“We have civil laws, but our civil laws have to comport with a higher law– God’s law. As long as there is discordance between the two, there will be agitation. [And] Not just any god, but the God of [our prophets]”
A quick multiple choice for the reader. The words above were spoken by:
A) Osama bin Laden
B) Aiman al-Zawahiri
C) Mullah Omar
D) Rick Santorum
For those of you who answered Rick Santorum, you are correct. And these are not just words from many years ago spoken by a young, brash idealist who didn’t know he’d someday be running for president, these words were spoken by him on Thanksgiving Day 2011, in the heat of a presidential campaign. (for the sake of accuracy, the words “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” were what he said instead of “our prophet”, I left that part out for suspense)
Mr. Santorum has mounted a suprisingly successful bid for the presidency of our nation. However, his underlying themes are contradictory. Like most insurgent bids, his message preys on our basest instincts instead of the “better angels of our nature.”
Mr. Santorum is evidently blind to the hypocrisy that his candidacy entails. He fights tirelessly against the implementation of Sharia law (something that he has yet to produce the slightest shred of evidence as actually occurring), because “Sharia law is not just a religious code. It is also a governmental code. It happens to be both religious in nature an origin, but it is a civil code.” (March 2011) In his view, thus, the separation of church and state is imperative as long as it does not include his church, which should be the basis for the state’s laws (otherwise uprising would be warranted in his view).
This fundamental hypocrisy is evident through other veins of his campaign as well. Mr. Santorum is a major supporter of individual liberty, especially berating governmental efforts to interfere with an individual’s choice to purchase healthcare or not (does that make him “pro-choice”?). He argues, at least credibly, that the government has no right to interfere with the choices an individual makes about how to spend money. He then turns around and supports a ban on individuals who are receiving welfare from going to strip clubs. While he rails about government involvement in individual healthcare decisions, he was one of the first to sign on to the contemptible actions of Congress in intervening in the Terri Schiavo case, and to limit contraception and abortion choices to women.
I highlight Mr. Santorum, not because he has a realistic path to the presidency, but as a particularly egregious example of the culture wars that the Republicans have chosen to base their 2012 campaign upon. None of the current or past candidates are immune, though Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul have fallen less into demagoguery than some of their peers in this regard. While the economic policies of the current Republican party focus on smaller government with less government intrusion into one’s private life and choices, their social policies almost completely focus on morality legislation, with missives against contraception, abortion, gay marriage (actually, often sodomy in general), pornography and Muslims.
The Republican candidates need to take a moment from their (necessary) base-pandering to understand a fundamental truth (one they should hold dear being in charge of congress). Since every government action involves expenditure of money, it is fundamentally impossible for the government to be larger morally, but smaller fiscally. To a large extent, morality stems from religion in American (we are unique in that regard), so it is fundamentally un-American to legislate morality, as it is impossible to do so without legislating religion.
Over the past decade or more, the Republican party has sought out the support of Christian Fundamentalists/Extremists as a necessary voting bloc. Perhaps this made sense in the short term (running against a tremendously popular but morally questionable president). However, their long term interests may have been better served by adopting a strict secularist, governmental-minimalist stance as a foil to the traditionally over-reaching Democrats. At least this way, the voters would have a real choice. As it stands, the American public is forced between two ideologies which both want to intrude on our lives tremendously, albeit in different ways.