Conservatism

The Dreamy Thing About Rick Santorum Is That He Has Met the Enemy, and He Is Individual Freedom

|

Seriously, I will never make another Dan Savage joke, at least not in this election cycle.

Though we probably won't be talking unironically about a Rick Santorum presidential campaign by the time pitchers and catchers report, his boomlet has served the important purpose of reminding us just who out there really doesn't like individual freedom. For instance, former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson:

[P]erhaps the most surprising result of the Iowa caucuses was the return of compassionate conservatism from the margins of the Republican stage to its center. Rick Santorum is not just an outspoken social conservative; he is the Republican candidate who addresses the struggles of blue-collar workers and the need for greater economic mobility. He talks not only of the rights of the individual but also of the health of social institutions, particularly the family. […]

Libertarianism is an extreme form of individualism, in which personal rights trump every other social goal and institution. It is actually a species of classical liberalism, not conservatism — more directly traceable to John Stuart Mill than Edmund Burke or Alexis de Tocqueville. The Catholic (and increasingly Protestant) approach to social ethics asserts that liberty is made possible by strong social institutions — families, communities, congregations — that prepare human beings for the exercise of liberty by teaching self-restraint, compassion and concern for the public good. Oppressive, overreaching government undermines these value-shaping institutions. Responsible government can empower them — say, with a child tax credit or a deduction for charitable giving — as well as defend them against the aggressions of extreme poverty or against "free markets" in drugs or obscenity.

You can tell he's more compassionate than you, by his _________________.

This is not statism; it is called subsidiarity. In this view, needs are best served by institutions closest to individuals. But when those institutions require help or protection, higher-order institutions should intervene. […]

This is not "big government" conservatism. It is a form of limited government less radical and simplistic than the libertarian account. A compassionate-conservative approach to governing would result in a different and smaller federal role — using free-market ideas to strengthen families and communities, rather than constructing centralized bureaucracies. It rejects, however, a utopian belief in unfettered markets that would dramatically increase the sum of suffering.

In a 2005 speech at the Heritage Foundation, Santorum argued that men and women should not be treated either as "pathetic dependents" or as "radical individuals." "Someone," he argued, "always gets hurt when masses of individuals do what is only in their own self-interest. That is the great lie of liberal freedom…. Freedom is liberty coupled with responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self. It is a self-less freedom. It is sacrificial freedom. It is the pursuit of our dreams with an eye towards the common good."

Cato's David Boaz has an appropriate response. I'll just add a question, re: "a compassionate-conservative approach to governing would result in a different and smaller federal role" … well, when, exactly? Gerson's compassionate conservative splurge created debts our grandchildren will be paying off, which will eventually wreak havoc on the very social safety net he aims to shore up.

Santorum's right: It takes a family.

Santorum's anti-individualism has another unsurprising fan: David Brooks.

I'm delighted that Santorum is making a splash in this presidential campaign. He is far closer to developing a new 21st-century philosophy of government than most leaders out there.

One of Santorum's strengths is that he understands that a nation isn't just an agglomeration of individuals; it's a fabric of social relationships. In his 2005 book, "It Takes a Family," he had chapters on economic capital as well as social capital, moral capital, cultural capital and intellectual capital. He presents an extended argument against radical individualism. "Just as original sin is man's inclination to try to walk alone without God, individualism is man's inclination to try to walk alone among his fellows," he writes.

Can I interject something personal here? I, too, believe in Gerson's "self-restraint, compassion and concern for the public good." I consider myself part of Brooks' "fabric of social relationships," and, like Rick Santorum, I do not "walk alone among" my fellows. These–yes!–individual choices of mine generally are not the question. The question is, how do you plan on using the federal government to allegedly further these values? Helpfully, Brooks provides a little list of Santorum's applications:

It's the cheeks

He seeks to triple the size of the child tax credit, to make families more financially secure. He has supported flex time and transportation policies to make life easier for working parents. After initial opposition, he came to support AmeriCorps, the federal community service program.

Santorum believes Head Start should teach manners to children. He has supported efforts to police the airwaves and corporate marketing campaigns.

Do you see the problem(s) here? You don't have to be a radical individualist to think that, hey, maybe I don't want the federal government to "teach manners" to pre-schoolers (in fact, if you claim to value "subsidiarity" as much as each of these gentlemen do, it seems odd to champion a Washington role in the strengthening of local tyke-mores). You don't have to reject God to see how the phrase "police the airwaves" is a little on the troubling side, especially vis-a-vis that whole "Congress shall pass no law" stuff. And supporting AmeriCorps might something other than unacceptable if we weren't involuntarily paying for this "charity" (including $200 million in stimulus spending alone) by borrowing 40+ cents on the dollar. (And again, I'm not seeing the subsidiarity in the phrase "federal community service." What's next, federal block parties?) 

The problem with this type of applied compassionate conservatism is that it accepts no boundaries, in either price tags or intrusions on individual liberty. Which you can see by the Magical Realist kicker to Brooks' column, where he upbraids Santorum for not pursuing the final logic of his beliefs:

And I believe in the family - Mom and Dad and Grandma…and Uncle Todd, who waves his penis.

If you believe in the dignity of labor, it makes sense to support an infrastructure program that allows more people to practice the habits of industry. If you believe in personal responsibility, you have to force Americans to receive only as much government as they are willing to pay for. If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable.

If you believe social trust is the precondition for a healthy society, you have to have a simplified tax code that inspires trust instead of degrading it. If you believe that firm attachments and stable relationships build human capital, you had better offer early education for children in disorganized neighborhoods. If you want capitalists thinking for the long term and getting the most out of their workers, you have to encourage companies to be more deeply rooted in local communities rather than just free-floating instruments of capital markets.

In other words, if you believe in limited, constitutional government, you want to run, screaming, away from any candidate supported by David Brooks.

Reason on Rick Santorum here. My recent piece on "The Simpletons" here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

173 responses to “The Dreamy Thing About Rick Santorum Is That He Has Met the Enemy, and He Is Individual Freedom

  1. Have any of these assholes read Hayek? How can anyone argue that libertarians ignore social institutions?

    1. LRC says Hayek was not a true libertarian.

      1. bullshit

        1. George Will and Krauthaumer both also wrote favorable columns on Santorum today. WTF?

          1. They must have gotten the memo.

      2. At least you could say he wasn’t a Big L libertarian. In Road to Serfdom I recall him saying he didn’t oppose the idea of a government social safety net.

        1. I doubt that many people oppose the idea of a social safety net, provided the net only catches the truly destitute. Unfortunately, ever-creeping liberalism’s expansion of that net has created a culture of sorriness and entitlement.

          In doing so, we have relieved the church of the role of aiding its suffering congregants, freeing it to build monuments to its members’ egos. We have likely seen private charity take a similar hit since people who once gave to organizations they trusted have been conditioned to believe “govt will handle it”.

          1. The social safety net has become a 3 ft. thick sheet of high-density kevlar.

          2. The problem with a government run safety net is that it is run by the government.

        2. He was a social democrat, but one of the better ones.

        3. He also did not have any problems with roads.

        4. Considering the entire book was a refutation that such a safety net was a good thing…

          Also, in RTS, I’m pretty sure he stated that the only reason he didn’t argue against it directly was simply because it was unlikely to be repealed.

      3. Hayek wasn’t a libertarian, but that’s irrelevant. Neither was Adam Smith but that doesn’t mean we disavow the law of supply and demand.

      4. LRC says Hayek was not a true libertarian.

        Hell, even Hayek said Hayek wasn’t a true libertarian….

        In the United States, where it has become almost impossible to use “liberal” in the sense
        in which I have used it, the term “libertarian” has been used instead. It may be the answer; but for my part I find it singularly unattractive. For my taste it carries too much the flavor of a manufactured term and of a substitute. What I should want is a word which describes the party of life, the party that favors free growth and spontaneous evolution. But I have racked my brain unsuccessfully to find a descriptive term which commends itself.

        7. We should remember, however, that when the ideals which I have been trying to restate first began to spread through the Western world, the party which represented them had a generally recognized name. It was the ideals of the English Whigs that inspired what later came to be known as the liberal movement in the whole of Europe[15] and that provided the conceptions that the American colonists carried with them and which guided them in their struggle for independence and in the establishment of their constitution.[16] Indeed, until the character of this tradition was altered by the accretions due to the French Revolution, with its totalitarian democracy and socialist leanings, “Whig” was the name by which the party of liberty was generally known.

        F. A. Hayek, Why I Am Not a Conservative

        Apparently he didn’t want to be mistaken for a libertarian any more than a conservative. Who could blame him?

        1. What I should want is a word which describes the party of life, the party that favors free growth and spontaneous evolution.

          We’re all autopoesians now.

          1. Er Autopoiesians.

    2. You don’t even need to appeal to Hayek, almost all libertarians are pretty obsessed with private property (a social institution).

      1. Re: Tak Tak,

        You don’t even need to appeal to Hayek, almost all libertarians are pretty obsessed with private property (a social institution).

        Your ass is still yours even if you live outside of society, T.

        Thus, the notion that private property is a social institution is not entirely correct, even though it does take at least two people to recognize ownership of things outside of your immediate surroundings. Again, your ass is yours even if alone on an island.

        1. The entire function of ownership is to distinguish between “mine and thine.” If only I exist (like on the island) a conflict over what is mine cannot even arise. Making ownership superfluous.

          1. “a conflict over what is mine cannot even arise”

            Tell that to the wild boar whose berries you have been eating.

            1. *berries on bushes, NOT testicles, you pack of pervs

              1. If I could tell that to the wild boar I might reconsider eating him.

      2. I liked you better when you made these same arguments as MNG.

    3. “http://www.libertarianism.org/publications/essays/myths-individualism”

      Just communitarian bullshit.

  2. What did they use to paint that banner?

    1. My eyes bled when I saw that

    2. Why, Santorum, of course.

    3. The blood of libertarians.

    4. The color is certainly frothy.

  3. First! Awww fuck

  4. I used to fart in a jar, then I took an arrow to the knee.

  5. I’m from a conservative region and talk frequently with devout Christians: apparently I’m ‘in prison’ and ‘in chains’ as I’m an atheist and can’t be free until I submit myself to a lord who lives in some heavenly kingdom.

    Catholics really lay that crap on me.

    1. Freedom is slavery. Where’d I hear that before?

    2. There is some value to the Buddhist/Catholic view that someone who is not coerced externally can still be “not free” if they’re always acting to satisfy their urges.

      This of course isn’t true of all atheists or even most, but that may be the basis of what they’re talking about (however much they misunderstand it).

      1. The problem with this BuddhoCatholic view of slavery and the role of the state is that compelling virtue through the exercise of state power negates the very idea of virtue itself. A virtue is not a virtue unless it’s been won by the sweat of one’s own struggle, through one’s own personal tests….test me, test me!

        1. “A virtue is not a virtue unless it’s been won by the sweat of one’s own struggle”

          So a virtue like, say, good manners, is not really a virtue unless slathered in personal toil?

          Virtues can be taught and made habitual. They need not be acquired through trial-and-error. We are humans. We can learn from the experiences of others.

          If the state has to bully a person into behaving virtuously, then the battle for that person’s virtue has already been lost. Moral codes need institutions, even if only the institution of an interested parent, to teach them. A government is not a good choice for such an institution.

          1. “So a virtue like, say, good manners, is not really a virtue unless slathered in personal toil?”

            Not every expression need be taken literally. I just meant that a virtue that is compelled by another agency is not the same as one that a person arrives at through his own self-reflection and/or “work” (putting that in quotes so you won’t assume I mean working at a job).

            1. I think he’s making the same argument as “Charity isn’t really charity if it’s compelled.”

              The end point may be the same but the people themselves who are doing the paying – and the people who are receiving – are necessarily better spiritually, just materially.

      2. “Freedom from desire” cannot exist; such an argument is irrelevant. You will die if you attain freedom from desire.

  6. I have an idea. How about people stop trying to enslave the rest of us?

    1. Now you’re talking crazy. You just don’t want America to be all that it can be, with no roots or trusts or attachments or any other wangdoodle gizmo.

      Slacker. Just wait until we force you to receive as much government as someone else is willing to pay for.

      1. We’re so fucked.

        1. and fucked on a bipartisan basis – do you prefer the Police State or the Nanny State? Of the 535 members of Congress, do the ones whose belief in small govt is demonstrable through their actions even number two dozen?

          1. “…do the ones whose belief in small govt is demonstrable through their actions even number two dozen?”

    2. NEVER!

  7. That sign is awesome.

  8. You know what this website needs? More threads about Santorum.

    Shit, this is going to be one long fucking year. How long until November?

    1. Well, novem is Latin for nine, so it must be in about eight months.

    2. If Frothy makes it all the way to November, it will be a very long year indeed.

      1. “If Frothy makes it to November it’s going to be a very long FOUR years indeed.”

        FYP

    3. Sadly, our government is ideologically paralyzed. The Democrats injected more venom into the patient which was already groggy from the poison of the Bush years. The government is now like an unfortunate beetle which has been captured by a wasp to feed to its offspring, aware of its doom, but unable to do anything to stop it. Time is slowing until the next election either injects the beetle with stimulant or leaves the beetle paralyzed to be eaten by the wasp’s hatched larva.

      1. I disagree. There’s -nothing- sad about government inaction.

    4. Definitely bad when Rick Perry looks like a godsend compared to the current front runners.

  9. “you have to have a government that . . . supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable.”

    Wait . . . WHAT?

    1. That was definitely a *screech, look back* WTF moment right there. David Brooks is for male only welfare, so their marriageable, presumably as long as they accept the lord jesus savior Christ.

      I swear to god there must be a way we can harness cognitive dissonance as an energy source. With that and just outright stupidity we could fuel our civilizations for generations.

      1. With that and just outright stupidity we could fuel our civilizations for generations.

        Of course! This has been what’s missing from all the fusion experiments! How could we have missed it all these years?

        Brooksie! Gerson! There’s a man in that Tokamak reactor who doesn’t believe in National Greatness?. Go inside and talk him out.

      2. And I hope homosexuals only get half as much in this system so they don’t have an unfair advantage.

    2. That is some seriously stupid shit. It rivals the give and take between EJ Dionne and Brooks on NPR.

      1. Ha-ha! You listened to EJ Dionne and Brooks on NPR. Ha-ha! Wasted your life.

    3. If you believe in *anything*, there is a gov’t app for that.

      Same shit as the other party. They both think it’s ok to shove their values down everyone else’s throat and pay for it with “free” money.

  10. pitchers and catchers
    Heh.

    It rejects, however, a utopian belief in unfettered markets that would dramatically increase the sum of suffering.

    Unsubstantive.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one who caught the “pitchers and catchers” joke, esp. when the first alt-text referenced Dan Savage.

      1. Some fruit aren’t worth the pluck even if they are dangling in your face.

        1. Another double entendre!

  11. I’ve read Brooks’ passage 3 times now and it still makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

    Holy fuck, what a string of gibberish and meaningless, bullshit Rockefeller Republican platitudes.

    1. Why do you want to increase the sum of suffering?

      1. If I knew anything about higher maths, I’d make a math joke right here.

        1. Sum like it hot.

          1. GUARDS! SIEZE HIM!

            1. Awesum!

            2. He’s just being divisive.

              1. Go forth and multiply

        2. Trying to make sense of these idiots is like dividing by zero.

        3. If I knew anything about higher maths, I’d make a math joke right here.

          That’s okay. It’s not your function.

        4. “If I knew anything about higher maths, I’d make a math joke right here.”

          It’s a shame. Most people, even engineers, don’t know that there is the concept of the “measure of irrationality” of an irrational number. Brooks is … well, just reread that passage again.

      2. Wait, all human suffering, or just the suffering of David Brooks? Because the latter seems self-evident.

    2. Using “21st century” in the same sentence as “Santorum” seems problematic to me. He’s more 1100s.

      1. I’ll accept them in a sentence together: “Santorum was the final dying gasp in the 21st Century for retrograde social conservatism.”

        1. Or “Time-traveling from his home in the 21st century BC, Santorum. . . .”

      2. “By the end of the 21st century, due to gay marriage and seasteading, levels of Santorum in the world’s oceans rose to 578 ppb.”

    3. I read it only twice and thought the same thing.

  12. When I was 14, we took a 9th grade trip to DC, and Rick Santorum spoke to our class, since we came from PA. All I remember is that he went on and on about dead babies. I still haven’t quite washed his stink off me, all these years later.

    1. I took a trip to DC in 5th grade and our Congress, Spencer Bacchus, came to talk to us.

      My dad asked what I thought about Bacchus when I got home. I promptly replied “He’s an idiot.” and didn’t feel the need to qualify it any.

    2. I lived in PA from 93-97 when Santorum was just getting his start. I despised him then and still do.

  13. Santorum’s speech after the Iowa thing made me sick. I’m a Christian and everything, but even I was tired of having C.S. Lewis, faith, etc thrown in my face by politicians trying to get me to vote for them.

    It’s just like him grandstanding his kids and family in front of everybody – he turns everything into a political tool.

    If he likes C.S. Lewis so much, he should take a good long at G.K. Chesterton – the guy who inspired Lewis.

    “The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”

    God, I’d love to debate Santorum on religion and government, and where exactly the line is between the two.

    1. Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
      — C.S. Lewis

      The irony. It burns.

      1. The problem with that quote is that we are governed by robber barons who torment us with the approval of their own conscience.

    2. “When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.” – The Prison Chaplain, A Clockwork Orange

      1. Creech brother charlie and, you, my droogies, stop your smecking and shooming, put an end to the in-and-out on the devotchka and sloosh the good brother.

        1. Nice and horrorshow.

    3. What dipshits like Santorum don’t seem to understand is that libertarianism can be a Christian philosophy, too, and Christians have to respect it.

      If you believe in free will and someone’s capability to choose whether to accept God or not, then it should only follow that they are capable to make all kinds of other much less important decisions, too, and if you really adhere to your bible-thumpin’ you have to admit that and let them live their own life.

    4. I believe in God, but I detest theocracy. For every Government consists of mere men and is, strictly viewed, a makeshift; if it adds to its commands ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ it lies, and lies dangerously. — C. S. Lewis

  14. “I’m delighted that Santorum is making a splash.”

    Butt-Head: huh huh huh huh – He said “splash.”

    Beavis: hehehehehe

    1. Seriously, if we’re ever to stop making jokes about that meme, why don’t his idiot supporters stop setting it up like that?

  15. This is not statism; it is called subsidiarity. In this view, needs are best served by institutions closest to individuals. But when those institutions require help or protection, higher-order institutions should intervene. […]

    How is this different from anything that Barack Obama believes?

    1. “This is not statism; it is called subsidiarity.” A rose by any other name…

      1. And at the bottom of these ranked tiers of Authority, are the sad remnants of a once-free people.

    2. Why would it be? Brooks loves Obama, down to the crease in his pants.

  16. Freedom is liberty coupled with responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self.

    And that higher thing is… Santorum?

    1. Now you get it!

    2. This cannot be restated enough: he has stated, publicly, that his conception of freedom means the freedom to perform ones “duties” to God and family, encouraged by the State.

      He only believes in the freedom to be a slave.

      1. If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable

        It’s 2011, and there are people who still talk this way?

        1. and curiously, they tend to label themselves as conservatives. Newt was right about this much: right-wing social engineering is no better than left-wing social engineering.

  17. Libertarianism is an extreme form of individualism, in which personal rights trump every other social goal and institution.

    Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice?

    Nope, the GOP is not the party of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater anymore.

    The Catholic (and increasingly Protestant) approach to social ethics asserts that liberty is made possible by strong social institutions ? families, communities, congregations ? that prepare human beings for the exercise of liberty by teaching self-restraint, compassion and concern for the public good.

    Actually, there’s nothing particularly Catholic about that–that was what most colonists thought of freedom back before the Revolution, and that’s what the South thought of freedom back before the Civil War.

    That’s the kind of freedom that keeps women from voting, black people disenfranchised, and gay people from getting married.

    Neither people nor their rights exist for society’s convenience.

    Responsible government can empower them ? say, with a child tax credit or a deduction for charitable giving ? as well as defend them against the aggressions of extreme poverty or against “free markets” in drugs or obscenity.

    Who’s gonna protect us from the Drug War?

    Anybody? Who’s gonna protect us from the culture warriors?

    Certainly not Rick Santorum.

    1. I will say that society can’t actually survive without both freedom and virtue. That is, choices have consequences, and freedom to choose means freedom to choose something with negative consequences. Everyone does that, society goes down the shitter. (Virtue in this context means making choices that doesn’t send your own life or society down the shitter, not necessarily lovin’ Jaysus or whatever).

      However, the need for virtue doesn’t imply the need for coercion. In fact, nothing kills the virtuous impulse in humanity faster than coercion and bureaucratization, whether it’s replacing charity with welfare or replacing temperance with a war on drugs. If anything, you usually end up with the antithesis of virtue.

      1. I will say that society can’t actually survive without both freedom and virtue.

        Wrong.

        1. I’m using virtue in the sense of attitudes and actions that promote both individual and social well-being, so it’s very nearly a tautology.

    2. “Neither people nor their rights exist for society’s convenience.”

      That’s a good line. I’ll try to remember to credit you!

      1. Just try to remember that cars exist for people’s conveyance.

    3. this.

      I would like to see Goldwater come back from the dead kick Santorum in the nuts and then give him the finger

      1. We should revive the Exhume Goldwater movement for 2012.

        http://exhumegoldwater.wordpress.com/

        Right off the top of my head, I can think of a number of good reasons why Barry Goldwater’s corpse would make a better president than Rick Santorum.

        1. “we do not choose to be ruled, we elect to be governed”

  18. This subsidiarity stuff sounds nice – I have this idea for regulating purely intra-state activities involving marijuana, so if you feds could just step back and let a level of government closer to the people deal with the situation – at least until you’ve passed the dope equivalent of an 18th Amendment to get the feds involved in drug policy. Until then, kindly subsidiary yourself out of here.

  19. Somewhere Santorum must have praised Jerry Sandusky for something. Santorum’s too anti-gay NOT to be gay.

    1. That was quick:

      http://blog.seattlepi.com/seat…..-sandusky/

      1. I know it’s not funny. But in his speech praising Sandusky, Santorum said something about developing a child. I wonder how they define that?

  20. And while you’re at it, would you mind very much if we checked up on the immigration status of criminal suspects, just in case your immigration policy – by some random chance – has allowed some criminals to illegally enter the USA? Thanks a bunch.

    1. In Santorum’s world, “Christian, heterosexual family values” should include the government ripping apart heterosexual (and otherwise) families over immigration concerns. How Christian.

      1. I was talking about the subsidiarist argument that states should be able to have their cops check the immigration status of people they stop. The feds, like the dog in the manger, says that they want to be selective in enforcing the immigration laws and they don’t want the states to play any role in enforcement.

        The feds aren’t doing this because they’re standing up for the rights of Alberto and Jorge – so that’s a somewhat different issue.

      2. Always entertaining when non-Christians tell Christians what their values really are. Actually, it’s entertaining whenever anyone tries to tell someone else what their values really are. Usually, though, it’s non-Christians doing the telling.

        1. Not when it comes to abortion.

  21. And would you mind very much if we made our own marriage laws, or does the Marriage Clause of the U.S. Constitution require that you overrule our decisions?

  22. [Santorum] is far closer to developing a new 21st12th-century philosophy of government than most leaders out there.

    There, David Brooks. Fixed that for ya.

  23. Some Friday afternoon stoopid:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…..90262.html

    The comments are triple-stoopid. Bonus!

    1. The brief argues that the minimum coverage provision under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called the “individual mandate,” falls within Congress’ constitutional powers to regulate interstate commerce and to lay and collect taxes.

      And we can use both because we believe in intersecting powers: regulation and taxation, the best of both worlds!

      1. It’s for our own good. We’re too fucking imbecilic to tie our shoes, obviously.

        1. See? I knew you could understand it if you tried!

          1. It’s ON, Rick! We’ll see who best makes these peasants “understand”…

  24. And while I love your work, feds, I really do, since our own states let us sell toys without making up bogus safety arguments, could you consider the possibility that our states, like, have the subsidiarity to decide this question? Subsidiarity, man!

  25. This line of thinking – that government can change or “empower” people, social goals or the “common good” – is much more in line with leftist/progressive thinking than traditional conservatism.

    Are there any tragic conservatives left?

    1. The government “empowering people” for their own good is straight out of the progressive playbook. It’s the very essence of it.

  26. Have I mentioned lately how much I absofuckinglutely despise Rick Ass-juice?

    1. Yes. And your tears are yummy and sweet……

  27. triple the size of the child tax credit…wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable…

    Jesus F. Kee-ryste in a biker bar wearing leather chaps. I could rant all day about either of these.

    There’s never any accountability in these subsidy schemes. Not that either child tax credits or stag-subsidies should exist at all, but does it ever occur to Santorum, Brooks, et al that subsidies are public investments that should only be issued conditional on proven returns? And when the promised returns fail to manifest, the subsidies should end?

    Again, this is the government picking winners with our money. Lifestyle winners. Heteros who marry and breed, even if they end up miserable and raising a bunch of felonious little shits or druggie reprobates or speshl-autistic-snowflakes who will never have a productive day in their lives. Where is the federal, legal authority to pick lifestyle winners and shower them with cash?

    What is this, 1845? Bribing men to get married, because they don’t want to get married, because the law becomes the only thing that screws them if they do? And if the marriage fails, what happens to the government’s benevolent investment? I suppose it’s tacked onto the alimony and child support payments he’s forced to make?

    Oh, but “free markets,” thaaaat’s a utopia. Oh, OK. *seizes spinning head*

    1. “Again, this is the government picking winners with our money. Lifestyle winners. Heteros who marry and breed, even if they end up miserable and raising a bunch of felonious little shits or druggie reprobates or speshl-autistic-snowflakes who will never have a productive day in their lives. Where is the federal, legal authority to pick lifestyle winners and shower them with cash?”

      No federal authority – I would say it’s the job of the states to support marriage, and the job of the feds not to get in the way. But that’s just me. I can’t help notice that it’s the children of *non-marital* relationships who are more likely to become felonious than the children of married couples. Also that the children of married couples are more likely to have the kind of productive jobs that pay for our entitlement programs, and that if married people had more kids, these programs would be getting more money – with a better worker-to-retiree ratio.

      Of course the divorce laws are attacks on marriage – they’re major disincentives to people getting married in the first place.

      Sen. Rick S. is too easy a target because he clearly doesn’t believe in the 10th Amendment, except in an attenuated, rhetorical sense. That doesn’t mean that his worries about marriage are misplaced. And his critics usually aren’t saying, “well, we share you goal of defending marriage but would go about it differently.” The Paulites are saying something similar, but Rick S.’s more vocal critics are more like “why does marriage even *need* defending?”

      1. – I would say it’s the job of the states to support marriage,
        —————————
        and why would you say that? It is not the job of the state to support any consenting agreement made by adults beyond ensuring that no one’s rights are violated. If you want to consider marriage a contract, then the state’s role is to make sure the contract’s terms are not violated.

        The biggest assault on marriage comes from heteros who have turned the institution into a laughing stock. Keeping gays outside the doors will not improve the quality of the institution, and frankly, if Bill and Steve want to be legally joined, good for them. Committed relationships are a good thing and there are times when that “piece of paper” has real value, i.e. medical decisions, property ownership, kids. THAT is where the state may have a role, in the enforcement of the contract entered into by two consenting adults.

      2. I can’t help notice that it’s the children of *non-marital* relationships who are more likely to become felonious than the children of married couples. Also that the children of married couples are more likely to have the kind of productive jobs that pay for our entitlement programs, and that if married people had more kids, these programs would be getting more money – with a better worker-to-retiree ratio.

        Which all assumes that we need a better worker-to-retiree ratio, because, of course, we can’t ever, ever question or change an economy that robs the future to pay for the past.

        Married couples can also turn out unproductive and fucked-up kids. This idea that hetero married people who have kids are better people and are better for America is exactly what I’m getting at. This is an opinion endorsing particular lifestyles over others, and government has no charter to prefer private lifestyle choices with public funds.

        There are many people who are perfectly good for America who don’t fit into this exclusive club. Gay/lesbian couples who adopt and raise other people’s unwanted/neglected children. Unmarried people who volunteer or donate money to charity. Unmarried people who do neither, but support the economy by working hard, working extra time covering for their childrearing co-workers who skip out early to do The Most Important Job in the World?. Infertile working couples. People whose careers effectively prevent them from participating in marriages and childrearing. I just got off the phone with a widowed rock-engraving artist who makes beautiful paving stones and signage…widowed, no kids, still contributes, beautifies her community.

        The government anointing just one kind of lifestyle in a shower of the money that comes from all these other people is disgusting to me.

        Again, picking winners by subsidizing “good” relationships (hetero marrieds who happen to stay married and happen to raise children who don’t wind up in jail or otherwise on the public teat) is not something we need government to do.

        Besides, and not unimportantly, the people who do get married, stay married, and raise decent kids very likely do this with zero government help whatsoever.

        1. Not only without government help, but against headwinds generated by the government – like the temptation to walk out of the marriage and get awarded the property and children regardless of technicalities like fault.

          Or state-run schools which believe they need to educate children away from the views of their parents. Though it’s the parents, not the schools, which bear the costs of kids not getting raised properly.

          “happen to stay married and happen to raise children who don’t wind up in jail or otherwise on the public teat”

          Compare the rates of children in marital versus non-marital households, and you get the clear impression that the marital advantage doesn’t just “happen” – it’s inherent in the institution.

          Why shouldn’t the government encourage an institution which has “happens” to produce a greater proportion law-abiding and productive children than alternative household arrangements?

          1. Why shouldn’t the government encourage an institution which has “happens” to produce a greater proportion law-abiding and productive children than alternative household arrangements?

            Because in a free country, there is no reason to encourage people to “produce…children.” They produce children and raise them as they see fit because they either feel a compulsion to raise children and actively seek to bear or adopt them, or because they fail to prevent pregnancy. (No one, married or unmarried, gets knocked up for altruistic reasons; they either want childrearing as a lifestyle, want to satisfy social/familial expectations or compete with peers by having children, or they’re simply too stupid to have used birth control. And those are just the least venal reasons for childrearing; I have at least anecdotal evidence of women “accidentally on purpose” getting pregnant to try to keep a man around/keep his money coming, or quiet their husbands’ nagging that they go back to work and help support the household economy.

            A truly free economy would not hang-wring and pearl-clutch over the numbers of children born, because children would not be regarded as future ATMs from which to pay oldster entitlements. A truly free economy would be neutral about childbirth, understanding that no subsidies are necessary to get people to make babies.

            The governments of truly free societies do not waste time and money weighing the perceived altruism of personal lifestyle choices, especially those that are made for selfish personal reasons. There are many lifestyles, childrearing and non-childrearing, that benefit society; instead of bribing segments of society to do what they choose of their own volition to do anyway, let’s just provide them the freedom to choose their paths.

            The government does not belong ANYWHERE in the endorsement of personal lifestyle choices, especially a funded endorsement.

  28. Can I interject something personal here? I, too, believe in Gerson’s “self-restraint, compassion and concern for the public good.” I consider myself part of Brooks’ “fabric of social relationships,” and, like Rick Santorum, I do not “walk alone among” my fellows.

    Yes you obviously can (may!), and since you did so, cite how.

  29. The Dreamy Thing About Rick Santorum Is That He Has Met the Enemy, and He Is Individual Freedom

    Thus Matt has come face to face with someone a teensy-weensy more dangerous for his worldview than the eldery and gentle libertarian he had attacked so much… on cue.

    1. John McCain is a libertarian?

  30. David Brooks: “If you believe in personal responsibility, you have to force Americans to receive only as much government as they are willing to pay for.”

    I want to point out that “only” is entirely superfluous here. He is saying: ‘[…]You have to force Americans to receive as much government as they are willing to pay for.’

    You might also notice that to “force” the “willing” is contradictory. This confusion is probably common among those who believe majorities have the right to undermine individual rights (and to supplant them with the majority’s opinion).

    1. Re: ryan,

      This confusion is probably common among those who believe majorities have the right to undermine individual rights (and to supplant them with the majority’s opinion).

      Maybe, but it’s also evidence of the fact that Brooks is a lousy writer.

    2. You might also notice that to “force” the “willing” is contradictory. This confusion is probably common among those who believe majorities have the right to undermine individual rights (and to supplant them with the majority’s opinion). have a vision for society that society does not want.

      No need to invoke majority/minority. There are plenty of minorities who want to force their shit on the majority. The HCRA is a good example.

  31. You know, I spend a lot of time alone. It’s not like I don’t invite people to my parties, they just don’t like me very much. So, for people like me, shut off from community and who have got no friends, what is needed is not statism to help us, but subsidies. Everyone gets a tax credit who shows up at one of my parties. This is great, as I won’t even have to invite anyone anymore. The state will also provide, er ‘subsidize’ the snacks and legal intoxicants I set out – that’s only fair as it’s all for the good of the community. I just hope they’ll send me some jokes or it’s going to be a long night with meatbag.

  32. Big government Conservative? Rick Santorum’s a closet Communist.

  33. This is not statism; it is called subsidiarity. In this view, needs are best served by institutions corporations closest to individuals. But when those institutions corporations require help or protection, higher-order institutions corporations (i.e. government) should intervene. […]

    There. Perfect.

  34. There’s an article over at realclearpolitics.com titled Red Hot Santorum Packs ‘Em In. I can’t help but believe someone over there is having a little fun.

  35. Based on Gerson’s interpretation of “compassionate conservatism”, how can compassionate conservatives have an issue with socialized medicine?

    1. They don’t, but politically it’s way better to call yourself a compassionate conservative than socialist-corporatist.

  36. Such an uproar. Why am I reminded of a crypt full of vampires exposed to sunlight?

    1. Why am I reminded of a group of people who treasure individual liberty drawing back from a man who displays a sneering contempt for the very notion that Americans have individual liberties?

    2. Why am I reminded of a crypt full of vampires exposed to sunlight?

      Being a racist moron, you have a tenuous connection with reality, that’s why.

  37. So, the real question is, “How would Santorum’s personal views of the role of government manifest themselves if he were in office?”

    Candidates say all kinds of things, but the Presidency is not a dictatorship.

    1. If he gets a majority in Congress, it will go pretty much like it has for Obama: He’ll manage to push 1-2 massive pieces of statist legislation through, then when the people revolt he’ll spend the rest of his time railing against a do-nothing congress and calling them and everyone who disagrees with him names. Except where Obama complains about “obstructionists” and “selfish”, Santorum will call them “immoral” and “subversive” etc etc.

  38. David Brooks: “I’m delighted that Santorum is making a splash in this presidential campaign. He is far closer to developing a new 21st-century philosophy of government than most leaders out there.”

    What is this shit? How does something like this — “philosophy of government” — become one’s starting premise, the primary lens through which one views reality? How does the concept of “leaders,” of being led, take on some overarching precedence in one’s life?

    David Brooks is just a dude. Like a gazillion other dudes. He wakes up, he shits, he walks across a floor, he does stuff, he goes to bed, his eyes flutter when he’s in a deep sleep. Where amid all that does he get the idea that he needs “governance”? Where does he get that he needs to be “led”? And fucking why?

    Why does anybody else want it, for that matter? Why does any American want it? If some guy walked into a random bar some random night, and started arguing that he needed to “lead” you, and “run” your society, and “handle” your “economy,” you and your buddies would start laughing at him. You’d mercilessly mock him for his self-regard.

    Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama — we all viewed guys like that as cheeseballs when we were in high school. We thought they were goofy in college. And today we’d bust their balls if some anonymous versions of themselves strode into the bar and struck up a conversation.

    So how the hell does anyone wind up buying into them as legitimate, credible anythings when there’s a political race?

    Brooks really digs the idea of humans governing other humans. He gets jazzed at the notion of new, modern, “21st century” ways of doing it. Why? Why does it matter so much to him? Between the shitting and eating and sleeping and spending one’s day doing stuff … how do you get like that?

    1. I like you.

      Also, in regards to your last question, you might want to ask Freud or something. People are twisted and uncomfortable in their individuality. Obviously the majority of people have this problem or else America’s political world wouldn’t look like it does, we wouldn’t have assclowns like Santorum picking up steam, and we wouldn’t have assclowns like Brooks falling all over themselves to talk up fallacy A and phony B in such blatant shows of neuroses.

    2. Brooks has the same disease as a good chunk of the planetary population: “Those guys”-itis.

      He, of course, doesn’t need to be led; being a fully formed, mentally-balanced, and functional human being in every way.

      But, Those Guys over there…well they aren’t even smart enough to wash their balls in the morning without a leader to show them the way. I mean, just look at them!

      1. None of us are immune. Hell, I know a million of “those guys”. It’s just that some of us aren’t sniveling do-gooder bastards, and don’t care if those balls get washed or not….as long as the owners stay downwind of us.

        1. In Soviet Russia, balls wash YOU!

    3. You’re amazing, sir. Well-ranted.

    4. “He is far closer to developing a new 21st-century philosophy of government than most leaders out there.”

      This is amazingly pompous, even for David Brooks. Not a second thought to referencing his ideal of government as a “new 21st-century philosophy of government”. It reads like shitty propaganda. His being taken seriously by so many well educated people makes me despair. His position should be on the fringe, or perhaps all the way off of it.

      As for your why questions, I’d bet it has to do with fear of uncertainty.

  39. I’m starting to miss the days when Rick Perry was the front-runner.

  40. Freedom is liberty coupled with responsibility to something bigger or higher than the self. It is a self-less freedom. It is sacrificial freedom. It is the pursuit of our dreams with an eye towards the common good.”

    What a statist twat.

  41. I bring gold and frankincense and weed and Busch Light for the guy who had Rumper Dick Stink hold up that thing. If the guy ever happens to show up at a party I’m at.

  42. This sign was written with actual frothy Santorum.

  43. surprising result of the Iowa caucuses was the return of compassionate conservatism

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.