Away back four years ago when John McCain was running for President, I took a certain amount of flak for saying that I wouldn't vote for him based on his position on human ESCR. He'd been a vocal proponent of it, had never changed his mind, and in fact that continued in a rather flagrant fashion right into the presidential race. I'm not going to recap all of that, but suffice it to say that I was not shy about saying, on blogs, why I wasn't going to vote for him, even to keep Barack Obama out of the Oval Office.
I argued then, and would argue now, that we conservatives need a line in the sand on particular issues, particularly issues of social conservatism. My biggest grief at that time was that my fellow conservatives seemed to have no such line. It was, "I'll vote for the lesser evil no matter who he is." I wrote pieces on the nature of a vote arguing that one should at least be willing in some sense to endorse a candidate if one is going to vote for him. None of this, "I'm going to vote for Hitler if the other guy is worse" stuff. Remember: You'd be horrified (I hope you would) to find a campaign sign for Hitler on your front lawn.
Okay. I stand by all of that. But by that same token, I think I need to be willing to take some flak from the exceedingly purist right for the following statement: I'm going to vote for Rick Santorum in the upcoming Republican primary. In fact, I'm not even remotely ashamed to be doing so. That's why I'm blogging it. In fact, I'd put a yard sign for him on my front lawn.
Don't bug me with whether he's electable or not, because frankly, I don't give a darn. Especially not in the primary. Primaries used to be about voting for the candidate who most closely represented your views. If and when he loses the primary, I'll make up my mind about whether I can in good conscience vote for whoever wins. That'll be then. This is now.
The purist case against Santorum is based on on several of his past actions. One is that he allowed his arm to be twisted by the party machinery into campaigning for the odious Arlen Specter against Toomey, a conservative primary challenger. Another is his voting for funding Planned Parenthood in Title X omnibus legislation. A third is his voting for the FACE bill.
Of these, the last is in my opinion the worst, and I would like to see him say that it was unconstitutional and wrong. On the other hand, it's a) water under the bridge, not the kind of thing that has much connection to future action and b) something he was probably bamboozled into thinking blocked only "violent" protestors and the like. So it was billed at the time. Not a good vote, but the fact of it in the past of a Congressman who is enthusiastically, not to say pushily, pro-life right now does not cross my bright line.
The funding for Planned Parenthood is not good, and he has defended voting for the bill in debates. What I would like to see is for him to be on-board with defunding Planned Parenthood in the future. Now that the campaign among pro-lifers has gotten going for that purpose, my guess is he will get on-board with it, despite his defensiveness about past votes. These omnibus bills are the very devil. They're a kind of cancer on our legislative life and no doubt have tripped up many otherwise good Congressmen. The horse trading that goes on is incredible, and they include a grab bag of stuff. He should reconsider his defensiveness, but his having voted in the past for one of these monster bills that, inter alia, includes funding for PP does not cross a line for me. Moreover, the existence of the Hyde amendments which allegedly block funding for abortions per se has probably been used by party whips as a successful argument to many a pro-life congressman to vote for such omnibus bills. It is only recently that pro-lifers have seen it as realistically within their sights to block the allegedly "non-abortion" funding that still goes to PP from government coffers.
The campaigning for Specter was to my mind, even at the time, a tragedy for Santorum. Yes, it meant that he didn't have the courage to say no. Not everybody does have that courage all the time. The pressure he was under was intense, and no doubt the action was portrayed to him as a necessary and virtuous thing, to keep a Republican majority in the Senate. I took a certain grim and probably wrong satisfaction against the Republican leadership from the fact that that didn't work out for them. At all. As strategy, it stunk. Plus it was unprincipled. But I felt sorry for Santorum. And he's paid. The voters punished him.
This is a candidate who speaks up loudly and clearly, right now, about both abortion and opposition to the homosexual rights agenda and who I believe will and would take action in those areas if elected to office. And he takes flak for it (and downright nastiness) from the liberal media all the time. He even gets barbs about it from at least one fellow Republican campaigning against him who has said that he "Can't stop talking about gay people." To my mind, that's a kind of recommendation. That is the kind of thing that pro-lifers and social conservatives have been wanting for a long time.
I'm going to vote for him. It would be just as cowardly of me not to say so because I've made my stand on the Internet with conservative purists and don't like the thought of what they might say or think about me as it would have been in 2008 for me to hide my refusal to vote for McCain.