Although we just had an election, Rick Santorum, as tireless as he is tiresome, is already stumping in Iowa to prepare for his next defeat. His willful ignorance and woeful arrogance personifies why the GOP is losing the next generation of voters. Santorum, for instance, attacked marriage equality and foolishly pretended the huge cultural shift on this issue was no more than a passing fad – like a Hula Hoop or a Rubik’s cube.
“Just because some of those things happen to be popular right now doesn’t mean the Republican party should follow suit,” he said.
Santorum’s is inadvertently articulating why the Republican establishment must throw the Religious Right overboard if it hopes to remain viable. He claims to represent “the base” of the GOP, yet he is advising the Party to double down on an issue that will increasingly cost it elections.
It is the job of party officials, however, to actually win at the polls. It is not their job to create a social club for troglodytes who sit around, smoke cigars, and talk about the “good old days,” while pining for Jesus to return and smite homosexuals.
In Iowa, Santorum remained as defiant as ever, even threatening to bring down the GOP if it accepts the inevitability of marriage equality.
“The Republican Party’s not going to change on this issue. In my opinion it would be suicidal if it did,” said Santorum.
This sentiment was echoed by Christian organizer David Lane, who predicted that if GOP leaders accept marriage equality, “it will lead quickly to the collapse of the Republican Party.”
Lane and Santorum’s predictions may be true, but what they fail to comprehend is that a quick disintegration of the status quo and a rapid political realignment might be in the best interest of the Republican Party. In the short-term, this would help ensure that the upcoming GOP presidential primaries would not degenerate into another freak show of the insane (Michele Bachmann and Santorum) or those pretending to be crazy to get the nomination (Mitt Romney and John McCain).
Evicting the hardliners would potentially reinvigorate the GOP in former strongholds, such as the northeast and west coast, both regions that have largely abandoned the Republican Party because of its Medieval view on social issues. Keeping Santorum and his ilk in the fold cannot compare to the possibility of being viable in California or Maine.
The Washington Post reports that, “exit polls and other surveys from last year’s election suggest that resistance to same-sex marriage is shrinking and mainly concentrated among certain segments of the population: older people, white evangelical Christians and non-college-educated whites.”
But, isn’t this the shrinking coalition that cost the GOP the last two elections? The Santorum crowd seems to believe the Party has a message problem, when they really have a morality problem. No less than conservative commentator Glenn Beck summed it up when he said, “It is about freedom…Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do? … You’ve been painted into a corner of a bigot. That’s why they won. Because the principle of it is right. The principle of it is easy to understand.”
FOX television host Bill O’Reilly underscored the futility of Santorum’s argument when he said on his show, “If you’re going to stand up for heterosexual marriage and exclude gay marriage, if you’re going to do that, you’ve got to do it outside the Bible,” O’Reilly explained. “You can’t cite the Bible because you will lose if you do.”
Other than the Bible, however, Santorum offers no rational arguments and resorts to comparing gay relationships to “man on child, man on dog” sex. Is this really the way Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) or former Vice President Dick Cheney want fellow party members talking about their children?
Santorum is delusional if he thinks the tide is going to turn in his direction. An ABC News/Washington Post poll taken last month showed that 81 percent of adults younger than 30 supported marriage equality.
Contrary to Santorum’s sanctimony, his right wing base is not immune from the LGBT tidal wave. For example, alumni from conservative Christian universities, such as Bob Jones and Biola, now have support groups, which are creating a more conducive climate for coming out. And even in the homophobic sports world, walls are beginning to crumble with professional athletes and their allies coming out and speaking out.
It would be unwise for the Republican Party to continue kowtowing to the Religious Right. Appeasing tragically archaic figures, such as Santorum, is not a means to an end, but simply a dead end. Santorum will never make history and become president, but the Republican Party could soon become history if it continues to live in the past and embrace people like Rick Santorum.