Back in November, I offered the opinion that while a number of the GOP presidential candidates -- or what were then the *potential* GOP field -- were worthy of your scorn, one in particular deserved your outright fear and condemnation: Rick Santorum.
Well, that race has taken some interesting twists that I didn't foresee back then. Mitch Daniels never jumped in. Jon Huntsman became the (unlikely-to-be-nominated) adult in the race -- imagine... a GOP presidential candidate who boldly accepts evolution *and* climate change as fact. And the Rick Santorum moralizer wing of the race had to make space for both Michele Bachmann (and her husband) "praying away the gay" and Rick Perry running a campaign, so far, that is long on bluster, prayer rallies and generalities and really short on specifics.
Bachmann and Santorum are two peas in a pod -- religiously-fueled zealots so far on the fringes of the mainstream that I like to think, based on their performances so far, that they couldn't possibly win a general election.
But I am a little worried about Rick Perry.
And then I began to think about *why* I am a little worried about Rick Perry.
It's because social conservatives freak me out, and science-ignorant social conservatives really freak me out.
I've never done The Big Politics Post that I've contemplated a number of times, but let's just say that my instincts run generally toward the libertarian without lapsing into either a man-crush on Hayek (although Salma's just peachy with me) or silly taxation-is-theft sloganeering. I dig my freedom in many forms and resist assaults on it from the right *and* the left -- and so it repels me when liberals want to control the content of the airwaves in the name of some sort of government-sanctioned "fairness" (look here if you want to see me raise a middle finger to Jay Rockefeller regarding that sort of thing) *and* when social conservatives want to tell us what adults we can marry. But lately, there seems to be a particular resurgence of the social-conservative moralizer as GOP presidential candidate, and when that gets paired with a science-ignorant stance that dismisses evolution as a "theory," it's downright frightening. The Rick Perrys of the world want to tell me what to do in my personal life *and* keep our kids in the dark about scientific fact by distracting them with non-science talk of "intelligent design" in a science classroom.
And don't think I'm not aware that the left often wants to tell me what to do too. It's why, while I am a registered Democrat, I am always willing to consider voting for any smart, reasonable person regardless of party. If Jon Huntsman were the GOP nominee, I'd have some thinking to do as the November 2012 election came closer. But I don't think Huntsman is going to get that nod. Instead, it is looking more and more like it'll go to Perry, one of a number of GOP presidential candidates who want to moralize at me from a social-conservative stance while laughing in the face of established science.
So it's looking more and more like the president is going to be my candidate for 2012. It'll be a vote cast more from the standpoint of repelling the dumb and preserving gridlock (rather than heading down a right-wing road) than it will be some sort of "I love Obama" statement. But if Rick Perry is the GOP nominee, I may not have much choice. Pun intended.