Life: Left of Centre

Rick Santorum: is it all in the name?

Posted on: March 6, 2012

Ahead of ‘Super Tuesday’ in the US Republican Presidential Primary season, where 10 states are holding ballots to select their preferred Republican in this ongoing beauty (or not-so-pretty, as I prefer) contest, I profile the last remaining challenger to Mitt Romney’s path to his party’s nomination: Rick Santorum. It’s well worth the read!

By this point many of you will be thinking: “What do you mean ‘is it all in the name?’ I don’t get it.” Some of you may not also be fully up to speed on Former Senator Santorum’s bid for the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States.

Well you are now, and believe me it’s a scary prospect – or is it? Just how likely is this former senator from Pennsylvania to become the Republican’s chosen nominee, or even perhaps President come November 6th, and what might the repercussions be for human rights, not just inside the US but around the world.

Of course some of you will know just what I mean. Rick’s second name – Santorum – has a rather interesting definition that’s… well, new. It’s people power that’s created this ladies and gentlemen and it is as follows:

  • “The frothy mixture of lube and faecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex”

This definition is the result of an online competition and campaign by a Mr. Dan Savage, the writer and campaigner behind the excellent It Gets Better project, tackling homophobia across the United States, and now the world.

But why and how is all this relevant to Santorum?? This, I think rather witty, and in some more homophobic commentator’s eyes, “disgusting” definition is there for a reason. Taking you back to 2003 for a moment, then Senator Santorum made some very specific comments to a journalist about the rights of LGBT people’s privacy, and in particular their right to have sexual intercourse with their partners, claiming homosexual sex as “deviant sexual behaviour” and damaging to marriage – questioning the very basic freedoms on which American has long prided itself on promoting, both at home and abroad.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. A more detailed look at his campaign messaging, speeches and website show a typically and authentically conservative approach to his politics – but with a twist. He’s not afraid to come out with the big, bold assertions – not unlike Bush Jnr. And like Bush Jnr, this is where I start to worry. They’re almost universally colossally stupid.

Whether it be building a total and complete border fence across the 1969 miles of the US / Mexico border; cutting and simplifying income tax rates to just 10% and 28% in a country with some of the lowest rates of tax in the world, at a time of fragile economic recovery; or simply invading Iran – this man, make no mistake, is dangerous.

He threatens the human rights of immigrants, LGBT people and those on lowest incomes from disadvantaged backgrounds. But that is just the beginning. He has just begun to define his foreign policy, or doctrine as both presidents and would-be presidents often prefer, with his ’10 Steps to Promote Our Interests Around the World’.

Now on the surface there are several progressive, well-meaning statements: “speaking up and out about prisoners of conscience” and a commitment to “keep and expand…humanitarian aid, especially in Africa”. But take a closer look and you will see that the latter is tied directly to whether or not a country is seen to promote or conduct abortions, with those that do receiving no funding whatsoever. Not one dollar.

This, combined with a renewed focus on a farcical ‘sci-fi’ notion of a missile defence shield; a far more unilateral support of Israel than is currently the case; a more narrow focus on ‘empire-building’ rather than the promotion of democracy through the vote; and most worryingly, a more narrow definition of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’ in and increasingly complex and uncertain world international relations and diplomacy, leaves me to wonder just what would happen if this man was elected in November.

Ahead of ‘Super Tuesday’ in the Republican Nomination race it’s difficult at this time to get a good view of Santorum’s chances in a general election scenario – though recent polls are mixed, showing typically large leads for Obama against a stark right-wing alternative. But his nomination campaign is gathering momentum. One poll gave him a 15-point lead nationally, and wins in recent Republican nomination battles held in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado have given his campaign renewed momentum, despite Romney picking up a solid win in Arizona and a slender one in Michigan. The prospect of a close fought, long-running, nomination campaign well into the Summer – and perhaps even a brokered Republican Convention (where no one candidate wins a majority of delegates or a new candidate emerges altogether) in the Autumn looks like a real possibility as the party struggles to find their ‘one true love’.

One thing is clear: Rick Santorum is a proven winner – particularly from behind – across both Houses of Congress. He’s a laidback, seemingly down-to-earth speaker with momentum in the nomination battle. Perhaps more than any other candidate, he appeals to a broad range of Americans. His views – so potentially toxic to human rights around the world – could, just could, be those of the American establishment’s come November. We’ll know more by tomorrow!

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1 Response to "Rick Santorum: is it all in the name?"

You can find a link to the original blog on http://www.yphr.org.uk at: http://www.yphr.org.uk/2012/02/rick-santorum-–-is-it-all-in-the-name/

YPHR: ‘Young Professionals in Human Rights’ is a network to share resources and experiences and promote innovation within the field of human rights.

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