Love It or Leave It

When I was growing up in the 1950s (yes, I’m THAT old), anti-communist crusaders had a handy phrase with which they shouted down any criticism of American government: “Love it or leave it.” There was, in their view, no room for middle ground–if you weren’t a patriot, defined as someone who defended 100% of what America was and did, then you needed to move elsewhere.

Apparently, the love it or leave it folks are back–albeit in slightly different philosophical garb–and they are enthusiastically supporting Rick Santorum for President. This time, it is those of us who are unwilling to identify America as a “Christian Nation” –and behave accordingly–who are being invited to leave.  

Despite the efforts of all of the GOP candidates to pander to the religious fringe of the party, the Santorum campaign has been the most explicitly tied to religious doctrine, and Santorum himself is quite obviously the most sincere in his beliefs. It should come as no surprise that he has attracted those elements of the electorate who feel aggrieved by the respect for diversity that characterizes modernity.

In fact, Santorum’s campaign has operated to shine a light on a campaign element that political operatives usually manage to obscure–judging (accurately, one hopes) that too much attention to it will repel more voters than it will attract. Most campaigns that have chosen to court the Christian Nation folks have done so through carefully targeted appeals and the use of “dog whistle” terminology in campaign speeches. (George W. Bush was a master at this–he would sprinkle phrases through his speeches to signal the faithful that he was one of them–knowing that the majority of Americans were unfamiliar with the phrases and their context and would fail to “get” their significance.)

Santorum, however, has chosen to run as a theocrat. He makes no bones about his desire that American law should reflect his religious beliefs.

Santorum and the people he has attracted cling ever-more tightly to a revisionist history that justifies the past privileging of white, heterosexual Christian (formerly only Protestant) males. The more society changes, the more they reject the generators and markers of that change–science, globalization, diversity.

It is hard to believe that in the 21st Century we are watching a credible candidate for a major political party’s nomination reject evolution, deny the existence of global climate change, criticize women who work outside the home, oppose the use of contraceptives and advocate second-class citizenship for gays–a candidate who rejects the principle of separation of church and state, and welcomes the support of pastors who tell non-Christians they should leave the country if they disagree.

In the (thankfully highly unlikely) event that Santorum becomes President, I think many of us would seriously consider that invitation.


  1. If anyone goes anywhere, it should be the evangelical Right. I’m sure they would find kindred spirits in places like Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Israel, even if the philosophies have different names.

  2. As Sinclair Lewis remarked, if fascism ever comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. What’s frustrating is that there’s no reasoning with the Christianists. Facts, logic, none of it matters. They are true believers, and they won’t change their minds. If there numbers are increasing, it will become very scary.

  3. It is clear to me that their campaign will be one of God-Guns& Gays once more. Plus some lies about Jobs Jobs Jobs
    and some Dog wistle stuff about the OTHER sort of guy who runs the office now.
    They are putting more and more ANTI GAY stuff on ballots all over the country to get the Gun Tottin Bible Thumpers to the polls
    It worked in the past and probably will again
    This will not be an easy one
    Everyone needs to open up their checkbooks and get out the lawn signs and everything else you can think of. We cannot go back

  4. Bill Wilson is right (small ‘r’). My friend in Savannah, GA, who delivers Chatham County for the Dems every election, has a great saying that describes that whole crazy noise that GWB made and now Santorum is making: “The Truth is in MY pocket–and God is on MY side.” We need to keep a watchful eye on Santorum and his body of “believers”.

  5. First…I love this blog, it is thought provoking and a great place to learn and share on issues. Too many of my counterparts steer clear of these discussions.

    I am a Democrat and a Christian of a mainstream religion. Unfortuntately reasonable voices do not make headlines. I was having coffee w/ a group of gentleman who have taken a likey to me and actually offered this Democrat a seat to be a board member….They are all Republicans and probably 20 years older and I enjoy our talks…one of the gentleman when he learned I was a Democrat informed me that Obama was a Muslim. I broke down in laughter, he wasn’t kidding…I would have argued but he is a Tea Party advocate; but they are completely deaf to logic and facts. I guess this Christian Democrat who believes in rights for gays, contraception, separation of Church and State, and diversity is going to Hell.

  6. Well Deborah; if there is a hell, I’m sure we will meet there. I was an Independent for years till the intelligent Republicans became an endangered species. Not sure what my religious beliefs would be categorized as because I am primarily Baptist with Jews for Jesus leanings and enough Atheism that I believe in evolution. I remember being taught to hate communism but was never told exactly what their definition of “communism” meant. I looked up the definition of “staunch” because I was born into a staunch Republican family; it was defined as being steadfast and unmoving. To me that means they ain’t goin’ nowhere. Also looked up liberal which was defined as open-minded and willing to change. This is the 21st century and the world is constantly changing around us. Those of us who are liberal are blocked by that group of staunch cartoon characters hoping to become president and their wealthy supporters in the Tea Party refusing to see logic, common sense, reality and moving ahead to keep up with changing times. We should continue to love this country and keep hoping the nut cases will be phased out in upcoming elections – they will not leave willingly. I believe in my heart that the women of this country are the ones who will determine this upcoming presidential election; but only if we stand strong, make our voices heard and take action to encourage all voters to stand with us. We can save this country from the dead weight of staunch Republicans and the Tea Party with all of its millions. We are women; let me hear you roar!

  7. Fascinating. I say so because this is the exact same reason I left the Democrat agenda: a rigid dogma with vicarious applicability based upon a number of factors to include race, gender, income, etc. More to the point, the Democrat ideology changed and left us all behind.

    To my ears, “are you pro-war or anti-troops?” is no different than “are you pro-choice or a misogynist?” When we all know life is never that easy and people are never so simple. It’s just political rhetoric that people seem to buy into regardless of education level, intelligence, or ability to reason.

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