Misulonas: Santorum spike could spell Democrat victory

Joseph Misulonas

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Rick Santorum is the anti-gay, extremely pro-life social conservative running for the Republican presidential nomination. Last week, he shocked the political world by finishing second in the Iowa Caucus.

Santorum has been anointed by pundits as the only candidate left who can challenge Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. He represents all the ideas that conservatives want in a candidate: Christian values, fiscal conservative, pro-America, anti-(Muslim, Gay, Immigrant, take your pick).

On top of that, he doesn’t have a questionable personal history, unlike Newt Gingrich, and he can express a coherent thought, unlike Rick Perry. Santorum, however, takes all those qualities that conservatives want and takes them to the extreme.

Rick Santorum is the greatest hope for liberal Democrats.

It’s not enough that he is against gay marriage; he also condemns homosexuals adopting children and compares homosexuality to bestiality.

He doesn’t just oppose abortion, he opposes birth control of any kind. If Mitt Romney is criticized for pretending to believe in conservative principles, Santorum should be criticized for believing in them too much.

It is understandable why Santorum has emerged as the only candidate who can compete with Romney for the nomination. As Gingrich’s recent ad has shown, many conservatives see Romney as a “Massachusetts Moderate.”

Romney’s history while governor of Massachusetts represents everything the GOP is now against. He signed gay marriage into law, he created a health plan that was used as the blueprint for Obama’s health care bill and he was pro-choice. Now, Romney has decided to change his position on all those issues, and Republicans regard him as being inauthentic.

In comparison, Santorum has a consistent history of representing conservative principles. Also, Santorum is more personable while speaking and is able to connect well with voters, which was a major reason why he did so well in the Iowa Caucus. In contrast, Romney is often seen as being robotic and out of touch. Santorum is the conservative crusader that the GOP has been waiting to rise up in this primary.

How can this man be the last hope for liberals? He’s completely unelectable – perhaps the most unelectable of the Republican candidates, and that includes Ron Paul. He has absolutely no attraction to moderate voters. Independents don’t want to vote for a guy who preaches bigotry on the campaign trail. They want a candidate with ideas about how to save the economy, and Santorum is a one-trick pony babbling about the secularization of our society. He’s a candidate running primarily on his extreme conservative values in an election year where the economy is the only issue moderates and independents care about.

On top of his complete inability to attract independents and centrists, Santorum is the only candidate who could attract a liberal backlash. Liberals, primarily younger liberals, have been disillusioned by the Obama administration, particularly for inaction on issues such as torture, the Patriot Act, income inequality, etc.

But if Rick Santorum becomes the Republican nominee, liberals will ignore all the shortcomings of President Obama and launch a full-on assault on Santorum. He won’t be able to show his face without protestors hounding him mercilessly. His image will be so tarnished by November, there is no way he could win the election.

Of course, Republicans already know this. At the end of October, Santorum was sitting in the single digits in most polls. He was an outsider, a candidate that most experts believed had no chance. When Donald Trump calls you a fringe candidate, you know your campaign is in bad shape. His near-win in Iowa was not an endorsement of Santorum as much as it was an indictment of Mitt Romney.

Republican voters know Obama is vulnerable this year and want a strong, conservative leader to win the election. Unfortunately, all those conservative leaders either didn’t run (Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Haley Barbour) or have shown poor public speaking ability (Rick Perry). Santorum is the date conservatives had to take to the dance because all the others were taken.

Santorum may seem like an attractive candidate, and there’s no denying that he has found a way to connect with conservative voters. But Republicans have to keep in mind that he lost his Senate re-election bid in 2006 by 17 points, the largest deficit lost by an incumbent Republican ever.

This is an open opportunity for Republicans to take back the presidency. Nominating a man who has consistently alienated independent and moderate voters is not the path back to the White House.

Rick Santorum for President: It’s the only guarantee that Democrats can get four more years.

Joseph Misulonas is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached at JosephMisulonas2014@u.northwestern.edu

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