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Rick Santorum is in what will hopefully be his last run for the White House. I've long felt sorry for him for a couple of reasons. First, he's fated to ever be a Jeremiah or Cassandra. He's been right a lot but no one really cares. And why does no one care? Because Santorum doesn't inspire, he hectors and nags and sounds generally unpleasant. I like his view point but I have to fight the urge to stick myself in the eye with something sharp whenever he starts to speak. These are not good traits to have in a politician. Arguably, in 2012 Santorum filled a needed space in the GOP field... he was actually THE conservative in that race. I'm not sure what his role is today.

Yesterday, Santorum appeared on NewsMax TV and basically unloaded on Texas [mc_name name='Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)' chamber='senate' mcid='C001098' ] saying that he really isn't a social conservative (danger BuzzFeed link that may or may not include nude dancing cats):

...Ted Cruz takes the position, very much a 10th Amendment, states rights, which is, you know, very much [mc_name name='Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)' chamber='senate' mcid='P000603' ], Ron Paul position,” Santorum said.

“They’re being sold, Ted Cruz says, ‘Oh, I’m this social conservative,’” Santorum continued, saying people haven’t had a chance to actually look the candidates positions on social issues.

Citing an article in the Iowa Republican which declared Cruz “False Prophet Of Social Conservatism,” the former senator said many would look at Cruz and say, “what a minute, he says he’s these things, but he’s not.”

“It’s basically that he’s not the social conservative that he’s portraying himself to be and is the answer is he’s not,” added Santorum, citing a Politico story where Cruz said on a secret tape at a fundraiser that he wouldn’t make fighting same-sex marriage a top three priority in his administration.

“If people want to do drugs in Colorado, it’s fine with him,” said Santorum. “If people want have different kind of marriages, it’s fine with him. He doesn’t agree with it. If you want to have an abortion, it’s fine with him, he doesn’t agree with it, but he’s not gonna fight it. That’s not what people are looking for. They’re looking for someone who has a very clear vision of what’s right and what’s wrong and be able to lay that vision out for the American people.”

I'm always at a loss when I confront arguments like this from people who claim to be social conservatives. You can't take Santorum's position and then turn around and claim the left is wrong when they say you want to institute a "theocracy." The heart of conservatism, fiscal or social, is that smaller government is better government. What Santorum basically wants is for us to do to the left what they have been doing to us on social issues: use the power of the state to enforce their point of view.

There is nothing non-conservative about saying that you are willing to allow the voters of Colorado to legalize drugs or the voters of Massachusetts to legalize homosexual marriage. That doesn't make those decisions right but what social conservatism is about is creating a space where people of faith are free to campaign to have their view be the dominant one. On abortion that means fighting in all states to have abortion outlawed. It doesn't mean you have to win in all states. It means getting the Supreme Court out of these issues and not imposing Anthony Kennedy's perverted view of human sexuality upon 300 million people.

All of this recycling [mc_name name='Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)' chamber='senate' mcid='R000595' ]'s attack on Ted Cruz has the same feeling of sour grapes as Mike Huckabee's attack. In 2012, Santorum received nearly 25% of the vote in Iowa. Today his is polling a solid 0%. He has to be wondering why the voters who came out for him last time aren't even listening to him. The obvious reason is that in 2012, homosexual marriage was a hot button issue. Today it is the law of the land and we are desperately fighting for the ability of religious people to not have to participate in this travesty. The battles are different. The battlefield has changed. Santorum's social conservatism was never an easy fit with traditional live-and-let-live social conservatism and it is simply not viable today.

Image credit: Stéfan via Flickr Creative Commons