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Ruth Marcus
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012
“Santorum’s brand of anti-elitism seems particularly personal: throbbing with resentment and directed squarely at Obama.”

Rick Santorum’s Warfare Against Elites

Rick Santorum is engaging in class warfare.

Santorum accuses President Obama and Mitt Romney of that supposed transgression. Yet class warfare was at the heart of his “what a snob” attack on Obama for urging students to attend college, part of an angry broadside against “the elite in society who think that they can manage your life better than you can.”

Against an elite that believes in “climate science,” Santorum said, holding his fingers in ironic quotation marks and pronouncing “science” with a marked sneer.

Against an elite that dictates what health care you should have — the “ultimate top-down, I know better than you do” approach of Obama’s health reform — and, oh by the way, of Romney’s too.

Against an elite that looks down on you for not going to some fancy college. “There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to [the] test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them,” Santorum told an Americans for Prosperity forum Saturday in Troy, Mich.

And then, ominously and weirdly, against Obama and his elitist plot to educate more Americans: “Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image,” Santorum said. “I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”

The contrast with Romney is striking. Later that day, introducing her husband, Ann Romney recalled how her aunts and uncles pooled their money so that her father could go to college — and how as a high school student she worked for the company her father had founded, right there in Troy. Santorum railed against elite institutions; Romney pointed with pride to her husband’s Harvard law and business degrees.

Mitt Romney’s is the politics of noblesse oblige, the man whose governor father advised him to make money before running for office so he wouldn’t have to worry about paying the mortgage. Santorum’s is the politics of personal grievance, bristling — or at the very least appearing to bristle — with resentment toward those elites.

If Romney arrives at the political party bearing a silver spoon, Santorum comes with a deeply chiseled chip on his shoulder.

“I didn’t blow in the wind when things were popular with the elite, ’cause I don’t come from the elite,” Santorum boasted. “My grandfather was a coal miner. I grew up in public housing on VA grounds.” (Well, actually, his father was a government psychologist.) “I’m not going to let the elites come up with phony ideologies and phony ideas to rob you of your freedom and impose government control of your life.”

Of course, running against the elites has a long provenance in American politics, from Andrew Jackson to George Wallace to Sarah Palin, and politicians of both parties have tried to harness populist energy to electoral advantage. Remember Al Gore and the people versus the powerful?

And Santorum is not alone on this year’s campaign trail in trying to tap into voters’ economic and cultural insecurities. There was Newt Gingrich in Georgia the other day: “You have elites in the bureaucracy, elites in the judgeships, frankly elites in the news media, elites in the academic world and elites in politics — and they would all like to impose on us an America that none of us believe in.”

But Santorum’s brand of anti-elitism seems particularly personal: throbbing with resentment and directed squarely at Obama.

“He thinks he knows better,” Santorum said of the president earlier this month. “He thinks he’s smarter than you. He thinks he’s someone who is a privileged person who should be able to rule over all of you.”

If Romney portrays Obama as well-meaning but inept, to Santorum the president is a tyrant of dubious legitimacy.

Santorum made another revealing argument in Troy. “They say, ‘Oh, moderates. We need to worry about moderates and the issues,’ ” he said. “Folks, if you’re a moderate, issues are obviously not the most important thing to you. Otherwise you’d be in one camp or the other.”

How telling that Santorum equates moderation with indifference to issues rather than an appreciation for their nuances.

Then again, nuance is one of those elitist words. You know, something you may learn in college.

© , Washington Post Writers Group


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ABOUT Ruth Marcus

Ruth Marcus is a columnist and editorial writer for The Post, specializing in American politics and domestic policy. Marcus has been with The Post since 1984. She joined the national staff in 1986, covering campaign finance, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court and the White House. From 1999 through 2002, she served as deputy national editor, supervising reporters who covered money and politics, Congress, the Supreme Court, and other national issues. She joined the editorial board in 2003 and began writing a regular column in 2006. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007. She lives in Maryland with her husband, Jon Leibowitx, their two daughters, and the world’s cutest dog.

If you don't have a column,

If you don't have a column, get one and why hasn't anyone heard of you before. My exact sentiments about what the make-up of a conservative mind is. Hallelujah!!!!

MNhistoryfan's picture

Only a few months late. Ruth

Only a few months late. Ruth Marcus does have a column; your local newspaper chooses not to publish it. And she is often on PBS News 5 nights a week

Does anybody think we are

Does anybody think we are better off being undereducated? More and more jobs require greater education. This is not always four year college. The community college is increasingly a vital avenue to jobs that require more than high school. Vocational education is key to many technical jobs.Just because some people -- usually with exceptional talent -- succeeded without having gone or completed college does not mean college is unnecessary or is for snobs. This kind of talk reminds me a great deal of the demagougary of George Wallace in the 1960s and 70s.Launching a war on women is not enough for Rick Santorum. Now he has to launch one on education. No wonder he lost his Senate seat by about 18 percent. Ray A. Cohn, retired political journalist.

They revel in dogma because

They revel in dogma because they cannot think for themselves. I don't give a hoot what they think. Just as long as they do not expect me to see the world through their myopic eyes.

On February 12, I read a

On February 12, I read a comment on another blog by a man who had conducted experiments in Canada at Brock University on the mindset of conservatives. He observed: "“several psychological variables predicted political conservatism.”Which variables exactly? In order of predictive power: Death anxiety, system instability, dogmatism/intolerance of ambiguity, closed-mindedness, low tolerance of uncertainty, high needs for order, structure, and closure, low integrative complexity, fear of threat and loss, and low self-esteem. The researchers conclude, a little chillingly, that “the core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and a justification of inequality.”

The author also observed: "Conservatives continually bear out the findings of Brock University in Canada that racists, bigots and conservatives have lower IQs than liberals and progressives. The whole history of conservatism in this country bears witness to the fact that most conservatives are basically ignorant and racist. The conservative pilgrims left England because their religious prejudices. In New England those ignorant and superstitious prejudices led to the burning of innocent women and girls as witches. They subjugated the American Indians because considered them an inferior people. Their conservative descendents grew wealthy importing black slaves, whom they considered sub-human. They turned Royalists when the American Patriots declared their independence from England. Southern conservatives accepted the Constitution only because it allowed slavery and defended that immoral stupidity until it led to a disastrous Civil War. In the post-Civil War period their racist ignorance and prejudice produced the KKK, another immoral stupidity that denied equal protection of the law and other Constitutional rights to millions of black American citizens for almost a century. The list goes on and on. They were against voting rights for women. They were against the graduated income tax. They were against bank reform. They were violently against civil rights. They were against desegregation of schools in the South. Now, they are anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-educational reform, anti-national health programs, anti-labor, anti-relief programs for the poor and anti-fair tax laws for everyone; and above all anti-government. In short, they have been against every piece of progressive legislation designed to build a better American society. How smart is that?"

I believe the vast bulk of the Tea Party is made up of former crackers and their progeny who were outraged by the federal government's interference with their God-given right to be racists. Spitting on a black congressman and labeling Obama a monkey were manifestations of Tea Party racism.

As to Santorum's obvious attempt to gain favor with angry white males in blue-collar America, I wonder if Mr. Santorum urges his children to be mediocre in school to avoid becoming "elitist." Fostering enmity against fictitious enemies in our fearful and closed-minded citizenry is what Republican ideologues do, what they've always done.

Sanctimonious Santorum has 3

Sanctimonious Santorum has 3 college degrees (ba, mba, and jd), a $1.2 million home in northern Virginia with a heated in-ground swimming pool, a luxurious Audi automobile, a miserly 2% contribution rate to charity, and unparallelled "Christian" HYPOCRISY -- typical self-righteousness from a elitist member of the GOP (Greedy Old Pricks).
(His ancestors in the old country were hard line Communists, not right-wing, fascists like rethug Rick the theocratic NeoNazi.)

He is a typical Rush Limbaugh

He is a typical Rush Limbaugh type conservative. Hold everybody accountalbe, but himself.

Rush called the woman who wanted to testify against legislation that, in effect, would have let employers and religious fanatics prevent many women from having contraception by letting employers use moral and religious objections not to cover that.

Under the loophole, the Republicans want to create, an employer can prevent cancer treatment under the guise that the only effective treatment is "prayer."

Rush is a real hypocrite. He holds accountable everybody he does not like. That is everybody, but himself. The thrice divorced, "family values" drug junkie says those whgo use illegal drug should go to prison. That is everybody, but Rush Limbaugh.

Rush judges the morality of this woman's sex life. This is the same Rush who between his four marriage was held up, but not charged after he returned from the whore infested Dominican Republic with Viagra prescribed for somebody else.

Rush called Bill Clinton "a draft dodger" for over a decade. The same Rush dodged the military during the Vietnam War by getting exempt from the draft because of a cyst above his fat ass. The cyst produces pain, but did not prevent his father in serving in World War II. Rush not only dodged the draft, but lied about it. He told his radio audience that he was exempted because of a high school "football injury." He also said he did not request the exemption. But he sent a letter to his Draft Board seeking exemption from serving due to his cyst.

Santorum also wants accountability except for himself. And he sounds more and more like the late Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Ray A. Cohn, retired journalist.

for the religious zealots:

for the religious zealots:

Revelation 11:18
"The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great--and for destroying those who destroy the earth."

Actually, I would prefer to

Actually, I would prefer to read a column on this subject written by someone who went to the state college and has graduate degrees from the state U. The Harvards and the Yales are not the only people who can think, read, and write persuasively, only you wouldn't know it from organizations like this one. It's not completely convincing to read scorn for the Santorum message from someone who is, let's face it, in the belly of the elite beast.

Rick Santorum is an elite

Rick Santorum is an elite knuckle dragger.

any time we have a foreign

any time we have a foreign company coming onto american property and taking what is not theres tto take we have a problem and i would like to think that our president would stand up for the american people against big oil but will email the president daily and would hope that others would also do the same we can defeat lies with truth our voices just have to get a little louder

What a JERK!!!!

What a JERK!!!!

How ludicrous is it for rick

How ludicrous is it for rick santorum to be basing his campaign on pontificating on the disrepute he holds for what he thinks Obama thinks? How does rick presume to know what ANYONE other than rick THINKS? I guess the bigger question is; Who is this guys following? Who is biting hard on this class war rhetorical sludge? How lame does one have to be to be listening to this crap and nodding away in thoughtful contemplation? Most of santorum's class warfare shibboleths are barely worthy of w. bush, so how is this guy the number two in line for the gop nomination?

Here's another thing; When did "elite" become a dirty word? I thought there was some merit to wanting to become elite. I thought there was some merit to actually being regarded as an elite. Doesn't this mean that one is the very best in their field like; "elite sharpshooter" or "elite brain surgeon"? I have a suggestion for Mr. santorum- Show the whole world how a real no BS conservative handles those snooty college educated elites.The next time you come down with a tooth ache, don't go to some holier-than-thou (and if it's rick santorum, you can bet that they won't be), "I'm so much better than you are" elitist dentist! Go have your root canal done by a sheet metal worker (preferably a non-union one of course). Someone who knows the value of working with your hands and is not infused with grandiose notions of his moral superiority conferred upon them by virtue of their "elite" knowledge of dental practices.

Conservatives not only score

Conservatives not only score 12 points lower on the IQ scale, they are significantly more "closed-minded" than liberals. Education is the one factor that raises a person's self-esteem, makes them more achievement oriented, and opens their minds to new ideas via critical thinking. Rick Santorum clearly loves to wallow in the depths of dogmatic thoughts while condemning those who have found their way out of his narrow world of "the truth by assertion."

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