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Lessons from Santorum: You Don't Have to Win to Set the Agenda

Santorum has achieved the best-case scenario of a longshot candidate: making a mark on the national conversation.


When I was 17 years old, my father ran for governor of New York on the Green Party ticket. From May to November 2002, he drove around the state in the family's Volvo two or three times a week, racking up about 10,000 miles. The campaign bill was around $60,000, some of which our family footed. Winning was never the point: My dad earned 41,000 votes total.

I was horrified about spending the money, and perplexed about my mother's tolerance of a semi-absentee partner. It seemed like such a waste. "Why are you doing this, Dad?" I asked him. His answer was simple: "I want to influence the conversation." I was skeptical, until the day after my high school graduation when he handed me a lengthy New York Times profile of him and his bid for governor, one that quoted him on the need for environmental protections, campaign finance reform, and state-subsidized health insurance—positions that were absent from the more mainstream candidates' platforms. "This is why I'm running," he told me. "When you run for office, you get publicity for your ideas." Despite the fact that my middle-class parents had to put a chunk of the campaign expenses on credit cards and were still paying them off in 2006, my father doesn't regret running. Those few thousand people who listened to him, and ended up voting for him, made it worth it.

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Rick Santorum Thinks Carbon Dioxide Isn't Harmful to Plants? Tell That to a Plant

In reality, high carbon levels are life-threatening to plants.


Rick Santorum, who could be the Republican nominee for president, doesn’t believe in climate change. On Monday, he scoffed at the idea: “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,” he said in a speech.

But if Santorum did sit down for a heart-to-heart with a plant or (more practically) the scientists who study them, they would tell him that carbon dioxide is not only dangerous to many plants, it’s life-threatening. Plants do need carbon dioxide to breathe, as Santorum implied, and increased concentrations can help them thrive—until the negative effects of climate change set in. Then they must deal with rising temperatures, thriving insects and fungi, and water shortages. For plants, these aren’t inconveniences, but hazards that could kill off huge swaths of the world's flora in a matter of years.

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'Mitt Romney Doesn't Care About Me': Why Voters Trust Santorum on the Economy

Mitt Romney may stay focused on the economy, but voters still think Santorum cares more about their daily lives.


Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney may have won six states on Super Tuesday, but the big story from last night was the overperformance of culture warrior Rick Santorum. He snagged Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota—not a big surprise given the conservative social values in those states. But he also came within one percentage point of winning Ohio, a swing state where more than half of primary voters considered the economy their most important issue and three-quarters said they were "very worried" about the direction of the economy. In fact, exit polls from every state reveal that the economy is the dominant issue on voters' minds.

So why don't they trust Mitt Romney on the economy? Isn't that, as he claims over and over again, "what he does"? Not so fast. Another question asked by last night's exit pollers: "Which candidate best understands the problems of average Americans?" The answer was Santorum, across the board.

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Rick Santorum Says College is 'Indoctrination'; We Say It's Necessary

Rick Santorum's way of thinking about education is both outdated and dangerous.



Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has really gone after higher education lately. Earlier this month, he called President Obama's suggestion that everyone should go to college "elitist snobbery." Now, he's speaking out in response to Obama's State of the Union education plans:

It’s no wonder President Obama wants every kid go to go college... The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure there wasn’t one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?

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Five Things More Likely to Save Marriage Than an Anti-Porn Crusade

Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum signed an anti-porn pledge to save marriage. If they really cared about matrimony, they'd do these things instead.


Apparently it's 1979 all over again: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have all pledged to crack down on pornography should they become president. Morality in Media, an organization opposing "pornography and indecency through public education and the application of the law," launched an effort in October to recruit presidential candidates in both major parties to commit to strict enforcement of obscenity laws. Three of them took the bait. Santorum thinks that “[f]ederal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced," Romney signed the pledge in the name of "fundamental family values," and Gingrich promised to "appoint an Attorney General who will enforce these laws.” According to MIM, pornography not only leads to "misogyny and violence against women," but "destruction of marriage," as well.

Of course, this is likely just political posturing; federal obscenity laws, citing a vague adherence to "community standards," are tricky to effectively enforce, and it's been clear since the advent of the Internet that fighting the existence of porn is a losing battle. But if these presidential candidates actually cared about preserving the institution, they would do a lot more besides vowing to eliminate smut. Here are some suggestions:

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