Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum recently won the primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, solidifying himself as one of two serious contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. Early on in his campaign Santorum was behind in the polls and many people, including myself, did not consider him to be a significant candidate. However over the past months he has gained popularity among many on the Right, a majority of these being Evangelicals and traditional Roman Catholics, due to his fundamental religious and socially conservative views. Although Mitt Romney remains the seemingly inevitable Republican nominee the recent popularization of Rick Santorum says a great deal about the values of the politically conservative in America.
The views championed by Rick Santorum form a virtual laundry list of the most misogynistic, discriminatory, sanctimonious, antiquated, and suppressive political positions in the American repertoire. In 2001, as senator, he preposed an amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act, now known as the Santorum Amendment, that would promote intelligent design and call into question the legitimacy of evolution in public schools and was placed in the language of the act, although it carried no weight of law. By preposing this amendment Santorum clearly aligned himself with an irrational, pseudoscientific minority and exposed not only his own scientific illiteracy but also his outright rejection of the proven consensus view within the scientific community.
In February Santorum expressed his opinion on higher education in an interview with Glenn Beck. He called colleges “indoctrination mills” where students are purposefully secularized and claimed this was the reason President Obama had called for more Americans to seek higher education. According to Santorum universities are dangerous because they call faith into question and attempt to inform young adults in a secular, ideologically neutral setting. For him nothing could be worse than exposing the religious beliefs of America’s youth to the light of reason and critical analysis. What exactly his alternative to the modern university system would be is not clear to me, but whatever such a mind could envision could do nothing but harm higher education in this country.
Regarding contraception and sexual freedom Santorum’s views are positively Medieval. In October of 2011 he gave an interview to an Evangelical blog called Caffeinated Thoughts. In that interview he stated clearly that contraception is “not okay” because according to his personal interpretation of religious morality using contraception allows people license to engage in sexual activities that are abnormal, such as sex outside of marriage. According to Santorum it should be the president’s responsibility to regulate the personal, sexual lives of the American citizenship and therefore he would hinder the availability of contraception, eliminate proper sex education, and deny homosexuals the right to marry. To promulgate his personal, religious agenda he would attempt to abuse the presidency and infringe on the basic rights of Americans.
A great deal more could be said about Rick Santorum’s views on the separation of church and state (he doesn’t think it should be absolute), foreign policy (he would bomb Iran if they did not comply to American demands), environmental issues (he called the consensus scientific view on climate change “junk science”), and energy (he would “drill everywhere” for oil). I believe it can be said with certainty that this man’s mind is dangerous and therefore I could not be more thankful that Rick Santorum’s chances of obtaining the Republican nomination are very slim. What disturbs me is that a former United States senator and presidential candidate could be so close-minded, prejudiced, and utterly dim. And what disturbs me even more is that so many people in this country could entertain the notion that such a man should be president.