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When we look at Rick Santorum we may be looking at a paradox. On the one hand he is the worst fear of LGBT people and women: a militaristic culture warrior waging a battle for the White House, who, if the power would turn the clock back fifty years on gay and women's rights. On the other hand he represents a possibility to decide, once and for all, the culture war. And now may be the best time to face a militaristic culture warrior.

If the economy keeps improving the likelihood of an Obama victory, regardless of his opponent grows stronger. Presuming that happens let's consider what might happen if Obama wins in November. So, let's consider the two most likely scenarios if the economy continues to strengthen between now and election day.

Scenario one: Mitt Romney is Obama's opponent. The economy is strong, and as usually happens under this condition the incumbent wins. The question here isn't who will Obama appoint as Supreme Court Justice, or whether Obama will fight fiercely for ENDA and an end to DOMA. The question must be what becomes of the Republican Party as a result of this. Because what becomes of the Republican Party at the end of this election will tell us what battles we will fight in the future. If Obama were to beat Romney by the seven points he beat McCain or by the ten points in the latest Battleground Poll, what lesson will the GOP base learn from that? In all likelihood they will learn the same lesson they did in 2008: that the GOP lost because their candidate was insufficiently conservative enough, and by insufficiently conservative enough they will mean: not radical enough on the culture war issues.
Scenario two: Rick Santorum is Obama's opponent. The economy is strong, and as usually happens under this condition the incumbent wins. I firmly believe that a Santorum candidacy represents a great final battle in the culture war. As we can tell, independents are increasingly turned off by Santorum's culture warrior stance. While his culture warrior stance will motivate the culture warriors in the GOP base to get out and vote, it also increases the likelihood that independents and liberals will also be motivated to get out to vote. I would even expect nearly the same level of GOP voters defecting to Obama as we saw in 2008 because of Santorum's militarism on culture war issues. I predict, that under these conditions, Obama will not merely repeat his seven point victory over McCain, but that this could be the biggest Democratic landslides in the popular vote since LBJ. What lessons will the GOP base learn from that kind of trouncing against a truly authentic culture warrior? My belief is that they'll have no choice but to concede defeat on the culture war. This could be the culture warriors' armageddon. This would be great for women and gays because that means that the contests in the future between Republicans and Democrats would have to be about normal policy issues like economics and international affairs.

I understand why many people here fear a Santorum candidacy and the legitimacy a nomination by the GOP could give him and his issues, and I concede that that is a possibility. But these aren't the 1990s. Take a look around. Pay attention: the culture war is coming to an end. The American people are rapidly siding with liberals on the issue of gay rights, and in case you didn't notice: the GOP's war on women is rapidly backfiring as they have awoken the sleeping giant of the women's liberation movement. A Romney nomination and a loss in the general election promises to keep the culture war going for at least another four years, and we don't know what conditions a culture war candidacy would operate under in 2016. What we do know is this: there isn't a better time to face a culture war candidacy than now because we can put that war to rest permanently this year.

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Comment Preferences

  •  GOP politicians are keeping the culture wars alive (4+ / 0-)

    because they have absolutely nothing of value to share with us in terms of solutions for

    poverty
    income inequality
    foreclosures
    global warming
    rising gasoline prices
    unemployment
    unaffordable education
    diabetes, Alzheimer's, heart disease
    protracted wars we can't afford
    crumbling infrastructure
    gridlock in Washington
    eldercare
    discrimination
    offshoring of jobs
    unequal currency rules in the market
    Wall Street malfeasance

    and every other real problem facing us.

    As long as ignorance, fear, and paranoia govern our political process, the culture wars will be revived at every opportunity as the perfect smokescreen, setting us against one another as the GOPickpockets rob us blind.

    Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

    by cassandracarolina on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:35:47 PM PST

    •  I agree partly but (0+ / 0-)

      once they see a purist on the culture wars like Santorum go down in flames, they will have to, in the least turn the whole culture war down a few notches if they want to be electorally relevant in national elections.

      •  Sadly, those who do not understand (0+ / 0-)

        history are doomed to repeat it... in summer school.

        I wish it were otherwise, but as long as there's anger, resentment, and paranoia, the culture wars are here to stay.

        Part of it stems from the scarcity mentality, the belief that there's only so much pie/money/employment opportunity/power to go around, and that it's a zero-sum game. Any time a gay/lesbian/Hispanic/African American/woman/insert other group here gets "something", the old guard loses something.

        In an expanding economy, with growing opportunity for advancement, this might not be as much of a problem. The difficult economy gives "cover" to those decrying the redistribution of "their" wealth/power/opportunity to those less "worthy".

        Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

        by cassandracarolina on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:45:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  anger, resentment, and paranoia can be quelled (0+ / 0-)

          by properly subduing and chastising the enemy. There's a scene in a Brad Pitt movie about the Trojan Wars where in lieu of a bloody battle two kings agree to send their strongest men to fight. Santorum is the right wing's Achilles, he's there strongest man. No one embodies the culture warriors better than he. A decimation of him in November will force the most radical elements to back down. Oh, yeh, there will always be culture war vibes percolating under the surface, but for the most part they will be subdued.

  •  I disagree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoberGuy, mdsiamese, HugoDog

    The analysis is mostly correct, but if Obama beats Romney this year, then the True Believers will howl for a wingnut candidate for 2016, which will serve to sink the Republican Party once and for all.

    •  And that's the best outcome for us (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mdsiamese, SCFrog

      One last super wingnut in 4 years.

    •  But what conditions will the culture warrior of (0+ / 0-)

      2016 be running under, and who will be our candidate at that time? See, I think we just speed up the death of the culture war wing of the GOP if we trounce Santorum this year.

      See we have a really good idea the conditions a Santorum will be up against this year: an incumbent president whose popularity is rising, and an economy on the mend. We don't have the advantage of incumbency in 2016, and we don't know the economic conditions of 2016. So, in my view, there is no better time than now to face off against a bonafide culture warrior.

      •  Respectfully disagree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SCFrog

        Defeating Santorum this year doesn't really do a whole lot. We get 4 more years in the WH. Yay.

        Beating Romney this year does two things:
        1 - Shows that a wingnut can't get the nomination
        2 - Forces the GOP to go more wingnut next time.

        Add those together and you get:
        3 - A mass exodus from the right, wherein the GOP is defeated by themselves, and the people see the light on their own.

        There will always be moderates and independents that flip-flop and are swayable.  Simply swaying them isn't a huge victory.  Getting them to a point of moving left and NOT swaying....now that is a big victory.

  •  "Been there, done that" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    with Santorum. My two cents: I'd rather get the two-fer of Romney and the LDS.

    "I had seen the universe as it begins for all things. It was, in reality, a child's universe, a tiny and laughing universe." Loren Eiseley

    by cadejo4 on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:40:49 PM PST

  •  I was thinking about this as well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RfrancisR

    But, we are week in 2016. The country will have had 8 years of Obama. If Santorum is the candidate in 2012 and loses, and the GOP does as the diarist suggests and falls back to a less "culture warrior" candidate, that candidate will be tough to beat in 2014. Perhaps then the strategy should be for Obama to defeat Romney in 2012, and let the GOP find the extreme "culture warrior" to run in 2016 to give whoever our candidate is a better chance at election.

    But this is all purely speculation. What will be will be. I don't think we can control by wishes who the nominee for the GOP is.

    "Every Pootie is a masterpiece." - Da Vinci

    by mdsiamese on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:59:08 PM PST

  •  I'm not sure it makes a difference (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RfrancisR

    I agree on the Santorum analysis, but if Mitt Romney gets the nomination it will be a campaign of two Mitts:  the one the Republicans run to try to make him a centrist and the one the Democrats run to recap his turn to the hard right in all those Republican debates and his utter cluelessness concerning the American people and their needs.  The result will be the same -- a hard right culture warrior in 2016 and the implosion of the Republican Party.

    Agreed in great part, mdsiamese, but I think we can come up with a winning candidate for 2016 without too much difficulty.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 03:47:33 PM PST

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