There’s this observation I’ve made about New York Times columnist David Brooks, mainly that he’s simultaneously ridiculed and praised – often by the same people. In that respect some of my reactions have been much the same, like the second-half of this column where he extols the virtues of Rick Santorum:
His worldview is not individualistic. His book, “It Takes a Family,” was infused with the conservative wing of Catholic social teaching. It was a broadside against Barry Goldwater-style conservatism in favor of one that emphasized family and social solidarity. While in Congress, he was a leader in nearly every serious piece of antipoverty legislation. On the stump, he cries, “The left has a religion, too. It’s just not based on the Bible. It’s based on the religion of self.”
[…] His economic arguments are couched as values arguments: If you want to enhance long-term competitiveness, you need to strengthen families. If companies want productive workers, they need to be embedded in wholesome communities.
[…] But I suspect he will do better post-Iowa than most people think — before being buried under a wave of money and negative ads. And I do believe that he represents sensibility and a viewpoint that is being suppressed by the political system. Perhaps, in less rigid and ideological form, this working-class experience will someday find a champion.
In this instance I’ve got to wonder if Brooks operates in the same universe that I do. We are talking about a man who won a surprising victory in a Pennsylvania Senatorial race and did quite well in Iowa* – hardly evidence of “being suppressed by the political system” as Brooks opines.
I suppose it hasn’t occurred to Brooks that there would be an entirely different reason that Santorum is not being embraced by the polity or greater populace in general – a type of “suppression by reality” wherein there exists this idea that some of Santorum’s views are not particularly popular with a majority of Americans. From Slate’s Trending News Channel:
As it turns out a majority of Americans think homosexuality should be accepted by society, including 40% of Republicans and 48% of Protestants. Support for same-sex marriage is evenly split – 45% For, 46% Against – and 48% believe that more gay and lesbian couples wouldn’t make much of a difference. This strikes me as being fairly distant from viewing homosexual behavior as akin to “man on dog,” or comparing same-sex marriage to polygamy. Furthermore, describing yourself as a proponent of income inequality is not only at odds with 58% of Americans but also with 50% of Republicans. Of course some people do support his “politics through religious values,” otherwise he wouldn’t have garnered 32% of born-again/evangelical votes in the Iowa caucus, and the “values voter” bloc is significant in the GOP.
Yet Santorum’s sentiments seem to run further than what I imagine to be “traditional values,” in as much as that represents a negative view on same-sex relationships, contraception, etc. He wishes to enshrine opposite-sex relations as the only legally acceptable relationship, necessarily making same-sex relationships and behavior illegal. Banning contraception is likewise not a uniquely freeing action commensurate with our societal values, but something more along the lines of espousing the creation of a specific brand of Christian theocracy where such a product is anathema. So it’s one thing for an individual to believe these things to be immoral. It’s quite another to advocate government control to achieve an social agenda that is not shared by a majority of Americans. What part of that does Brooks not understand?