Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“There's no such thing as a free lunch.”     Milton Friedman

January 2, 2012

Rick Santorum, The Anti-Libertarian

by Stephen Littau

Until Rick Santorum’s recent surge in the polls, I didn’t consider him much more than a nuisance. Since the beginning of the campaign, I thought he had the most anti-libertarian agenda in the 2012 race but I didn’t think he was as realistic of a threat as say Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich. The best way to approach Santorum was to ignore him and not give him the attention he desperately craved.

But since Santorum is polling in the top three in Iowa, I think it’s time use his own words to illustrate why he is the most anti-liberty candidate in the race. He actually makes Barack Obama look like a civil libertarian (which is quite an accomplishment).

First, in this interview, Santorum says (among other things) that the pursuit of happiness somehow harms America.

Then, David Boaz writing for Cato@Liberty shares this quote from Santorum taken from a 2006 interview on NPR:

One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. You know, the left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they touch each other. They come around in the circle. This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.

Silly me. I thought the American Revolution and this grand experiment in republican constitutional governance was precisely about “radical individualism” and liberty. To the extent our society hasn’t succeeded is due in large part to moralistic busy bodies just like Rick Santorum.

As if meddling in the affairs of Americans were not enough, Santorum also wants to continue to meddle in the Middle East and elsewhere. Santorum told “Meet the Press” that he would bomb Iran via airstrikes if Iran failed to allow inspectors verify that the regime isn’t developing a nuclear weapon (essentially, Iran is guilty of developing a bomb until proven innocent). “Iran will not get a nuclear weapon under my watch” Santorum proclaimed.

It seems that Rick Santorum inhabits another planet from those of us who believe in liberty, small government, and a humble foreign policy. This might explain why in the debates Santorum has the look of bewilderment on his face when Ron Paul speaks (in a foreign language apparently) about common sense principles of life, liberty, and property.

If the idea of a President Santorum doesn’t frighten you, it should.

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6 Comments

  1. Iowa always has the “most conservative” candidates in the top five. It has very little to do with who actually gets the nomination.

    It was Iowa that convinced the world Huckabee was a serious candidate. The only thing Huckabee did was draw votes off of better conservative candidates who weren’t baptists ministers (the only reason he did well in Iowa).

    New Hampshire is a much more important indicator; and Santorum won’t even show up on the chart.

    Comment by Chris — January 3, 2012 @ 9:33 am
  2. Chris, you are probably right and I hope you are. Still, I think Santorum should be exposed for who he is just in case his campaign starts getting some traction. I think he’s out of step with what it means to be a conservative; I think many self described social conservatives would even cringe at some of these statements.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — January 3, 2012 @ 12:00 pm
  3. I do think Santorum became the ABR candidate at just the right time to do well in Iowa, and once people start paying attention to him, he’ll fall into the same problem that just about every other ABR candidate does.

    If somehow Santorum gains momentum and wins the nomination, I think we can call it another 4 years for Obama.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — January 3, 2012 @ 9:55 pm
  4. I’d be surprised if he has the organization or appeal for a much longer run. Like most other candidates, he isn’t even on the ballot in Virginia, not that that’s a deal-breaker.

    Santorum is probably the most pronounced anti-libertarian in the field. Whether it’s the freedom to practice religions other than his, or for adults to put whatever they choose into their own bodies, or consenting adults to have sexual relationships other than those he approves, Santorum is against it.

    Plus, he’s a raging chicken hawk.

    “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.”
    - Robert Heinlein

    Mr. Santorum falls into the former group.

    Comment by Akston — January 4, 2012 @ 1:20 pm
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  6. [...] liberty, and property. If the idea of a President Santorum doesn’t frighten you, it should. View original postSHARE IT Tweet REGISTER NOW! Users must be logged in for immediate display. We will review & post [...]

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