Republicans Stumbled Over Themselves in Iowa

![](/content/images/Rick-Santorum-Kyle-Cassidy-199x300.jpg "Rick Santorum (Kyle Cassidy)")
Rick Santorum came in a close second to Mitt Romney in the 2012 Iowa Caucuses (wikimedia commons: Kyle Cassidy).
As a Republican set on defeating President Obama in the upcoming 2012 election, the Iowa Caucuses made me doubt my party’s ability to get the job done.  My issue comes from the second place finish of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum represents nearly all that is wrong with the Republican Party. With the economy floundering this presidential election could be one of the most important presidential elections since 1980. Yet, the Republicans are stumbling over themselves in the primaries. At a time when many Americans are frustrated with the lack of recovery from Obama’s big government policies, Republicans, at least in Iowa, chose to support the Republican big government candidate. With Obama polling so low there are many Republican candidates different enough from Obama who are capable of winning. Yet, despite the vast similarities to Bush 43, Republicans still supported Santorum.

My problem doesn’t come from Santorum’s strong social conservatism. I simply disagree with him, and disagreeing with the social position of a large portion of your party, is something you are forced to cope with as a socially moderate Republican.

My problem lies in Santorum’s big government fiscal policies. While serving in the Senate, Santorum earned a reputation as a notorious earmarker. With our country in a dire fiscal state, we need a president who can champion the removal of earmarks and other forms of unnecessary spending, not one who was a large part of the problem.

Furthermore, Santorum looks to increase government intervention in the economy. While he does advocate for lowering the corporate income tax, he also advocates for the government artificially picking winners and losers by eliminating the corporate tax for manufacturing companies. Not only is this special treatment of manufacturing seemingly vulnerable to corruption and shifty moves by corporate lawyers, but also it goes against the principle of economic freedom that conservatives advocate for.

In another attack on economic freedom, Santorum, a long time opponent of free trade, is an opponent of NAFTA and supports significantly increasing tariffs. Increasing tariffs keeps the Americans from pursuing their comparative advantage and slows overall economic growth. Though his tag lines of cutting taxes seems to be inline with American conservatives, in reality his record shows he doesn’t support sound fiscal policy and he is not a proponent of sound fiscal policy or economic freedom.

Finally, on a purely political note, Santorum seems like a problem candidate. Pennsylvania is a battle ground state, and it would be a major victory if Republicans could win those electoral votes. Simply put, Rick Santorum would not win Pennsylvania. In his 2006 Senate reelection bid he lost to the Democratic candidate, 58-43. In election terms that’s a landslide. While some may argue that Santorum was merely caught up in the anti-Republican crusade of 2006, the fact of the matter is that Santorum lost Pennsylvania largely because of his own policies. A Republican candidate who is an automatic loss in one of the biggest battleground states is not an acceptable candidate if the Republicans wish to defeat Obama.

My only hope is that Santorum’s 15 minutes of fame as the “Anti-Romney” happened to align with the Iowa Caucuses because Santorum’s deviation from the principles of economic freedom and the many connections to Bush 43 could cost the Republicans the 2012 election.

Subscribe to the Stanford Review