Unscrewing the Wingnut: Looking Back at Rick Santorum’s Campaign

by: Andrew Tripp 

It’s been a while since I wrote on the presidential campaign, mainly because my brain could take no more, but now that the damned primary season has pretty much drawn to a close, I figured I should wrap up what’s been going on, and say au revoir to the man with the all-patriarchal platform, the biggest swinging misogyny of them all this election cycle; Rick Santorum.

Yes, it’s true. On April 10th, Senator Santorum  “suspended” his campaign to be the Republican candidate for president, rather than ending it fully, a neat trick that lets him still fundraise to pay off campaign debt. But there should be no confusion over his withdrawal; he’s done, he’s out, and all the evangelicals and bigots who were carrying him to primary victories are weeping big ol’ American tears.  Because now, the man who will be getting the Republican nomination, is Mitt Romney, the man who the party has been desperately seeking to put out of the race since it began—he is not only not a Real Christian(TM), but just can’t pull off ignorance or hatred like Santorum can; in fact, it’s a matter of some doubt whether Romney can make any sort of sincere emotion come off at all.

But back to Santorum. He, like the rest of the Republican field this year, was not perfect; he is, after all, Catholic. But on everything else, he was the perfect, modern Republican candidate. His social conservatism rating is off the batshit scale, and from the first day that he became the party’s viable alternative to Romney, he has been hitting all of the touchstones of mainstream conservatism. His fear-mongering skills are epic: far more than the usual Iran-is-going-to-attack-us line, which he’s been parroting for a decade, he said during the Florida primaries that there are socialist Islamist terrorists trying to attack us from Latin America. It’s allowed the Republicans, traditionally so trusted on national defense despite their utter failures in it, to regain some ground against the Osama and Awlaki killing Obama.

Returning to social issues and domestic policy, Santorum’s hit all the buttons. He promised, on his official website, that he would ban pornography if he was elected. He said that he would reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He told a crowd at a rally in Puerto Rico that if they wanted statehood, all that they had to do was make English their official language, despite there being no such requirement for statehood. He claims that President Obama’s plan to send more Americans was “indoctrination” and a plan to make Americans in Obama’s own image.  He warned that Satan is attacking the country with rock music. Finally, for the misogynist’s vote, he told a rape survivor to “make the best of a bad situation” and that women should not be allowed to serve in combat units because of their pesky emotions.

The list goes on and on and on forever. In short, Santorum was perfect for the wingnut crowd of the party, but a big segment of the population, namely women, were unsurprisingly upset and offended by his and the party’s war on women, and are quite rightly getting hammered in the polls for it. Between that and Fox News’ apparent decision to ignore him in favor of Romney, ol Frothy didn’t have a leg to stand on.

What now for the Republicans, though? Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are technically still in the race, but the former is drowning in debt and cognitive dissonance and the latter, well, he’ll always be too much for the party establishment to handle. So, RomneyBot it is for the GOP. He’s their only, tiny, fading hope. At this moment in time, it looks like the Republican campaign is a burning ship, slowly but surely on its way down. Despite attempts by Romney to move back to the center from his artificial, see-through hard-lining during the primaries, including making desperate pleas to female voters, there just does not look to be much hope for them.

So, pop some popcorn, grab a beer, look at pictures of Bo Obama (who is so adorable and sometimes makes me forget that his master tortures and indefinitely detains people), and watch the Desperation Olympics over on the conservative side of the divide. It should be entertaining in its sadness, at the very least.

Andrew Tripp is a scoundrel, raconteur, and all around roguish individual who is studying Philosophy and Art History at DePaul University. He is the co-founder and President of the DePaul Alliance for Free Thought, the university’s first and only group serving its population of nonreligious students, and often writes on how ashamed he is to be in the same movement as Dave Silverman. You can find him on a barstool cheering on Manchester City Football Club on the weekends, at his blog consideredexclamations.blogspot.com and on Twitter @ahtripp.

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