I don’t have enough zeal for any particular politician – now or ever – to use this space to advocate for anyone, but politics is quite a spectacle, albeit in a Roman Coliseum kind of way. Politics is also a quirky creature, but for now Rick Santorum is the choice of the Politico-Evangelicals.
So how did that happen? There is first of all their comfort level with a large-family, home-schooling man who will talk about personal issues and tear up while doing so. He may be Catholic, but he wears his piety evangelically.
In the first unlikely source of this post, CNN captured this angle pretty well, including the following:
Santorum’s a homeschooling dad. His wife, Karen, is homeschooling or has homeschooled their seven children, making them a poster family for a movement populated largely by evangelical Christians and other serious believers. “It matters because it shows he’s a real part of our movement rather than simply someone who is politically sympathetic,” says Michael Farris, an evangelical conservative who leads the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Then there’s occasional talk about Santorum’s Christian worldview. “Worldview” would seem to indicate a big picture consistency with some kind of structure to it, but it’s hard to see anything of the kind in Santorum. He’s mostly earned it by continuing to push the hot buttons of abortion and gay marriage; not long ago positions like those would have been called “family values” but now, for some reason, it’s a worldview.
If worldview goes along with having the ability to see the big picture, one might expect a Presidential candidate to be able to articulate ideas that come out of the Constitution or fit nicely into it. But you’re not going to get that from Santorum, who proposes federal law on marriage and abortion. In our second unlikely link, provocateur/comedienne Ann Coulter summed up what’s wrong with that:
I also wonder why he’s running for president, rather than governor, when the issues closest to his heart are family-oriented matters about which the federal government can, and should, do very little. Santorum doesn’t seem to understand the crucial state-federal divide bequeathed to us by the framers of our Constitution…when Santorum tried to explain why states could ban contraception to Bill O’Reilly back in January, not once did he use the words “Constitution,” “constitutionally,” “federalism,” their synonyms or derivatives. Lawyers who are well familiar with the Constitution had no idea what Santorum was talking about. He genuinely does not seem to understand the Constitution’s federalist framework, except as a brief talking point on the way to saying states can ban contraception.
All of which raises the question of whether the Politico-Evangelicals really like our system of government or their appeals to the Constitution are merely opportunistic.
Finally, Santorum unpresidentially talked of his impulse to “throw up” over a speech by fellow Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy, which included
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act…
In response Santorum said:
“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,”… “The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.”
Whatever you think of John F. Kennedy or his speech, it does show that Kennedy had a high awareness of the Constitutional prohibition on church establishment, and the speech is primarily about the church itself rather than individuals participating in the public square. And it is pretty clear. Santorum is less clear. For example, Santorum’s church is opposed to contraception. Would Santorum be in favor of banning contraceptives? If not – and I assume not – then he actually does believe in a separation of church and state. And, on that issue, the Politico-Evangelicals will be glad that he does.