Rick Santorum's Uphill Battle For Libertarian Conservatives

Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney hits the nail on the head:
When asked about contraception, which Santorum and the Catholic Church hold to be destructive of marriage and family, Santorum replied, "You know, here's the difference between me and the Left, and they don't get this. Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean I want a government program to fix it. That's what they do. That's not what we do."


Santorum's debate answer hit the conservative sweet spot -- the moral law should guide our personal actions, and individual liberty should guide our political decisions. But a few moments later, Santorum showed he didn't really believe it. When Ron Paul pressed Santorum on his votes for federal family planning funding, Santorum explained his response: "I said, well, if you're going to have Title X funding, then we're going to create something called Title XX, which is going to provide funding for abstinence-based programs."

Sure enough, if you drill down on Santorum's record, he frequently thinks that problems of personal morality do merit a federal response. Nowhere in Article I, Section 8 does the Constitution authorize Congress to teach kids to forswear sex before marriage. Nor is Santorum's proposed federal funding of crisis pregnancy centers a legitimate federal function. Sure, the Left hits first in the culture war by imposing their morality, but that doesn't mean the correct response is subsidized conservatism.

While he doesn't want to outlaw contraception, Santorum does believe in federal vice laws. He suggested in an interview this year that Congress should outlaw online gambling because, "I think it would be dangerous to our country to have that type of access to gaming on the Internet." He said he opposed allowing gambling in Pennsylvania.

When liberals cry that conservatives are trying to legislate morality, that's typically projection and misdirection from liberal attempts to legislate morality -- they say we're trying to outlaw buying contraception because we oppose their efforts to mandate buying contraception. Santorum is the most frequent target of the bogus "condom police" arguments, even though he has repeatedly stated and written that he doesn't think government at any level should outlaw contraception. But the confusion is not totally unfounded, considering how often Santorum does try to legislate morality.


An alliance between libertarians and conservatives is natural and right today. But Santorum has not only behaved as if he wants to drive the libertarians away, he has openly stated so -- repeatedly.
Head nod to Nick Gillespie who adds:
I'm less convinced than Carney that Santorum doesn't harbor an interest in squelching the sales of contraceptives. Last fall, long before the current flap, he said that if he was president, he'd jawbone the nation from the bully pulpit about the "dangers of contraception," which is more than a bit discomfiting.

Santorum can bang the Small Government Drum all that he wants -- but in the end he advocates for positions that would require more government involvement in your personal life. Not less.