Politics, Economics, and the Law
Okay, I’ll admit this surprised me. Evangelical leaders met in Texas this Friday and Saturday to hash out an alternative to Mitt Romney, and I had fully expected them to pick Newt Gingrich, despite his rather substantial moral failings. It appears I was quite wrong. Instead they’ve thrown their support behind Rick Santorum.
He is certainly the more principled candidate between the two, in his own unsettling way, but I’d expected the Evangelicals to rally behind Gingrich, as he would probably be the easier sell. And just imagine what they could have done with the election advertisements, given Newt’s political career has at least one thing in common with the life of Jesus; namely that it died and was resurrected. You may form your own opinion as to which of those two events strikes as the more unlikely.
Rallying behind Santorum is unlikely to play well among the more moderate of Christian voters. A bid for Santorum strikes me as a long shot, depending almost entirely upon a huge turnout by the hard-line ultraconservative voters, and the moderates staying home so they don’t have to listen to them. And what if by some (anti?)miracle Santorum took the nomination?
Well, then we’d just have four more years of Obama.
A recent article on the New York Times discusses how Evangelical leaders, unimpressed with Mitt Romney, will be meeting in Texas to decide which candidate they’d rather support.
I’m rather unimpressed with Romney myself, though I suspect I feel this way for fundamentally different reasons.
Romney is, by all appearences, the Republican John Kerry. Almost nobody is excited about him, and his chief quality seems to be that he’s not Barack Obama. I realize that this isn’t exactly a unique observation, but here we are. My own opinion is that voting for Mitt Romney would actually be a lot like voting for Barack Obama, and neither man is likely to enact meaningfully different policies once in office. Which is, incidentally, what has come to pass with Obama, versus a hypothetical third Bush term. He puts a more agreeable face on the American Empire, but when it comes to substantive policy, it’s “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Back to the Evangelical Bloc, and their want of a Real Conservative™ to counter Romney’s middling qualifications. Rick Santorum has most of what they’re looking for: A hard-line stance in favor of oppressing those pesky gays, a distaste for dirty foreigners, a unique understanding of the word “freedom,” and a general desire to browbeat us all into being moral. Tragically, he’s just not very electable. Rick Perry might be another alternative, but almost nobody cares about him anymore, or even notices his continued existence. This leaves them with the only man who is both an unflinchingly moral conservative, with strong core values, and able to stand toe-to-toe with Romney and best him in the race. Newt Gingrich.
Now, maybe Gingrich hates all the same things the Evangelicals hate, or maybe not. It’s hard to say, since his principle motivation seems to be the lust for power. As H.L. Mencken said about F.D.R., “If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he needs so sorely, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House yard come Wednesday.” I just can’t fathom how he could be seriously considered as a Christian Conservative candidate, given his personal life.
Which brings us to the crux of the issue. Namely, that actual moral conviction isn’t really the criteria for which they’re searching. No, they’d happily accept the Devil himself, if only he’d promise to suppress those things that the Evangelicals cannot abide. Of course, the Devil wouldn’t fulfill his obligations…
And neither would Newt.