Excuse Me Mr. Santorum, But On Whose Authority?

(Start 0:48, End 0:58)

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Toby Ziegler: As if it matters how a man falls down?

President Josiah Bartlet: When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.

 

In all of television history, that exchange is one of my favorites. It is between President Josiah Bartlet and his Chief Communications Director, Toby Ziegler, on the show The West Wing. It was paraphrased from dialogue belonging to the movie, The Lion in The Winter.

It came to mind earlier this week after I watched Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee emphatically put to rest the idea Republicans are willing to alter their social positions. I, for the longest time, had been a gay marriage supporting, pro-choice Republican.

I justified it by saying,

“Well, I’m not a homosexual or a woman. Economic issues are my primary concern and the GOP’s economic stance is close to my own. I guess I can suck it up and support their candidates as a single issue voter.”

In the back of my mind, I had always assumed the GOP would adjust their social positions as public opinion changed, but Santorum’s rebirth in the Republican Presidential primary all but ended that hope. The socially conservative faction of the GOP is hell-bent, maybe literally, on legislating a traditional Judeo-Christian lifestyle. Public opinion, science, and free-thinking members of their own party have become the opposition. When I listened to Santorum and Huckabee speak on the role of social issues, I couldn’t help but think of the late Governor George Wallace, patron saint of segregation.

In late 2012, Rick Santorum said,

“Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship? Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman.”

I’ll never forget reading that quote. It brought to mind Wallace’s famous proclamation,

“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

With those words, Wallace ignited the civil rights movement. Santorum’s statement set off my own political identity crisis. How could I look myself in the mirror and support a man with such a bigoted position?

My introspection led to three questions:

1) Is there any justification for his position other than religious beliefs?

2) If so, what is it?

3) If justified, do I believe government intervention is appropriate?

After an unbiased review, I determined Mr. Santorum lacked religious and scientific grounds. He cannot, as an earnest Christian,  support a gay marriage ban on religious grounds. He is duty bound to live in accordance with scripture. Mark 12:17 clearly states:

“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him.”

Mr. Santorum has religious grounds for disapproving of homosexual acts (Romans 1:26-27), but, as a devout Catholic, he is divinely ordered to judge not, that ye be not judged, nor can he claim Biblical inspiration in legislating away the right to a civil marriage.

I find it hard to believe his position is grounded in religion, given his devotion. I refuse to label him a theocrat. In 2003 he co-authored the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WFRA) with John Kerry. The purpose of the WFRA was to overturn a Supreme Court ruling which gave employer’s more leeway in claiming “religious accommodation” as a reason for undue hardship. Even when he offered an amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act, which would have permitted schools to include intelligent design with evolution, the purpose was not to ban the teaching of evolution.

Perhaps banning gay marriage is an issue of science? Unfortunately for Mr. Santorum, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its support of  civil marriage for same gender couples thirteen days ago. A comprehensive study was conducted by analyzing 30 years of research. Their findings led to this statement:

“If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so… Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage.”

In defense of Mr. Santorum, this study was released after his statement. If he wishes to invoke Keynes, “When the facts change, I change my mind…”, he should be inclined to do so. After all, he has repeatedly espoused the positive effects of marriage on poverty. Why deny what he has professed all these years? If his case was based on promoting reproduction through marriage policy, like France, he might have a feeble argument. However, his unrelenting promotion of marriage exclusivity lacks any foundation in religion or science.

Mr. Santorum strikes me as a kind and decent man. A man committed to God, but with an ego healthy enough to run for President of the United States. Even when taking into consideration the size of his ego, I doubt he is so arrogant as to base his position solely on personal beliefs. He does not seem the dictator or philosopher-king type.

I was at an impasse. I couldn’t determine the origin or justification of his position, until I remembered a political theory professor from college…

Mr. Santorum’s grounds for banning gay marriage are based in political theory. It is my opinion, social conservatives have been plagued by a bout of cognitive dissonance beginning in the 1950s. Republicans frame each economic position with respect to the individual, but their social platform is community based. Communitarianism emphasizes the role of community in shaping the individual. They start with the premise of Locke, that man, in his original position, is tabula rasa (a blank slate), but communitarians part with Locke at Natural law and reason.

Communitarians assert the community shapes the individual, and in return, the individual has a responsibility to the community. Community precedes the individual.  Gay marriage and homosexual behavior would be considered detrimental to the community given the failure to produce offspring. In addition, it disrupts the accepted norms of society. The supposed effect is a hindrance to the community’s ability to promote a consistent belief system and sustain its values. Communitarians are bound by the majority, unless fifty-one percent of members accept a behavior, they are obligated to disavow any aberration. Changing beliefs in a communitarian society is an epic feat; the intense pressures of public opinion are prohibitive.

The communitarian position is similar to Burkean conservatism (an emphasis placed on prudence and order), but even Burke allowed for gradual change. Eighty-nine years would be deemed gradual by even the most staunch of Burkeans. Social conservatives, Mr. Santorum included, now have a philosophical basis for banning change. Their argument becomes,

“Look what amazing results America produced with a traditional nuclear family? Less crime, fewer poverty stricken children, traditional values, and a country we could be proud of!”

Sound familiar? It is the same slogan that won Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives in 1994. Interestingly enough, The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by that same group. I can almost hear the printing presses reeling off bumper stickers in anticipation.

I cannot say, with absolute certainty, American social conservatives are communitarians, or are even aware that is where their beliefs reside, but in my opinion the evidence is damning. Political scientists are finding social conservatives much less fiscally conservative than fellow party members. I believe this explains why Catholic voters are so hesitant to ally with the GOP. Where does this leave social conservatives in America?

They cannot support their position legally (DOMA should be unconstitutional. It codified Christianity into law) , religiously  or scientifically. What will they do? Sensationalize and proselytize. It will be a continual assault of reactionary and nostalgic propaganda. Make no doubt, social conservatives will not go down without a fight. Legacy be damned.

Libertarians, and fellow bastions of liberty, are surrounded. On the left we battle the pedantic social engineers. On the right, we stare down a group who at best, devalues the individual, and at worst, favors theocracy. The nature of our two-party system makes this fight all the more arduous. It is time to concentrate our focus on the social conservatives. Ironically, we march against their mission for the sole purpose of guaranteeing their right to the freedom they wish to take from us.

We are, and will forever be, at war with the left, but can we align with them just this once? Together, we can once and for all, put social conservatism in its political grave.

However, it will not be easy.

Santorum and Huckabee are primed and ready for this fight. The two of them are positively orgasmic at the thought of a war on values. Both men have been muzzled by mainstream Republicans for the last 4 years. Their appeal lies in their lack of fiscal conservatism, Santorum with Medicare part D and Huckabee raising taxes 21 times as governor. They will fashion themselves as a new radical center.

The future for social conservatives may very well mirror the 1968 Presidential Race. George Wallace ran under the American Independent Party with the goal of siphoning enough votes to be a power broker in Washington. What began as a quest for political capital ended in an embarrassing legacy of hatred and racism.

Is this the future social conservatives want?

When their great grandchildren Google their name, is this the picture they will see?

Attempting to block integration at the University of Alabama, Governor George Wallace stands defiantly at the door while being confronted by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

 

They cannot win this fight. They stand in violation of science, the Constitution of The United States, and worst of all, a direct command from the words of their Lord and Savior.

They stomp on the American traditions of individualism and negative liberty.

Gay marriage is the fight of a bygone era. Its defenders left an unhealed wound on American equality. They were tried and found guilty in the court of history, for conduct unbecoming of an American.

I started this post with the line:

“As if it matters how a man falls down? When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.”

The fall, is all that is left for social conservatives. That fall will determine their place in history.

Fortunately, it is not too late.

Mr. Santorum and his followers would be wise to heed the advice of Governor Wallace during his last years,

“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever. I never should have said it, because it wasn’t true…when I gave that speech. I started reading just to get it over with and read those words without thinking. I have regretted it all my life.”

During his final days, he kept beside his sickbed the honorary degree that he had received in 1985 from Tuskegee University, the historically black school made famous by Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.

“Blacks gave me a standing ovation when they put the cap and gown on me, and that was the proudest I’ve ever been.” (source)

 

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Greg Lenz is a reformed Conservative. I've slowly evolved my position from Conservative Republican to it's current status of Libertarian Republican. I'm aware people hate the Libertarian Republican label, but ultimately I'm a pragmatist. Economic issues are my primary concern therefore I do support Republican candidates from time to time (Rand Paul 2016). As of late, I find myself flirting with Minarchism. The writings of William F. Buckley, Ayn Rand, and Thomas Jefferson have played the biggest role in shaping my beliefs.

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