Why I’m Sick of Rick

Despite the preponderance of New Jersey residents at this school, I’d like to direct this editorial to my fellow Pennsylvanians in encouraging them to get home on Election Day to cast their vote against incumbent U.S. senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.).

A dangerous hypocrite, a conservative Christian ideologue, Santorum needs to be swept out on Nov. 2 as part of the great sea change I hope is coming to Washington.

Santorum has been involved in national-scale politics since 1990 when he ran for Congress as an upstart candidate with no political experience besides serving in a handful of administrative roles in the Pennsylvania state government.

So how did this young firebrand dethrone his seven-term opponent 16 years ago? He made the main thrust of his campaign the fact that his opponent had lost touch with his district after moving to Virginia to be closer to Washington D.C.

Now 16 years later, Santorum has come under fire for doing exactly the same thing. While Santorum claims legal residency in Penn Hills, a Pittsburgh suburb, the house there is empty – no curtains, no furniture and certainly no Santorum, his wife or any of their six children.

Santorum’s hypocrisy extends into his policymaking as well. For years, Santorum has supported tort reform legislation that would limit awards for plaintiffs in medical malpractice suits to $250,000. This despite his wife’s attempt to sue her chiropractor in 1999 for $500,000. “The court proceedings are a personal family matter,” Santorum said after a jury awarded his wife $350,000. “I am fully supportive of my wife.”

This situation hardly comes as a surprise from someone like Santorum, who seems to legislate almost exclusively from his own personal beliefs – beliefs strongly rooted in a conservative Christian ideology.

A devout Roman Catholic, he and his wife were inducted as Knight and Dame of Magistral Grace in the Knights of Malta, which was a military order of the Catholic Church during the Crusades and whose members now adhere simply to the doctrine: “defence of the faith.”

Certainly, Santorum takes this role very seriously.

When Pope Benedict XVI stepped to the head of the church, Santorum’s office released a statement reading, in part, “I pray for Pope Benedict XVI as he begins his new role as the most reverent disciple of our Lord here on earth.”

In lockstep with the church’s stance on homosexuality, Santorum once equated it with incest in regards to a then-pending Supreme Court case that overturned a Texas sodomy law.

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to anything . Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family,” he said.

He has spoken publicly about his beliefs on the role of religion in the public sphere. At a lecture at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, he said: “How is it possible, I wonder, to believe in the existence of God yet refuse to express outrage when his moral code is flouted? How is it possible that there exists so little space in the public square for expressions of faith and the standards that follow from belief in a transcendent God?”

But what Santorum seems to be forgetting is that this country was founded on the freedom of religious expression, not the constriction of it to specific conservative Christian interpretation, and that different religions represent different “moral codes” if they represent one at all.

After 12 years, two terms, serving in the U.S. Senate, the voters of Pennsylvania seem to be realizing the extent of the self-righteous delusions that plague Santorum, and the tide certainly seems to be turning against him. I encourage all Pennsylvania voters to be a part of this solitary voice saying we are tired of our government being overrun by hypocrisy, corruption and, most importantly, narrowly conceived moral and religious views.