In a recent ESPN interview, the ubiquitous Tim Tebow was asked, “What do you suppose makes you such a polarizing figure?” Unfortunately, Tebow, who supposedly has made noises about a post-football future in politics, dropped the ball on this one. As I sat yelling at the TV screen, Tebow hemmed and hawed an essentially, “Gee, I don’t know,” response.
The answer I would have liked to hear was along this line: “You know, Hannah, I have a little problem with your question, because you seem to be saying that I’m a polarizing figure just by being me. And I’m sure that even though you didn’t mention it, you’re implying that my openness about my faith has a lot to do with that. Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. If I’m polarizing, then it’s because our country is pretty polarized right now—right and left, Christian and non-Christian. And there are lots of people we can blame for that, but all I’m going to say is that it’s unfortunate, because I’d like for us all to be Americans first.”
After Rick Santorum’s recent success in the Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado primary/caucus elections, the inevitable naysayers came out of the woodwork to proclaim that Santorum is too “extreme” to be electable this fall. What they point to, of course, is Santorum’s staunchly pro-life position and similar positions on other social issues. Basically, they’re afraid that Santorum’s clearly conservative positions on these issues will be viewed as those of a religious zealot by the great “independent” masses out there that still are influenced by the smug, condescending utterances of Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, Chris Matthews, et al.
Santorum, or whomever the Republican nominee ends up being, needs to turn this narrative about conservatives on its head somehow. It won’t be easy. The last two generations have had the narrative drilled into them from the time they were toddlers—the progressive way is the enlightened way, and anyone who disagrees is hopelessly behind the times and/or out of touch. >From what he’s saying, Santorum seems to understand this. Whether he can articulate the alternate narrative in a compelling way remains to be seen. However, given Gingrich’s recent slippage and Romney’s history of squishiness on social issues, he may be the last man standing who’s up to the challenge.
As Rev. Bresciani has been saying in his columns for quite a while now, this election should not be about only the economy, regardless of the dire economic straits we are in. He rightly sees the economic mess as only a symptom of a far greater issue, that being the steep moral decline we have been in for the last 50 years. Suddenly, Rick Santorum’s unapologetically conservative position on the social issues, especially in light of Obama’s recent effort to bully the Catholic Church, has taken on a much greater significance in this campaign. And it may take a candidate like Santorum who has the courage of his convictions to expose who the real polarizers in this country are—once and for all.