentalist religious codes.

The chilling thing about this is that American religious groups have been supporting the efforts in Uganda to make homosexuality a capital offense. I've met Christians who have told me they believe homosexuality should be a capital offense here. The reconstructionist and dominionist versions of fundamentalism call for the execution of those who violate their sexual code, and for that matter execution of non-believers. These groups are indeed part of Santorum's base, and for such people the term "Taliban" is quite appropriate
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