The Tea Party Backs … Santorum?

Jan 3 2012 @ 12:43pm

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There may not be much meaning to the latest twist in the Iowa race than Dana Milbank's judgment:

The "Santorum surge" in recent days has little to do with the candidate himself and everything to do with the fact that he is the last man standing after voters discarded all the rest.

But if you cannot see the irony of a movement allegedly based on individual liberty coming to rest on Santorum's head, you need to read another blog. Of course, we have long known that the Tea Party is essentially a branch of the Republican Christianist right – and they have come back to Santorum because, as Dana notes, they have nowhere left to turn. They could either fracture and let in Paul or Romney. Or they could back Bachmann (d'oh!), Perry (oops!), Gingrich (thrice married) or Cain (now gone). And whatever else you can say about Santorum, he is by far the most hostile to individual freedom of all kinds in the Republican race. Exhibit One, courtesy of David Boaz:

This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.

I actually read It Takes A Family, which might more accurately be titled It Takes A Franco – and not James. Jon Rauch noted:

A list of the government interventions that Santorum endorses includes national service, promotion of prison ministries, "individual development accounts," publicly financed trust funds for children, community-investment incentives, strengthened obscenity enforcement, covenant marriage, assorted tax breaks, economic literacy programs in "every school in America" (his italics), and more. Lots more.

Santorum would use the constitution to over-rule state decisions on marriage and abortion; he would launch a new war with Iran; and he would initiate a full-fledged industrial policy. He is the candidate of holy war at home and abroad. And you thought social issues had lost their grip on the Republican base.

(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty.)