Why Santorum didn’t sell

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has just announced that he will terminate his campaign for the Republican nomination. Liberals will … Continued

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has just announced that he will terminate his campaign for the Republican nomination. Liberals will rejoice. Social conservatives will mournfully search their souls for the second presidential election in a row. And I will refrain from braying “I told you, so!” and offer up these takeaways and observations:

Gene J. Puskar

AP

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum turns to his wife Karen, left, after announcing he is suspending his candidacy effective today in Gettysburg, Pa., Tuesday, April 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Negative faith and values campaigning does not work in presidential campaigns (I told you so!): Whether he was calling Barack Obama’s theology “phony,” or insisting that nation which permitted a raped woman to have an abortion victimized her twice, or doubling down on an earlier claim that JFK’s commitment to separation of church and state made him want to vomit, Rick Santorum made sure to introduce religious themes into his political rhetoric in as divisive a manner as possible. The American electorate, as presently constituted, is simply too moderate and ecumenically-inclined to warm to this type of Faith and Values politicking.

At the very first debate of the season, the unforgettable “Faith and Freedom Coalition” gathering, Santorum lamented how his name was always associated with the word “ultra.” “Ultra” oratory and policy prescriptions do appeal to a very particular and very vocal chunk of the GOP base. The problem is that pandering to this group has the net effect of driving scads of other voters away, including Republican voters. To give but one example. . . . .

Catholics have limited patience for anathemitizers: Running his campaign as an anathemetizer-in-chief permitted Santorum to score big among white conservative Evangelicals. The problem for Santorum is that his “Game On!”exuberance turned off his fellow co-religionists. In primary after primary he lost among (likely Republican) Catholic voters. A truism that indicates that lay Catholics are among the most laudably independent-minded voters out there, often eschewing the counsels of their bishops as well as those politicians who claim to speak in their name.


View Photo Gallery: Scenes of religious faith meeting politics in the 2012 campaign.

Another disastrous presidential election for social conservatives: In 2008 social conservatives initially ignored the candidacy of one Mike Huckabee (even though he jumped into the ring way early in 2007). They finally coalesced around Huck only a few weeks before the January 2008 Iowa caucus. Result: They got stuck with John McCain who they never liked (and who never liked them.) They then sat on the sidelines despondently until Sarah Palin finally energized them late in the homestretch.

In 2012, as if to make sure 2008 never happened again, the field was flooded with candidates whose views were congenial to social conservative worldview. These anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-federal government champions ranged from Newt Gingrich, to Michele Bachmann, to Herman Cain, to Rick Perry to their eventual favorite Rick Santorum.

The result? A candidate that many social conservatives don’t trust, Mitt Romney, divided and conquered his way to what looks like the party’s nomination. Friendly advice to social conservatives: by July 4th 2014, select your one preferred candidate for 2016. Only then will you be able to achieve on the presidential level, what you have so remarkably accomplished in the judiciary, congress, the statehouse, and American culture at large.

  • WmarkW

    Twenty years in Congress allowed Santorum to survive the cattle call that eventually felled Bachmann, Perry and Cain, due to their inexperience. That left him the emptiest suit of four remaining contenders, the others of whom offered SOME affirmative reason to attract a constituency. He had one possible strategy — run as the hardest evangelical, and see if he could syphon the anti-Mormon vote.

    He might still be the VP. Pennsylvania is a battleground state in which Mormonism might be a negative (some people say PA is equal parts Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Alabama). And he could help Romney in other Appalachia battegrounds: Ohio, WV, Virginia and North Carolina.

  • amelia45

    Catholics really do believe in church teachings on social justice and a responsibility for society to care for the poor and old. That is why they don’t vote for an outlier Catholic like Santorum.

    As a Catholic, I am very happy for him that he found meaning in Catholic teaching on birth control. But I do not want that to be the law of the land and I certainly do not want to legislate Catholicism. As well as being Catholic, I am a big believer is the importance of a secular government, in democracy, and in freedom and equality for all.

    The good thing he did is to make clear to all of us that Romney would be a disaster for women if he is elected President. I don’t know if there is a think concerning women, abortion, contraceptives, “personhood” laws supported by Santorum that Mitt did not echo. We know where they both stand and we will remember it.

  • ccnl1

    The reality of contraception and STD control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. …

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth “control” methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    “Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.”

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    “Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here’s a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active “post-teeners”: Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    “Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. “They view it as a way to have intimacy without ha

  • Joel1

    Don’t give them any useful advice. How the heck in their right minds would want the social conservatives to be successful?

  • Rongoklunk

    Santorum was just too religious. I mean whether there’s a god or not is debatable. To be so certain there’s a god up there watching over us – is not very smart. Doubt must exist – after all nobody ever saw a god, and the chances that there’s nobody up there are tremendous – the Hubble space telescope never picked him out among all those stars and planets, and never will, because he’s imaginary, like all the other gods.

  • catatonicjones

    I will always vote against religious conservatives no matter what office they’re running for. I’ll even close my eyes and vote for a democrat if I have to. Religious conservatives are just plain evil people.

  • di89

    And this article is running the same day as the article about sexuality teaching in the Catholic Church–they are trying desperately to convey that morality does not begin and end with women’s uteri, and there goes Santorum in the other direction.

  • PhilyJimi

    The pious only want to point fingers and play the blame game. Divisive politics are poisonous.