Driving into a criminally early meeting this morning, I listened to Sen. Rick Santorum on NPR flogging his book — and flogging Hillary Clinton and liberals in the other sense of the word. His interviewer says that in It Takes a Family, Santorum attacks big government, big media, big entertainment, big universities and big business. Santorum says, taking off on his fellow senator’s book:
They say that ‘it takes a village’ but really what their ideology is based around is the individual. We understand that the basic unit of society is the family, that the individual needs to be nurtered and supported and molded and shaped through this family structure, through the real village, which is the church, the community organizations….
Sounds like a village to me.
But what’s interesting here is the talk — from both sides — about molding people.
Santorum goes on — listen up bloggers — to attack libertarians:
One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a libertarianish right. The left has gone so far left and the right in some respects has gone so far right that they come around in the circle.
He’s right but not at all in the way he thinks. Stay with me.
This whole idea of personal autonomy — I don’t think that most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. And they have this idea that people should be left alone to do what they want to do, that government should keep taxes down, keep regulation down, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, that we shouldn’t be involved in cultural issues, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world. And I think that most conservatives understand that we can’t go it alone, that there is no such society that I’m aware of where we’ve had radical individualism and it has succeeded as a culture.
Well, here’s the tasty irony to that: Santorum is trying to portray “individualism” as “radical” when I’d argue, and I’ll bet most of you would agree, that individualism — otherwise known as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — is the core of Americanism.
That’s not radical. That is the center of America. That is where most of us live — in let-us-be land. Santorum lives on the fringe, right neighborly with the PC folks who would tell us what to think and say.
Yes, the far right and far left do, indeed, meet at the fringes and that’s where Santorum is: They meet at trying to shape people and they only disagree about the mold — Christian or progressive — and to interfere in culture and language and in some cases business and in other cases the bedroom. That is the radical edge.
Now note also that Santorum is against something else that is essentially American in the conservative mold: big business (and big media). This reminds of me — dare I speak the name? — Bernie Goldberg. Go to his site and you will see a fancy show directed at Big Bad Media as the enemy.
What I saw that, I thought it was odd for a conservative: He’s looking for government regulation of and interference with media and busineess. I thought that government regulation was poison to conservatives.
Ah, but conservativism isn’t the thread that ties these guys — and their odd, mutated form of conservatism together: It is control. That, you see, is where these two fringes really meet: At the desire to control us, the way we live, the way we talk, the way we think. That is radical. It’s not true conservatism. It’s not true liberalism, either. It’s not true Americanism, as far as I’m concerned. Valuing the individual is American.
Watch out, too, for the internet in all this. The internet is the ultimate in individual empowerment. That’s what the internet is at its core: a way for each of us to do what we want and need to do. It is the ultimate expression of our individualism. And these guys hate that.