Rick Santorum is an interesting case. He is a candidate who would have never been nominated if the Republican Party wasn’t so desperate to offset Mitt Romney or a candidate that could soundly defeat Barack Obama.
Through the terribly candid and alienating primary debates, the GOP candidates have distanced themselves increasingly from those who consider themselves independents. Perhaps, no one has done this more so than Santorum.
The former Pennsylvania senator has made many questionable statements toward homosexuals and gay marriage, as well as actions that should be taken concerning Iran’s nuclear program. Liberals and moderates alike saw him as a relic of the past that would stand no chance in a general election against Obama. However, that thought may be a relic of the past as well.
Santorum was once deemed as just another candidate that would be soon forgotten after Newt Gingrich received a surge of momentum from the South Carolina primary victory. That surge was short-lived, and Santorum arose once again as the anti-Romney candidate.
He stole Iowa away from Romney and nearly did the same in Romney’s native state of Michigan. Also, a recent USA Today/Gallup poll showed Obama lags to Santorum in the 12 states likely to determine the outcome of a close race in November. Santorum tops Obama 50 percent – 45 percent in the swing states and leads 49 percent – 46 percent nationwide.
These numbers merely mean we must treat Santorum as a viable candidate. This usually results in a high volume of criticism, and there is a great deal of avenues with which to begin.
It would be prevalent to focus on what has been called Santorum’s war against higher education.
Santorum seems to believe that there is a correlation between universities and graduates who have no faith commitment. He has even criticized Obama for stating that every American should go to college.
Santorum believes that universities are agents of liberals and that liberal values are constantly pushed onto students, which causes them to abandon their faiths. According to a recent CNN article, a 2010 Intercollegiate Studies Institute report found that college graduates are more likely to be liberal on controversial topics, such as same-sex marriage. The report did not suggest that a liberal position was forced upon the students, like Santorum had argued.
I can actually understand Santorum’s argument on this issue. I have never questioned the legitimacy of capitalism and my religion as much as I have during my years at the university.
The knowledge I have gained has caused me to be confused, to question and to disband old beliefs and habits. Yet, this is the point of attending a university. If you leave a higher institution of education the same way you entered, then you didn’t develop or learn.
Sometimes, the reason people have the opinions they have on a topic, such as class inequality or gay marriage, is the fact that they are ignorant of the topics themselves. As a person becomes more educated about a topic, their opinions will either change or be reinforced with reliable facts.
My opinions have changed drastically since entering this institution, and as I learn, they will continue to change after I leave.
The ideas aren’t forced upon you. You are just given the skills to think critically and independently of what your parents think. Maybe it is Santorum who needs to take a few courses at his local community college to learn about some of the issues he ignorantly discusses.
Alex Turner is a senior political science major from Dallas.