Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced today that he will once again be running for president. And why not, since while he failed to clinch the Republican nomination in 2012, by coming in second place to Mitt Romney he helped resuscitate a political career that had ended with a blowout reelection defeat in 2006.
Santorum hopes to build support from the farthest right base of the GOP, one which adamantly opposes gay equality and any step towards immigration reform and wants to turn back the clock on women’s rights. Santorum’s candidacy, as evidenced by his 2012 victories in Iowa and the Deep South, show that the Republican Party’s polarizing far-right flank has held on to its influential role, even as it jeopardizes the party’s ability to win elections and improve its image with the general public.
Here are five of Santorum’s worst policies, which give just a taste of what the GOP’s far-right base is craving:
1) Gay Equality
Santorum may have won the most publicity, or notoriety, for his fiery attacks on not only gay marriage but gay rights in general, boasting about his support for laws banning consensual gay sex and predicting that gays will “murder” the Boy Scouts.
He has warned that same-sex marriage could possibly lead to sibling marriages, “man on child” and “man on dog” marriages, the criminalization of free speech and “the destruction of our republic.” Calling marriage equality a violation of “natural law” and the “death knell” of marriage, Santorum also warned that same-sex marriage could threaten the future of civilization itself.
He has also pushed for bans on adoption by same-sex parents as a “common sense” strategy to help children.
2) Church-State Separation
Insisting that the notion of the separation of church and state is an un-American idea that actually comes from communism, Santorum points to church-state separation as a reason to criticize the Obama administration, gay rights and secular government.
“We have the state establishing a new religion, a secular state religion, a secular orthodoxy that everybody is going to have to comply with,” he said last month. “We don’t have as the threat was at the time of our Founders, the Church of England imposing the English church on America. We have now the secular church that is being imposed on this country and anybody that defects is subject to persecution and prosecution. That is a very serious threat to liberty in America.”
Public schools, according to Santorum, should ban secular teachings from the classroom because secularism has become “a religion.” He also said there will be “agitation” in American society until civil laws “comport” with divine laws.
He also produced a film with the far-right Family Research Council, which he also appears in, warning that gay rights laws violate the “wall of separation.” Santorum criticized laws barring discrimination against gay people as “a violation of the Establishment Clause” and signed a petition vowing to defy any Supreme Court decision striking down gay marriage laws.
3) Women’s Rights
In 2012, Santorum pledged that if he were elected president he would discuss “the dangers of contraception in this country,” claiming that contraception is “not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” He claimed contraception access is an “important public policy issue” since it negatively impacts society and makes people “deconstruct” sex “to the point where it’s simply about pleasure.”
During his 2012 campaign, Santorum signed a Personhood USA pledge to support personhood laws, which would ban common corms of birth control, and railed against the health care reform law’s contraception mandate by calling it a “descendent of the French Revolution.”
A supporter of criminalizing abortion in all cases, Santorum expressed nostalgia for back-alley abortions and advocated banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest, when the fetus has no chance of survival and when the pregnant woman’s health is at the risk.
Santorum advised survivors of rape who get pregnant that they should “accept what God has given” them and “make the best out of a bad situation.”
He has denounced not only reproductive rights but also women entering the workforce, which he said was the result of a “radical feminists” bent on “undermining the traditional family.”
Santorum has called on the GOP to amp up its anti-immigrant rhetoric as a way to appeal to working-class voters, falsely claiming that every new job created in the U.S. over the last decade went to immigrants instead of native-born workers. He has also demanded that the U.S. cut legal immigration to levels last seen around 1880.
While criticizing Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration reform, Santorum denounced Obama as a “tyrant” who “acted against the Constitution” and “back[ed] Americans in a corner.”
He pledged to veto the DREAM Act, saying that young people brought to the U.S. as kids should simply “go back” to “Mexico.” However, he said that the U.S should immediately grant legal status to a German family who refused to go back to Germany because of its country’s laws limiting homeschooling.
5) Conspiracy Theories
While working with a far-right homeschooling group, Santorum was the public face of a successful campaign to block Senate ratification of a disability rights treaty. Santorum warned that the treaty could empower the government to kill his daughter, who has Trisomy 18, and told Glenn Beck that the “radical” treaty was inspired by “Marxist-socialist/progressive” ideas.
Santorum has also suggested that Obama travels the globe to “bow to Muslims,” warned of mass euthanasia in the Netherlands, called climate change science a “hoax” and an “absolute travesty” and insisted that conservative Christians are facing horrendous persecution, including potential jail time and martyrdom, in the U.S.
While Santorum deflects any criticism of his interpretation of Christianity as an attack on religious freedom, he has no problem warning that mainline Protestant churches, along with universities and the government, are under the influence of the Devil: