14 March, 2012
Okay, I have been persuaded. I do believe in reincarnation. Iran’s far-right Ayatollah Khomeini has returned to life as Republican candidate Rick Santorum.
They don’t look alike, of course. But consider their views. Both reject anything resembling modernity. Both want to rewind reality by several centuries, to a time when men ran the world and women merely populated it.
Now, I admit that I do not live in the U.S. Nor do I have a vote there. So perhaps I have no right to comment on U.S. politics.
Instead, then, here’s how American columnist Tony Norman described him in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Mr. Santorum … doesn't believe in evolution, man-made global warming, sex for purposes other than having children, separation of church and state, tax-financed public education, a Constitutional right to privacy, contraception, prenatal testing, or freedom of conscience if it contradicts his church's edicts or his party platform.”
Both Khomeini and Santorum base their politics on books written many centuries ago, by people who had no conception of DNA, fossils, mathematics, space travel, computers, voting, immunization, or plastics. The primary difference is not their views but their choice of Holy Book.
Santorum’s recent victories in Missiissippi and Alabama puts him back into the running as Republican candidate for President, and makes me fear for the future of the United States.
You may recall that Santorum told ABC News that John F. Kennedy’s promise not to let his Catholicism interfere with his responsibilities as president “made me want to throw up.” He later regretted his wording, but didn’t repudiate the principle.
Santorum assumes, of course, that any president’s faith will match his own.
Would he endorse Mitt Romney baptizing the whole nation retroactively into his Mormon faith? Or even – horrors!--a Muslim president governing according to Islamic convictions? If not, he’s a hypocrite and a bigot.
For some time now, I have found the metaphor of the lowly amoeba helpful in visualizing conflicts within societies.
In Zoology 101, we learned about the amoeba, the most primitive single-celled form of life. It is a shapeless blob. It has no brain, no nerves, no muscles. (And no sex, which should appeal to Republicans.) It feeds and moves by extending part of itself, technically called a pseudopod. If that pseudopod touches something painful, it draws back. If it encounters nothing harmful – or even better, some food it can ingest – it drags the rest of the amoeba along.
And I’m sure the hind end digs in its heels, kicking and screaming that it doesn’t want to go that direction.
Rick Santorum represents the hind end of that metaphorical amoeba.
When a pseudopod pushes too far ahead; the amoeba may split. The part that happens to contain the cell’s nucleus, its core, will survive. The part that loses a nucleus dies.
That split may be happening in U.S. politics. As an outsider, I wonder if the American political amoeba is capable of remaining unified.
Santorum may or may not represent a majority of U.S. voters. But if he succeeds in winning the Republical nomination, roughly half of the U.S. population will feel obligated to support his views.
If he then gets elected, roughly half of the U.S. population will reject everything he stands for. If he loses, his half will equally emphatically reject the winner’s policies.
Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California in Berkeley, put it bluntly: “A party of birthers, creationists, theocrats, climate-change deniers, nativists, gay-bashers, anti-abortionists, media paranoids, anti-intellectuals, and out-of-touch country clubbers cannot govern America.”
But neither is such a party willing to be governed by anyone
holding contrary views.
It’s hard to imagine such a creature remaining viable.
Jim Taylor is a Canadian author and freelance journalist, with over 50 years experience in radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. He is the author of 17 books, and continues to write two newspaper columns a week