Rick Santorum has gone out of his way to sever any connection between his platform and the Libertarian influences that were, at one point, central to the Old Right. A laissez faire approach to the market and a refusal to intervene abroad were once highly regarded as a means of ensuring personal liberty. On the subject of freedom, Santorum has said: “I fight very strongly against Libertarian influence within the republican party and the conservative movement.” In another statement he says something to the effect that historically, freedom doesn’t work and society cannot function without a strong paternal government.
In light of his insistence that people are naturally uncivilized and require feudal overlords to control them, the latest controversy over birth control should come as no surprise. Of course someone like Santorum, who holds such an obvious disdain for individual rights, would seek to control the populace in every minute detail. He tries to couch his authoritarian position as some sort of outsider’s take on politics – his quip that other candidates don’t want to talk about contraception is an obvious attempt – but it’s all about exercising control.
During an interview he stated that: “…many in the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay, because it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be” (emphasis added). If this were only a personal statement explaining his choice not to use birth control, there’s nothing particularly controversial here. But this isn’t a personal statement; it’s a normative statement.
And, as if his Liberty-rejecting ideology weren’t bad enough on its own merits, he’s a hypocrite to boot. Just this past week Santorum was on TV boasting of his votes in support of Title X, which provides federal funding to organizations, including Planned Parenthood, for contraception. He told Greta Van Susteren: “The bottom line in my position is very clear. I’ve had a consistent record on this of supporting women’s right to have contraception. I’ve supported funding for it.”
So if he believes that contraception is “not okay” and runs “counter to how things are supposed to be,” how does he reconcile that with his votes for funding Planned Parenthood? More importantly, how do voters reconcile these two disparate positions? How does a person who is looking for a principled conservative rationalize such obvious attempts at pandering to two separate groups?
For the conservatives out there who somehow still haven’t seen the reality of his political philosophy, there is nothing conservative about it. There is nothing truly conservative about a candidate who wants to direct social policy as president. Especially since the progressive era of the early 20th Century, it has been the Left who has advocated for centrally planned social control.
“Conservative values,” “traditional values,” or “traditional conservative values” are not served by granting the federal government (or any government) dominion over them. That is surely the fastest way to destroy them and ensure perpetual conflict between interest groups. By making birth control a federal issue, or even a state or local issue, it places the issue in the hands of mindless bureaucrats and corrupt politicians (a redundancy, I know).
They have a record of ruining everything they touch – from schools, to healthcare – because they have no real incentive to improve or preserve these things. In fact, the more problems that persist with whatever issue they’re put in control of, the greater the authority and funding they’ll be given. Failure leads to expansion in this backwards world. If this weren’t the case, ask why schools never seem to quit asking for, and receiving, more money. Same with the healthcare/insurance lobby: the last three administrations have either attempted or been successful at passing sweeping new programs that inject more government into the industry. And on top of all of this, no improvement can be seen; it only gets worse.
Santorum talks about protecting religious institutions from having to violate their moral conscience or belief system through the forced provision of birth control. He said on the matter: “I can’t imagine any other organization with its roots as poisonous as the roots of Planned Parenthood getting federal funding of any kind….” But all his time in the Senate time voted in favor of a measure, repeatedly, that provided funding to an organization he described as “horrific.” As Charles Pearson noted: “I’ve given up trying to understand these people….”
Update: Perhaps this is why Santorum found it so easy to help fund Planned Parenthood all those years? “I was basically pro-choice all my life, until I ran for congress.” h/t Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre.