Why I Wouldn’t Vote For: Rick Santorum

Okay, so I’m continuing in my “series” of why I wouldn’t vote for certain politicians. And I think that I’m going to go with Rick Santorum for this post, so this should be fun. (There are so many more of these that are possible.)

First of all, every time I see Santorum on CNN or the nightly news, I get sick to my stomach. He always manages to say something that pisses me off or grosses me out. Though that happens sometimes with other politicians, it seems to occur every single time with Santorum.

Rick Santorum is one of those people who just doesn’t seem to understand what is going on in the world. He seems like has no grasp of reality. For example, Santorum told the mother of a cancer survivor, “Insurance works when people who are higher risk end up having to pay more, as they should. In your case, your son obviously did nothing wrong. Obviously there are a lot of other people that increased their health risk that did do things wrong and as a result, it resulted in higher health care costs.” This comment came after she asked why Santorum supported insurance companies who refuse to insure people who have pre-existing conditions and/or who charge more for people who are sick. He had previously said, when talking about having to get health insurance for his family (after he quit his job to run for President), “We have a child who has a pre-existing condition and we went out and we said, we like this plan…we have to pay more because she has a pre-existing condition. Well, we should pay more. She’s going to be very expensive to the insurance company and, you know, that cost is passed along to us…I’m okay with that.” Santorum doesn’t seem to understand the reality of being sick, nor does he understand the reality of being poor and sick. While there are some people who are sick who play a part in causing their illness, the majority of people who are sick didn’t ask to be that way. (From my experience, the belief that the sick cause their own problems is the opinion of someone who is either in denial, uninformed, or just an ignorant asshole.) Struggling families can’t pay for simple things like check-ups, yet if they are truly sick, he wants them to pay higher prices than healthy people. On what planet and in what universe does that make sense? How is it good or fair or just or, hell, even Christian to force the sick and the poor to cover that kind of cost? And what if they figure out that they can’t cover it at all? Itisn’t right to keep any of them from having affordable insurance because they happened to have health problems. What would his opinion be on this whole thing if he wasn’t wealthy enough to take care of his daughter’s medical bills? Would he still say that if he were struggling to make ends meet and was faced with the possibility of not being able to cover the bills, which might result in his daughter’s health being put in jeopardy? Would he still claim that mandates for affordable coverage were destroying most of the countries in the world if he needed that afforable coverage? Well, given the source, he probably would, even though it isn’t actually true.

Santorum is so out-of-the-loop when it comes to health care that he claimes that the pre-existing conditions clause in the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) would increase health care costs because people would wait until their sick to purchase coverage. This has actually been shown to be incorrect in the Massachusetts health care law (sometimes called RomneyCare) that the federal law is most like, where younger, healthier people are encouraged to purchase coverage before they get sick, which keeps costs lower, and has the costs of the sick being paid for by the premiums of the healthy.

Of course, like many in his party, he supports medical liability reform, which is also commonly called tort reform. It is simple to say that “frivolous lawsuits” cost Americans lots and lots of money, but the call for tort reform is not a good one. Decisions made by doctors have life and death consequences for patients. A lawsuit against a doctor who has committed a grievous act of malpractice is not a frivolous suit. It is a civil liberty guaranteed to Americans under the U.S. Constitution. It holds doctors accountable for the decisions they make, and encourages doctors, insurance companies, etc. to give the best care to patients that is possible. If you haven’t seen the documentary Hot Coffee, you should watch it and pay close attention to the story of Colin Gourley. If anyone is the poster child of how medical liability/tort reform has gravely impacted the lives of victims of bad medicine, it is Colin Gourley. I cannot immagine a person supporting that kind of reform after hearing Colin’s story.

Santorum seems to view himself as the savior of not just the country, but the world. On his own page, he paints himself as basically an All-American superhero. He claims to have been one of the first people in the country that knew that Syria was a threat. For the record, though he may have played a part in writing certain legislation regarding Syria, Santorum was not the first national leader to understand that there were some serious issues with the Syrian government. Relations with that government have been on shaky ground off-and-on since the 1950’s. Syria has been on the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list was first made in 1979. In 1986, the United States withdrew its ambassador over evidence that Syria was involved in an attempt to blow up an Israeli airplane. Syria played nice and expelled some organizations leading to the countries started acting more diplomatic towards one another. Rick Santorum wasn’t born when the first issues between Syria and the United States arose, and he wasn’t in Congress when the United States designated Syria as a state sponsor of and safe-haven for terrorism.

He seems to be of the opinion that he, as the President, would need to make a pre-emptive strike on Iran if he thought that they might have a nuclear weapon. Nuclear weapons are scary, but so are world leaders who choose to go to war instead of making any attempt at diplomacy. We’ve had a President that chose pre-emptive war over an uncomfortable peace before. We’re just ending that war, and seeing how devastating the decision to enter into it really was.

Santorum seems to indicate that he believes, to some degree, that No Child Left Behind bill (that passed while he was in Congress) was good for American schools. Even though the bill is treated like a major triumph by many politicians, it was actually one of the most harmful bills of the Bush 43 regime. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it definitely is not. Expectations of students are set incredibly low, which makes it seem like progress whenever a student or a school succeeds. The bill’s lack of flexibility with low-performing students (and high-performing students) and students suffering from varying disabilities made it almost impossible to improve American schools. The bill paints students as being equal, which is ridiculous because everyone knows that no two children are exactly alike. Because of these issues and others, I have a hard time believing that Santorum even knows what the education system should be like.

As a Republican, Rick Santorum supports the NRA’s idea of what the Second Amendment says. He doesn’t just think that guns used in hunting and self-defense should be available to citizens of this country. He supports the ability of people in this country to use any sort of guns. He opposed the Assault Weapons ban because, according to his campaign’s website, “he believes there are more effective ways to stop gun violence, such as stricter enforcement of existing laws, than taking away the rights of law abiding gun owners.” I kind of understand where he’s coming from, though I would rather live in a country with bans on gun ownership than one without, but I don’t understand why any law abiding gun owners would need assault weapons. How do you go hunting with an assault weapon? And why would you need one to protect your life or that of your family? If violence in your area is so bad that you need an assault weapon, then maybe you should just move.

Santorum is Catholic, which should probably make me cut him some slack on his opinions about abortion and birth control, but guess what? It doesn’t. Santorum’s belief that states should be allowed to outlaw contraception makes me wonder if he’ll call for allowing footbinding next. He seems to think that allowing contraception gives people a license to act out sexually in a way that is unnatural. I’ve heard this kind of argument by some people before, and I know that some believe this is true. It is a rather naïve perspective. People were motivated by sexual drives and instincts long before the first birth control pill, condom, diaphragm, or any other contraceptive method was produced. Sexual drives are a part of being a living entity, and it is sad to think that some people do not understand this basic biological truth. Having contraception available doesn’t cause people to have more sex. Instead it helps to keep the number of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases lower than they would be without them. There were STDs and unwanted pregnancies before contraception was ever available. Mr. Santorum could find this information easily, if he was only willing to look. Santorum also supports the idea of eliminating funding to Planned Parenthood. He wants to use half of the money that goes to Planned Parenthood to support adoption instead, which might seem like a good idea if you don’t know that the money given to Planned Parenthood by the government (1) cannot go toward paying for abortion and (2) actually goes to programs, like cancer-screenings, that save lives. Surely, Mr. Santorum would know this from his time in Congress. He should also know more about “partial-birth abortions” than his website and his comments seem to indicate. He should know that it is unethical to prevent these abortions, even though they are generally done to preserve the life of the mother or to prevent the pain of the child. Surely he would have learned this at some point.

And, like many of the other candidates from his party, Santorum is against the idea of gay marriage. He’s even suggested, in some speeches, that allowing for gay marriage would lead to polygamous marriages. He’ll sometimes start his comments on LGBT marriage with comments about civil rights and then he’ll go into how gay and lesbians shouldn’t have the same “privileges” as heterosexuals. I’m pretty sure that he didn’t view his ability to marry his wife as just a “privilege” and I’m pretty sure that if the government had told him that he couldn’t marry her because the government didn’t like the idea of their marriage that he would’ve been pretty pissed off.

I guess he was inspired by the Tea Party movement to support the idea of decreased government spending, even though, while in Congress, he used to increase the federal spending to programs he supported. Like many on the GOP side, he wants to cut resources to the Environmental Protection Agency for what he calls “job killing regulations.” I guess he would allow companies to have a bit of free reign on making hazardous products that would kill plants and animals, endanger the habitats of various species, and put lives of children and adults in serious jeopardy as long as it kept more people employed. I guess that jobs are more important than safety. Of course, his ideas for cutting funding to the EPA are not the only spending cut ideas that are a bit anti-life/safety/common sense. His ideas to freeze spending to social programs ranging from health care (Medicaid) to education to food stamps shows how distorted his views are. These are programs that are already underfunded, which causes children to not get the quality of education they deserve, needy citizens to go hungry, and the poor to go without adequate health care.

And, of course, he supports lowering taxes and increasing deductions, which is a commonly proposed idea from politicians on the right. It was even tried by the Bush administration. I think we all know what happened after the taxes were lowered and deductions were increased the last time. Santorum is off-the-mark on taxes, but that makes sense since he believes that all people can achieve greatness and wealth by rising on their own merits and hard work. That’s kind of odd, since some of the most difficult and tedious jobs are the lowest paying. People can work in fields with almost back-breaking labor and never break out of the income bracket that they were born in. Sure, there are success stories, where a poor kid becomes a wealthy adult, but those are the exceptions, not the rules.

Of course, there is one other thing that would probably inspire me to not vote for him. It may seem petty, but the constant retelling of the extremely premature birth (and subsequent death) of his son Gabriel always gets to me. It would be one thing if the story was told once or twice, or if he had never mentioned that they took the corpse of Gabriel home so that the children could cuddle it and say goodbye, but he tells the whole story often. Honestly, repeatedly hearing that they were all cuddling a dead baby has caused me to gag more than once. I can understand the idea of having some kind of ritual to deal with the grief of that kind of loss or even the parents holding the child right after the loss, but taking a dead child home to hold is just sick. You wouldn’t take any other dead body home to make a loss real for your family. If you suggested it, you would be looked at like a nut, so it doesn’t make sense why you would take the child home. It seems like it might even mess up some part of your other childrens’ psyches. And, even without the corpse part, the constant retelling bugs me. I understand that miscarriages, stillbirths, and losses of children are horrible. I’ve never lost a child, but I’ve had friends and family who have, including my own parents who miscarried several months before my mom got pregnant with me. And my own parents, who understood that kind of loss, were horrified by the idea of taking a dead body home for children to hold and touch. So, that made me feel a little less judgmental about the whole thing.

There are other reasons that I’m not going to vote for Rick Santorum, but I think that the ones that I have listed are enough to make my point.  I hope other people won’t vote for him as well, and will open up about their reasons for not wanting him in office.

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Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.