Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Strange Bedfellows

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was a featured guest at a rally for GOP Assembly candidates Michel Donohue and John McCann today at Cape May County Park.
Santorum served in the U.S. Senate from 1995 and 2007 and is most noted for his staunch conservative record and positions. He supported an amendment to the No Child Left Behind Act that would have allowed “intelligent design”, a blend of religion and pseudo-science to be taught in public schools. He sponsored the Workplace Religious Freedom Act that would have required employers to accommodate the religious practices of their employees by allowing them to wear religious garments and have time off for religious observances. He supported a bill that would have prohibited the National Weather Service from publishing weather data to the public when they could receive it from private forecast services such as AccuWeather, who contributed money to Santorum’s campaigns. Santorum publicly opposed homosexuality, saying it was contrary to a “healthy, stable, traditional family.” He said the focus of traditional marriage was to procreate and lumped homosexuality with other deviant carnal practices such as beastiality and pedophilia. Santorum later clarified that he didn’t have a problem with homosexuals, but “homosexual acts,” which is kind of redundant.
"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be….Whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, whether it's sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family," Santorum told an interviewer in 2003.
Santorum’s comments provoked ire with many politicians and gay rights groups. The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group, also demanded Santorum apologize for his remarks.
Sex columnist Dan Savage hosted a contest to find an alternative definition to “santorum.” The winning definition, which was posted online and is the first reference if you Google “santorum” is: “A frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”
Reportedly, the slang definition has caught on, and might be the biggest social coup in American politics since a CIA-backed gunman stood on a grassy knoll in Dallas in 1963.
Santorum has every right to his convictions. I’m sure that he really believes that gay people marrying will tear the institution of marriage asunder and within five years America will resemble the desolate wasteland in the Mad Max movies. I’m also convinced that Santorum believes the Bible to be literally true, and creationism happened and dinosaurs were just something paleontologists simply fabricated because the T-Rex looks really badass.
One wonders why the Republican candidates for New Jersey’s First District Assembly would ally themselves with such a controversial figure? Was David Duke too busy? Didn’t Pat Robertson return their calls?
If this is the direction of the Donohue/McCann campaign, then the GOP is in serious trouble. The problem nationally with the GOP is that their convictions are based in the past. Sure, conservatism is about tradition and restraint, but would it hurt to develop a vision for the future? What are they doing in those conservative think tanks besides dreaming of new ways to carve up the Middle East?
It’s like giving the keys for a Honda Civic to someone who only knows how to drive a Model T. When you govern in the past, when your ideas are stale, when you don’t have a clear blueprint for the future, you look like you’re reactive, not proactive. I get that you want to stand up for traditional American values and families. I understand. But is that it? Is the Republican Party a one-trick pony scolding the liberals, wagging their fingers at the decadent sexual deviants, the news media and Hollywood? Is this a party of well-mannered conservative intellectuals like William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater, or a rabble of blue-haired old spinsters and fat hillbillies waving the Bible and wearing AK-47s to public meetings?
Maybe after Buckley's demise, so went the old-school GOP.
If civil discourse and debate is supplanted by shouting matches and threats, if the conservatives and liberals can’t at least agree to put away the rancor and soundbites and listen to each other, then maybe as a nation we’re all screwed.

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